I put up my first HF antenna about four weeks ago. Suffice it to say that, in terms of ice storms, snowstorms, power outages, and internet outages, it’s been crazy here since then. But that’s not what this post is about. The same day we put up the antenna I began exploring the FT8 digital mode using WSJT-X. (The image above is from the technical paper describing FT8.) FT8 is an absolute marvel. With FT8 you can send, receive, and interpret extremely weak signals – up to 24db below the noise floor. I made dozens of contacts that first weekend, and got totally hooked. Within a couple of days I realized I was already over halfway to completing ARRL‘s Worked All States Award.
As you might imagine, making contacts in the 48 contiguous states was fairly straightforward. Alaska and Hawaii were harder. I made a contact in Alaska after about two weeks, though the QSL didn’t come through for almost another week (which caused me some worry!). I finally made a contact in Hawaii yesterday, using PSK Reporter to spot WH6S on 17m. He sent the QSL overnight, and I applied for the Mixed and Digital WAS Award certificates (and the FT8 endorsement) this morning. They apparently come in the good old-fashioned snail mail, so I’ll make another post when they arrive. I’ll also do a post on how to use PSK Reporter to spot hard-to-find contacts in the near future. Using it definitely saved me lots of time and effort hunting for Alaska and Hawaii.
I’m about halfway to the first DXCC Award – confirmed contacts in 100 countries. So that’s up next!