Love it or hate it?

Actually, I hated FT8 without ever trying it. Sounds crazy I know, but in my head I had already decided this mode was like having a QSO via Skype, or similar.

I saw friends using it and poured scorn over their use of this easy click-mouse mode which seemed to be making a mockery of those DXers who had worked years to gain various difficult DXCC awards etc. Friends tried to convince me to use FT8 – but I was adamant: no way was I using this “mode”.

Last week I was in Svalbard (QRV as JW/OJ0Y) and propagation was often quite “patchy”. For some periods the bands appeared dead and it also appeared I was wasting my time CQing in SSB (I do not run CW). I saw my buddy JW/EA3NT making lots of QSOs on the “hated” mode knowing full well the band was dead from where I was sitting with my SSB-tinted glasses on.

“What if I at least downloaded the software and tried it?” I did.

Within a few minutes I started making QSOs on FT8. My goodness, I could already see my friends back home in a state of regale!

One of the reasons to visit JW was to try make QSOs on 6m since Svalbard is very wanted on that band. In the end we only made two contacts on the Magic Band – all with the help of FT8. Sure, without it, we’d have made none.

The last 36 hours of my JW activity was exclusively FT8 on HF bands. Who would have thought that?  I, like my friends, could not believe it. I jokingly posted on social media that I’d moved to the “dark side”. To my surprise a few others messaged to say they had done exactly the same just days earlier. Phew, I didn’t feel so “dirty” after all.

It should be noted that I am listed on the True Blue DXers website at #19. Indeed, the DX-World logo is also shown there. To this day, my personal opinion has clearly changed since I pledged my name / callsign to that website about 16 months ago, but equally I also admire those guys for sticking to their principles and basically refusing to be drawn into using FT8. Ham radio has many facets and if I can become an FT8 hater to lover then the hobby may not be dying as some allude to.

For one minute I am not advocating everyone uses or tries FT8, but in the case of DXpeditions where propagation is tricky, it may just be a life-saver. That’s how I saw it, except I’m also using it at home now 😀

MM0NDX / FT8

73 Col MM0NDX
(FT8 user)

PS: Comments are again open on DX-World after a six month period of being turned off. Feel free to reply to any post, but remember to be civil 🙂

65 COMMENTS

  1. Mike:
    if you check https://www.ft8dmc.eu/AWARDS and take the time to read the award rules you will find out that there are easy awards and quite challenging ones, just like for any other programme (IOTA, DXCC etc.).

    Btw I find it interesting to see that very often FT8-critics (or haters?) are too shy to post their callsign (provided they have one).

    73 and enjoy the hobby, in ANY mode
    Hannes OE1SGU

  2. tnx Hannes OE1SGU

    “At the moment more than 48 different Awards are available and so far more than 177.000 Awards have been issued.”

    wow, these FT8 awards are really difficult to work 😉 A real challenge.

  3. The ARRL will likely lobby for a “worked using cell phone” award in order to “make dx more approachable for all”

  4. @ PA1MR Douwe: good idea, but I think it´s too late for that. Furthermore, I believe large clubs like ARRL or DARC are only interested in getting more members / not loose any further members. They for sure will do absolutely nothing which could upset the many “lazy” FT8-users who don´t know cw or do not use ssb any longer despite good enough condx.

    The DXCC awards of real interest are now the ssb and cw only awards. I am glad I have not invested in the mixed award.

    Btw: Surprisingly the recordings of the speeches of Joe Taylor K1JT hat Ham Radio 2019 still are not available at Dokufunk. I wonder what happened. Maybe copyright issues?

  5. If they’ll separate ….they lost ($) and ft8 probably dead very soon.
    But this is the only way.
    I simply wrote my opinion, nothing more…nothing less, I’m retired (no more ham radio) since march 2019 so…your game, enjoy.

  6. If the results of the poll of the April 18th 2018 article about FT8 still does represent 46% of the respondents, and also developement towards full automatic “DXing” is in serious process, wouldn’t it be much wiser to have seperate MIXED awards?

    That way at least people who think FT8 is cheating will no be bothered with – what they’d refer to as – cheaters that pollute the score, since now they have their own “league”. And those who embrace FT8 will have their own competative league as well.

    And the emptyness on the CW- and SSB segments of the band might be filled again with competitors for this different Mixed award.

    I see no downsite.

    It may not be perfect, but at least a small solution to an ever growing problem for future DXing.

  7. In South Africa we also had a few well know DX’ers on True Blue DX and all. And we were told that FT8 is a cheat mode. We had such a good laugh.
    One will only utter such rubbish if you know nothing about it.
    Anyway FT8 made DX possible for us in the South Africa at the moment is these extreme bad conditions.
    There are so many FT8 users now that 20m is difficult to punch through to the EU.
    But soon conditions should improve and then we can mix it up with SSB, CW and RTTY too.

  8. Col, first of all, thanks for your excellent website and also thanks for making your decision public to the ham radio world.

    I can understand your decision in JW to switch from SSB to FT8 instead of returning home with an almost empty log. Personally, I don’t consider the FT8 mode as a general problem, but I see the development of FT8 very critical as it becomes too dominant and it is very often not used for the purpose it was originally developed. I described my view on FT8 on my QRZ profile qrz.com/db/DL8BFV

    However, instead of going on with FT8 at home, I think it would be better to think about your DXped results. Apart from the very bad condx, maybe the location was not optimal in combination with the equipment. And perhaps it is possible to improve the technical setup next time, i.e. trying out other antennas, bands etc. Of course a very effective but not easy option would be to call CQ in CW. Col, I think you gathered enough experience during your past DXped (with always very good signals) to answer the questions for your own. I promise, when you draw the correct conclusions and when you are of one of your next DXped and you immediately see how your QSO rates increase, I think you will have much more fun than running boring computer driven QSOs.

    In a nutshell, although I would never make a FT8 QSO, I respect all the hams who do it. But FT8 should only be considered as a very last option and not for general usage.

    Col, I’m looking forward to see you again on the bands! In SSB or CW 🙂

    vy 73 de DL8BFV, TBDXC#874

  9. “You criticise FT8 because it is easy yet shirk away from the new difficulties associated with working rare ones on CW or SSB only.”

    I had not seen the issue from this angle before. This is it, FT8 is actually saving DXing using the traditional modes, by making it more of a challenge.

    The other FT8 side benefit mentioned elsewhere, is that it keeps the ‘unwashed’ out of the DX windows.

    So there you have it. Nobody is under duress to use FT8. If they choose to do so, ‘vox populi vox dei’, but others can still pursue their interests.

  10. I guess the real answer is for real operators to get out more and show how its able to and should be done. I hear lots of CW and SSB pileups on the air for people chasing all kinds of things including new prefixes and islands. Its an urban myth than no one is on CW and SSB. Lots of people are. Its the lack of discipline by the DXpeditions or the flat out laziness/lack of enjoyment that is driving it in my opinion. It is clear that some people don’t like SSB and that some just can’t do CW in this environment and they are now going on DXpeditions anyway using FT8 while they also play in the pool. Great for them. Lets get more of us out there doing what we love and not FT8 and this will quickly change.

  11. To mm0twx in particular

    Change happens in every area of life and as you get older most change is undesirable.

    I rarely go to the cinema any more as I just don’t enjoy the main stream movies being made. On the flip side, the internet allows me to access art house movies far easier than was possible in the past.

    I no longer enjoy attending live sport, I hate the silly music they play during down times in the game, I can no longer barrack without offending someone’s sensibilities around race, sexual preference or some such similar category of political correctness, I cannot smoke – but at home I have access to a wider array of live sport than ever before and can puff on a ciggy all day long.

    Do I dislike these changes in the world – certainly yes- but I recognise that the world has moved on and I simply need to look for the changes that benefit me most.

    There are plenty of opportunities to use SSB and CW if you really want to. I hear VKs working CW only every morning on the lowbands. A ZL and group of Gs run a daily CW sked on topband every day when the season is in. There are SSB nets, you can run your own CW dxpeditions. I would also suggest that chasing dxcc on CW and SSB is now harder than its ever been and you appear to be a man who enjoys a challenge. Rather than bemoaning the fact that working dx on CW and SSB is now harder why not embrace the new layer of difficulty. You criticise FT8 because it is easy yet shirk away from the new difficulties associated with working rare ones on CW or SSB only.

    As for your 6 metre friend, he simply must accept that things have permanently changed on that band. If there was ever a band perfectly suited to FT8 and similar modes then it is 6 metres. Unless sunspots and F2 come roaring back then 6 metres is changed forever. Down here in VK we have the choice between working no long haul dx on six at all (if only CW or SSB is used) or working 20 or 30 long haul dx contacts a year if digital is used. If you could wave your magic wand and remove digital from 6 metres you would actually be depriving me of any qsos and enjoyment (so your argument swings both ways)

    Cheers
    Paul – vk4ma

  12. Versatility is the key. Hear you in cw/ssb/rtty/ft8 or wherever. Spend your time operating, not moaning 🙂

  13. MIKE: ” I am not sure if I will keep on supporting DXpeditions that contribute to this situation by concentrating their operation to FT8 ”

    The operating mode can depend a lot on who’s calling. When in LX we didn’t want to do as many FT8 qsos we all love SSB and CW. But the choice we had was call call call…no reply. Or call on FT8 and have a pile up. This the issue Dxpeditions are having. Once people actually start to realise how to use FT8 correctly and switch to higher band width modes when conditions allow. The amateur radio world will be a lot better off.

    I shouldn’t be decoding signals that are +25 I should be speaking to these people on SSB but its just not happening.

  14. Paul, VK4MA – I see the angle you are approaching the quality vs. quantity conundrum.

    This is a different topic, it has to do with DXpedition funding/financing. Look at the recently completed Conway DXpedition. This is the first one I can recall that clearly, and openly, stated that there’ll be no free confirmations of any kind. If you see how it was organized, and the support it received from ‘institutional’ organizations, one cannot blame them. This may well be the future of DXpeditioning, and it’s fine with me in principle. ‘Vacation style’ activations are a completely different ‘animal’.

    The other point you make has to do with the so called ‘freeloaders’. This is a much more difficult issue to deal with, I would say impossible. There is only one way, and it would not be acceptable by the ‘community’. That would be to ask for donations upfront, some would say prepay, and only work those that are on the ‘paid for’ list, no exceptions.

    73 de Vince, VA3VF

  15. Pete MM0TWX- To the best of my recollection, you have kept this discussion at a high level, even if I don’t agree with all you say.

    I can only speak for myself, but I understand some of the reactions to your past posts, albeit I don’t always agree with them. I don’t know the online ham places you frequent on the internet, but the abuse FT8 users have been receiving is totally uncalled for. It far exceeds a difference of opinion or hobby outlook.

    It’s pretty clear that we’ll not agree on these things, but I ask you to reconsider leaving the hobby. Divisions have always existed, nothing new there. Stick around, if only to see how things unfold once propagation improves.

    All the best.

    73 de Vince, VA3VF

  16. A few weeks back now from MJ/OQ7A/P (eu-099) . We made 7500 QSO’s . I was the CW operator and made more than 4000 Q’s . I ran nice pile-ups in split and enjoyed picking out the weak Japanese and the DX stations .
    The FT8 operator made abt 680 Q’s and fell asleep several times . That’s the difference …
    SU in CW ! Pat ON7PQ .

  17. Billy GM0OBX: “The issue just now is people are lazy operators and stick to FT8 even when the conditions allow SSB.”

    Exactly. Adding to this situation: Also major DXpeditions are playing the FT8-game now. At the same time they complain that nobody answers to their ssb or cw calls, even if condx are ok. I am not sure if I will keep on supporting DXpeditions that contribute to this situation by concentrating their operation to FT8.

  18. Jon Anon: “If you don’t like it, don’t use it. Move on and quit you’re opinionated whining.”

    You don’t really get it, do you? Yet, it’s not so difficult and it has been said many times.

    I don’t like FT8, so I don’t use it. But I can no longer use the modes I like, because FT8 has exterminated them. So I should just f*@k off and die, as very kindly suggested by Jim, KJ3N. And, while I do that, will I please remain silent, not to hurt your sensitivity with my opinionated whining?

    Enno PF5X says “This year is the first year since 1988 I did not put up my 6m antenna, just because of [fill in the mode here]. Simply not enough activity in audible modes.”

    But you don’t get it, you don’t get that the hobby and passion of thousands has simply ceased to exist. You have your new toy and the rest of the world should just f#@k off and die, silently.

  19. You dirty $@#%€£ , playing aboot wae FT8.

    We noticed the same when operating as LX/GM0OBX calling for 50 minutws logging 2 SSB contacts. On FT8 lots of contacts. I did work some good DX on CW there but again calling working little.

    The thing that people NEED to understand is the point of modes like FT8. When you are decoding signals +10 and above qsy to the higher band width modes CW and SSB.

    The issue just now is people are lazy operators and stick to FT8 even when the conditions allow SSB.

    I wish more people would use FT8, but use it correctly and QSY when conditions allow

  20. To go to a difficult and expensive place, and not maximize the number of contacts, is pure waste of energy and resources.

    When I refer to quality for versus qso quantity I mean this.

    For a major dxpedition a valued contact is one where the caller appreciates the qso enough that he will qsl direct and contribute to the dxpedition cost. QSOs made with stations who have no interest in qsling directly or donating because they have worked that entity on a given band a dozen times before is a low quality contact.

    For the DXer (caller to the dxpedition) the quality of qso is normally ranked as follows 1. ATNO any band, 2. ATNO mode any band, 3. new one for a band and to a lesser extent 4. new mode for a band. I personally only qsl directly (donate) for categories 1,2 and 3. If I have worked the entity before, even if it may be a new mode on a band I do not qsl direct or donate.

    So – my theory is that if I was a dxpeditioner to a truly rare entity like Conway Reef I am looking to maximise qso types 1, 2 and 3. As more callers typically need the dx on the harder bands (160, 80, 12, 10 and 6) I would focus more on those bands at least in terms of putting out a decent signal and having decent RX capability (80 / 160). Because for every qso I make on these harder bands the higher the likelihood that the caller will qsl me and donate. My qso rate may be slower on say 160 metres but just about every qso will produce a financial return. If I sit on 20 metres I can make far more qsos but the likelihood of those callers qsling / donating to my dxpedition is much lower.

    There is actually precedent for this with the dxpeditions ran by Tomi Pekarik, HA7RY and George Wallner, AA7JV where they actually focus on 160 first and then the other bands in order of difficulty. Their PT0s dxpedition won dxpedition of the year in 2012 if I recall correctly.

    The interesting thing with the intro of FT8 is that dxpedition planning can now change. Prior to FT8, putting out a decent signal required antenna and amp fire power. Now FT8 provides a much better TX signal for the dxpedition and possibly less resource (shipping weight of gear) needs to be dedicated to amps and antennas (for say bands 30 through 10 metres) and more to TX and particularly RX antenna capability for the low bands.

    The Rebel DX Group has already embraced some of these ideas – ie use of FT8 means that you have smaller dxpedition teams, less amp and antenna fire power, which means a smaller boat and a smaller budget. The recently aborted large scale Bouvet Dxpedition was an example of the opposite – huge team, big stations, large boat with helicopters but the plan was just too big and would have been unlikely to proceed in full even if the weather had cooperated.

    So – what does this all have to do with FT8? In short, FT8 has the potential to assist in scaling down the size and cost of major dxpeditions without necessarily dropping the qso rate or the quality of qsos. Less money spent per dxpedition potentially means an increased number of major dxpeditions per year. Sure your qso may be on FT8 but in my opinion an FT8 qso with Bouvet is better than no qso at all.

    I accept that others may think differently but FT8 caller numbers to Conway Reef would suggest that most are happy to get a qso in any way they can get it.

    Cheers
    Paul – vk4ma

  21. To all of you whiners crying about how you have to leave the hobby over FT8:

    Bye, Felicia. Take down all your stuff and leave. Nobody’s going to miss you.

  22. I started to use FT8 just a couple of months ago. I live in rural Alaska and band conditions there are really funny running 100W with a simple antenna. SSB which is my preferred mode at this end of the solar cycle has been limited to Japan, Asiatic Russia and a few Korean and west coast US stations. I look for two things when I fire up the radio. Where my signal can reach and being able to converse with the person at the other end (building meaningful relationships through DX). While FT8 totally fails the objective for the second objective it fills the first requirement beautifully in several ways. I do agree the sequence is a little boring and there is no way to make new friends other than getting in the log. The first objective of seeing where my signal ends up is a means to an end with FT8. My log has filled with new contacts and lots of these have been at times where SSB was a blank at my location. I usually had decent conditions in the afternoon and early evening at my location in Alaska. With FT8 I have pulled good DX out at all hours of the day and night. This has increased the enjoyment of the hobby somewhat again lacking the personal ragchew opportunities but hey I bounced signals into places I have never gotten before on other modes. FT8 also allows you to see on a map where your signal is reaching and that helps with forecasting and anticipating where I can get at certain hours of the day. Finally FT8 allows me to multitask. I can run the rig and computer into the living room and run FT8 and watch the game on TV and friends who are not radio people who are there have asked who I am getting and celebrate the ATNO’s I get. Its another method and another flavor to allow the hobby to flow especially low in the solar cycle. I am looking forward to SSB picking up again but until then I am making contacts and that keeps my interest in the game. 73 de KL7DG

  23. I highly respect Dom and his team for what they are doing. It must have been a very hard time for them sitting there on Conway and doing nothing but FT8 contacts most of the time.

  24. Anybody that says that a ‘for purpose’ DXpedition is not to focus on making a ton of contacts must be joking. Or perhaps only after they worked the DXpedition themselves, right? What about those ‘polluting’ the clusters complaining the DXpedition is not working the ‘deserving’ fast enough? Not sure they would agree with the quality over quantity premise.

    An activation that is ‘born’ out of a vacation is one thing. To go to a difficult and expensive place, and not maximize the number of contacts, is pure waste of energy and resources.

    One can criticize DXpedtioners all they want, but they are there. To use Conway as an example: What was to keep Dom and Tack busy when they said – you must trust them – there were times they could hardly raise anybody on modes other than FT8?

    I can imagine the comments if Dom said he spent half of the time in Conway doing nothing, rather than making contacts on FT8.

  25. What Ham Radio is? A law defined service.
    A “service automatically made by a computer and its program” sound so… to me! So “Total Computer Managed QSOs” means “no need for a service like Ham Radio”. We loose.
    What Ham Radio is? A hobby, like photography.
    A hobby where my tablet starts taking photo of landscapes I found out during my journey automatically, a “Total Computer Managed Photography”, additionally claiming that “an art”, sound so… to me. We loose again.
    So, no “Total Computer Managed QSOs” but Hams using the right tool (FT8 time? OK, use it!) at the right moment to improve knowledge in a radio related service as well as ejoying an hobby. That’s the way to win, imho.

  26. Mike, i agree 100% with your opinion, and i see, that in this topic agree with our opinion a lot of people.

  27. DXpedition is about having FUN in the first place. So, if Col is having FUN by looking to a screen and sweeping a bit over his touchpad, fine with me. Personally, I would have gone outside during low propagation periods and enjoy the undoubtedly magnificent landscapes of Svalbard, but that’s me and I wasn’t there. CW is for sure another option, in fact for me (but I wasn’t there) it would have been the only option anyway: I hate shouting in a microphone and I like to use my brain while making a DX contact (other might call it “personal interaction”).

    While writing this little comment I saw this cluster spot:
    EA1YV 70154.0 UN7MBH in52oclo51 pse see me !!! KAZAKHSTAN 12:47Z

    “Please see me”, give me a break !!

    This year is the first year since 1988 I did not put up my 6m antenna, just because of [fill in the mode here]. Simply not enough activity in audible modes (except for the IARU contest maybe, but that’s only 24 hours).
    Enjoy your hobby !

    Cheers,

    Enno, PF5X
    TBDXC #15

  28. Shani HA5DDX, please don´t get me wrong. I also do not see any fun or joy in operating FT8. I several times watched a friend operating FT8 and I found it just boring. I also agree with you that DXpeditioneers are starting their projects for the fun of it. The “QSL-business” is just a small side effect of a DXpedition and most of them are keeping it fair. Still, for a DXpedition more (FT8-)QSOs means more people asking for QSLs. I do not have a problem to give 10 US$ for QSLing a rare ATNO after hunting them for hours or sometimes days. I operate mostly in CW, so I did not even try for example for the recent Conway-FT8-DXpedition. Another DXpedition and better condx will come. I can wait.

  29. OK, Mike, it is quite business-based opinion: more qsl – more money, but it is not sure so, because a lot of people no need paper qsl, or is enough any electronic cfm. Maybe i’m naiv, but i think, that DX man go to DX country first of all for fun, because he want to be on the other side of pile up, and have possibility to make it.
    One of great adwantage of FT8 is his informativeness: after first CQ whole world know about this station, without any “put me in the DX cluster”, and nobody need tuning to frequency, listening or so: one click, and youre computer make all other thing for QSO. Thats, why can happened the described by you situation. Where is in this case the joy and the soul of HAM radio, i don’t know.

  30. Although I use FT8 as a tool to gather band points or new ones on difficult bands, as Paul previously stated, like 60m (severe power restriction) or 6m (unpredictable propagation) I found that I don’t like the idea of two machines “shake hands” while the operator is being forced into the passenger seat. I really see no purpose in using FT8 any day/anytime/any band, this would bore me to death. Where’s the fun?

    Until now, successful DXing required a very special set of skills, in cw and/or good ears in phone to pull weak stations out of the noise, good understanding of propagation mechanisms, solid operating practice. I am afraid, many of these skills are going to be lost now, because we allow machines to take over and run our hobby, not only rendering any VFO knob useless but degrading us to passengers.

    Whenever I worked DX in the past years, I enjoyed the thrill of the chase as much as the moment when I finally logged it and once again when the card would have arrived. Not so in FT8. Its more about ticking off band points. Perhaps this is what amateur radio nowadays is all about for many of us: Ticking off band points… Your mileage may vary of course!

    So let me ask again please: Where’s the fun in just filling your log with thousands of FT8 qsos? I don’t get it.

  31. In my opinion, FT8 and CW (or JT65, RTTY as you prefer) are both MODES, as well as SSB; we can say they are DIGITAL as the number of tones are finite, differently respect the infinite number of tones in PHONE, another MODE. To use – as I do – a paddle (sorry John K5MO) or a computer in CW is operator choice, to use computer in FT8 and JT65 is a “forced choiche” for the operator.
    I work SSB (PHONE). Sometimes I like to work CW (or DIGITAL).
    I rarely work FM (PHONE), I never worked RTTY or JT65 (DIGITAL).
    It happened to me to work FM in 10M using REPEATERS, or AM in 10M (1974, a screwdriver inside my Hallicrafters HT46, with UA).
    I never had to complain about OM using different SET (PHONE vs DIGITAL) of MODES as well as any different DISTRO (AM, SSB, FM or RTTY, CW, JT65, FT8) of a MODE.
    So, welcome FT8, I am not interested in but you can stay here.

    A different thing is COMPUTER. Totally Computer Managed QSOs in PREVIOUS MILLENNIUM was a practice here, as I live a few miles from IY4M (Beacon Robot, it sends CW on 10M por 30 seconds, then you can reply to him – IY4M de AB3CD AB3CD AB3CD 599 599 599 K – and you get a reply message and, via maneger, a qsl). But there is a great difference between working satellites (AO07 on SSB [PHONE] as well as Oscar 100 in Digital TV [DIGITAL]) and using a COMPUTER PROGRAM capable to track a satellite and (in whatever MODE, even PHONE nowadays) doing Totally Computer Managed QSOs.

    Let me say that if 3 years ago someOM had written a program for PHONE (using Google Services) capable to do Totally Computer Managed QSOs so that when a DXpedition arrives in an Island (when a Contest starts, when I decide to apply for an Award, etc.) with just a download one can setup a 60 thousand Totally Computer Managed QSOs (operator swimming in the beautiful sea nerby), now the title of the topic would be My Journey To Totally Computer Managed QSOs.

    DXC, RBN, WSPR Network are welcome TO BE USED, Totally Computer Managed QSOs is the real enemy.

    If an APP (program, computer, call it as you prefer) can do our SERVICE, “what do we SERVE for?” This question easily comes from a SCHOOL (a target of Ham Radio) youngster comparing a Whatsapp Group with a 3D2CR DXpedition (and I agree with them) as well as from UTILITIES WORLD (Boeing is willing to expand 135MHz air band up to 144MHz if Ham Radio is of no use, and I agree with them).

    So, I do not say “welcome FT8” as I do not use it, the very same way I do not use (so much) CW, but please, MM0NDX say “welcome to FT8”, please K5MO say “thank you CW for keep staying with me”.

    But YOU ALL FOLKS, say with me STOP USING COMPUTERS FOR Totally Computer Managed QSOs! I used a piece of a mechanics from a relay to make one of my paddle, I use a computer to have an assistant (log, propagation analysis, antenna modelling, etc.) for me to be an ham, I do not want either a piece of mechanics making cw qsos on behalf of me or a computer doing Totally Computer Managed QSOs >> in whatever shack of my OM buddies << on behalf of them!

  32. @Shani HA5DDX: “This is hobby, we don’t work it for high numbers, like in economic”

    I would love to agree.

    But in reality, some DXpeditions need these high numbers for getting their paid QSLs out for refinancing their expensive projects at least in part. Under real bad condx FT8 is their only chance for still getting high QSO numbers.

    Another problem is that DXers are getting used to fixed channel FT8-DX and do not care much any longer about CW or SSB. I have read a report from a DXpedition trying to place a pile-up in CW. Despite open band with good condx without success. Then they changed to FT8 and the pile-up was there. So, in reality often it is not only a question of bad condx. Many DXers just want it that (easy) way and stay with FT8.

    Btw: K1JT will be at HAM RADIO in Friedrichshafen later this week.

  33. “…I am not about to blame the 20m guys who made the log because I could not make my qso on 160.”
    That’s what i talking about, Paul! WhenFT8 expedicioneer gives a chance for HAM’s, who like other modes, nobody will argue for FT8. FT8 is “efficient mode for achieving high qso rates”? This is hobby, we don’t work it for high numbers, like in economic, and according to HAM Spirit we must think about all HAM’s, because not only “small pistols”, or CW specs, or big guns will make QSO with DX, and not only on 20m, but on 160m too. Especially in case with so rare country, like Conway reef, or similar.

  34. Not exactly true, in lot of cases the truth is: other guys are now working dx that i could not, because DX WILL NOT USE ANY OTHER MODE, ONLY FT8

    I understand this argument Shanni but this is not unique to FT8.

    I mainly work 160 and 6 metres these days and I wish dxpeditions would dedicate more resources to these bands. In most cases however they sit on 20 metres working thousands of stations who have already worked that entity many times on 20m before. Why do they do it – because it is easier and qso rates are higher. Dxpeditioners have always valued qso quantity over qso quality. I guess FT8 is no different but I am not about to blame the 20m guys who made the log because I could not make my qso on 160.

    3d2cr made a high proportion of FT8 qsos but that is because FT8 is such an efficient mode for achieving high qso rates. Possibly a dxpeditioner can work two or three bands at the one time using FT8 for instance.

    I personally use FT8 on the more difficult bands but the definition of difficult varies depending upon your experience, goals and station.

    Cheers
    Paul – vk4ma

  35. “I just find it hard to accept dislike of a mode simply because you feel other guys are now working dx that they once could not (sounds a lot like sour grapes to me).” Not exactly true, in lot of cases the truth is: other guys are now working dx that i could not, because DX WILL NOT USE ANY OTHER MODE, ONLY TF8 (!!!). And therefore people can say, that other people “hate” FT8, because FT8 is in this way discriminative. Use the FT8 may called “normal” in 160, 80 or 6m, because most of time there are hard condition for DX, but on 20m with signal level over -10dB? Come on!… It is like go shopping to nearest mall with Porsche. In my opinion, when DX will use CW-SSB-FT8 in proportion at least 33-33-33%, i’m sure, that more less people say anything bad about FT8, but now the situation is: 3D2CR was made 22676 FT8 QSO, and 11152(!!!) CW+SSB(!!!) QSO.

  36. “but he now has credit for countries on FT-8 he couldn’t work”

    I do not agree Ron

    Whilst it is true that small pistols can now work dx that they once could not, the same is true for bigger gun stations as well.

    In 25 years of activity on say 160 metres I had heard only two zone 35 stations on topband. Since the intro of FT8 I have heard all recent dxpeditions to West Africa and have managed to work a few of these as well.
    On 6 metres there had been no qsos between VK and the lower part of South America for over 20 years. In the last two years with sunspots at cycle lows VK/ZL have made hundred of 6 metre qsos into that area (all on digital modes).

    In short, FT8 also enables bigger gun stations to work a whole new array of DX which in turn is not available to the casual small pistol FT8 user. Yes big antennas make a difference on FT8 as well.

    I just find it hard to accept dislike of a mode simply because you feel other guys are now working dx that they once could not (sounds a lot like sour grapes to me).

    I also find it bizarre that we spent years debating on DXWorld how the greedy DX Big Guns were hogging dx and depriving the small pistols of a qso. FT8 has now greatly levelled the playing field on the main dx bands for small pistols and now some are whinging about the fact that small pistols are getting easy qsos. Save me!!

    (In respect to other posters suggestions that FT8 use is unethical)

    Furthermore, if we are talking about ethics and fairness in DXCC – I have been ratting on about the prolific cheating using offshore remotes for years and nobody including the ARRL, DXpeditioners or DXers give a hoot about this. So claims that FT8 users are some how cheating the DXCC program or are somehow gaining an unethical advantage just does not wash with me. I frankly think the suggestion is ridiculous.

    W7GJ has done fantastic work in promoting activity on 6 metre eme (all digital qsos). Are those claiming that digital qsos are unethical also suggesting that w7gj is a man lacking in ethics.

    A few days ago on the ON4KST reflector I had a french station meep me to thank me for a 6 metre cw qso we had nailed a few years before. I suggested that the chances of a repeat qso are now more likely with FT8 and he responded that he did not use the mode because he thought it unethical. This French fellow knows I use FT8 so in fact was calling me a cheater direct to my face. He could have said he does not use FT8 because he does not like the mode – no problem with me – but to stay that its use is unethical is quite frankly rude and insulting.

    This is one of the key reasons why the critics of FT8 are finding themselves being ostracised – rather than arguing the case on its merits – ie I don’t like the mode for these reasons…… they have resorted to accusations based on cheating and unethical behavior.

    Of course this moralising stems from the misnomer that FT8 qsos are made between stations where only the computer and not the human ear can hear the signals. This may be true for some JT-65 qsos but for FT8 the tones are always clearly audible to my ears. Who also decided that artificial ears are not OK but an artificial mouth is acceptable. CW qsos are made because artificially generated tones are sent in substitution for a human voice. If it were not for these cw tones a qso would often not be completed as a human voice does not cut through as efficiently as a cw tone. In other words, if SSB had come first and cw had been invented later, the same criticisms that are directed at the artificiality of FT8 could just as easily have been directed at the cw mode.

    The best argument that an FT8 hater can use is that they simply just do not like the mode. I can respect that. There are aspects of ham radio that I don’t like and I simply choose not to get involved – this does not mean that the participants in those activities are stupid or unethical – it simply means they view the world a little differently from myself.

    I would urge other members to review their participation in the True Blue Dxers until such time as that group becomes a celebrant of SSB and CW and not a hater of digital mode use

    Cheers
    Paul – vk4ma

  37. Basically, everything depends on the interpretation of the meaning of “QSO”.
    If a look on your monitor and a click on your mouse, never having heard an
    actual radio signal, “copied” it, tuned it, discriminated it, is a “QSO”, go ahead,
    that’s your new videogame way.

  38. Col, I was trying to work KH1/KH7Z last year. It was an ATNO for me. I managed to work them on SSB and CW on 14 MHz. And then I was Calling them on digi modes. Also on 14 MHz. Using FH mode in FT8. I made a few calls. Nothing! Had to leave the computer for some natural issues. And to my suprice, when I returned to my computer I had two (2) QSO’s with Baker/Howland!!!!
    FT8 is sometimes fun. But I like to hear the station I’m working. And, Yes! I got KH1 confirmed on all modes. CW, SSB and Digi. But I would prefered to have the digi in RTTY! But I guess we have to understand that FT8 is here to stay. But still, CW rules!

  39. Hi all,

    First, I am not “against” FT “x”, After all this is a new mode, so why not. But what is amazing also is the speed at which ham radio has changed in the last couple of years.
    But what I STRONGLY disagree with is its extensive use on bands where clearly classical modes would work just as fine.
    Now, remember that there are just 5dB difference (less than 1 S-meter point) between CW and FT8 for the same receiver bandwidth ! Those 5dB may have done the diffference from JW on 6m…but on 6m only.
    Look at the recent 3D2CR and the on-going “LazyDXers” S9A statistics for FT8, this is just sadly amazing.
    Finally, a too high percentage of FT8 users only see this mode as a way to get more green ticks on ClubLog and/or to accelerate their “x” bands awards achievement. FT “”x” is NOT a “low power” mode as it is used nowadays. Guys continue to use their big beams and their KW’s linear…
    I see more questions on “when will I be able to use the latest FT8 release to correct the bug?” rather than on “how can I improve my RX on low bands” for example…

    To err is human, but to really foul things up, you need a computer 🙂 This is a good summary of what I’m seeing among FT8 users and their behavior, IMHO.

  40. To Chuck KC2SST: “Would anyone rather have no DX, than DX on FT8,?” – yes, i would! Because for me the non personal “contact” is not a contact, it is like a chat in skype, no more. Therefore i have only 296 country, i will HEAR BY VOICE my callsign from other side. And that is the problem, and not, that “it is new”: DX WILL NOT operating any other modes (especially SSB), and at my opinion it is discriminative: you will not do FT8 – you have no new DXCC country. It is like: “If you not have a newest car, you can not entering highway”. That is a problem, for me.

  41. Let it be FT8, but DX should NOT FORGET about “old school” human modes too, we also have a right to make QSO!!! For example: 6O1OO “mainly 6m FT8”, “JI1DFO as FS/AG5CR; 40-17m; FT8”, “JA6CNL fm Saipan (KH0N, IOTA OC-086), HF, FT8”; 3D2CR was made 22676 FT8 QSO, and 11152(!!!) CW+SSB QSO, especially “great” number is 291 SSB QSO with EU. Thats how look the “no chance” for SSB to make ATNO. Of course, it is much easier and comfortably for DX op. too just push the mouse button and make a tons of qso, ho headache with pileups listening, and one op. can easily run two or more band, but (for me) HAM radio is about human-to-human contact, when i know, that in some seconds of our QSO DX op. talking only with me.

  42. The old saying is DX IS! Not, DX is what we want it to be. There are still AM guys bitter about SSB, and code refuses to die. Our worth isn’t the quality of our tools, but what we achieve with them. We can all love our favorite modes, and yet embrace new ones. FT8 doesn’t mean that we all must not strive for the best antenna farm and station we can have. Everyone wants to better their station. Would anyone rather have no DX, than DX on FT8,? Then what exactly is the problem, except that it is new?

  43. The magic for me is when I hear the DX and hear him answer my call. When you cant hear
    the DX and he cant hear you the magic is gone. Col couldn’t make ssb contacts but then he
    doesn’t do CW and that’s the problem. FT-8 has cheapened my DXCC credits. My neighbor
    cant work a lot of the DX I do but he now has credit for countries on FT-8 he couldn’t work
    on other modes. The very same credits I have and he didn’t till he used FT-8. My DXCC count
    was much better then his but now not.
    FT-8 has cheapened all our DXCC credits.

    Ron KH6DV

  44. Congratulations Col

    We have agreed on very few topics over the years but I have always respected your integrity when debating a topic here on DxWorld. Bringing integrity to a debate simply means that you are willing to listen respectfully to an alternative view and more importantly to be genuinely open to changing your mind in response to new facts or argument. There is a hell of a lot of debate online these days about every conceivable topic but an ever decreasing level on integrity brought to these discussions. What is the point of a debate or a discussion if you come to it with an emotional bias and complete unwillingness to ever change your mind.

    I too had an emotional bias against digital modes but I over came this bias through my involvement with 6m eme work which is exclusively digital these days. For those who say that using digital is cheating then you are also saying that every 6m eme qso made in the last 10 years has been made by a cheat (really?).

    To a lesser extent my eyes were also opened by the sanctimonious stance of the True Blue Dxers. Whenever a side to a debate relies on a moral superiority to justify their position in a debate then you will usually find me on the opposing side of that argument. By all means celebrate your love of CW and SSB but don’t do it by denigrating users of other modes and questioning their ethics, commitment or otherwise.

    I was invited to join the True Blue Dxers probably because of my contrarian views expressed here on DxWorld, but once I read through their material I was convinced that this elitist and sanctimonious group was not for me.

    It is wonderful to have comments open again here on DxWorld.

    Changing your mind in a public forum is not easy these days but it far easier than the alternative (being a giant hypocrite).

    Congrats again Col and welcome to the fun World of digital modes

    Cheers
    Paul – vk4ma

  45. Bear with me guys, as I am about to leave the hobby of my life and feel entitled to rant. Equating FT8 to other digital modes is both true and ridiculous. Yes, they are all digital, machine-to-machine modes, but RTTY, PSK and other modes have always been “side” modes, used by digital enthusiasts – a minority of HF users. FT8 has completely taken over the DX activity, especially on the technical (and fun) bands like 160 and 6 m. Col had an experience from the DX point of view, but exactly the same happens from home – try to work any DX on CW or SSB on 6 m, or CW on 160. NO-THING. Empty, dead bands. Then, look on the FT8 frequencies, and you will see a forest of signals on the pandapter, all easily copied by ear. FT8 has not killed ham radio, it has killed a kind of specialised, technical activitiy that has been the joy and passion of generations of hams, who have invested time, effort and resources to improve themselves and their stations to do something that is difficult and rewarding. Now all that (and the joy that comes with it) is finished. People are happy looking at a computer making contacts for them, and call it DXing. It’s like competing in the Tour de France with an electric bike, saying that it is “innovation”. I’m outta here.

  46. “……I was wasting my time CQing in SSB (I do not run CW)….”

    This is the problem.

  47. Well done Col ! finally you are not single mode anymore 🙂 .. and yes FT8 is nothing else than other DIGITAL mode (who did listen by ear PSK31 or RTTY in the past ? and who was changing the dial freq. out of 14.070 for PSK31 ?) .. the computer was already doing this since ages ! While both PSK31 and FT8 modes are technically different, with great performance advantage for the second one, in terms of operator actions, PSK31 or FT8 are the same, basically reflecting what Pete explain: (rig stuck on ONE freq. and few clicks to do the QSO) .. I’m maybe too “young” in amateur radio, but I don’t think there was a TB similar club when the PSK31 released !

    ps: my favorite mode is by far SSB, I truely enjoy it, (i just start FT8 last december) but let’s just embrase 21st century and what technology it can bring to ham radio, Some of my QSO could probably not have been possible without this DSP development, still, it require same skills as a SSB or CW QSO to make thoses marginal difficults FT8 QSO’s

  48. I am a great supporter of Rtty. And it’s sad to see less activity there. But things are changing in DXing than they ever did. Years ago there were no clusters and there was a lot of discussion too. I decided not to be angry anymore on Ft8 -instead I use it if I want to do! If you look a bit closer Rtty is too between two computers. The only thing is, Rtty on 80m is much harder than Ft8 of course topband as well and without timeslots! But now it offers new possibilities for all hams and create much more activity. Why a DXpedition should be taking a break to await better propagation if they could do a bit Ft8!? It’s the decision of any DXer to reply them. Obviously people want to make contacts on which way ever it’s possible. So I think we all should enjoy working hard on our radios but also in any modes that are out for us but not only the easy way! Also FT8 has its borders. This view making a DXers life more easier. 73 Jan, DL7JAN

  49. Bands are not dead, in fact low bands are going steady. As always, it is vital to learn CW and have good antenna. Some people feel it is impossible to learn CW and only a billionaire can have good antenna.
    This is very stupid and defeatist view.
    I was portable this weekend on 30 and 40 M bands, with big antennas and AL-1500. Propagations are very good but bands are almost empty -most people are sitting on digital modes.
    They setup their PCs and go to bed. Wake up in the morning , and check what THEY have worked.
    “My PC tells me I worked Bouvet overnight, so I must have ?”.
    Grow up.
    73 Tino , VK3EGN

  50. Erik EI4KF, the True Blue DXers Club offers an award for which you have to work 200 DXCC countries on CW or SSB within one calendar year. Plenty of hams have earned it during the last 12 months. The idea that bands “only support sub-audible digital modes” is a complete travesty of truth. If people were interested, plenty of juicy DX could be worked using human-to-human modes of communication, like it’s been done by DXers during the last 5 or 6 sunspot cycles. It’s only a little more difficult/challenging, hence the passion for “email DXing”.

  51. It is like politics – there is one side and then there is the other side and then there is the truth. FT8 is no different from any other (digital) mode. You can use it 100%, 0% or something in-between. Are the bands dead on CW and SSB because of it? No – its the bottom of the sunspot cycle. In 2-3 years the SSB and CW will be back as before and probably many FT8ers, thankful that right now there is a mode that can make QSOs on almost closed bands, will seek the greater enjoyment available as bands start to support those modes.

  52. Pete – I agree with you that I have left the game of Challenge because of the deterioration to FT8. Its just not fun any more to hope that a certain band comes on to be worked using CW or SSB. So my DXing has shifted to 9 Band WAZ. A great challenge with much less frustration. And I am re-enjoying just getting on the air and talking to DXers (SSB or CW) rather than collecting counters. And thankfully, I am an avid HF contester, and unlike traditional DXing (which is dieing), its on a 2 decade long growth spurt with no end in sight.

  53. And, by the way, based on your recent DXing practice and your apology of the the FT8, I have no choice but to expel you from the True Blue DXers Club. Nothing personal, naturally, as we all admire your previous DXpedition work and DX-world.

  54. Col, do you remember what Julius Cesar said to Brutus upon being knifed in the back? Let’s not open the can of worms again – at this stage I am just ready to leave the hobby and the passion of a lifetime. It’s dead, finished – there’s no point in fighting any more. Of course you make more QSOs in FT8. Why? Because everybody is asleep in front of the PC, with the rig stuck on ONE frequency, waiting for the rare JW to appear – without even having to MOVE ONE FINGER to turn the VFO. Nobody listens on the CW and SSB sub-bands. Too hard! All that turning the VFO and looking at the DXC screen. Can you imagine? You may even have to actually HEAR a call – inconceivable for a 21st century ham. I am done. Yours in pain and sadness.

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