28 Mar 2021

FT8 slots

In the last few years FT8 has taken off like crazy.  It is very sensitive and works with very weak signals, much weaker than SSB and CW. It is not a chatting mode. It allows the minimum details for a QSO to be exchanged. There is a spin-off called JT8call that does allow free form messages, so chats could be had. 

Sadly FT8 has resulted in fewer speech mode chats. Although not a QRP mode per se, it does allow worldwide QSOs with QRP and simple antennas. Most find far less than 100W is sufficient to work the world.

One thing I have noticed is just how busy the narrow FT8 slots get. Although the transmissions only need about 50Hz, it is quite possible to find 20 or more stations in the FT8 window. The advantage is all signals get decoded by the (free) software and split operation within the FT8 window is encouraged.

There is a case of several FT8 slots in each band. The disadvantage is you may have to monitor more slots. There is a case for 2 or 3 FT8 slots on each band. This is still narrower than a few SSB signals.

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