Monday, December 3, 2018

#ft8 Round Up review

Screenshot from my setup for FT8 RU.
Notice the fun callsign of the spanish station...
(click for a larger picture)
Event: FT8 Roundup
Section: Single Operator 
Logger: WSJT-X 2.0.0 RC5
Station: Icom IC-706 MK2G 25W
Antenna: Inverted-V (2x20m) apex 12m

The first ever FT8 worldwide contest took place this weekend. And, of course, I participated just for experimental reasons. Does it work? Yes it does although there are some shortcomings. I had only limited time when it was dark outside so I was on 80m most of the time and for a short while on 40m as well. Despite of being able to see many USA/Canadian stations I only made it to 2 stations in the USA on 40. It was a struggle on 40m and I lost some stations signals because their signals were doubled. I had the idea the 40m was just overcrowded, a directional antenna would help but is for most of us much too big! Things went better on 80m and there were times I got 3 stations coming back to me at once. A difficult situation since the software chooses which one to pick first and others have to wait. In that case it would be handy to be able to send more signals at the same time to respond, MSHV is capable to do that for instance but in this case not for this contest. It is just a matter of modifying the software. I'm shure it is only a matter of time to implement such a feature for contests as well. Another shortcoming (should I report it to the development group?) could be my own fault? When a station did not get my RR73 they send a R report again, however the software does not recognize that and will not send a RR73 again. Since you're used to everything automatic you have to reply fast and change the message back to RR73 and push the transmit button again, unfortenately sometimes even fast is too late with FT8. Could it be I have a wrong setting in the configuration or does everyone have this? I made 87 QSOs in the end, less as expected, it was a lack of time. The last shortcoming I noticed is known I guess, the software does not recognize dupes as far as I could see!

Since the frequencies were overpopulated with stations all the time I think FT8 will be a serious contest mode in the future. Though you don't need much operating skills for this mode and with some automated macros you can do a full time automatic participation, contesting even without being in the shack. It would be nice to build a fully automated FT8 contest station as a experiment just to see if it works. Would such a robot station win against a human station? I'm shure SV5DKL has though about this ;-)


11 comments:

  1. From your screenshot, PE4BAS works EA4BAS! I think if K1JT doesn't implement multi-freq response capability in a future version of the software (with contest exchange capability as well), someone else will.

    For looking for dupes I used JTAlert, which slowed things down a bit.

    73 - John AE5X

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    1. Hello John, I noticed EA4BAS already a couple of times on several bands but was never able to make a QSO. I saw he also translates the WSJT-X manual in spanish on the WSJT-X download page. JT-Alert is a option, I normally use it as well but not this time. I'll wait till we got the final stable version at dec. 10. I'm shure MSHV will have this multi-freq response in the future since it is already implemented for "normal" operation. 73, Bas

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  2. Downloaded both updates. Thought I had everything configured. Was on 6 meters and 10 meters for a while but the software wouldn't pick any up any of the stations calling but did hear calling on the frequency on the radio. Reloaded everything , started working but then it stopped receiving again. So I gave up. Oh well better luck next time I guess.

    Dennis,N3VMM

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    1. Hello Dennis, could it be you were on the regular FT8 frequencies? This new version isn't downward compatible, so you were only able to receive the conteststations on the proposed contest frequencies. 73, Bas

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    2. Did everything right I thought but that could of been my issue. Thanks for the info.

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  3. Hi Bas and all.
    It was interesting, look like what I mumbled a barrel full of fishes :-)
    I could operate just some hours from home, but nonetheless it was appealing ... with future 12 KHz wide channels, callsigns on the waterfall, QSY requests, callers incoming queue and peraps some more things ... dupe signalled for incoming CQ ... with al this it couldn't not be an armchair affair, isn't?

    73 de iw1ayd Salvo

    PS BTW thanks for yours latest year of blogging, I didn't learn Dutch but it is really interesting! :-)

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    1. Hello Salvo, tnx for the comment. You got some intersted ideas to get more fun out of it. 12KHz wide is a good idea...since SDR will be a standard in the future...I like to know what should happen in the future. I think HAMradio will not be as before, it will change...73, Bas

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  4. Someday the CW sub-band will be 10 kHz and Digital modes 80 kHz! Layne AE1N

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    1. Hello Layne, there will always be room for all kind of modes. CW is not dead and will never be. You can't decode FT8 just with your ears and brain. CW is still the mode to use for weak signals even without a computer. 73, Bas

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  5. Hi, Bas. I love contesting too much to spoil all the fun just like that! On the other hand, F/H fully automated, autonomous FT8 Robot seems to work close to perfectly! Already tested with a couple of recent DXPNs. Could be so useful for Bouvet ... ;-) / 73

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    1. Hello Stathis, I never have been testing the automation but I'm shure you're not the only one. Just for experiment I would love to see what automation could do in a contest. But for my own fun I like to participate myself. But if anyone can do such a thing.....it is probabely you hi ;-). 73, Bas

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Thanks for your comment. Bedankt voor je reactie. 73, Bas