• [VE7SL] FT8 and the Magic Band

    From VE7SL via rec.radio.amateur.moderat@21:1/5 to All on Sat Jun 4 03:06:50 2022
    XPost: rec.radio.amateur.moderated

    VE7SL - Steve - Amateur Radio Blog

    FT8 and the Magic Band

    Posted: 03 Jun 2022 10:52 PM PDT http://ve7sl.blogspot.com/2022/06/ft8-and-magic-band.html

    Now that 6m is in full swing once again, many of you will be operating FT8
    on 6m for the first time! Things are a little different on 6m compared to operating FT8 on HF and here are a few things for newcomers that might help
    to keep you out of the naughty corner! (originally published in 2020 but
    still important today)

    Today’s blog is directed to those that may be new to 6m or new to using FT8 on 6m. Some of the things discussed will make your experience on the magic band better for you and better for your neighbors.

    Unlike using FT8 on the HF bands, 6m presents some different challenges, especially if you operate in a region where there may be a lot of other
    locals also using the band at the same time.

    Although the weak-signal capability of FT8 has made it possible for many smaller stations or those with makeshift antennas to take advantage of the unique propagation 6m has to offer, it also can create problems for other
    users of the band when used inappropriately. In regions of dense
    population, even small stations can create very high local signal levels, often making it impossible for their neighbors to hear weak signals. This
    is not deliberately-caused QRM but arises when some operators
    operate 'against the flow’ and transmit on the opposite ‘sequence’ to everyone else in their local area.

    On HF, one can transmit or listen on whatever time sequence they wish. Choosing ‘TX 1st’ or ‘TX 2nd’ is usually determined by who you hear calling CQ or who you wish to work. On 6m however, in a densely-populated region of local operators, chosing to transmit whenever you want to is a luxury that can create big problems for your neighbor who may be trying to hear that weak DX signal while you are transmitting!

    These problem will not occur if everybody in the region uses and follows
    the same transmit-receive periods, so that everyone is listening or
    everyone is transmitting at the same time ... one or the other.
    Unfortunately, this ‘ideal’ system falls apart easily when one or more of your neighbors is not using the same sequence as everyone else.

    For the past few years, a protocol that seeks to alleviate this problem
    has become popular and well accepted by those familiar with it. Those new
    to 6m may not know about it or understand the reasoning behind it.

    Above all, I would urge new users of the band, or to the FT8 mode, to
    first listen carefully for a few minutes, before beginning operation, to determine what the majority of stations in their local region are using
    for sequencing. If they are using ‘TX 1st’, then your choice of ‘TX 2nd’
    will likely cause hearing difficulty for many others, as well as for

    Although there are no strict rules, there is a very successful and well-practiced protocol, and that is that the ‘easternmost’ station transmits on ‘1st’ while the ‘western end’ goes 2nd’. This is why you will
    hear most eastern stations in the morning hours transmitting ‘2nd’, as they are usually calling or looking for Europeans to their east, who are transmitting ‘1st’. By the same token, you will also hear western stations transmitting on '2nd', who are also looking for Europe to their east, transmitting on ‘1st’.

    This sequencing protocol usually reverses later in the day when signals
    from Asia become a possibility, and all North Americans then become the ‘easternmost’ stations and will transmit on the ‘1st’ sequence ... unlike
    in the morning. I can easily see how newcomers to the band could become confused, when they hear both sequences being used! The best thing, once again, is to listen carefully first and then ‘go with the flow’.

    You can read about the UK's Six Metre Group's initiatives regarding these protocols HERE.

    OK... so you’re not interested in EU or Asia? Then it shouldn’t matter to you which sequence that you use and best operating practice would again be
    to ‘go with the flow’ in consideration of other users.

    A few days ago I saw a prime example of exactly what not to do, in too
    many respects. I made a posting on the ON4KST 6m chat page that VE1SKY in
    NS (Nova Scotia) was being decoded here, mainly to alert others in my
    region that European signals might be coming next, as hearing the VE1s in
    BC is often an indicator that the European path is building.

    In less than a minute, an S9+ local began calling ‘CQ NS’ on the exact opposite sequence of all others ... effectively blocking the waterfall and
    any possible hope of hearing weak EU signals. I’m sorry, but this is just terrible operating procedure, with almost zero chance of success, while showing no consideration for nearby users.

    Just like working DX on CW or on phone, the best way, as it always has
    been, is to ‘listen, listen and then listen some more’. You will work FAR more DX by listening and calling at the right time, than you will by
    calling CQ.

    I also see some local stations everyday, calling endless CQs, often for
    over 60 minutes straight and often with many replies that go unnoticed.
    With FT8, one can check ‘work 1st’, go away, and return later to see who they might have ‘worked’. Perhaps this is what these operators are doing, but they should understand that they are also creating non-stop QRM for
    other users ... those that choose to listen carefully to the band rather
    than to endlessly CQ. Once again, this is just poor practice.

    You may argue that if nobody called CQ, then there would be no contacts
    made. There is nothing wrong with a few CQs but CQing for an hour? And
    don’t worry, there will always be other stations CQing endlessly for you
    to hear, even if it’s not a great way to operate.

    With a little pre-planning for sequencing and consideration for your neighbors, everyone can and should be able to enjoy 6m FT8 with very few problems ... and that is my hope for all of us.

    After forty-eight summers of CW and phone on 6m and two summers on FT8,
    these are some of my initial thoughts on how to best operate for maximum success and consideration for other band-users.

    The latter is part of the basic framework upon which amateur radio was originally established, when back in 1914, the ARRL described in
    their 'Code of Conduct' for amateurs ... "The Amateur is Gentlemanly. He never knowingly uses the air for his own amusement in such a way as to
    lessen the pleasure of others."

    Now, let the magic, and the pleasure, continue!

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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