Topband: FT-8 My Recent Experience

Mark K3MSB mark.k3msb at
Tue May 28 19:14:26 EDT 2019

I spent 9 days in Haiti as HH6/K3MSB a few weeks ago on a missions trip to
Les Cayes, which is in the remote southwestern part of the island.     As
the fellow I was traveling with was a ham,  we of course hung some wires at
our guest house and had some on-the-air fun.   This was good as there
really isn't much to do in the evenings down there.   Actually, aside from
reading,  there isn't anything to do in the evenings down there.    But I

To protect the innocent (or the guilty....)  I'll call my friend “John”.

I did CW and John did some CW but mainly FT-8.    John wanted me to do some
FT-8, but after watching him for a bit I said to “wake me when it's time
for some real radio”.   I've seen FT-8 before and I just can't get into it.
  I can't get into any computer mode, mainly because I've been a software
engineer for almost 40 year and dealing with computers at home is a
non-starter with me.    I like ARC-5s, BC-348s,  and Navy RBB's
myself......    But again, I digress....

One evening I went to sleep with John doing his FT-8 thing – we shared a
room.   I awoke around 0100 local and looked at John and I wondered if he
was asleep or dead.    I watched him for a good two minutes before he
finally moved.    He hit something on the keyboard and then went immobile
for another minute or so.   Sleeping or dead?    This cycle repeated itself
until the I was fairly sure death was not in the equation and I went back
to sleep.   Knowing John wasn't dead was a relief as we didn't have air
conditioning there, and I'm sure things would have gotten smelly rather

A few days later FT-8 came up again and I said I've always maintained it's
not a “real” mode as it's computer to computer with almost no human
interaction except hitting a key every now and then.

He then tried to impress me.

John said “But I can do other things while making a QSO!”.    He initiated
an FT-8 QSO then..... wait for it..... went to the bathroom.    Upon his
return he triumphantly showed me he had made a QSO  “while in the
bathroom”.   I can't remember hearing the toilet flush, so I'm not sure
what he was doing in the bathroom,  but I do know that concurrent with his
activity in the bathroom, he did in fact make an FT-8 QSO.

I told him I saw no reason for me to change my views on FT-8.   He made a
lot more QSOs than I did.... I guess that's good.....

As an aside,  I did carry a 160M Dipole with me (had to get my money's
worth for the checked baggage fee......).   We had planned to spend one
night on 160 with a dipole hung off the 250 Ft transmitter tower, but
logistically we just couldn't do it.   Hopefully next time towards the fall
of the year!!

73 Mark K3MSB & HH6/K3MSB

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