I have a friend who has always been a confirmed low-power CW operator. But last summer he told me had started using digital modes while in the field. When I asked why, he explained that field organizations, like POTA and others, require a minimum number of contacts before an activation is considered valid. So when all the HF activity moved to FT8, many field operators started taking it along so they could be assured of making the minimum number of contacts before switching to a more favored mode.
That conversation came to mind a few days ago while compiling year-end statistics for my radio activity in 2019. Total contacts for this year lagged last year by a few hundred. With less than two-weeks to go before we roll over to the New Year, I figured I could easily match last year’s total if I spent a few evenings using FT8.
These kinds of metrics don’t normally motivate me, and there’s not much to be gained from making a few hundred more domestic contacts, I already have WAS via FT8. But this year was trending lower than last year and that was down from the previous year. No doubt a result of diminishing HF propagation on the way to the bottom. Still, seeing the numbers made me want to at least equal last years efforts.
So, on this day after Christmas, I need less than fifty contacts to match last year. Hitting that goal seems fairly certain. There’s seemingly unlimited FT8 activity on 80, 40, and 30 meters.
And then this morning, I made my very first digital contact on 60 meters and now it feels like another magic portal has opened…