locked Re: HF Digital Mode Band Plan Review

Mike W4BZM

Yes, can we please ease off on the FT8 bashing?
I can’t help but wonder how many of the critics  of FT8 have actually operated in that mode on a busy day.  Finding an open transmit frequency and monitoring multiple interchanges to “pounce” on a desired station is far from automatic.  Some of the message sequencing is automatic but, unless someone has a better version of WSJT-X software than I do, an operator must always approve any logging of a station and must manually initiate the next call, and often shift transmit frequency during the QSO. It’s not a “turn it on, let it run while you watch football” operation as some would have us think.

Is FT8 my favorite mode?  No.  Do I ever use it?  Yes, when the sunspots are absent, only the legal-limit stations are getting through on SSB, and repeated calls on PSK-31 go unanswered, then I’ll try FT8 because there is always activity there.  It’s designed for use in poor propagation, so why do we criticize those who use it during those conditions?  

I love a good rag-chew on PSK-31, and FT8 doesn’t support that — but JS8 does.  I’ve used it, but it demands a lot of patience.  Yet how many people will also criticize JS8 as “not really ham radio”?

I had a good conversation with N6DBZ recently where he stated “In my years of Amateur Radio, I have seen so many changes and developments, and anything that is communications is fun for a ham radio operator to enjoy”.  The popularity of FT8 must indicate something is there to attract hams and keep them active in the hobby.  Don’t begrudge the mode just because it isn’t your personal favorite.  

OBTW, the IARU effort to develop a band plan for HF digital modes is long overdue.  I have found no clear, authoritative source of information on where we should operate Olivia, MFSK, Thor, Contestia, Hellschreiber, etc.  If such guidance exists, it is well-hidden to most amateurs.  So let’s be glad this effort is underway.

Mike  W4BZM

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