Hi again all,
God I'm boring you lot with this FT8 malarkey ain't I?
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
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?
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.......
TF5B - Mr. Billi Jonsson in Iceland!
Check out the little window on the above image. 1749km or 1086miles.....with 1 Watt
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
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,