What is FT8Call? FT8Call is a derivative of FT8 the digital mode that took over the HAM Radio bands last year due to its ability to be heard over very long distances even when there is poor propagation.
I enjoyed FT8 to begin with but I soon found it to be a bit “samey” its great if you just want to fill your log and apply for awards and certificates, something which many Operators enjoy. But not me, I want the opertunity to have a conversation occasionally.
Thats where FT8Call comes in. Earlier this year I was invited as part if the Portable Digital & QRP group on facebook to test a very early release of the FT8Call software developed by Jordan Sherer – KN4CRD. I jumped at the chance of course as it sounded perfect, a digital mode with the benefits of FT8 that you can send and receive useful info with? – count me in!
That wasn’t that long ago and its gone from strength to strength in just a few months, amazing work by Jordan. To begin with the mode was very similar to FT8 and FT8Call could decode FT8 however that is no longer the case, the encoding has been enhanced and its no longer compatible so if you use it to try and contact an FT8 user its not going to work, and vice-versa.
How does it work? Simple, calling CQ is a just a case of clicking the CQ button followed by send. to call or reply to a specific station right click on their callsign in the list on the left, or type in the call sign followed by the text and click send. FT8Call will split the message up into parts to send in 15 second transmissions (like in FT8, however it doesn’t wait for the station to respond, it will continue to send until the whole message is transmitted) the send button label will tell you how many separate 15 second transmissions it will be.
FT8Call also includes the ability to send commands to other stations, for example sending ALLCALL? will result in any other station with the AUTO option switch on will reply with your SNR, you can also ask a striation directly using his or her callsign eg OH8STN?. there are other commands so please see the docs for more info.
The software is still in pre-release which means that there will be bugs and Jordan has set an expiry date for each version to ensure that old incompatible or buggy versions don’t remain in use. and in order to stay informed about the latest release you need to be a member of the group in the link below (worth noting that the only mails you get from the group are the notifications of the next version – no spam).
To sign up for the group head here: https://groups.io/g/ft8call
Once you are a member you can access the download links here: ttps://groups.io/g/ft8call/wiki/FT8Call-Latest-Release-Download-Links
If you want to read the documentation while you wait for approval (and its worth reading to find out about all the available features) its here: FT8Call Documentation
See you on the Air!