Topband: FT8 - the end of 160m old school DXing? (long)

Hans Hjelmström sm6cvx at
Wed Oct 25 06:23:51 EDT 2017

Hi Steve

I FULLY agree on all you write.  Unfortunately I also feel that Ham radio is more or less lost.

According to me,,,this is NOT Ham radio,, it is digi to digi without any personal feeling.
And even more ,it destroy completely the challenge of Ham radio…..
Next is to let your computer make these so called QSO:s during the day when you work,
and during night ,when you are at sleep.You only check once per day,,what contacts he 
made, and the computer log for you.And send info to LOTW.Not any cards to look at
any more. Just check your standings once per month at computer.
At this point all social-connection is gone ,and you can just sit back and rest,,,,,,,

It was the same this  season on 50 mc. After 5th of July ,there was almost NO
stations on either CW or SSB. People that I know of, having no interest in
the challenge of magic band,  worked ??? countries that they never could dream of before.

I feel that ARRL should make a new dxcc for only Digi-modes that gives 
report less as  - 1 db.    Like in past ,when they used to need a report of 
minimum 33 or 339. As computer make the ,,,so called qso, and also write
the report ,that should be easy to do.And this modes should NOT be 
counted for the other dxcc-awards. Doing this ,a lot of people ,can work a new dxcc ,if they like ,on these digi  modes, and not destroy the old awards.

I sent an e-mail concerning this to ARRL about one month ago, to one of the top-guys at
dxcc-award.  His lazy answer was more or less::: Use ,take it or leave it. Its new times.
He / they were NOT interested to think it over, not even do they care.
His answer was really not for a hobby. It was just too much for him to think of.

WORSE of all is : that it takes away challenge to increase antennas,station and
your operating skills.  In all other hobbies,,, this is most important, to give some
advantage to these that do something extra,,,,,,,,

VERY SORRY, BUT if 50 mc and also 1.8 mc is going to be the same this and coming 2018 season,  I stop my ham-radio and will do something else.
I give it to end of 2018 ,to see if any changements will come.

I think the best to solve this ,,,,shit,,, is to make a separate dxcc award for it,
and not mix with the others.

Sorry for long e-mail, BUT I can tell you,  for sure,,,many many Hams around our globe,feels similar as you and me.

Kind regards

Hans  SM6CVX

> 25 okt 2017 kl. 10:25 skrev Steve Ireland <vk6vz at>:
> G’day
> As a committed (yeah, that’s probably the right word - complete with white jacket that laces up at the back) topbander since 1970, I’ve never been so intrigued and disturbed by anything on the band as the emergence of the Franke-Taylor FT-8 digital mode.
> For me, radio has always been all about what I audibly hear. I love all the sounds that radio signals make - and even miss the comforting sound of Loran that I grew up with around 1930kHz as a teenager in south-east England. Yeah, I am one sick puppy.
> With the emergence of high resolution bandscopes through SDR technology over the last decade, I embraced that as it meant that I could find what DX stations I wanted to hear and contact quicker and more easily (and, in particular, before those stations who didn’t have the same technology). 
> It was really exciting and enhanced the sensual experience of radio by being able to see what I could hear (and no dinosaur me, I was an SDR fan boy!).
> During this period, there has also been an extraordinary development in digital radio modes, in particular by Joe Taylor K1JT. 
> As a topbander I could see that these modes in which you ‘saw’ signals through the medium of computer screen or window as being a remarkable technical achievement, but had relatively little to do what I and the vast majority of active radio amateurs practiced as radio on 160m, as it had nothing to do with the audible.
> The good thing was that I could see that good old CW and Silly Slop Bucket (you can see where my prejudices lie) that I like to use were still the modes of choice for weak signal DX topband radio contact as these fancy digital modes were either very slow or, if they weren’t, were not good at dealing with signals that faded up and down or were covered in varying amounts of noise.  
> While some amateurs seemed to have lost the pleasure of actually hearing signals in favour of viewing them on their computer screens, I felt secure that these digital modes were just a minor annoyance and any serious DXer or DXpedition was never going to seriously going to use them, particularly on my first and all-time love topband, for other than experimentation.
> Then, out of the blue, along comes FT-8. Joe and Steve Franke K9AN have quietly created the holy grail of digital operation with a mode that can have QSOs almost as fast as CW and SSB and over the last eight weeks 160m DXing has changed, perhaps for ever. 
> Where once there were a few weak CW and SSB signals (I am in VK6, which is a looong way from anywhere with a population so we only ever hear a few), I can see that the busiest part of the band is 1840 kHz – FT-8 central.  On some nights I can see FT-8 signals on the band but no CW or SSB.
> There are countries I’ve dreamed for 20 years of hearing on 160m SSB/CW (for example, KG4) regularly appearing on DX clusters and I can see the heap of FT-8 activity on my band scope. 
> Frustration sets in and I even downloaded the FT-8 software but, when it comes down to it,  I just can’t use it. My heart isn’t in it.  
> My computer will be talking to someone else’s computer and there will be no sense of either a particular person’s way of sending CW or the tone of their voice (even the way some my SSB mates overdrive their transceivers is actually creating nostalgia in me). The human in radio has somehow been lost.
> I think back to my best-ever 160m SSB contact with Pedro NP4A and I can still hear the sound of his voice, his accent, when he came up out of the noise and to my amazement answered me on my second call, with real excitement in his voice. Pure radio magic!
> So I am sitting here, feeling depressed and wondering if overnight I have become a dinosaur and this is the beginning of the end of topband radio as I’ve always enjoyed it.  
> Now, over to you other topbanders, especially those who have dabbled with FT-8 and live in more populous areas. Has the world really turned upside down and what do you think the future holds? 
> Vy 73
> Steve, VK6VZ/G3ZZD
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