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Author Topic: Fully automated FT8 QSOs - a good idea for DXpeditions?  (Read 2774 times)
AA4PB
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Posts: 14388




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« Reply #45 on: January 07, 2018, 11:24:36 AM »

It doesn't matter what mode you use, when you answer a CQ then when the QSO is over you should give the frequency to the CQing station since he had it first. On conversational modes you may get an indication that the other station doesn't intend to use the frequency (he is going QRT) but on FT8 you need to always assume that he is going to call another CQ on that frequency. You need to wait at least a minute or so to be sure that the frequency is clear and he isn't going to use the frequency before using it for your own CQ.

Sometimes people don't think about it and just click on the Tx button to initiate a CQ as soon as the QSO has completed (without changing frequency first).

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Bob  AA4PB
Garrisonville, VA
LA7DFA
Member

Posts: 53




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« Reply #46 on: January 07, 2018, 12:29:52 PM »

I am using split, even for regular stations.  If I work someone, then I can reply if someone calls me on my TX.
And its also avoids congestion when we are calling someone.
I also disable the sending of locator (TX1) by double clicking it.
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K5GS
Member

Posts: 12




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« Reply #47 on: January 07, 2018, 12:44:12 PM »

Quote
All BGAN  plans charge for data passed, the connection time is not billed. The monthly contract plan isn't cost justified for a few week DX-pedition.

For a one month to <Rare South Atlantic> where the total bill is probably 300,000 to 500,000 USD these days, then yes.  If it reduces the dupe rate or the crazy rate by even a per cent or two, then it's well worth the incremental cost.  That's what VK0EK was suggesting in Visalia.


I was at Visalia too.

It's easy for you to say it's well worth the incremental cost, you're not fronting the $12K - $16K to get a $175K project off the ground, or the $20K+ for the really expensive projects.

You started this discussion at north of $100,000 DX-ed, now you're north of 300K - $500K.

There's a reasonableness test that will be used to trade-off cost vs benefit.  I know some who believe real time or close to real time log uploads aren't needed, once a day is adequate, I'm at a different point. I don't speak for other teams, just my own first hand experience with BGAN sitting on a sandbar playing computer.

Just depends whether you're planning to implement a full time I/T support team during the project, or be a DX-pedition. I can debate either, but I'm not inclined to debate anything on this thread.

Most DX-peditions don't cost mega-bucks, and spending a lot on BGAN may not be possible, strictly a team financial decision.

Cheers,
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N1UR
Member

Posts: 21




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« Reply #48 on: January 07, 2018, 04:15:57 PM »

According to the Bouvet DXpedition website, they are expecting FT8 QSO rate per hour to be 60 an hour.  Therefore they look to only want to use it when the band is essentially dead to other modes taking advantage of the S/N ratio possibilities but unwilling to soak up station capacity at such slow rates otherwise.  I think this is a great use of FT8.

Ed  N1UR
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N1UR
Member

Posts: 21




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« Reply #49 on: January 07, 2018, 04:21:13 PM »

How exactly does one operate with good judgment if they are sleeping while the FT8 robot attempts to make a Q with the DX station?

This whole discussion on FT8 is really a discussion on what is the definition of DXing for each of us.  If its simply logging Qs by whatever means - remote, robot, point and click, auto program etc etc vs its a test of skill - station engineering, operator skill, propagation knowledge etc.  I personally are of the later.  And as long as I can keep doing that part, there is room for the other crowd - doesn't do it for me - but to each his own.

Until FT8 can compete with 200 an hour+ rates of the other modes, I hope the FT8 crowd is ready to get their checkbook out to make sure there is a dedicated station for their automated QSO fix.

73

Ed  N1UR
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NU1O
Member

Posts: 4344




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« Reply #50 on: January 07, 2018, 04:35:05 PM »

Quote
I have a feeling many are not intentionally being discourteous.  It's just that many, like myself, are new to the mode and we haven't learned the ground rules yet.

There is a bug in the most recent release that sometimes has you stay on the "other guy's" frequency by mistake.  You work Mr. Semi Rare, double click on something else, and only the rec. frequency changes.  Easy not to notice, too.

So, some of it is that.

Until recently I hardly ever paid any attention to the frequency when using FT8.  There's just so much other stuff going on and it's happening so quickly. So, whether frequency is not easy to notice or easy to notice, it's not something I usually paid attention to.

Now, I pick a clear frequency when I call CQ.  I usually only call CQ DX and I usually reject QSOs from Stateside callers when calling for DX.

Anything out there on FT8 etiquette like there is for DX?

73,

Chris  NU1O
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WO7R
Member

Posts: 2625




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« Reply #51 on: January 07, 2018, 05:47:30 PM »

Quote
Anything out there on FT8 etiquette like there is for DX?

Well, if you are not the CQer, it is generally considered rude to take over the frequency and call CQ or even accept calls from others on that same frequency (it can be hard to tell who "owns" the offset/frequency you were using).  Thanks to the aforementioned bug, it is possible to do that by accident.  You work someone, they call you on the same frequency (bad form, but maybe they don't know) and for you to answer is worse form.  But, thanks to the bug, you can even be called on another frequency, think you switched to theirs, but did not.  It's best to pay attention.

It is generally considered rude to run "normal" amounts of power.  We are sharing, on a world-wide basis, about a 3 to 4 KHz allocation, with hundreds of stations often in there.  More power eventually means nobody works anyone.  So, if you run a KW on a full band, you're a bad actor and maybe even slitting your own throat.  I have worked 9000 miles on 4 watts and quite often with 30.  Lower bands seem to need a bit more power.  It almost never takes even half the power you would normally have used for CW or SSB though.  1/3 of what you would usually run or less, often much less, does the job.  So, start substantially lower than usual.  You may be very surprised at where you balance out to success.  Recognize, however, that just cranking up the power may have little to do with whether you win.  The software "just picks" someone and it isn't always the loudest station anyway.

Also, FT8 is a real test for your rig, your amp, and even your software.  Higher power will unmask any defects in your signal.  You splatter, you hear about it.  I find it prudent to run well below the normal, even at max, because these high duty cycle modes are even harder on your gear than normal RTTY.  Barefoot, for instance, I don't allow my Flex 6300 to run much about 30 to 35 watts.

And yes, when you decide to call CQ, it is best to find some hole in the frequencies that hasn't been used by either odd or even for a bit.  Ideally, at least a minute or two.  Sometimes, a formerly frequency is "emptied" only by QSB, but people do have a way of clearing out, surprisingly often, so you don't have to wait forever if you see a slot freed up.

There is not a real consensus on what constitutes a complete QSO.  Some stations want all messages (from TX1 to TX5).  Some are content with a single exchange.  The VHF practice is that you exchange the R-xx and RRR type messages (TX3 and TX4).  It has also become increasingly common to answer a CQ with TX2 rather than TX1 and to change TX4 to RR73.  This finishes a QSO in four total exchanges.  A few stations do not like this, but it seems to be well tolerated now.

The trailing "73" messages were always optional -- EU stations are particularly likely to drop it, but some insist on it.  So, you might send RR73, log the station, your transmit turns off, and then you see the DX station go R-01 again.  You had better answer again to be sure of being logged.

The hard part is when the DX sends you R-01 or something, you send RR73 or even RRR, you don't hear the DX on the next exchange and then you see the DX either calling CQ or working someone else.  Do you log it or not?  It depends, again, on what you consider a valid QSO.  How many messages do you required from both sides?  My rule of thumb is that if I receive and send "Rs", I log it, but that isn't always enough to get it logged on the other side of it.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2018, 05:54:12 PM by WO7R » Logged
NU1O
Member

Posts: 4344




Ignore
« Reply #52 on: January 07, 2018, 06:49:01 PM »

Quote
Anything out there on FT8 etiquette like there is for DX?

Well, if you are not the CQer, it is generally considered rude to take over the frequency and call CQ or even accept calls from others on that same frequency (it can be hard to tell who "owns" the offset/frequency you were using).  Thanks to the aforementioned bug, it is possible to do that by accident.  You work someone, they call you on the same frequency (bad form, but maybe they don't know) and for you to answer is worse form.  But, thanks to the bug, you can even be called on another frequency, think you switched to theirs, but did not.  It's best to pay attention.

It is generally considered rude to run "normal" amounts of power.  We are sharing, on a world-wide basis, about a 3 to 4 KHz allocation, with hundreds of stations often in there.  More power eventually means nobody works anyone.  So, if you run a KW on a full band, you're a bad actor and maybe even slitting your own throat.  I have worked 9000 miles on 4 watts and quite often with 30.  Lower bands seem to need a bit more power.  It almost never takes even half the power you would normally have used for CW or SSB though.  1/3 of what you would usually run or less, often much less, does the job.  So, start substantially lower than usual.  You may be very surprised at where you balance out to success.  Recognize, however, that just cranking up the power may have little to do with whether you win.  The software "just picks" someone and it isn't always the loudest station anyway.

Also, FT8 is a real test for your rig, your amp, and even your software.  Higher power will unmask any defects in your signal.  You splatter, you hear about it.  I find it prudent to run well below the normal, even at max, because these high duty cycle modes are even harder on your gear than normal RTTY.  Barefoot, for instance, I don't allow my Flex 6300 to run much about 30 to 35 watts.

And yes, when you decide to call CQ, it is best to find some hole in the frequencies that hasn't been used by either odd or even for a bit.  Ideally, at least a minute or two.  Sometimes, a formerly frequency is "emptied" only by QSB, but people do have a way of clearing out, surprisingly often, so you don't have to wait forever if you see a slot freed up.

There is not a real consensus on what constitutes a complete QSO.  Some stations want all messages (from TX1 to TX5).  Some are content with a single exchange.  The VHF practice is that you exchange the R-xx and RRR type messages (TX3 and TX4).  It has also become increasingly common to answer a CQ with TX2 rather than TX1 and to change TX4 to RR73.  This finishes a QSO in four total exchanges.  A few stations do not like this, but it seems to be well tolerated now.

The trailing "73" messages were always optional -- EU stations are particularly likely to drop it, but some insist on it.  So, you might send RR73, log the station, your transmit turns off, and then you see the DX station go R-01 again.  You had better answer again to be sure of being logged.

The hard part is when the DX sends you R-01 or something, you send RR73 or even RRR, you don't hear the DX on the next exchange and then you see the DX either calling CQ or working someone else.  Do you log it or not?  It depends, again, on what you consider a valid QSO.  How many messages do you required from both sides?  My rule of thumb is that if I receive and send "Rs", I log it, but that isn't always enough to get it logged on the other side of it.


Well, I guess I'm not doing too bad despite mostly winging it so far by common sense.  I run between 25 and 60 watts.  25 watts on the higher freqs. and more power on 40 and 80.  I use PSK reporter so I can see who is receiving me and at what strength.

As for what constitutes a QSO, if I get a signal report and give mine I log it if that's where the QSO ends.  I have about a 65% QSL rate using LoTW but I only started using JT-Alert on Friday.  My logging program is AC Log.  

I have noticed some will keep sending 'til they get a 73 whereas others will end the QSO earlier but that's human nature and I just go with the flow.

I have an LP-700 and am pretty vigilant watching my waveform when I use the amp. on CW or SSB but I honestly haven't
monitored my signal using FT-8.  I do shut the compression off and I use the minimum audio drive needed.  So far I've had no complaints about my signal quality via email or from an OO so I guess it's as good as the crowd's.

Thanks for the help.  I still have no idea if I'll stick with the mode or if this is just a fad but it's interesting to see how far we've come with PCs integrated with our stations since I started out 30 years ago this coming June.

73,

Chris  NU1O

« Last Edit: January 07, 2018, 07:06:49 PM by NU1O » Logged
VA3VF
Member

Posts: 1105




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« Reply #53 on: January 07, 2018, 06:58:07 PM »

Well, I guess I'm not doing too bad despite mostly winging to so far by common sense.I use PSK reporter so I can see who is receiving me and at what strength.

73,

Chris  NU1O

Chris,

WO7R covered pretty much everything there is to it. Since you are blessed with common sense, something that's not that common, you won't be one of 'them'. Grin

Another tool in the toolbox is hamspots.net. Give it a try. I find it better than PSKReporter, just my opinion.

73 de Vince, VA3VF
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NU1O
Member

Posts: 4344




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« Reply #54 on: January 07, 2018, 07:29:14 PM »

Well, I guess I'm not doing too bad despite mostly winging to so far by common sense.I use PSK reporter so I can see who is receiving me and at what strength.

73,

Chris  NU1O

Chris,

WO7R covered pretty much everything there is to it. Since you are blessed with common sense, something that's not that common, you won't be one of 'them'. Grin

Another tool in the toolbox is hamspots.net. Give it a try. I find it better than PSKReporter, just my opinion.

73 de Vince, VA3VF

Hi Vince,

Thanks for the tip.  I wasn't lucky enough to win the lottery yesterday but I did find hamspots.  I've been using it since then. It's a really nice site with nice features!  My browser is open to the site as I write.  I'm working CW on 80 right now.  Just worked an 8P with only 100 watts to my Inverted Vee.  About to see what's on 80m FT8.

My new dishwasher has a microprocessor (doesn't everything have one now?) in it and the control board has what GE calls a "Current Sense Module," which according to their manual is akin to a GFI.  Well, I think I'm tripping the CSM on 80 whenever I XMIT with the amp.  Right now the dishwasher is just sitting there dead with the CSM tripped.  The tech replaced the control board and heating element w/o even testing them on his last visit and said if it tripped again he had no idea what he'd do.  I did tell him I had an amateur radio station and it maybe RF tripping the CSM.  He asked somebody at their factory about RF and the CSM to see if they've heard of any problems and the guy at the factory said their HTs used for business are tripping the CSMs all the time!  Huh  I think I'm going to have to get an electrician here and have the dishwasher's line go to an on/off switch which I can turn off when I run the amp. on 80 meters.  Right now the power line from the dishwasher runs straight to the fuse box but if I kill the breaker I shut off a bunch of other stuff in the kitchen so that's not an option.

I guess things like this are what makes our hobby so special!  The station is always developing gremlins.  Cheesy

73,

Chris  NU1O
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W7WQ
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Posts: 315




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« Reply #55 on: January 08, 2018, 05:45:01 AM »

Well if this what you want to call ham radio.  I sure don't.
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WO7R
Member

Posts: 2625




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« Reply #56 on: January 08, 2018, 10:48:14 AM »

Quote
It's easy for you to say it's well worth the incremental cost, you're not fronting the $12K - $16K to get a $175K project off the ground, or the $20K+ for the really expensive projects.

You started this discussion at north of $100,000 DX-ed, now you're north of 300K - $500K.


Well, somewhere north of 100,000 USD is where the BGAN discussion is normally going to start.  If you're going to Belize (which is the sort of place I have actually DXpeditioned), BGAN doesn't even come up.  You're not at the ends of earth.  Belize is a nice country and I was at a resort.  There was recognizably normal internet.  You just fly in and set up.  So, you can (with negligible cost) do real time uploads or at least daily uploads.

There may be intermediate places (VK9X comes to mind) where the cost to get there is abnormal, but not in the 100K range.  Maybe those spots won't be doing real time uploads.  But, they will probably pay a price in terms of the extra crazy if they don't do at least daily uploads.

And, the cost to doing any on-site uploads from a place like that is such that there is a negligible cost difference between doing near real time and doing it daily.  The real choice in 2018 is near real time versus none at all.

If you're going to a Bouvet or a Baker, then real time uploads is now an inevitable part of the discussion.  What they actually do is their business.  We will see what actually happens.   Maybe nothing.  But, it is looking to me like once you spend that kind of money to start with, that real time uploads are part of the discussion because the cost, while significant, is not that much especially it provides benefits such as reduced duping.

You have to recognize, also, that DXpeditioning, at that level, is a very different ballgame than what I do.  They are out for the cheers of the community.  They want to be DXpedition of the year.  They have a budget, but they also have goals.

Four per cent, or whatever it turns out to be is still real money, not a little of which will come out of their own pocket.  I get that, believe me.  But, there is still a real question of costs versus benefits and I believe you are going to see the majority of expeditions doing no less than daily uploads at all levels, from my sort to the big time sort.  With a little more software integration, near real time will become the norm for darn near everyone, because it makes no actual cost difference to do "real time" versus some sort of daily dump-and-upload.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2018, 10:51:35 AM by WO7R » Logged
ZENKI
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Posts: 1477




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« Reply #57 on: Today at 03:36:25 PM »

Humans are largely redundant in the digital world. FT8 is an example of a mode that should be automated. Its a mode more about checking the capability of technology and the mode using the least power and antennas. Its a tool much like a Radiosonde  that probes the ionosphere with no human intervention. The mode would be far more efficient and there would be less QRM if it was fully automated.

The 3Y0Z Dx'pedition will demonstrate why the mode should be automated very shortly. The reality is that if the mode was automated there could have been the possibility of leaving a FT8  transceiver with an all band vertical on Bouvet  that could have been solar powered that could have operated forever.
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VA3VF
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Posts: 1105




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« Reply #58 on: Today at 03:53:27 PM »

Quote
The reality is that if the mode was automated there could have been the possibility of leaving a FT8  transceiver with an all band vertical on Bouvet  that could have been solar powered that could have operated forever.

The reality is, most people do NOT want a fully automated mode, where the ham is no longer part of hamradio. Those that do, can, and likely have setup their bots already.
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HS0ZIB
Member

Posts: 632




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« Reply #59 on: Today at 07:49:59 PM »

Quote
Well, somewhere north of 100,000 USD is where the BGAN discussion is normally going to start

Am I missing something here?  A BGAN terminal costs about $3,000 USD and data airtime rates are about $6/MB.  How does that convert into $100K+?
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