Probing 50Mhz, 6 meters with FT8 & WSJT-X

Hello operators.
Many of you already know I wasn’t a big fan of ft8 initially. Sometimes all we need to do is change the way we think, in order to enjoy something for what it is. Today I’m back on 50Mhz (home turf), and I’m using FT8 to test band conditions.

Normally would be probing the band wspr. Wsjt-x does most of the work for that, as does the sotabeams wsprlite. So I wondered if I could use FT8 to probe the band seeing what if anything, I could get out of it. In this example ft8 is much more engaging than than the sit and watch wspr. We have the added benefit of being able to have an ft8 “qso” or exchange. Well, it turned out pretty well.

The best radio operators are those who have experience across the Bands, using a variety of different modes, and operating in various environments. After a couple of years of switching it up this way, an operator will begin to recognise conditions leading up to a band opening. No it isn’t Voodoo, witchcraft, or fortune telling, it’s just getting familiar with the bands. Yesterday, as I pay attention to the weather, I realized everything was perfect for a 6 meters opening. It is a bit early in the year for 65° North, but I thought I would simply give it a go. To my surprise there was quite a few stations probing 6 meters with FT8.

People always call 6 meters “The Magic Band”. That’s primarily because we never know when it’s going to open. The thing is 6 meter actually has excellent ground-wave capabilities as well. Those of us looking for a capabilities on VHF, we may find 6m has much better range than 2 meters. It’s an often-overlooked band, but it’s overlooked because of the DX mentality. It is an excellent utility band for local Communications.

I used the Raspberry Pi powered FT-891 running FT8 via WSJT-X which does a pretty incredible job of decoding. The antenna was the Chameleon EMCOMM III Base.

73
Julian oh8stn

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