Yesterday was another good day on the bands and I managed to put another 50 FT8 contacts in the log. I’ve now made over 500 contacts since my first FT8 contact a little more than a month ago. The preoccupation with this single mode is driving my 2017 operating stats higher than usual and most heavily in the digital column.
I generally log 300-500 contacts a year, and that mostly from casual CW activity. During years when I’ve spent time contesting, those numbers double. For the last several years I’ve tried, with little success, to spend more time on phone. But with abysmal band conditions and a modest shack, I’ve tended to stick with CW because of the advantage it provides given these circumstances.
HF digital work has been completely foreign to me. I played with RTTY way back when it required an actual machine to operate. More recently, I made a dozen or so RTTY contacts in 2014 using the built-in function on an IC-7100 where I pushed buttons to send pre-programmed messages and decoded replies on its screen.
That and a handful of PSK31 contacts made back when it was a “new” thing comprised my entire HF digital resume until a few weeks ago when I became addicted with the latest bright shiny object in amateur radio.
Notable contacts made yesterday included my second FT8 contact with Joe Taylor, W1JT the guy who invented these JT modes and a Nobel Prize winning physicist to boot. I also worked Steve Bragg, WA9MVA the guy who invented the SmartBeaconing algorithm used by APRS enthusiasts. And then I worked David, K2DBK who I’ve known as a ham radio blogger for many years as well as someone I often chat with on Twitter.
In DX, I worked (and have already received confirmation) England, Spain, Italy, the Canary Islands, and perhaps most notably, Alaska. And this one confirmed our contact via LoTW within minutes. If I can manage the same with someone in Hawaii this week, I’ll add FT8 to my other WAS achievements.
Not bad for just a few weeks with an entirely new mode and outlook on the efficacy of HF radio during this Modern Maunder.