Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Learning About the FT8 Digital Mode

I've recently been getting into PSK31.  I use DM780 in the Ham Radio Deluxe suite for this which makes for a seamless experience between QSO and logging.  At the recommendation of John (K4WCL) I've started learning about FT8.  FT8 is very different from PSK31 in many ways.  Here are some of my opinions on this new digital mode so far:

  • Fairly easy to learn.
  • Quick and easy contacts.  Great for collecting Grid Squares!
  • Relatively good DX with low power
  • Very active! It's very popular, so there is always someone to make contact with.

  • Not available in DM780. I'm using WSJT-X software for FT8.
  • WSJT-X software isn't very robust or intuitive
  • Very impersonal. QSO's are simple callsign, grid square, RST, and 73.  Nothing further is exchanged. I don't even know the name of the person I'm talking to unless I cross reference. 
  • Though logging is handled in WSJT-X and saved to an ADIF file, it's not very much fun importing the log into Ham Radio Deluxe, populating missing fields, and then sending them to QRZ, LoTW, eQSL, and HRDlog.  Having some integration between WSJT-X and Ham Radio Deluxe or the eventual addition of FT8 into DM780 is really the only way to solve this.  
In any case, I'm going to keep experimenting with it.  I think it would be a good mode for QRP or portable operation when conditions are less than perfect. But for me, phone is still my preferred mode of operation.  PSK31 is my preferred digital mode for the simple fact that you can have a keyboard to keyboard QSO or you can use Macros for quicker exchanges.  

73 de KG4LST sk

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