Tuesday, January 9, 2018

After finally getting that newfangled FT-8 software to "talk" to my radio, I've been playing around a bit more with FT-8 and looking at some of the You Tube videos about same. My goal is to get more familiar with this new, absolutely feature-rich communication software. 

Clearly FT-8 is a powerful communications mode with all kinds of commercial communication applications, not to mention a "Great Leap Forward" for advancing the communication art.  

On the other hand, I can see now where one of my ham friend's comments about the ARRL possibly issuing a "DXCC for stations that can't hear each other" comes from.  

Indeed, when the FT-8 software is in its automatic mode, it seems that the only essential human interaction needed is a single mouse click to highlight somebody's CQ and the entire QSO exchange from that point forward is automatic

In that sense, it seems to me that any new DXCC certificate for that mode (indeed, I read where someone has just completed DXCC via FT-8) should be awarded to that person's station call sign....and the name of their computer....rather to the human operator!

Essentially this new mode of operating is: "My computer talking to your computer". 

And I suppose the next (logical?) step will be for us to simply set a piece of software up to send CQ, and then when somebody (actually their computer)  answers, our computer will automatically complete the signal exchange, send a signal report, send "RRR" and then "73" and then go back to calling CQ for the next (automatic) QSO.  We could even leave our computers and radios running all day in that mode and simply check back in the evening to see what stations (computers) our computer has "worked".

Again, don't get me wrong, FT-8 is another aspect of our hobby that is really advancing the state of the communication art.  And, clearly, it's already proving to be great "candy" for the computer geeks among us not to mention attracting newbees to the hobby.  

But, at least with PSK-31, JT-65, RTTY (et al) ....and even with our original "digital" mode (CW)...there's still a good bit of human interaction involved as, with the exception of some macros that we create, we still have to key in our exchanges.  

I also fully expect the "CW testing forever" crowd will soon be petitioning the FCC to make copying "FT-8 white noise by ear" an essential part of the USA's future amateur radio license structure. 

Bottom line:  Sorry, but for me, there simply ain't no "magic" in standing by while two computers talk to each other by amateur radio!