UPDATE: After the VK9MA DXpedition I have changed my tune. FT8 surely is the beginning of something very exciting, but when VK9MA kept switching between FT8 and CW I realized just how much better CW is. On paper, using a mode that could work when CW was too hard to “hear” seemed like magic, but because there still was enough back and forth with FT8, what you gain in being able to decode a weak signal – you lose is the back and forth with QSB. FT8 would be better if it could send CW and just do the 599 TU thing.
I enabled PSK Reporter and am enjoying seeing where my signals are being heard and also tracking the FT8 QSO’s I’ve made. In my blogs I used to manually put together maps and reports of stations along a path, and with FT8 – the first digital mode I actually like (a lot), there are more tools to map and do propagation studies than anything I have ever experienced before. The 3Y0Z path is of most interest these days.
I think the combination of KX3, PX3 and KXPA100 is perfect for FT8. The “fins” on the KXPA100 are awesome, and seem to be perfectly suited for FT8 and continuous mode use. I could even add a tiny fan if need be, but even after hours of FT8 fun, the fins were warm, but not hot. I also could keep the KX3 power way down to just a couple of watts, and didn’t have to waste $100+ dollars on an after market add on heat sink for the KX3. You ctually wouldn’t even need the PX3 . . .
I think the modular design of the KX3 and KXPA100 are perfect for an FT8 DXpedition. In fact, while I’m still overloaded and “wowed” by FT8, here are some thoughts on why FT8 is such a big deal:
I am convinced that 3Y0Z should dedicate two stations to FT8 – one on 20M and one on 40M. This will pick up many little pistols and relieve the CW, SSB and RTTY operating positions. In fact, I really wish FT8 were fully automated and that 3Y0Z used a couple “robot stations” this way. They get 2 extra operators 24×7 who wouldn’t need to sleep!
I haven’t tried much yet, but also understand that FT8 can be set with WSJTX to look for the weakest signal meaning little pistols will be guaranteed a place at the DXpedition table. This “democratization” of DXing might be the most important aspect of all of this.