Can I get into FT8? Technically for sure, but as an intellectual engagement I’m stuck in a quandary.
It is not that I lack the gear or the experience to run another digital mode – I’ve tons of contacts on PSK31/PSK63, Hellschreiber, and most of that wave of modes including Throb. Then I played with some Olivia/Contessa type modes. I’ve only dabbled with the semi-automated modes which include FT8.
In the day I even completed the ARRL’s online classes for digital, and ever took first place in one obscure digital contest – most likely because I was the only one who read the rules realizing that the multipliers were too generous compared to pure raw numbers of QSOs.
A lot of my digital radio time was through necessity. While my voice is not a “radio voice” it would travel through the house if I went on the air SSB once our young children were put to bed, the majority of the time I had available for radio was late after the bands shut down for SBB, and I didn’t have very good antennas available – so digital was my solution. I even bought a “no-click keyboard” keep from disturbing the house when I was operating, as I’d learned our small children would grasp at the noise as an excuse from their evening routines and sleep.
But over time the kids got older – they became the evening/night noise makers keep us from our sleep! The bands became marginally better. And I invested in a tower and decent antennas. Oh, and I figure out how to use the equipment & later software better so my voice worked as a “radio voice.”
And I found I preferred talking over typing. Actually more accurately I found I could do a voice QSO at the same time as doing emails or other typing.
When I started working PSK it was hand-typing everything. Avoided Macros and used the typing as a way to keep my keyboard skills up. I even ran some PSK63 events hand typing, but started using Macros to run faster versions of PSK and because I wasn’t all that satisfied with my PSK QSOs.
It is hard to get your personality to come over typing.
I started running more Hellschreiber largely because I thought the mode was cool & retro, and different enough to be interesting. Not the best mode to run though as unless there is a published event few hams monitor for a Hellschreiber CQ.
Staring into the increasingly automated modes didn’t last long for me.
While I was technically fascinated the QSO’s became more about Macro’s, computer clock timing, and then even character limited. FT8 is of course just a flavor in the continuum.
While I have a Twitter account I never spend any time on Twitter, though I do let announcements of my radio postings “tweet” automatically. Have to admit that part of the account is to “control” the user name that matches my call sign. A good hacker or any other technical glitch could end that of course.
So back to FT8 – while I have had the software up and running, done a few QSOs and figured out how to get all the software I’d like to run playing well with each other, I didn’t get “the buzz.”
Letting the machine manage a series of FT8 contacts feeling like pushing the graph command back in Lotus 1-2-3 days – the “gee-wiz” fades to a “meh” after a few repetitions.
Wonder if I am alone on this or if I’m just missing something?
Thinking I will set everything up to run FT8 again and maybe set a quick goal of an FT8 WAS (Work All States) or take a stab at a FT8 DXCC to see if I’ve stopped running FT8 too quickly and before the “bug sets in?”
Or I may find that already know the answer – that I need to do QSOs on modes where more personality is shared.