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I guess if you only want to talk about popularity and adoption I
can kind of see that there's a point in there somewhere. Even that
is a very strange conversation... because even popularity may be
due to other things.
FT8 (and increasingly JS8Call) are 'popular' mostly due to the
sunspot cycle minimum. When the bands come back they will probably
be dropped like a damp rag. Why? because they are SO SLOW as to be
nearly useless for actual communication beyond the brief exchange.
When the bands are wide open, even a 'wet noodle' will outperform
them. BUT, at the moment they are absolutely great for DX and
very, very basic communication. Similarly in tough condx at any
point in the sunspot cycle. I use them with a smile on my face.
I think popularity is an odd criteria for the value of a mode
If you have ever been on an NBEMS net using FLDigi, etc., it
becomes very obvious that you want the *right mode for the
mission*. That 'right mode' will change with condx, equipment and
user skill. So the Software *Modem* programs and hardware (like
VARA, ARDOP, PACTOR, etc.) become a part of the *skill* factor as
they switch modes automatically so less skill is needed. So these
*Modems*, not to be confused with modes, add an extra value.
FLDigi is like a Swiss Army Knife and any one mode may not be
super popular, but its suite of modes is hugely useful to those
who have learned some skills and have a variety of missions.
FT8 and soon JS8Call are the obvious evolution for the *mission*
that was once carried out by PSK31 and RTTY before it. Those modes
are still 'popular' during their various contests, but mode
popularity is like a form of fashion. What's in vogue today will
change tomorrow. The fact that RTTY sprints are still a thing
speaks volumes though!
Anyway, it's an odd conversation and reminds me of comparing all
camping gear whether it's for fishing, eating, sleeping or
carrying heavy things around. All the gear serves a various set of
73 de K6ETA
On 7/7/20 8:33 AM, Andrew O'Brien
I was not intending to "compare" them. I have fun
with all of them. I was attempting to contrast the popularity
of FT8 and 4 with the many attempts over the years to get wider
adoption of various digital modes that have come and gone. My
point was that most modes are minority interest and that mass
utilization of a particular mode is closely associated with
award chasing. Ardop, Winmor and others do have many users
thanks to their utility and a dedicated core group of emcomm
types , but wider use is not likely because the masses center on
award chasing. Example: If magically a keyboard QSO of ARDOP
came out tomorrow with decoding capability five times 'deeper"
than FT8 but for some reason, ARRL excluded it from DXCC, it
would not gain wide adoption. Perhaps a long-winded way of me
pointing out that awards are the biggest attraction to the
average HF ham.
On Tue, Jul 7, 2020 at 11:16
AM Rick Muething <rmuething@...
Comparing FT8 and FT4 with VARA and P3, P4 is like
comparing a golf cart to a Porche!
FT8, FT4 are great for exchanging minimal information
(call sign, signal report, Grid square) and they do that
well BECAUSE they are so SLOW and narrow bandwidth
(Higher Eb/No ....just as Claude Shannon describes in his
1948 landmark paper on channel capacity. They satisfy a
niche especially if one is trying to make the maximum
number of contacts at low power each exchanging a very
VARA, P3, P4 Transmit much larger data (text +
attachments up to say 30 K bytes) at ~1000 x (or more)
than the FT8 or FT4 rate . They require stronger signals
than FT-4 of FT-8 and a wider bandwidth. These modes
again operate in exact accordance with Shannon's thesis
(now proven). They are what you want to use if you are
transmitting a sizeable message/attachment or have to send
a large amount of traffic. These modes are also
automatically adaptive (changing their Eb/No and FEC level
automatically) so they can follow a changing path over 20
dB or more and with varying amounts of multipath.
As hams we should all try to understand the basics of
what Shannon proved. It would make better use of our
limited spectrum an different bjectives. But comparing
VARA and FT8 is like comparing an High Definition
commercial TV transmission with a deep space photo taken
from NASA Voyager using a 10 watt transmitter at 10
bits/second. Both have their uses but are not in
Rick Muething, KN6KB, Winlink Development Team
On 7/6/2020 2:46 PM, Andrew OBrien wrote:
I think FT8 and FT4 have shown that
wide adoption of a digital mode is achieved when popular
awards , like DXCC , are associated with use of the mode .
If , for some odd reason, ARRL developed an award for
receiving email from 100 or more DXCC entities via VARA
... VARA would have many more users . Despite VARA ,
Ardop, Winmor and Pactor having some utilization in emcomm
. these modes seem destined to be niche products in the
ham world .
Digital modes via SDR = Multipsk or SDR-Radio.com