The rise and rise of FT8

There is no doubt in my mind that FT8 has been phenomenal.

Every day this new digital mode seems to attract more and more people. It works with the briefest of openings and the software needed is free. It takes up about 60Hz only and works with weak signals. On a recent (rare for me) visit to 20m, DX from all over the world was spotted.

Even on 2m VHF, most days I spot signals from all over western Europe under flat conditions even with my omni antenna.

What will the Es season bring on 6m this year with this mode?


Roger Lapthorn, G3XBM, is a regular contributor to and writes from Cambridge, England.

9 Responses to “The rise and rise of FT8”

  • Bob N2SU:

    This mode will be ideal for 6m Sporadic-E work!

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    I have been in ham radio since my novice days, 1963/64. I have seen a lot of changes, the most dramatic (at that time) was PSK31 basically killing CW world wide. For the first time a new mode came out that could out perform CW. Oliva and others also have made in roads into the ham radio world that will probably never die….But WSJT-X has done more for changing ham radio then I have ever seen…Real dramatic changes, and yes a lot of drama from those who can’t handle change Started when the spark gap was replaced by CW, AM invaded the CW world, SSB went after AM… So much drama from so many people who hate change.

    Me I go with the flow and this week-end it was WPX and the mess that was fun to tackle with my new IC-7300 and the FTdx5000MP that was another recent trade. This evening I called CQ on 20 meters and no response. Also nothing on the spectrum scope either. Naturally from 20-10 we are talking dead bands… 20 meters did have a few FT8, 30 meters was a little busier. 40 meters was a raging mess with hundreds of stations. 80 meter was starting to fill up. I made contacts on all of them with only 50 watts and a G5RV.

    Then I listened to the CW portion. 80, 40 and 30 did have some activity. 80 SSB had the “good old boys” who where having fun and probably drank too much. 40 meters had the usual mix and as I said 20 meters was dead.

    FT and the rest of WSJT-X has, in my case and many others, opened the world of ham radio to a new mode that works anytime of the day or night…But it will take a few band changes. Low power, poor antennas, QRM filled locations don’t seem to really bother it. As mentioned 6 and 2 meters with FT8 and the other WSJT-X goodies makes the magic band even more magic and 2 meters can come alive and net good ones even on a bad day.

    Here in the US FT8 is growing and the cranky old men who hate change are just as cranky as ever. The rest of us are having a ball. FT8 might at times be a zombie mode because of the automation, but in reality it does take time to learn how to use it and you don’t always get the DX you wanted. It has it own unique challenges and I hope others will jump in and have some fun with it…

  • Ray Lowe WD5DHK:

    6 meter sporadic e is what the mode was actually designed for. So hopefully this season it will work good on that mode.
    7 3 w d 5 d h k Ray

  • N8WAC/ Tony:

    I’ve used FT8 from 160 meters thru 432 MHz. On 432 MHz I worked AA2UK at 476 miles using FT8. This is such a great mode compared to JT65. JT65 is a nice mode. But at 60 second cycles it gets old quick. You will not get bored using the 15 second cycles of FT8. I can’t wait to find somebody to give up cw on 1.2 GHz and give FT8 a try.


  • walt n5eqy:

    Having been on the air since ’73, i have used nearly every mode available to me and in several differnet states and 5 foreign nations. I have always love the thrill of making a friend, talking/typing/videos/PK232/PSK/RTTY, etc. Getting to know someone. For me FT/Jr modes is merely a signal report, nothing more, its not a contact. These modes take the contact out of ham radio, but is good to get wallpaper or certificates from someone/somewhere that you will never see or know. Boring!!! However ya pay the money and make your choice. Personally i rather have a new friend than a piece of paper for a robo-contact. Ya’ll have a good time if that’s your thing. But pls try to stay in the allotted space for your type of mode.

  • N8WAC/ Tony:

    Using this mode is no different than someone working a rare DX entity with a huge pile up with the entity giving every contact a 5/9. At least this mode gives one a more true signal report. You are correct that this mode isn’t for rag chewers. It wasn’t signed for that. This mode was designed for VHF sporadic E openings which at times opens for as short as seconds or as long as hours.

  • bob giraud:

    Great news.

  • bob giraud W2STF:

    Great news.

  • Ray NY1AM:

    Great thoughts and opinions from all. FT8 is a great mode and I’m sure more improvements will make it even more interesting in the future along with other digital modes. I’ve been involved in amateur radio since 1973 and have enjoyed all of the different modes and evolving technologies that it has to offer. Not every mode is for everyone (different strokes for different folks) and the diversity of ham radio allows people to enjoy the hobby based on interest and expertise. A great hobby that never gets old!

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