Make The Contact

Regarding the important religious issue of ham radio modulation, I am agnostic. There is room in ham radio for many modes including CW, AM, FM, SSB, RTTY, DV, FT8, and more. This springs from my belief that the universal purpose of amateur radio is to have fun messing around with radios. As long as you are obeying the FCC rules (or equivalent), having fun, and not being a pain to other radio hams, you have my full support to choose whatever emission type you prefer.

When I mention the use of FT8, I often get comments from folks disparaging the mode. Usually, the complaint is that FT8 is too impersonal or that it relies too much on DSP and computer power to get the job done. Those are actually valid complaints. Most of us would rather hear the voice of the other operator (or their CW fist) and have just a bit of interaction with them, even if it’s just “Roger, Five Nine Colorado.” (JS8 is a digital mode that provides a bit more interaction, so that is another option.) And there is no question that we depend on the technology to make the contact (more so than your typical CW or SSB contact.)

Recently, I wrote about how I need A Reason To Get On The Air, which is all about going after some particular operating activity whether it be DXCC, SOTA, POTA or whatever. The main objective of such activity is making a radio contact. Can I get my electromagnetic wave through the ether and have it arrive at the other station’s location? Then can they get their signal back to me, so we have a legitimate contact. If so, I get to check the box on that radio contact. See What is a Valid QSO?

I am not alone because many hams are voting with their transceiver settings on a daily basis, choosing FT8 over other modes. They are prioritizing making the contact higher than having a robust conversation with another radio operator. In fact, I sometimes hear radio amateurs comment that they prefer not having to deal with the standard chit-chat that provides a signal report, name, location, etc. They would rather just get the contact and put it in the log.

And it’s not just FT8. Many examples of ham radio operation emphasize making the QSO, independent of the mode used: SOTA, POTA, IOTA, DXCC, WAS, WAZ, contesting, EME, meteor scatter, and more. Meteor scatter is an interesting one…on the surface, it is not the most exciting activity. Sometimes it feels like watching paint dry because it may take 20 or 30 minutes to complete a contact. However, there is clearly a challenge here…can I bounce a signal off a meteor trail and have it reach the other station? And can I hear the other station’s reply? I’ve worked new stations and grids on 6m and 2m using this method and I enjoy getting a new one in the log. Perhaps not much different than busting through a CW or SSB pileup trying to work a rare DXpedition.

So keep having fun messing around with radios, using whatever mode you like.
And make the contact…we can talk about it later.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Make The Contact appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “Make The Contact”

  • Tim KD0UUU:

    If it wasn’t for digital modes, I couldn’t make a contact if I wanted to, my ears are junk after a bad reaction to a flu shot. Needless to say, I refuse to get any more vaccines after getting hurt like that. I had great hearing, got the flu shot, got a mild fever and lost 40DB of hearing in left ear and 80 DB of hearing in right ear. Never again!

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