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 FT8 grumbles....

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Victor
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Victor


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FT8 grumbles.... Empty
PostSubject: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeWed Aug 24, 2022 5:39 pm

FT8 - Yep, we know some hate it and equally others absolutely love it!

But since rediscovering the 'joys' of such modes (including FT4 etc.) I've become to enjoy it.......apart from......


I was informed right from the start that I'd need my computer clock setting accurately, so I downloaded Dimension 4 for Windows. Atomic clock accuracy!
So why are some operators time off? Sometimes by a huge margin that makes decoding difficult!


Why does everyone jump about all over the place?
(OK, not everyone but a surprising amount.)
Again, I was informed to pick a gap in the waterfall, tick the "Hold TX Freq" box on the WJST-X software and start operations.
Yet often I see operators jumping all over the shop?! Sometimes I'm calling CQ and all of a sudden I'm not getting responses so stop transmitting......
Only to find some b*gger has been transmitting all over the top of me!
Worse still is when someone has completed a QSO with you then starts calling CQ on the same frequency as you. Rolling Eyes
Maybe that answers the question of why people 'jump' frequency.....cos someone's jumped on yours!


Pile-ups.
OK, we know that when certain DX stations come on line everyone and their dog wants to bag them for their logs.
But why oh why would you constantly transmit even though you're not getting through at all? I've witnessed operators incessantly transmitting over & over again and often with the aforementioned jumping about the waterfall frequencies! Then again most of us have experienced such pile-ups on other modes with incessant calling.


Splatter.
You'll probably have witnessed this on any mode on the bands, the operator that is 'splattering' a signal all over the place!
It's atrocious when it's on the FT8 waterfall with them often splattering all over everyone else's signals and often it's impossible to decode them anyway their signal becoming so distorted. Perhaps this one's a "newbie" mistake but some seem to constantly be doing it maybe thinking that cranking their everything controls to "Full" will get their signals through.....it often doesn't.


Zombie calls.
Anyone who has worked FT4/FT8 has probably witnessed this one, where an operator is calling CQ over and over again, sometimes all day long!
It's only annoying because often you'll call back, maybe get a report and then absolutely nothing. Often they revert back to calling CQ again!?!
That's if you get a response in the first place often making you doubt your setup as to whether they're receiving you.
(I've heard this on SSB where someone calls CQ but obviously listening to a far flung webSDR and missing all the nearby or ground wave calls!)


Ignorance.
Hmm, is this one difficult to tell? Are your signals getting through?
The thing is when you call someone back on their CQ and suddenly their transmission stops it makes you wonder what's going on.
Especially when they then start a CQ again but this time add "NA" for North America, or "JA/JP" for Japan or even "DX".
They could've courteously answered your call and then rectified their 'mistake' on their next transmission.
Maybe I'm reading too much into that one, for some taking notice of that screen is all too much and you might simply have been 'missed'.


There's probably many more 'pet-peeves' with such modes, (make mention if you wish), but these are my main ones.


Oh, not forgetting knowing when someone has received a Windows notification......because it's transmitted all over the FT8 frequency like some mental doorbell!
Turn your flipping notifications off if using the computers sound card will you?


All of these tend to happen more often in the evening.....maybe everyone's just got home after work, thrown operating practices out of the window and just want to bag a few more contacts for the log. Who knows? 



Anyway, old man moaning......but it's surprising how often "new licence holders" get blamed for these sort of things. Wink

Still enjoying it though. FT8 grumbles.... 1f44d



Do you FT8? Loving it? Loathing it? Recognise anything I've mentioned?

Why not let us know by posting something up.


All the best,
Victor

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Alan Pilot
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FT8 grumbles.... Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeThu Aug 25, 2022 8:01 am

Know exactly what you are saying Victor.
The time thing gets me as everywhere you look when setting up the mode tells you about it.
The other one is voices in the short gap they must live next door to each other and put the squelch up lol.
A Spanish station the other day calling CQ NA all day never replying to other stations calling him but also i didn't see any NA stations replying to him.
You where the one that got me into FT8 and then you gave up with it and so did i for some time.
Back on it a year + now but like FT4 best plus finding places in the world i never knew existed before.

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Victor
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FT8 grumbles.... Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeThu Aug 25, 2022 10:19 am

You know it Alan mate and pretty sure most FT8 operators have seen similar things.

Your Spanish "CQ NA" ignoring all other calls is a classic 'zombie station'. Wink

I'm glad that I went back to it and having a lot more fun than I did first time around. Still getting there but not hitting the continents like you with confirmed QSO's. Not that I'm giving up....at least one has got to answer and give me a QRZ confirmation!

I'm pretty sure that a lot view their waterfall rather than the contacts screen and don't bother with anything less than -18dB. Shame because I've had some great contacts with the weaker signals and often a thanks for QSO or eQSL card from them. FT8 grumbles.... 1f44d

FT4 - might not have the strength of decode like FT8 but as you say some interesting stations working it.

Glad you're still enjoying it Alan and I've already noticed that stations work in cycles....one month it's all green with worked stations and the next it's all new grids and calls!

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FT8 grumbles.... Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeSat Aug 27, 2022 6:35 am

At times it is frustrating but don't let the lids get you down.

I hardly ever call anyone on their frequency.

I do set hold frequency but keep checking no one has come onto 'my' frequency.
If someone does I move, btw I have moved mid qso and it still works.
As long as you are within the passband it should be ok.

The clock, mine updates every 15minutes and no problems with that as long as
I see most timings are very low, if they drift out I may do a manual update but not often.

Pileups I call every so often and wait, sometimes they come back over 5minutes later so keep watching.

Splatter, if you have an SDR TX you can monitor your out going signal and see if your producing
anything obvious, at least you can with ICOMS.
If no SDR just keep the ALC very low, just tickling the first bars should be ok.

I find if you loose stations it's most likely just fading.
Fading seems more of an issue on these weak signal modes, paths can come and go quickly.
I have lost many a qso because it just fades out.

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FT8 grumbles.... Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeSat Aug 27, 2022 7:38 am

Hi Mike,

Some brilliant insight into FT4/8 operations there and very much appreciated.

I think it was you that mentioned before about moving frequency even mid QSO to finally bag a contact and have now used that method effectively. Especially helpful if someone has jumped on your frequency during your QSO.

Also an excellent remark regarding signal fading especially when you consider how effective such modes are even when propagation is apparently low. Recently I had several stations suddenly appear from the USA on 30m and called one in the hope only to nearly wet myself when I got an answer and signal report! That was as far as it went though without completing the QSO as their signals totally disappeared after that and never did come back. (Had a similar scenario with Japan on 17m recently too.....I'm desperate to grab some of that further DX!)

I'm not sure if it was you or Alan that mentioned it to me but I've often used the patient wait on receive now and sometimes even waited myself on transmission. When their signals come back and even if they've started another CQ call you can often call back on your transmission cycle and complete the QSO with them. Totally rewarding feeling to do that.

As for splatter who knows but often as radio enthusiasts we can transmit rather blindly unless we have equipment for such. My homebrew interface has a level control so along with the radio settings I can ensure I am at my licence limit, (sometimes less just for the fun of QRP), and make sure my ALC isn't twitching. This seems to work very well for me.


Awesome stuff there Mike and really good to share some operating tips with digi-modes. 

Often it can feel like you dare not mention FT8 etc. on a forum as you feel that you'll hear the same boring "it's not proper radio" sort of quip. But as shown just in this brief discussion so far there's a lot more to it all than simply staring at a computer screen.....there's much more radio operating principles involved than first appears. Wink

Be good to catch you in the log one day Mike. I remember how excited I was to bag a contact with Alan after recognising his call sign on that FT8 screen a while back.

Thanks again.


All the best, 
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeSat Aug 27, 2022 10:58 pm

If you hear me any time any band please give me a call Victor and that goes for any other member to.

Always pleased to work anyone even if I am chasing dx.

FT8/FT4 certainly have fast fading at times and sometimes no replies at all like there is a one way path.

As to FT8 being proper radio, it is.
I have done many things in radio and it's no worse than any other mode I have worked.
It may not be every ones cup o tea but we are not forced to do it.

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