Author Topic: FT-8 digital mode is legit  (Read 927 times)

Offline Smurf Hunter

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FT-8 digital mode is legit
« on: August 17, 2017, 09:23:57 AM »
Last weekend I started experimenting with this new digital mode.  For those familiar with JT-65, it's the same idea, but instead of 60 second intervals, FT-8 takes only 15 seconds.
So the same QSO exchange of: CQ, signal report, RRR and 73 are used, but it's 4x faster.

What amazed me, if this is a pretty new mode, I think it only became publicly known earlier this summer.

Already there are over 1000 reverse beacons.  Last night, in my backyard using a telescoping vertical I made my first 30 meter contact.
The antenna was far from ideal, but I got the QSO logged.

Here's a screenshot of all the FT-8 30 meter beacons that "heard" me:



I'm not super familiar yet with the WSJT-X software, and have had a little trouble with rig control settings.  Otherwise I see a lot of potential here.

Offline Carl

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2017, 10:20:30 AM »
  But,besides being heard,is there any way to convey information to others with this mode ?  Like conversation texts?
You might think this is a baited question ,but I have many other thing in the works and have yet to even read about this mode.
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Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2017, 11:07:22 AM »
  But,besides being heard,is there any way to convey information to others with this mode ?  Like conversation texts?
You might think this is a baited question ,but I have many other thing in the works and have yet to even read about this mode.

No. Not without some doing.  Same limitations as JT-65 where you only have a few characters per message.
You could get creative and sneak in some comments in a pinch, but it's not conversational.

It's more educational, teaching how propagation works.  What was exciting to me, was finding activity on a few different bands, and comparing how much further 20 meters traveled compared to another frequency.  While that may seem like a bummer, it's a pretty darn good way to compare two antennas or other configuration change you make at your station.  With the reverse beacons, you don't even need a QSO.

Offline Carl

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2017, 11:59:44 AM »
No. Not without some doing.  Same limitations as JT-65 where you only have a few characters per message.
You could get creative and sneak in some comments in a pinch, but it's not conversational.

It's more educational, teaching how propagation works.  What was exciting to me, was finding activity on a few different bands, and comparing how much further 20 meters traveled compared to another frequency.  While that may seem like a bummer, it's a pretty darn good way to compare two antennas or other configuration change you make at your station.  With the reverse beacons, you don't even need a QSO.

Yes,the RF works much like skipping rocks on water.
The higher frequencies (flatter rocks) will skip farther when the water is smooth...(propagation is stronger and more reflective)....the lower (30 and 40 meters) will reflect multiple times on some occasions...while 80 and 160 meters are absorbed during the day as the layer that reflects them is above the daytime layer. BUT NVIS allows a shorter path THROUGH this layer and often allows 40-80 meter daytime success.  confused yet...I often am.

Also the brief FT8 transmit time will allow completion during times that instable propagation would greatly hinder voice or long duration digital communications So it can help with antenna testing and propagation but may not tell much about how well SSB will perform as our PC's hear much better than we do.This is why I love PSK31 so much,best of digital and easy to communicate over.

Yes,it can be a great 'test instrument' as few Hams give honest signal reports  as effectively as the reverse beacon and it does show the effectiveness of antennas when compared at the same time and conditions.Also it is an easy way to log contacts ,if that means something to you as it can automatically send/receive/and log all the 'work' that you? did.
I refuse to punch back as I didn't come here to fight.

Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

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Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2017, 12:33:32 PM »
great new video about pskreporter

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60SPihcDE-U

Offline armymars

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2017, 09:31:56 AM »
  The idea of using it to test antennas is a great idea. I dout we will see Manufactures compare their antennas to the the other guys, but I can dream.

Offline backwoods_engineer

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2017, 09:34:43 PM »
I've been running FT8 a few months.  Really love the mode.  We ought to get together a private list of callsigns somehow (not posted directly on this board).
I can talk to stations in the next county, or across the world on this mode. Have 47 countries and all states except AK and MT.   Everybody's looking for MT...

Offline Cedar

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2017, 09:37:39 PM »
.
"Do not breathe simply to exist."

"Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again." - Jean Luc Picard

"A person who works with his hands is a laborer, A person who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman, A person who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist."

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2017, 08:33:29 AM »
 :knitting:

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2017, 08:50:09 AM »
I've been running FT8 a few months.  Really love the mode.  We ought to get together a private list of callsigns somehow (not posted directly on this board).
I can talk to stations in the next county, or across the world on this mode. Have 47 countries and all states except AK and MT.   Everybody's looking for MT...

I've got MT on JT-65 before.

For folks posting "." and such, just know that when we say "talk"  we're really only exchanging call signs and signal reports.

such as:
Code: [Select]
KG7XYZ KF8AAA R-09

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2017, 09:14:09 AM »
I've got MT on JT-65 before.

For folks posting "." and such, just know that when we say "talk"  we're really only exchanging call signs and signal reports.

such as:
Code: [Select]
KG7XYZ KF8AAA R-09

Oh, I know.  I'm just seriously slacking on getting back up to speed with radio, so I'm trying to catch up.

Pro tip: learning how to code in HTML, learning how to play guitar, and getting back into violin and ham radio after a 20 year absence, all while working full time, looking for a new job, and trying to start a new business is probably too much to be doing all at once.   :crazy:

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2017, 09:15:38 AM »
Oh, I know.  I'm just seriously slacking on getting back up to speed with radio, so I'm trying to catch up.

Pro tip: learning how to code in HTML, learning how to play guitar, and getting back into violin and ham radio after a 20 year absence, all while working full time, looking for a new job, and trying to start a new business is probably too much to be doing all at once.   :crazy:

All good activities that use a combination of left and right brains :)

Offline Carl

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2017, 12:47:52 PM »
  What we need is a good "TWITTER" version that allows ,say 80 characters or more with the penetration of JT-8 and simplicity of PSK-31.
I refuse to punch back as I didn't come here to fight.

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Offline backwoods_engineer

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2017, 05:26:54 PM »
  What we need is a good "TWITTER" version that allows ,say 80 characters or more with the penetration of JT-8 and simplicity of PSK-31.

Such modes exist, but they have their limitations, and as you say, don't have the "penetration" (BER vs Eb/N0 performance) of FT8.  It's theoretically possible to create such a mode using the basic forward-error-correction code and modulation from FT8, but it would take longer than 15 seconds to send 80 characters, even with varicoding like PSK31.

Offline Carl

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2017, 04:59:18 AM »
Such modes exist, but they have their limitations, and as you say, don't have the "penetration" (BER vs Eb/N0 performance) of FT8.  It's theoretically possible to create such a mode using the basic forward-error-correction code and modulation from FT8, but it would take longer than 15 seconds to send 80 characters, even with varicoding like PSK31.
  PSK31 is my favorite though I have used OLIVIA and was successful.
I refuse to punch back as I didn't come here to fight.

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I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

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Offline Alan Georges

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2017, 06:47:28 AM »
The need for synchronization and the lack of meaningful message passing have pushed this down on my to-do list.  But I'll get there, probably this winter.

In the meantime, PSK31 is great and OLIVIA looks promising.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Carl

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2017, 08:32:17 AM »
The need for synchronization and the lack of meaningful message passing have pushed this down on my to-do list.  But I'll get there, probably this winter.

In the meantime, PSK31 is great and OLIVIA looks promising.

The ability to 'contact' someone and yet exchange NO information is of little practical use yet so many 'NEW' Hams get exposed through "contesting" and seem to accept that saying nothing ,yet bragging that we contacted far-out-istan is important while at the same time ...useless. I often preach that contact without conversation is useless.
I refuse to punch back as I didn't come here to fight.

Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2017, 08:51:53 AM »
The need for synchronization and the lack of meaningful message passing have pushed this down on my to-do list.  But I'll get there, probably this winter.

In the meantime, PSK31 is great and OLIVIA looks promising.

Synchronization is a non-issue.  Since a PC or other device is required for these modes, you simply need to make sure your computer's clock is sync'd.
I use this program on windows PCs http://www.thinkman.com/dimension4/

There are other methods as well.

For me, the reverse beacon network (see https://pskreporter.info/pskmap.html) is what really got me into JT-65 and FT-8.  Calling CQ and seeing a little balloon on that silly google map is more exciting than it sounds.
It's probably the most objective way to compare antennas or any other station configuration.

Offline Sailor

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2017, 09:01:19 AM »
ARIM has been in development for about a year. 

AmRRon guys are all digging it. 

Introduction

ARIM means "Amateur Radio Instant Messaging" and the arim program is a host mode program for the ARDOP TNC being developed by Rick KN6KB and John G8BPQ.

A while ago I was involved in the development of the "US Edition" of the FSQCALL program. This was based on the source code released by FSQCALL developers Murray ZL1BPU and Con ZL2AFP. Among other features, it allowed the sending of short text messages to specific stations using a simple selective call feature. I saw a potential for "instant messaging" in this, so in the US Edition I tried to emphasize that use case with UI changes to make "messaging" more natural. However, the lack of Forward Error Correction (FEC) made me wish for something more.

When the ARDOP TNC project was announced by KN6KB I starting planning a host mode program that could take advantage of the connectionless FEC mode it offered. ARIM is the result. It is written in C and developed on Ubuntu Linux but should compile and run on any modern Linux installation. Using Microsoft Windows? No problem, Arim will build and run in the excellent Cygwin environment for Microsoft Windows. This lets you run arim on the same host as ARDOP_Win if you like. The only build dependency beyond the standard C libaries is the ncurses library. Arim is distributed as source code under the terms of the GPL v3.0 license. The goals of this project are:

Use a CUI (character user interface), suitable for running in an SSH session and using only the keyboard for input. If running in xterm on a GUI, automatically resize if the xterm window is resized.
Attach to to ARDOP TNCs running on the local host or remote hosts over a TCP connection. Work with both the ARDOP_Win TNC and the ardopc TNC by G8BPQ.
Use .ini style configuration file for program settings.
Allow multiple TNC configurations to be defined in the configuration file. Operator may attach or detach from any of them at runtime. Each TNC has separate station and net callsigns, name etc.
Use a connectionless all-text protocol layered over the ARDOP FEC mode transport, using 8-bit character encoding. Selective call is supported and data payloads are verified by a 16-bit CCIT checksum.
Have a "heard list" view showing stations heard on the air, including timestamp and type of frame heard.
Have a "recents list" view showing recently received messages from other stations.
Have a traffic monitor view showing heard ARIM and ARDOP frames, with a 250 line scrollback buffer and optional timestamps.
Have a TNC command/response view allowing the operator to issue commands to the TNC and monitor its "async response" stream.
Allow the operator to send text messages addressed to station callsigns or net callsigns.
Allow the operator to forward received text messages to another station or a net.
Allow the operator to send text files to another station or a net.
Confirm message receipt with short ack frame sent by receiving station to sending station (only when message is addressed to a station call, not a net call). Automatically store received messages to the inbox for later reading.
Allow messages to be composed "off-line" (no TNC attached) and stored to outbox to be sent later.
Support beaconing with announcement of callsign, grid square and TNC name.
Support query of remote stations for information such as ARIM and TNC versions, "heard list", text files and "dynamic" text from scripts etc.
Offer options for separate message traffic logging and debug trace logging with automatic daily log rotation.
Offer convenient menu driven control of TNC's FEC mode and frame repeat count settings.
Include text file viewer for files in the shared files folder as well as the arim.ini configuration file.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2017, 06:32:14 PM »
Synchronization is a non-issue.  Since a PC or other device is required for these modes, you simply need to make sure your computer's clock is sync'd.
Even easier since my ubuntu laptop seems to have this as the default.  ;D  At least, it was spot on when I just checked it against WWV.

But if I need the net to sync my computer... well, you see the problem.  Digging around for a sync-off-of-WWV's-broadcast method.  Not a lot showing up, but will keep digging.  Will eventually get to FT-8, maybe in the slow days after Christmas at this rate.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline backwoods_engineer

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2017, 08:09:23 PM »
Even easier since my ubuntu laptop seems to have this as the default.  ;D  At least, it was spot on when I just checked it against WWV.

But if I need the net to sync my computer... well, you see the problem.  Digging around for a sync-off-of-WWV's-broadcast method.  Not a lot showing up, but will keep digging.  Will eventually get to FT-8, maybe in the slow days after Christmas at this rate.

Nope, you're not sunk with FT8 if TSHTF, because you don't really need network time sync.

Just as a test, I manually set my laptop (Ubuntu also) not to sync with NIST, and pushed it off time 30 seconds.
Then, I reset the laptop clock manually, in step with my manually-synced-to-WWV wristwatch, and then promptly made an FT8 contact.  No issue.  The latest development versions of WSJT-X allow up to 2.5 seconds of variance to WWV.  My wristwatch stays within 2 seconds of WWV after weeks (I checked it).  I think this mode or its WWV-synced brethren could be used if TSHTF.

Even if WWV goes down (it won't, generator backup and thousands upon thousands of gallons of diesel on site), the GPS satellites will survive.  Even some of them could survive a massive CME, because they'd be protected by the Earth.  And GPS clocks are a specific offset from UTC... I've got it in my notes somewhere.

And you could always own your own atomic clock (rubidium)... I've always wanted one.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2017, 08:58:06 PM »
Thanks BE, that completely answers the question.  8)

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Carl

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #22 on: Yesterday at 05:45:39 AM »
  You would think that independence from technology would be more important to the current generation of PREPPER HAM?
I refuse to punch back as I didn't come here to fight.

Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

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Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: FT-8 digital mode is legit
« Reply #23 on: Yesterday at 08:00:54 AM »
  You would think that independence from technology would be more important to the current generation of PREPPER HAM?

It could be that during some catastrophe we help others by filtering water or charging dead cell phones.  The scenarios that require a long distance QSO using a field portable station are few.