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 FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)

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FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Empty
PostSubject: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeMon Nov 30, 2020 12:40 pm

Hi again all,

God I'm boring you lot with this FT8 malarkey ain't I? Wink
Hopefully this 'conclusion' will prove it was worth it.

I've already discussed reception of FT8 here :- Uh Oh.....FT8
Plus what a pain it was to sort out transmission here :- FT8 - Part Deux

So despite what a PITA it all apparently seems to be, most of that was down to 'misinformation' that abounds on that old t'internet.

Your own experience may vary, Windows doesn't always play nice, (sound cards, drivers, etc.), plus connections to different radios require various leads and maybe even interfaces.


For me I just required a USB soundcard, (£3 inc. p&p), my Linux system recognised it straight away and as it turned out I only needed a straight through pair of 3.5mm stereo male jacks to phono leads to connect to the radio. (Audio In and Audio Out - yep, that 'simple'. The radio handles the TX with the VOX button pressed in.) I don't require fancy knobs to adjust the audio levels either, I can do that within the PC settings Wink

So I'm ready to go.....now what to do with it?!


For me personally the interest was in QRP or low power operation and seeing how far you could get with a transmission, (FT8 apparently being very good for that). So armed with my 40 year old Yeasu FT757GX, my rubbish bit of coax going into my loft with various bits of wire hanging up there to resemble a 'fan-dipole' I proceeded ahead. (Couldn't have a more compromised station if I tried....apparently.)

Loads of 'arguments' and 'differences of opinion' abound with digital modes and especially FT8. I really can't be RRRR'sd with any of them letting nothing spoil my interests or 'fun'.


So I hit the 'Tune' button on the FT8 software with my radio on the 40m band and adjusted the power knobs until my RF power meter read exactly 1 watt output.

1 WATT!!?!?! Are you kidding me? Yep, QRP interests me. (Wanted a hard test, no point it being too easy!)

Hit the Tune button again, retuned to the FT8 transmissions on 40m and sat 'listening' seeing what stations came up on the WSJT-X FT8 software. Loads of them...yes, loads of them! I had my pick so slowly scrolled through the stations seeing what ones sparked my interest. Maybe a G or M UK callsign? Nah. How about some European ones? Nope. Ooh, Turkey is coming in - and the Christmas season is upon us  - maybe? Wink

One callsign stood out as I didn't recognise it and even used QRZ.com to look it up. Oooh, that'll do!

I tuned to their frequency, split the RX/TX to run duplex and sat 'listening' & watching the receive window. They were in transmission to someone else. I sat waiting patiently for the 15 second windows to pass. A little while later and they were 'CQ'ing again.......now's my chance!

I clicked on their call and the software took over calling their station back. Held my breath for the 15 seconds.

I got a response!! Was great to see my M7VIC callsign coming back from their transmission. OK, from thereon in the software 'takes' over and performs a transmission. Usual thing, signal reports back and forth, received all OK transmission and then a final 73 to each other concluding the transmission. Nothing fancy and no real difference from a typical CQ SSB voice transmission of 5/9 73's.

The software then pops up an electronic 'Logging' window and I added notes commenting on my first FT8 transmission. As I have the software set to PSK reporting I know those details will also be sent to the PSK site this being good for later observation and also helping others see their propagation as well.


So where was it? Where did I get to? With 1 Watt of unadulterated raw power!

See for yourself.......
FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) First_10

TF5B - Mr. Billi Jonsson in Iceland!

Check out the little window on the above image. 1749km or 1086miles.....with 1 Watt Smile
None too shabby.

The line shows you my transmission path and all the other little blue dots show you stations that also automatically reported reception from me.
Seems I could've had the choice of far afield as the USA above New York, Northern tip of Finland, all the way to Khazakhstan and even someone on the Canary Islands.


All a bit too easy? Well from what I've written already it sure as heck wasn't easy to set up!
Easy from now? Maybe? Who knows? It's still down to propagation conditions and luck of the draw of who's 'on'.

I shall now be setting up an online logging system, QRZ log, or LOTW, (ARRLs Logbook of The World), maybe.
Perhaps I'll leave my radio on with the software running and see how far across the world I can receive, it'll sure help out other operators. Plus there's all those other bands and frequencies of FT8 transmissions I can check out. (30m already has seen me reception of Australia and New Zealand!)

At the moment it's all fun and I have a world of transmissions to try out for.

I've even seen CB radio frequencies listed on PSK Reporter - something for the future to try out Wink


Mainly though it's all about the fact that I could achieve this with S7 of noise from neighbours Christmas lights, a home made antenna system and as little as 1 Watt of RF power. Something I'm sure even the most radio 'poor' of us can achieve.


Hope you enjoyed the final result. Hope it inspired some of you to give 'digital' modes a go. It's still all about the magic of radio waves.


All the best,
Victor

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FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeTue Dec 01, 2020 4:10 am

The great thing about FT8, WSPR, and the rest of the newer protocols, as you note, is their ability to work way below the noise floor where you'd never hear an SSB or even CW signal.

I had Japan and South Africa (From Perth, before anyone gets too excited) on 20m the other week, and whilst I could "see" them in WSJT-X, there wasn't much of a trace on the spectrum scope of the radio amongst the noise...and 20m is one of my "better" bands compared to 80 and 160m where I'm usually battling a noise floor of S7-S8!

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeTue Dec 01, 2020 6:26 am

Hi Jeff,

I've got to admit that all of this has me buzzing with excitement! 

It feels like I've come full circle in my radio interests over a very long time and I can compare the feelings of my very first crystal radio set to what I'm feeling now. My desires for QRP operation with non-obtrusive antennas has not only been fulfilled, but surprised me beyond expectations.

I seem to be able to pick up transmissions from around the world regardless of conditions too.
No propagation, no problem. S7+ of noise, no problem. No signals apparently heard, no problem!

Now I want to see what can be achieved with a minimalist station, small magnetic loop, simple receiver & low power transmitter. To really fulfill my perversions I'd like to perform the transmission handling with the simplest of computers such as the Raspberry Pi. I'd really like to take a setup as portable as my disability allows too.

Of course they'll always be people that don't "get it" and I have no issue with that whatsoever. 

Many don't get why I've always ridden a motorcycle and don't drive a car. Some think it's a biker thing, some try to relate, others think it's just plain weird. But for me it's the fact that after decades of riding I have never once been stuck in a traffic jam....ever!
No amount of money thrown at that problem can be solved with a bigger car or more powerful engine.

FT8 and digital modes are my radio equivalent of a motorcycle. I'm on the same road, doing the same thing as everyone else....just more efficiently and certain to get to where I want to be going Wink


Cheers again Jeff for that little nudge, you're the man I saw breezing through gridlocked traffic on his motorcycle when I was a little boy.

RRR or is that RR73? Very Happy

Victor

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FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeWed Jan 20, 2021 6:59 pm

Well Victor i decided to have a look ay ft8 today.
Surprised myself by getting it running good going for me or what lol.
Just remembered this thread but not in the shack now so will have a good read in the morning when i go out there.
Fingers crossed lol.

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeWed Jan 20, 2021 7:47 pm

Hiya Alan,

Good for you mate, always worth exploring  things anew Smile

I've got to admit I haven't put as much time into FT8 as I would've liked but experimental usage, (all below 10 Watts!), has seen me bag I think 15 countries from 23 QSO's so far. None too shabby Wink

I've got a bit wrapped up into 'seeing' my transmissions, (you're blindly operating otherwise), so spending time converting an oscilloscope as a station monitor. Direct connectivity to the cathode ray tube extends frequency coverage to 150MHz instead of it's standard 3-4MHz.


If it helps any there's a good manual I found worth reading for FT8 operation. Link below:-

FT8 Operating tips


Best of luck with it Alan, you'll have to let us know how you get on.

All the best,
Victor
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FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeWed Jan 20, 2021 7:54 pm

Victor wrote:
Hi Jeff,

I've got to admit that all of this has me buzzing with excitement! 

It feels like I've come full circle in my radio interests over a very long time and I can compare the feelings of my very first crystal radio set to what I'm feeling now. My desires for QRP operation with non-obtrusive antennas has not only been fulfilled, but surprised me beyond expectations.

I seem to be able to pick up transmissions from around the world regardless of conditions too.
No propagation, no problem. S7+ of noise, no problem. No signals apparently heard, no problem!

Now I want to see what can be achieved with a minimalist station, small magnetic loop, simple receiver & low power transmitter. To really fulfill my perversions I'd like to perform the transmission handling with the simplest of computers such as the Raspberry Pi. I'd really like to take a setup as portable as my disability allows too.

Of course they'll always be people that don't "get it" and I have no issue with that whatsoever. 

Many don't get why I've always ridden a motorcycle and don't drive a car. Some think it's a biker thing, some try to relate, others think it's just plain weird. But for me it's the fact that after decades of riding I have never once been stuck in a traffic jam....ever!
No amount of money thrown at that problem can be solved with a bigger car or more powerful engine.

FT8 and digital modes are my radio equivalent of a motorcycle. I'm on the same road, doing the same thing as everyone else....just more efficiently and certain to get to where I want to be going Wink


Cheers again Jeff for that little nudge, you're the man I saw breezing through gridlocked traffic on his motorcycle when I was a little boy.

RRR or is that RR73? Very Happy

Victor
I really enjoyed your step into FT8 it sounds pretty much as stressful as my early attempts and i have a rig that has soundcard built in. 
I watched lots of video with my exact set up but i couldn't get it to work then i just started messing until i found a profile that worked for me.
i am now a fan .

good luck with your set up

73 
Mick

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeWed Jan 20, 2021 8:24 pm

Hi Mick,

It does come as quite an accomplishment when you get FT8 working with your station as it definitely isn't as easy as first seems.
As always, in hindsight, it doesn't appear so difficult either! 

I managed in the end to get it all down to a straight forward interface and alleviated what was after all merely I.T. problems. As you say, requires some messing about. Wink

Glad you're enjoying FT8 too and must say I'm fascinated with it, (despite claims it's not "proper" radio by some?!?!?)

I'm hoping Alan has success with it too and gets to enjoy it. It might not be for everyone but it's certainly nice 'tasting' and trying things out with all aspects of radio.


I'm actually sat here with a warm glow that anyone has gotten anything from my mumblings & musings.

Really appreciate it Smile

All the best,
Victor
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 5:51 am

Victor
I think we all appreciate your "mumblings & musings" so keep em coming m8.
Regards to all.
                Alan mw7tta.

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 7:23 am

Bless you Alan mate.

Enjoy your foray into FT8. I shall endeavour to look out for your callsign on my reception reports and if I see you CQ, I'll give you a 'click' Wink
(Don't worry if you don't see too many M#7's, they are there!)

May your screen be green and your logbooks full.
(You'll get the reference once you start operating WJST-X)


All the best to you and yours,
Victor
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 9:54 am

Don't really understand it yet but of out to the shack in a minute.
Got a lot of reading to do and you know what i am like at that lol.
  Best Regards
                   Alan.
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 10:00 am

Alan Pilot wrote:
Don't really understand it yet but of out to the shack in a minute.
Got a lot of reading to do and you know what i am like at that lol.
  Best Regards
                   Alan.

There's a couple of really good and basic YouTube vids if watching is easier for you than reading.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoCngsKW9tc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkoQ9FD5KX8

What radio are you using?  The above are operating vids, but there are plenty of setup ones too.
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 10:40 am

43CT016
I have it running on my Yaesu FT991A and on the computer if that makes sense lol.
It's just the communication side of things i need to learn.
My head is very much like a sieve as Victor will tell you so it takes me plus i am dyslexic to top it off lol.
It might take me some time so don't Waite up.
   Regards
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 11:22 am

Alan Pilot wrote:
43CT016
I have it running on my Yaesu FT991A and on the computer if that makes sense lol.
It's just the communication side of things i need to learn.
My head is very much like a sieve as Victor will tell you so it takes me plus i am dyslexic to top it off lol.
It might take me some time so don't Waite up.
   Regards
            Alan.

991A is modern enough to be a relatively simple setup, same as my iCom.  So if you have the app setup and talking to the radio, all good.

Are you at the point where you see signals getting decoded on the screen?

The vids I linked focus on how to operate, which sounds like the bit you’re up to.

Shout out with queries....some of it is not obvious at all until it’s pointed out!

Jeff

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 11:33 am

You'll get there Alan.

I remember the first time I clicked on a CQ call, with much trepidation wondering if I'd set everything up right. Bit like being mic. shy on your first voice QSO Wink
Whooped with delight when it ran through it's thing and the logbook entry came up on screen!


As Jeff says, we're all happy to help so don't hesitate to ask mate.
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 4:59 pm

Victor.
You will be proud of me check qrz.

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 5:31 pm

Hey, hey! Nice one Alan! 👍

That's another avenue of Ham radio under your belt mate Smile

The important question is, did you enjoy it?
Maybe too early to tell, but I do hope you enjoyed the experience. 

Well, what more can I say other than well done!
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 5:35 pm

Can't make my mind up about it Victor.
I like a bit of conversation on the air but will give it a fair test.
Might get into it a bit more tomorrow now the hard work is done.
Just need to figure out how to stop it keeping the last persons call where my call and grid go lol.
Thanks to both of you for your help with this.
  Regards
            Alan  mw7tta.
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Jan 21, 2021 7:00 pm

I know what you mean Alan. 

Although, one could argue that it also avoids 'conversation'.
(I never want to hear about a colonoscopy ever again....once was enough! Wink)

Joking aside, there's always digital action on the bands, you can check out propogation and you can set yourself challenges.
I'm glad you tried it out before drawing conclusions as many dismiss FT8 just on 'principle'(?!?!)


All the best to you mate,
Victor
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Mar 04, 2021 10:07 pm

Victor,

I couldn't agree with you more about FT8,

It has renewed my interesting in Amateur Radio.

From 15Feb2021 to today, I am at 330 contacts with 146 confirmed on QRZ.

I only need Europe confirmed for Worked All Continents, and only need 8 more for Grid Square Award...

FT8 has really kicked started my interest in HF radio again

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Mar 04, 2021 10:28 pm

Nice one Bow. That's some serious FT8 working, well done. 👍

I enjoyed it for a bit, but then just like me I moved onto the next set of projects Very Happy

Ham Radio does have a wide range of interests to explore so always something to keep you busy.


73
Victor
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Posts : 39
Times Thanked : 1
Join date : 2019-08-10
QTH or Location : Somerset
Equipment Used : Yaesu FTDX3000- Yaesu FT8900R - Homebrew Half G5RV - 2/70 Co-Linear - Antron 99
Age : 48

FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Mar 25, 2021 3:32 pm

FT8 you say......

Ive just bought a new fan dangled HF radio for one of the purposes to get back into PSK after over a decade away, at this very moment I'm bust pulling hair our installing windows on my iMac so as to make the software side of things some what simpler.....

Once that is done and my USB cable to connect to the radio arrives ill then start pulling my hair out once again while I try to configure and setup up communication between the two.

Who knew a degree in Mac & windows was required to play radio haha.

Finally to add to all that, is PSK where I want to go, Ive heard of FT8 but to me that's a new thing.

decisions upon decisions, back to the software hair pulling for today

73
Simon

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Victor
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Victor


Call Sign : 26-CT-3228 Ham M7VIC
Posts : 2517
Times Thanked : 172
Join date : 2019-11-10
QTH or Location : Bedford
Equipment Used : Various

FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Mar 25, 2021 4:51 pm

Hi Simon,

Laughing hard right now at your "degree in Mac and windows" quip! Very Happy

It certainly does feel like that!


I haven't played with FT8 for a little while now, stupidly after all that hard work getting it running(!) It just didn't quite feel right, almost like shooting fish in a barrel. You'd click on a callsign in the software window and almost guarantee a contact(!) It was interesting to find out how far your signals travel on whatever antenna you have arranged and propagation conditions. I did have a brief play with WSPR but........yawn Wink


I may well return to it as I have it all setup after all, but maybe something different - like PSK.


Don't be pulling the hair too much - I used to do that until I ran out of hair to pull! Very Happy
(It was that or 'male pattern baldness' onset.)

Good luck with it all.


All the best,
Victor
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Alan Pilot
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Alan Pilot


Call Sign : 163-CT-220...MW7TTA
Posts : 1242
Times Thanked : 39
Join date : 2019-11-19
QTH or Location : Anglesey North Wales
Equipment Used : Yaesu FT-991A,,Icom ic-7300,,Anytone AT-D878UV PLUS",,LINCOLN II+.

FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Mar 25, 2021 5:22 pm

No FT8 Victor ??????.
Got a Raspberry-PI today and surprised myself by managing to set it up first go and then even managed to set my radio up on C4MF.
Still in shock lol.

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Call Sign : 26-CT-3228 Ham M7VIC
Posts : 2517
Times Thanked : 172
Join date : 2019-11-10
QTH or Location : Bedford
Equipment Used : Various

FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Mar 25, 2021 8:38 pm

Hello Alan mate,

Get you, playing with System Fusion. Wink

I presume you set up your own hotspot too with the Raspberry Pi?
Doesn't seem five minutes ago since you were panicking about memorising technicalities for your Ham exam! Smile

I'm glad you're having fun mate and impressed with what you're doing. 


FT8? Well, I gave it a go. Very Happy
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Alan Pilot
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Alan Pilot


Call Sign : 163-CT-220...MW7TTA
Posts : 1242
Times Thanked : 39
Join date : 2019-11-19
QTH or Location : Anglesey North Wales
Equipment Used : Yaesu FT-991A,,Icom ic-7300,,Anytone AT-D878UV PLUS",,LINCOLN II+.

FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitimeThu Mar 25, 2021 8:46 pm

I tell you it was a BIG surprise when it worked.
Never see a Pi before i opened the box around 3.30pm and first contact was 4.11pm.
Still not 100% on setting up memory channels on the 991a but it all fell into place today.
Tomorrow morning will be the test when i go back out in the shack and power up lol.
Will let you know if it still works.
FT8 was not my thing tried it got the T shirt but i prefer to talk.

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III)   FT8 - What? Again? (Episode III) Icon_minitime

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