[VHFcontesting] FT8 during the January Contest

George Sintchak wa2vnv at optonline.net
Wed Jan 24 17:53:45 EST 2018

Nice analysis of your log results and operation.

Yes, FT8 adds a new variable into contest strategy and planning how/where to 
allocate you time and operation.

73's George WA2VNV

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Chet S" <chetsubaccount at snet.net>
To: <vhfcontesting at contesting.com>
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 4:44 PM
Subject: [VHFcontesting] FT8 during the January Contest

> Looked at my log today to evaluate the effects of FT8, which I only used 
> on
> 6M.
> Of the 7 new grids FT-8 provided, I did not hear any other SSB or CW from 
> 4
> of those grids on 6M, in other words, 4 were unique new grids for me 
> because
> of FT8.
> My submitted score is 16,588.
> If I take out all the FT8 QSOs and grids, my score becomes 11,577.
> Supposing that I would have worked half of those FT8 stations with 3 of 
> the
> new grids on SSB anyway, my score would have been, 13,878, again
> significantly lower than my final 16,588.
> The weakest new grid FT8 signal was tropo at -14 dB and 365 miles distant.
> The strongest new grid FT8 signal was Es at +1 dB and 1040 miles- a VO1 
> who
> called me at the end of another QSO I had in progress.
> I went to FT8 when 6 and 2 were getting milked out on SSB, and I usually
> stayed there at least 30 minutes.
> The QSO rate during those periods was from 16 to 20/ hour, so yes, about 3
> minutes per QSO, but a far better rate than staying on SSB at those times.
> In case you missed my earlier observations in my summary:
> FT8 really changes the nature of the contest by adding another variable to
> juggle - when to use it, when to leave it. Often it provided for a good
> break to take off the headphones and still work a few more Q's with it 
> while
> enjoying a refreshment of choice. Working a handful of grids that were not
> heard on SSB or CW was sweet.
> 2M could benefit from such a gathering spot as well- occasionally I'd 
> listen
> around for FT8 activity there but never heard any- maybe everyone listened
> but no one talked on 2M.
> When taking a longer break, I'd let it monitor so that when I came back it
> gave a skimmer like idea of what directions had propagation and if any new
> stations were now there.
> There were many stations worked on FT8 that were NOT in my N1MM+ VHF call
> history file that I have maintained over many years of VHF contests- so 
> lots
> of new blood was on with FT8 for the contest weekend! (A few of them did 
> not
> choose contest mode so exchanges got a bit locked up. Forcing sending a
> message containing a 73 could get them to move on to the end).
> There were a number of VHF contest regulars on this mode that I did not 
> hear
> at any other time on CW or SSB- maybe there was a challenge going to see
> what could be done in the contest using this mode only.
> With every contest it is well to ask yourself:
> What did I learn about my station and my operating?
> What things are changing in the future?
> What will I do to adapt and improve next time?
> (e.g.- my current setup was very cumbersome to switch radio control and 
> between WSJT-X and N1MM+. This can be made much better)
> 73,
> Chet, N8RA
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