DX Days

DX-Day 11. Sept. 2016

11. Sept. 2016

In one Day 43 QSOs with 23 countries on 15m and 20m Band. It is surprising that one day you can make so many connections in so many countries on different bands. At that time I was using my home-made Inverted-V Antenna with only 6.5m short legs and only 500 Watt power.

DX-Day 3rd of Oct. 2016

3rd of Oct. 2016

In one Day 23 QSOs with 16 Countries on 10m, 15m, 17m, 20m and 40m Band. It is surprising that one day you can make so many connections in so many countries on different bands. At that time I was using my home-made Inverted-V Antenna with only 6.5m short legs and only 500 Watt power.

FT8

FT8 since June 2017 with WSJT-X Software

With zero sunspots I was able to work DX (10m Band) on FT8 and a SSB QSO with CX2DK Uruguay! Is FT8 creating a “tipping point” for amateur radio at the very bottom of the solar cycle? The FT8 digital mode is the latest in a series of weak signal applications for amateur radio. Conceived originally for enhancing esoteric propagaint modes such as high speed meteor scatter and moonbounce, Joe Taylor (K1JT) developed a series of applications including FSK144, JT6M, JT65, and JT9. When FT8, jointly developed by Joe Taylor and Steve Franke (K9AN), was announced it was described as being designed for, “multi-hop Es where signals may be weak and fading, openings may be short, and you want fast completion of reliable, confirmable QSO’s.

What makes FT8 a killer app? Here are a few of my observations:
- FT8 counters the current dearth of sunspots
- FT8 opens “dead bands”
- FT8 is addictive – see em, click em, work em… Boom!
- FT8 lets little pistols work DXCC like a big gun
- FT8 lets you work the world from small or deed restricted lots
- FT8 is a weak signal – power works the really weak ones
- FT8 lets you work DX on 6m when there would be none
- FT8 is suddenly dominating VHF/UHF contesting
- FT8 lets you work weak signal DX without proficient CW skills
- FT8 decoding to -20 dB SNR is like turning 100W into 10kW
- FT8 is like having constant DX beacons on every band
- FT8 puts the DX, WAS, WAZ, etc. on the air when they might not be
- FT8 let’s you work DXCC on 160m without a big station
- FT8 let’s you call CQ and become the DX
- FT8 is amazing literally space age technology
- FT8 is probably other things I haven’t realized yet but some of you have

So, will FT8 kill ham radio as some have posed? True, it is mostly automated. True, it reduces the skill required to make DX contacts. True, it removes conversation from the QSO the same as is true of most DX chasing contacts on any mode. True, it removes some of the human factor. But does that make it bad for amateur radio’s future?

In my humble opinion, FT8 is at the very heart of what amateur radio has been about from its inception – amateurs who love the art of radio enhancing the art of radio.

What will ultimately kill amateur radio is not FT8. To the contrary FT8 is an example of what will keep it alive and relevant. What will kill amateur radio is if we we cease to innovate, become old and grumpy, and no longer bring new blood into the hobby. I received my novice license over 31 years ago and still find new and exciting things to peak my interest. Frankly, technical innovation in amateur radio directly led to my career in technology just as for many of you.

Amateur radio is alive and well. FT8 is one just one element of keeping it that way. Hope to work you soon on FT8, some other new mode, or maybe a ragchew on SSB when the sunspots come back.

FT8 Links

Some QSOs

Some DX-QSOs

Here are some samples of DX-QSOs. It is always nice to have a QSO over a longer distance especially in time with little sunspots. But frankly speaking - with a little bit of Power such as 1kW (QRO) :-)

Documentation of some DX-QSOs incl. Propagation

  • ZL7G [484 KB] - Chatham Islands 3.11.2016 - 08:47 UTC 20'964 km, 14.250 MHz (20m) SSB
  • VP8LP [327 KB] - Falkland Islands 29.09.2016 - 16:58 UTC 12'688 Km, 28.495 MHz (10m) SSB
  • VK7MD [385 KB] - Tasmania 18.9.2016 - 06:58 UTC Long Path - 23'369 km, 14.250 MHZ (20m) SSB
  • VK7ROY [366 KB] - Tasmania 18.9.2016 - 06:43 UTC Long Path - 23'265 km, 14.195 MHZ (20m) SSB
  • VK4YS [464 KB] - Australia 28.9.2016 - 07:45 UTC Long Path - 23'898 Km, 14.208.5 MHz (20m) SSB
  • VK3NX [363 KB] - Australia Melbourne 18.9.2016 - 06:25 UTC Long Path - 23'643 km, 14.255 MHZ (20m) SSB
  • LW3DG [233 KB] - Argentina 18.9.2016 - 18:19 UTC 11'355 km, 28.345 MHz (10m) SSB
  • LW5DPG [234 KB] - Argentina 18.9.2016 - 18:16 UTC 11'289 km, 28.345 MHz (10m) SSB
  • PU22PSP [313 KB] - Brasil 18.9.2016 - 18:13 UTC 10'063 km, 28.474 MHz (10m) SSB
  • VK2CIA [263 KB] - Australia Sydney 14.9.2016 - 07:00 UTC Long Path 23'399 km, 14.225 MHz (20m) SSB
  • ZD7FT [241 KB] - St. Helena Island 20.9.2016 - 09:28 UTC 7'168 km, 21.260 MHz (15m) SSB
  • ZL3DEN [259 KB] - New Zealand 20.9.2016 - 06:44 UTC Long Path 21'179 km, 14.195 MHz (20m) SSB
  • VK1TK [258 KB] - Australia - Kambah 20.9.2016 - 06:17 UTC Long Path 23'401 km, 14.280 MHz (20m) SSB

QSO with VK2CR in Sydney on 20m 11. Nov. 2016

QSO with YB1DNF Indonesia on 20m 10. Nov. 2016

QSO with V51WW Namibia on 20m 10. Nov. 2016

QSO with NY2PO Patrick New York 20m 10. Nov. 2016

OSO with K8NY on 17m Band 10. Nov. 2016

Some Videos of Big-Gun Stations