I took the VFO for a spin yesterday afternoon and noticed a lot more FT4 activity than I’m used to seeing. Of the fifty or so total FT4 contacts in my log all were at 20 meters. But yesterday there was considerable FT4 activity on all bands from 20-10 meters and it wasn’t contest related. It seemed like a missed opportunity for me to ignore it so I jumped in.
FT4 is a faster protocol than FT8 designed especially for radio contests and introduced in 2019. Transmit-receive sequences are six seconds, making it 2.5 times faster than FT8 and about the same speed as regular RTTY for radio contesting. The transmitted data lasts for 4.48 seconds compared to 12.64 seconds for FT8.
Tuning on ten meters I quickly worked one JA. There was obviously a good path between us because that one contact turned into six JA’s all calling me. Worked those and had them in the log and before I moved on I also worked stations in Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay, Suriname, Guadeloupe, and Trinidad & Tobago.
It was more of the same on 12 and 15 meters and finally back on 20 meters there was Europe again (Belgium, France, Serbia, and Portugal). I ended up putting 35 contacts in the log zippy-quick using FT4 with 100 watts into the vertical.
And while I enjoyed being the pile-up for a tiny handful of JA’s, I think my favorite FT4 contact of the day was with WH6EY on 12 meters who was operating POTA from Hawaii.
No ATNOs today, but it was an unexpected blast of fun activity on an otherwise cloudy afternoon.