Category Archives: FT8

Nine but not Ten Band Radio Days

As often mentioned in my posts, I have long figured out a way to run an instance of FT8 remotely which gets exercised from my office desk.

Propagation has changed this week, perhaps as a result of the CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) that excited the Earth’s electromagnetic “spheres” recently.

Been able to make FT8 contacts 160m through 10m daily, but so far nothing heard on 6m. For me this week 6m remains dead.

160m is an early in the morning opportunity, as is 80m which for me fades by about 8 am. As the day progresses 40 & 30m take over, and by lunchtime 20m is good.

Then it is possible to run 17, 15 and 12m fairly easily with 10m being the more difficult band.

At this point I am using the ZeroFive Flagpole as a vertical for FT8.

Nice to have better conditions and lots of contact opportunities.



Eight-Band Propagation Continues

It is fun to have some better band conditions. (21 JAN 22 starting at 1300 UTC)

Working FT8 remote to my home station (Flex-6700 to a ZeroFive Flagpole vertical antenna in this instance) I was in fairly quick order make exactly 8 QSOs, one per band, before I switched to working for DX on 17m:

KB9ZM EM57 1.840861 mhz (160m) FT8 Sent: +04 Rcvd: -02
N5IF EM11 3.574155 mhz (80m) FT8 Sent: -07 Rcvd: -21
AI2D FM29 7.074821 mhz (40m) FT8 Sent: +02 Rcvd: +10
W2AOC FN20 10.137057 mhz (30m) FT8 Sent: +12 Rcvd: +05
N3DNA FN20 14.074903 mhz (20m) FT8 Sent: +05 Rcvd: +19
KP4JRS FK68 18.100200 mhz (17m) FT8 Sent: +01 Rcvd: +00
F5ADE JN06 21.075078 mhz (15m) FT8 Sent: -08 Rcvd: -15
CO8LY FL20 24.916068 mhz (12m) FT8 Sent: +03 Rcvd: +03

The remote setup lets me run some QSOs when physically not at the home station, by basically adding an internet link from my home station to where I am actually at.

My current series of QSL cards allows me to indicate which physical station I am using and also indicate where I was when I made the contact.

One of the new QSL Card Designs

While I much prefer being in my shack to make SSB QSOs, these remote digital QSOs are miles better than not being on the air at all!



Are you on the air? Moderate 2021 Efforts

Took a quick retrospective of my 2021 ham radio activities, as I found my 2021 ham radio activities wanting.

While I did surpass my goal of the equivalent of one QSO per hour 24/7/365 for the year (needed more than 8760 QSOs for the year) the preponderance of my 2021’s roughly 9000 QSOs are the lower quality beacon-like FT8 contacts.

Not very happy about the high FT8 ratio after starting 2021 with the mindset that I should do a lot more conversational QSOs, whether voice or digital.

My ability to pick up FT8 contacts really took off when I got my remote setup better sorted. Even as I type now I have an instance of WSJT running FT8 displayed on a second monitor, where a couple mouse-clicks will complete another QSO.

My setup while remote is simple. Running:

  • SmartSDR/DAX/CAT v3.4.39 with
  • WSJT-X as modified by SQ9FVE and
  • a small¬†Powershell script to do a running display of my latest contacts.

The modified WSJT can run semi-autonomously, which is really controversial.  Where it endears itself in my eyes is its updated/modified GUI. The updated/modified layout works better for me. YMMV.

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Hard not to be excited about the new Tennadyne T-12Log Periodic Antenna

Tennadyne T-12 Antenna up at 76 ft on Skyneedle at K9ZW Main QTH

The Tennadyne T-12 is up at about 76 ft (23m) but I don’t have the rotator controller set up yet, so it is essential fixed.

Yet the performance already has me enthused!

First day running FT8 in the background (I was pretty busy, so I missed a lot of DX opportunities) netting a bunch of DX – over 40 DXCC entities in 165 QSOs!

In no particular order:

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What Time is it? Can you hear me? FT8 Timing Issues – Part 2

Spent some time just watching FT8 waterfalls, where it is obvious that some stations are off timing.

What is telling that quite a few seem to be on the same “off” together, suggesting that there may be a computer clock induced issue.

Ragged Finish to an FT8 Cycle

Ragged Start to an FT8 Cycle

My theory is that many stations experienced the same NTP issue simultaneously moves their time sync off in-mass.

If the cumulative offset is too much, decoding stops and the operator will look for a fix, otherwise they will continue on.

There are specifications to all this, but as I mentioned upgrading my NTP service to the latest sorted out my PCs.



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What Time is it? Can you hear me? FT8 Timing/Sound Woes and Corrections

Time is important to do Digital Modes

One of the workstations I remotely use to run my stations is under enterprise update control, resulting in less say when patches and updates get applied.

Seems the latest round of updates messed with two things – time and sound. Kind of the two most important parts to run a timed digital mode like FT8!

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