[CQ-Contest] Contesting and the FT8 Revolution

dimitri cosson-dimitri at bbox.fr
Mon Jun 21 15:07:39 EDT 2021

Hi Jeff,

<<<...As far as I know there are only maybe a couple 
dedicated FT8 contests and it's allowed in RTTY contests as well?  >>>

NO, it isn't allowed during the RTTY contests (except for the RTTY Roundup...)

<<<...Isn't there a RTTY contesting list?...>>>

There's. The RTTY contesting list is for RTTY, there're others for Digi modes...

73 de Dimitri F4DSK

Le 21 juin 2021 à 18:22, à 18:22, Jeff Clarke <ku8e at ku8e.com> a écrit:
>I guess I don't understand why this FT8 subject is dominating the 
>contest reflector again? It's pretty simple... if you don't like FT8 
>then don't operate that mode. You can still work lots of DX on the 
>traditional CW and SSB modes. My guess is any group that goes to a rare
>DXCC entry will concentrate more on CW and SSB anyway. FT8 won't be a 
>high priority and will only be used when propagation isn't good (or 
>dead) on a specific band. As far as I know there are only maybe a
>dedicated FT8 contests and it's allowed in RTTY contests as well? 
>there a RTTY contesting list? Maybe this subject should be discussed 
>there? Just saying...
>On 6/20/2021 06:53 PM, Salvatore ["Ted"] K2QMF wrote:
>> FT8 also takes the FUN out of Ham Radio and out of DXing and out of
>> Ted  K2QMF
>> On 6/20/2021 5:53:05 PM, wa1fcn <wa1fcn at charter.net> wrote:
>> GA Ken
>>          I have read your post a couple of times. My thoughts......
>> You are partly
>>          correct.  DXSummit and RBN have certainly changed how we DX.
>> There are
>>          a couple differences between that and what FT8 did to DXing!
>> Did the
>>          RBN/DXSummit  stop or curtail any CW/SSB operations?  Do You
>> have friends
>>          club members ect. who feel/talk bad about RBN ect, probably
>>              Let me be clear I am not totally against FT8 only the
>> ARRL has integrated
>>              it with the DXCC program, and it's effect on RTTY and
>> thought once a
>>              new ham gets into FT8 seriously, you can forget about
>> him/her putting any real effort
>>              into learning CW  or being a proficient SSB operator. 
>> full disclosure every few months
>>              I do get on FT8 for a couple weeks.
>>                  Back to DXCC with FT8......... What can be done with
>> watts FT8 can not even
>>                  be done with a KW on SSB or CW now.  Do you consider
>> those QSL's/QSO's
>>                  equal to SSB/CW  efforts ? I do not.
>>                              73 OM   BoB WA1FCN
>> On 6/20/2021 11:46 AM, ktfrog007 at aol.com wrote:
>>> Hi Bob,
>>> You wrote:  The ARRL has destroyed the value of DXCC.
>>> ===========================================
>>> The ARRL hasn't done anything.  Technological change has.
>>> The DX clusters and RBN destroyed the value of DXCC.  That happened
>>> quite a while back.  Long before FT8 came along.
>>> DXers used to be admired for their skills, knowledge and
>>> perseverance.  They used to operate by their wits. No longer. 
>>> what ruined DXCC.
>>> Name me a DXer you admire who has started from scratch 15 years ago
>>> and has over 300 Current confirmed and hasn't used the clusters or
>>> 73,
>>> Ken, AB1J
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: wa1fcn
>>> To: cq-contest at contesting.com
>>> Sent: Sun, Jun 20, 2021 12:46 am
>>> Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Contesting and the FT8 Revolution
>>>      GE Kostas
>>>          I just wanted you to know you are not the only one to feel
>>> about DXCC.
>>>              In the past couple years a few people have E-Mailed me
>>> about their feelings
>>>               in regards to DXCC.   The ARRL has destroyed the value
>>> DXCC.  It has taken
>>>              me a lifetime (over 50years) to achieve DXCC of 285 on
>>> meters low power.
>>>              They should of separated FT8/FT4 from all other modes
>>> Single band DXCC.
>>>              DX with FT8 is fishing in a barrel. Can you imagine the
>>> DXCC totals on 12 and 10
>>>              meters when the Sunspot cycle improves!  Where is the
>>> challenge now?!  There
>>>              is none!  I can go on to other FT8 minuses like how it
>>> destroyed RTTY, how it has
>>>              made some hams lazy and see no need to put any effort
>>> becoming a more
>>>              proficient operator in other modes.
>>>                  Ok Kostas I will stop now as I am sure I offended
>>> enough hams already.
>>>                                  73   BoB WA1FCN
>>> On 6/19/2021 2:46 PM, Kostas SV1DPI wrote:
>>>> Maybe you have right. But I don't feel the same.
>>>> ** The small pistol station revolution
>>>> Having 1 kw and a 2el quad @10m high, I don't feel a big gun. I had
>>>> the chance to be competitive in dxing because I devoted many hours
>>>> studying propagation and even more time on the radio. Now there is
>>>> chance for me to make something that others do not. They let their
>>>> computer and play 24 hours per day with better antennas and more
>>>> power.... So yes small pistols have the chance to work something
>>>> had not but not to be competitive...
>>>> ** The station optimization revolution
>>>> I have at least one friend who has a long wire and have worked 290
>>>> countries the last 3 years, of course in ft8, including pacific,
>>>> So why to make his station better? I remember that I put my quad
>>>> higher when I lost a dxpedition, I bought an amplifier the next
>>>> etc... Now there is no chance to loose a dxpedition especially
>>>> almost every dxpedition (let me know it - don't forget that the
>>>> ft8 robot was Greek and I know some of the guys bought it) uses
>>>> than one robots running ft8 all day. And they have not the courage
>>>> say it...
>>>> ** The now-casting propagation revolution
>>>> In SZ1A we have a skimmer (maybe you know it even it is out of
>>>> the last 3 weeks - we have ordered the damaged parts). We use the
>>>> results of the skimmer to make our plans in contests. The first
>>>> we were keeping ft8 qsos as the CW qsos also. This had as a result
>>>> drive us to mistakes in real contesting. While the band seemed to
>>>> open the previous days during specific time, it wasn't finally
>>>> the contest. So we stopped using the FT8 spots and now we keep only
>>>> the CW qsos to make our plans.
>>>> ** The marginal bands revolution
>>>> Yes, ft8 helps a weaker station to have a QSO (I don't think "to be
>>>> heard" is the right expression). I am not a 6m fun but I managed to
>>>> work 125 entities the last 15 years. Also optimization of antennas,
>>>> radios, amplifiers, etc, all these years. Someone using ft8, has
>>>> worked these entities the last 2 years in the lower point of solar
>>>> cycle using the half length of my boom. But what he will do the
>>>> years... What he will work in high part of solar cycle? And why he
>>>> needs to wait for it? Probably he will play cards because I don't
>>>> think he will stay in ham radio... If you don't need to improve the
>>>> station, the antennas, to study and learn propagation, to learn
>>>> to increase your knowledge, etc... what will be the interesting
>>>> to keep you in ham radio? I already know someone who stopped to
>>>> radio, never installed his new hexbeam, because he worked WAS on
>>>> in a week with a long wire (WAS is far more difficult from DXCC
>>>> Greece), letting his computer to play ever night. Plus another one
>>>> had dxcc with all entities in ft8 but he didn't know the QSO
>>>> In conclusion, I don't care what the others do. I mentioned about
>>>> others just to show the results. I have not fun with ft8 and this
>>>> why I don't use it. If you are pleasant with it, do it. I don't
>>>> I lost my interest for DXing.
>>>> I can not understand how someone has fun with ft8 in contesting.
>>>> Because the rhythm? Because the nice sound? Because of the pileup?
>>>> because he has the time to go to the toilet while his computer
>>>> some QSOs...
>>>> By the way I am a digital guy! I gave many new ones to west coast
>>>> on RTTY from Iran (EP6T) and I have 329 entities on RTTY. I have
>>>> ft8 and I didn't like it. I abandoned dxcc program while I was HR1,
>>>> on SSB and CW and had over 2850 entities in challenge because of
>>>> acceptance by ARRL. I am crying over the money I gave to ARRL.
>>>> 25 years in ham radio I continue to play chasing fun in CW/SSB/RTTY
>>>> contesting (mainly casual but more serious also sometimes) and I
>>>> think ft8 could be part of my contesting habits.
>>>> 73 Kostas SV1DPI
>>>> Στις 19/6/2021 18:24, ο/η José Nunes CT1BOH έγραψε:
>>>>> There is a revolution going on – The FT8 revolution! Like other
>>>>> revolutions, it is a breakthrough and there is no coming back. But
>>>>> unlike
>>>>> what many think, FT8 mode is fantastic for amateur radio and of
>>>>> course for
>>>>> contesting.
>>>>> There are several things I can particularly note:
>>>>> ** The spotting revolution
>>>>>    Because of the default reporting option of FT8 applications,
>>>>> station
>>>>> that uses JTDX/WSJT applications is constantly spotting all the
>>> stations
>>>>> that the decoders hear. Every station becomes a spotting machine
>of the
>>>>> bands (just like a skimmer) while they are on. The result?! 20.8
>>> billion
>>>>> FT8 spots in 4 years.
>>>>> ** The small pistol station revolution
>>>>> Considering a 2500 Hz bandwidth and weak-signal/Noise Ratio, SSB
>>>>> go as
>>>>> low as +10 dB, CW -15 db and FT8 -21dB. To put it in another way,
>>>>> doubling power results in 3 dB increase in SNR, a 31db difference
>>>>> means 1W
>>>>> in FT8 versus 1024 watts in SSB.
>>>>> A modest station, suddenly, feels like a new world of propagation
>>>>> opened to him and this in return brings more and more people to
>>>>> bands
>>>>> because of the fun of working stations and paths not before
>>>>> There is a virtuous cycle – more spots, more people, more
>>> more
>>>>> spots, more people, more activity, …
>>>>> ** The now-casting propagation revolution
>>>>> With such a huge volume of spots, 20.8 billion in 4 years and
>around 22
>>>>> million spots per day [just for your reference last CQWW CW
>>>>> 6.5M
>>>>> spots], propagation prediction is turning into now-casting
>>>>> There is no need for propagation prediction anymore because,
>>> knowing the
>>>>> propagation pattern from 20 billion spots and getting real
>>>>> propagation from
>>>>> the 22 million spots per day, real time conditions come from
>>> now-casting
>>>>> propagation - any circuit can be determined to be open or close.
>>>>> You can watch my 2021 Contest University presentation about this
>>> subject
>>>>> here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-esob7BPtc&t=20340s
>>> and/or get the
>>>>> slides of the presentation slides here
>>>>> ** The station optimization revolution
>>>>> This is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of FT8 and of
>>>>> interest to contest stations. Because of the spotting revolution
>>>>> because every FT8 station uses exact grid locator, the exact path
>>> of the
>>>>> circuits can be drawn. A contest station that uses a simple FT8
>>>>> skimmer can
>>>>> monitor, 24x7, the potential of any antenna set-up, compare
>>>>> antennas configuration (A/B testing using different calls), test
>>> antenna
>>>>> take-off angles, and adjust this information to available
>>> propagation at
>>>>> any time, before or during a contest. “22 million spots per day”
>>>>> there
>>>>> available to test your station. I believe every station, DX or
>>>>> Contest,  should
>>>>> use a FT8 Skimmer, like the stand alone Red Pitaya
>>>>> https://www.redpitaya.com/ to skim
>>> several bands at the same time at
>>>>> a very
>>>>> low cost, provide now-casting information, check antenna and
>>>>> potential and use that for station optimization. This link takes
>>>>> to a
>>>>> visualization of my modest small pistol station (just a simple
>>>>> wire)
>>>>> potential on all the bands https://tinyurl.com/e6767we8
>>> in the last 24
>>>>> hours.
>>>>> ** The marginal bands revolution
>>>>> With FT8, marginal bands like 160, 10 and 6 meters become alive
>like no
>>>>> other. Going deeper into the SNR, “opens” new circuits, brings
>>>>> activity, confirms these circuits were always there. We are
>>>>> Japan
>>>>> on 6 meters on a daily basis... Also, there is a move from CW into
>>>>> FT8 on
>>>>> these band. This is a side effect, but it is what it is. If people
>>>>> suddenly
>>>>> find a band open at -21dB that before was close at -15dB, of
>>> they
>>>>> will use the mode that enables those QSOs and will not use the
>>>>> mode
>>>>> anymore.
>>>>> In any case competitive contesting (SSB and CW) has a lot to gain
>>>>> form this
>>>>> revolution. Exciting times indeed
>>>>> 73 José Nunes
>>>>> CONTEST CT1BOH - http://www.qsl.net/ct1boh
>>>>> _______________________________________________
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