Okay what is FT8 like after a bunch of QSOs?
Personally I cannot see FT8 being “my radio experience” by itself. The QSOs are fairly soulless and while technically fulfilling every aspect of a recordable QSO they lack the gravitas of a human-to-human QSO.
As we all use some aids to our radio efforts, whether Spots, Keyers, Memories, Macros and other QSO-flow-aids there is no point in getting self righteous about the highly automated FT8 QSO experience.
The hobby and regulatory consensus of what is a “true QSO” is easily met by FT8.
What does seem unusual is how absolutely minimalist the FT8 QSO experience is.
There doesn’t seem to be much that could be removed from an FT8 QSO if we keep to the consensus of what is need for a QSO. Perhaps the second confirm and sign-off steps could be eliminated, though that would be at the expense of reducing the two-way assurances that a QSO was completed.
Pretty much is bare bones even with the confirmation and sign-off portions. Not much to strip off.
And while FT8 has a “free text” opportunity I’ve seen it used twice in the last five hundred FT8 QSOs I’ve completed and I tried it but once. Realistically between “twitteresque” character limitations and the generalized lack of free text usage, there isn’t much to add either.
So is running FT8 “tasty” in terms of QSOs being “rich experiences” – not at all.
Kind of liken these FT8 QSOs as the “Ramen Noodles” of ham radio QSOs – better than not eating at all, but about as basic as basic can be.
All this said and I think I will be running FT8 regularly for some time.
Why? Because running FT8 QSOs is a satisfying background QSO-making activity when I would otherwise not be on my radio at all.
Presently I’m running remote to a Flex-6700 located at my old home QTH’s station.
Running SmartSDR for Windows and WSJT-X 2.0 on the desktop PC quietly in the background. The local PC is a bit marginal for this use, so I do lose connectivity periodically when the system runs out of resources.
All that said I’ve worked eight QSOs while typing this post – SP7AID, DL7XU, G3UAS, 6W7/ON4AVT, MI0NWA, DF1DN, DF8XR, and E76C. Those are eight entries in my logs that I would have never made using a less automated mode from by work desk.
I have to confess to being not such a great ham as if I am completely busy I disable the transmit and disappear off the band until another stretch of time where I can keep one eye open letting WSJT-X run again.
Using this background strategy, if a person could pick up say 40 QSOs a day for say four days each work week that quickly tally to more than 7500 extra QSOs a year that operator wouldn’t have made at all.
So on that basis I figure I’ll have FT-8 running in the background.
By the way that 7500 extra QSOs could easily be much more if one’s remote resources allowed running several bands at the same time. I’m guessing I could run more like 20,000 extra QSOs yearly if I wanted to tweak my setup a bit.