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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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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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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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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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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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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeThu Jan 26, 2023 8:32 am

This is a good thread for anyone who is starting FT8 and similar to read though. The observations and suggestions have been very useful.

The 'patient wait on receive' I am very much being now after recently clicking to call a few stations, and with no responses gone to make a cup of coffee. Back at the computer found they had all responded plus some extras that had called me. In a flap with my mini pileup I managed to work a few of them by going back mid transmission sequence but not all. I am waiting now before getting up and leaving the screen for a bit Embarassed

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeThu Jan 26, 2023 9:12 am

Yes, never leave after calling, surprising how many DX call back in several minutes later.

Tuesday night many stations were calling EW7CC on 70cms but I went down the waterfall
a bit and called CQ. After a few CQs he came back to me, chuffed or what.

I saw a lot of the big DXers trying to work him and not getting any where.

I always have hold frequency set so if anyone calls me I'm not dragged to their
frequency, try this if CQing, plus keep checking no big signal has jumped on your frequency,
if so move else where.

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeThu Jan 26, 2023 9:39 am

Hi Neal,

Glad you're enjoying your FT8. FT8 grumbles.... 1f44d

The waiting patiently thing caught me out to start with, either from the frantic excitement or feeling like you weren't heard and try someone else. Always worth waiting a bit even if they seem to be answering others because you may well be in a big list of decodes they've received and they'll get back to you as they work down the list. Only when I receive another open DX call from them do I realise I wasn't heard, (PSKReporter, GridTracker and JTAlert are good for seeing receive reports), and either call again or move on.

It can all at first seem frustrating with the 15 second decode windows on FT8, (half the time with FT4), but you slowly fall into the flow of things. Not all do though as often working down your own list of calls sees them moved on but worth trying again later. (I've bagged loads of calls by taking note and trying them again later, sometimes on a different band!)

Nowadays I find the whole thing a relaxing exercise watching PSK reports coming in or even GridTracker squares lighting up and 'ant-lines' crawling over the maps. (Must admit, my geek side loves it! Very Happy )

For me it's like watching waves lapping on a shore and you can either bag everything or hunt out those DX entities or special event calls.


What might enthral you Neal is that you'll notice pre-amps, attenuators, etc. usually make no difference to your received signals, (due to the processing of WSJTX), but a change of antenna often can. A to B comparisons are usually flawed but FT8 does help with the antenna experimenter. 

I must admit that I've probably learned more about radio operations, propagation and antenna configurations with FT8 than anything else.....

Voice can be very 'radio political'...."M7 eh? When are you going to be 'moving' up? Are you sure you're using 10 Watts?", etc. and FT8 will never slam you with a standardised "Yeah, you're 5/9" report either. Wink

"5/9 QRZ" never did give me any delight but I still buzz with excitement at clicking that logbook button after a digi-mode contact. (Even though confirmations can sometimes be months later, my log suddenly flooded with 'new-year' confirmations this year!)


Good on ya Neal and I hope you keep being excited by the possibilities available with such modes.

All the best,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeThu Jan 26, 2023 9:46 am

Well done with Belarus on 70cm Mike! FT8 grumbles.... 1f44d

Inspirational stuff.


(I've been hunting out 70cm options and 10 watt levels my FT290r 2.5 Watts not seeing much action as well as other antenna builds. Wink )
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeSun Jan 29, 2023 6:28 am

Yes Victor, have certainly noticed pre-amps have not helped the receive for me and only increased the noise visible on the waterfall, sometimes so much that the waterfall has become no use to me at all. Haven't played with switching in the attenuator yet, but I have found in my case that turning down the RF gain a little reduces the noise on the waterfall further and the amount of decodes appears to increase.. I don't know if that should make an impact, but unscientific knob twiddling is telling me it does, at least for my setup. E.g. yesterday turned RF gain down to 2 o'clock and a VK and JF were decoded, turned RF back up fully and nothing from them for some minutes, back to 2 o'clock and decodes came through again. I know conditions can change in that time and they may have paused their calls etc, but for now the standard place for the RF gain is around the 2 o'clock point for HF anyways.

Look forward to playing with antenna wires using the mode in coming months, but ventures into the loft are being kept minimal at the moment as very annoyingly roland rat and family have moved in for the winter. Only climbing up their to bait them and flip my wire j pole form vertical to horizontal for the FM and SSB RSGB contests. Have no fear of them, but at same time one I caught was a monster with a body the size of my forearm and really don't want to get my face bitten by a cornered one of that size.

Very well done on the 70cm Belarus contact Mike, that's absolutely amazing!

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeSun Jan 29, 2023 7:07 am

Nothing wrong with apparent 'unscientific' methods if they're working for you Neal. FT8 grumbles.... 1f44d 

Nothing wrong with a bit of 'knob' twiddling either! Very Happy


I've found that if I have a difficult time decoding a weaker signal I can hone in on it with my IF Shift/Width and sometimes shifting the decode window by tuning my VFO slightly up or down helps. (A useful artifact from not using CAT control.) But then I am using a 40 year old radio hooked up by the basic audio in/out circuitry. Although sometimes by the time you've "pulled" them in......they've moved!

None of it helped of course if some station is beaming kilowatts over your head wiping the front end sensitivity of your radio or stomping all over your transmissions. During those times I take a break (it is a hobby activity after all) and come back to it later. Still frustrating though when you get a report back from Japan or some such (Oceania still killing me) but can't complete the QSO because of the QRO stations. Half the challenge of running QRP I suppose.

You watch out for those rodent beasties there Neal, no matter how brave you are there's nothing worse than popping your head up a loft hatch to come face to face with one!

(Shhhh, don't tell my Teresa or I'll never get her up in that loft to adjust/hang an antenna ever again!)


Have fun Neal mate and all the best,
Victor
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeSun Jan 29, 2023 11:38 am

That's right you guys keep away from the Roland's (or as they call them in the isle of man long tails they think it brings bad luck to call them rats) not nice creatures at all  No No
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeThu Feb 02, 2023 6:11 am

First for me this morning on ft8 on TOP band 160m.
K3MM Tyler G Stewart in the USA.
Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeThu Feb 02, 2023 6:47 am

Well done Alan mate. FT8 grumbles.... 1f44d 

Stateside has me well and truly blown out of the water with my feeble 160m attempts so far. 


I'm surprised you didn't post over on the 160m contacts page as that's good going.

https://charlietangodxgroup.forumotion.com/t4832-hf-160m-contacts


My doublet is now extended to 88 foot all coiled around the loft thanks to a 'willing' volunteer. (She's gonna divorce me at this rate or bury me under the patio!) Just awaiting for the opportunity to fire it all up. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeThu Feb 09, 2023 6:12 pm

Victor wrote:
Well done Alan mate. FT8 grumbles.... 1f44d 

Stateside has me well and truly blown out of the water with my feeble 160m attempts so far. 


I'm surprised you didn't post over on the 160m contacts page as that's good going.

https://charlietangodxgroup.forumotion.com/t4832-hf-160m-contacts


My doublet is now extended to 88 foot all coiled around the loft thanks to a 'willing' volunteer. (She's gonna divorce me at this rate or bury me under the patio!) Just awaiting for the opportunity to fire it all up. Smile
Victor, have you fired it up yet?
Hope it doesn't need tweaking as it seems there could be a matrimonial problem looming.

I know the problem. Back in the day before the days of antenna tuning gadgets I had built a top band loaded vertical. I had an enormous top band am tx and the way to tune the antenna was to put a signal out  and keep removing turns off the coil until the 6 foot fluorescent tube which was held by the antenna illuminated.
There was 2 or 3 of us carrying out the operation and I think the neighbors thought we had all lost it and the xyl was not very impressed to say the least.

i seem to get more fun these days building antennas than operating but I still go back to dipoles.

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeThu Feb 09, 2023 8:33 pm

Hi Rich,

I have and it seems to be working wonderfully!

Strangely gained much more reception on the upper bands with the Middle East through Asia lighting up as well as Africa and South America even bagging a few more countries for the log too. Lower down is much better as well but I did initially have problems loading it up for top band. I've since used the old trick of connecting it up as a T Marconi, (throwing a counterpoise line out of the window Wink ), which has given me some good Continental contacts. Not as impressive as our Alan's USA contact but better than my first attempts managing all of 48kms into Oxfordshire(!)

Luckily....I didn't have to push the better half back up there to adjust it all. Very Happy

I do remember seeing a demonstration some 30 odd maybe 40 years or so ago at a club with a guy and his fluorescent tubes showing the radiating patterns along an antenna. Fascinating stuff and must've stuck in my mind as I still remember it today. (I also remember a talk from a much younger Jim Bacon about tropospheric propagation too!)

Yep, antennas are fun to play around with and my journey from dipoles to ladder line fed doublets has been rewarding.

Hope all is well with you.

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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeFri Feb 17, 2023 7:30 pm

i have been using the the Reverse Beacon Network recently, I don't know if others have an opinion about it.
What I liked most about it is if you just key CD CD M7VIC M7VIC, or TEST TEST M7VIC M7VIC (or what ever your call sign is) and have the RBN site open on the map page, about 20 seconds later you will see what "skimmer" wide band receiving stations have heard you.
You may say no different to PSK reporter, but here is the difference not only can you see a graphical display but when using cw it not only lists the gain of the signal received but their transmission speed as well. This can be very handy, if like me your cw is not high 20's or 30 odd wpm you may see a station with a similar speed you are comfortable with and you can give them a call, easy as you know their call sign. You are not trying to read it, you know it, maybe it is me but sometimes feel like call signs can be keyed very fast.
Another thing which I haven't tried is the ft8/4 reports too.
You are able to see what bands are open and to where.

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Join date : 2023-01-22
QTH or Location : Wigan
Equipment Used : CRT SS 9900 V4 - Solarcon iMAX-2000 - Sirio Performer 5000 PL
Age : 65

FT8 grumbles.... Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeMon Feb 20, 2023 7:07 am

As someone new to FT8, this thread has been a good read and ‘should’ stop me making some of the mistakes highlighted. I am only able to RX using an SDR dongle at present whilst waiting to order my TX’er. This has been good in so much as I have used the time to monitor what is actually going on and try different add on software like GridTracker.

As for the ‘it’s not real radio’ comments, I have heard and ignored it all before, first in the 90’s when I was running a tiny2 TNC for packet radio, then more recently when I used d-star and don’t even get me started on the DMR haters 😂.

I hope to be fully functioning on FT8 in the next couple of weeks, so be warned 👍😂

Mark. G1INU

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Alan Pilot
Major contributor
Major contributor
Alan Pilot


Call Sign : 163-CT-220...MW7TTA
Posts : 2496
Times Thanked : 69
Join date : 2019-11-19
QTH or Location : Anglesey North Wales
Equipment Used : Yaesu FT-991A,,Yaesu FTDX-10,,Icom ic-7300,,Anytone AT-D878UV PLUS",,LINCOLN II+.
Age : 150

FT8 grumbles.... Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeMon Feb 20, 2023 10:20 am

At the end of the day ft4/8 is antenna to antenna radio.

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MM0IMC
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Contributor



Call Sign : 108-CT-226 / MM0IMC
Posts : 78
Times Thanked : 2
Join date : 2023-03-10
QTH or Location : Ayrshire
Equipment Used : Amstrad 901 Sidebander

FT8 grumbles.... Empty
PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitimeTue Mar 14, 2023 9:04 am

Amplifiers help on digital modes! Shocked Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: FT8 grumbles....   FT8 grumbles.... Icon_minitime

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