Making the case for FT8
Ham radio has seen a decline in popularity in recent years, but a new digital mode called FT8 is helping to revive interest in the hobby. FT8 is a fast, effective way to communicate, and it’s perfect for those who are looking for a challenging yet rewarding experience.
What is FT8?
FT8 is a digital communications mode developed by Joe Taylor and Steve Franke. It draws on the technology of “Weak Signal” transmission to offer improved efficiency and faster response times, making it perfect for ham radio operators. The information contained in FT8’s 8-bit symbols include, but are not limited to, signal strength, gridsquare and signal-to-noise ratio data. In addition, this protocol can still be used even when there are very weak signals (-20 dB or less) that would normally be subject to noise interference. This helps ensure better communication quality while simultaneously avoiding any unwanted noise pollution.
Older Hams are embracing FT8
FT8 is becoming a popular mode for veteran ham radio operators over the age of 60. It offers a great way for them to stay active, and requires no major investment or complex motor skills. Those who have downsized from bigger stations or were active on CW previously can now still participate without having to worry so much about their senses declining due to age. FT8 is an ideal solution as it’s fast and easy to use, meaning that even those who might not have the same fine motor functions and cognitive ability they once had can still enjoy Ham radio without difficulty.
FT8 is a powerful tool for bringing new Hams and young people into the hobby
It is extremely accessible, no matter their experience level, as it has a low threshold for entry and offers quick QSOs for those with busier lives. In addition to its accessibility, FT8 provides a stepping stone to more lengthy digital modes like Contestia, RTTY and PSK31. Furthermore, the mode removes the barrier of access to larger antennas or amplifiers which are helpful but not necessary for making successful contacts. With all these advantages plus being an exciting way to participate in contests, FT8 makes amateur radio enjoyable at any level of skill.
I’m preparing an indepth series of videos and posts on FT8 communications. It’ll include guidance on getting started, a deep dive into WSJT-X, JTDX and GridTracker software, plus a look at usage in DXpedition mode (a.k.a. Fox and Hound). Stay tuned for more information soon!
If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my mailing list below.
To stay up to date with Mr. B and I on our travels, follow us at Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. If you have any questions or comments about our journey, we invite you to join the conversation in our comment section here or at YouTube–it not only helps you but other readers as well! We’re incredibly thankful for all of our subscribers–their support makes Ham Radio with K0PIR possible. So please stay in touch and warmest regards & best 73s! – Rich, K0PIR
Check out this HF Chat App
VarAC. HF/FM Digital Chat Reinvented – Home Page
VarAC Chat on HF! Keyboard to Keyboard – Ham Radio Outlet – Youtube Demonstration – 12 minutes – Apr 1, 2022
It’s good to hear from you George and I will check that out. Thanks! 73 and good DX! de Rich KØPIR
Make sure you include the short article recently written by Steve Ford in QST about getting the exact time from a ~$ 20 GPS receiver. Paired with “free” software available online it puts your radio right on. My club has been doing its Field Day exercise at a park that has no internet and this GPS based solution solves the timing issues. I have two IC-7300’s with this setup and it works really well.
Good luck in your ongoing adventures
73 John NV4L
It’s good to hear from you John and I will try to find that. I found his presentation here. Time is everything and I hear from hams who can’t decode because of it. Thanks! 73 and good DX! de Rich KØPIR
If you’re having a problem with a computer purchased Windows 11 disable both of these serves at startup and you should be good to go.
Good to hear from you and thank you for the information and screen clip. Every once in a while I run into an audio error. Good to know. Best 73 and Good DX de K0PIR