We all understand how efficient FT8 is. I believe no one says anything to the contrary. At least from my perspective not being able to have a full-on keyboard to keyboard chat with someone using FT8, was sometimes frustrating. Even more frustrating is being told no one would ever want to do more than exchange enough information and required to fill the log book. Most psk operators would not agree with that.
Anyway I’ve been running an experiment for a few days. The old ft-817 and Asus laptop, are running the latest version of FT8Call. The station is beaconing about every 5 or 10 minutes and Reporting what it hears to psk reporter. It’s a real shame psk reporter doesn’t give us week-long statistics. When I’m not at the station I occasionally hear operators interacting with the 817, probably an all-call, requesting a signal report, or perhaps asking for a relay.
The station’s output power is 10 watts through a QRPver 10w amp. The antenna is a Chameleon Antenna EMCOMM 3 Base in Lazy L configuration. Operating up here near the Arctic Circle brings its own challenges to qrp operations as well. So it’s not a perfect station, but with this new mode and the ability for keyboard chat, there are lots of opportunities for the “not so contest” stations. Even at this relatively small amount of output power, I’m having keyboard to keyboard QSOs with stations in Europe and North Africa. If I were to put some effort into it, I’m certain North America would be within reach
An operator named Derek in South Korea said the mode and the system is great for operators who don’t use good antennas. That statement was probably a little short-sighted, but it does make an interesting point. In many cases operators can’t put up full size resonant and efficient antennas. They are at the mercy of the space they have, and the antennas which fit there. So it’s not that operators refuse to put up more efficient antennas, in many cases, they simply don’t have that option. That’s why small compromise antennas are so popular.
Although I have the luxury of a tower, and enough real estate for large antennas, FT8Call has brought back new excitement to my casual amateur radio activities. Actually having a discussion with an operator on the other side of the planet, who’s telling me about his or hers latest project, that they’ve seen my YouTube channel, what radio they’re using, or that it’s time to go because it’s tea time, is actually communicating. We should be embracing FT8Call with the horrific propagation we have during the solar cycle, if for no other reason than it opens up Continental or perhaps even Global Communications for the less-than-ideal station. After all why should contest stations have all the fun!?
Life is certainly long enough for qrp!