FT8Call – Whats the use?August 31, 2018
Some rambling thoughts on FT8Call
Since Jordan released the FT8Call application to the world of amateur radio its stirred up a lot of debate, and a lot of hate for some reason, about it and it’s use.
The terms “Rag-Chew” and “Conversation” have been used, Ive probably used “conversation” myself and I think that’s fine, you can have a conversation but it does take a while and for some of those who are in a hurry it would be unacceptable. But I wonder what the hurry is? If you are out in the wilderness, at sea or just in a mobile phone blackspot what other way have you got to send your message to someone thousands of miles away? Using FT8Call it might take a minute or two to let love ones know that you have arrived at your destination, or that you are feeling great today, that the view is nice or even if you need help. So what’s the problem with waiting a couple of minutes to get the message out?
Personally I like the ability to communicate, and as someone who uses compromise antennas in a EM noisy environment I absolutely love that I can fire up FT8Call and be pretty much guaranteed – guaranteed to be able to message someone then its giving me a massive advantage over the other modes Ive tried.
Sure I tried FT8 when it came out, who didn’t? and it works great. Unfortunately it works great for simply making contacts and competition type operating – don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with that and I had a bit of fun with it in the beginning and if that’s what you want out of the hobby, I say good luck to you and enjoy it.
With version 0.5.0 Jordan has added the ability to send out your location and have it plotted on APRS.fi (The image above shows my position plotted on aprs.fi from my message received by Julian OH8STN – he’s about 1300miles from me) – imagine how useful that will be to the Yachtsman or to the Hiker, or remote expedition for friends and family, or even the rescue services to easily be able to see your last position report?
People often talk about Emergency Communications and Emergency Preparedness/Prepping ands if that’s your thing great! Im pretty sure FT8Call will fit into your plans somewhere.
My prepping goes as far as prepping to play with my radios, but that said if I ever in trouble at sea I will reach for the DSC Distress Button on my radio, send out a MayDay on channel 16/relevant HF channel and then if the situation allows I would send out some messages on FT8Call, sure it might take a minute but Im confident someone will hear me.
So whatever your use case give FT8Call a try, and remember its not like FT8 some people appear to think it’s just a rip-off of WSJT-X but it’s not,’ it uses the same modulation as FT8 which is why its a great weak signal mode. That’s where the similarity ends. Its not FT8.