The Explosion of FT8

Digital Mode FT8, the “fast-mode” version of WSJT-X was first introduced in the Summer of 2017. WSJT-X is a computer program designed to facilitate basic amateur radio communication using very weak signals. The first four letters in the program name stand for “Weak Signal communication by K1JT,” while the suffix “-X” indicates that WSJT-X started as an extended and experimental branch of the program WSJT. The FT8 decoder can often copy several overlapping signals at nearly the same frequency.

As Micheal, G7VJR, of Club Log notes, “Every few years, I’ve posted a chart of which modes are being used on the air (based on what is uploaded to Club Log). This report isn’t lightweight to calculate, so I don’t have it as a standard feature in Club Log for you to access, but I’m just as interested in the results as everyone else. 2017 was, of course, the year when digital modes changed forever with the advent of FT8. It is a remarkable technical achievement which has breathed life and enthusiasm into DXing for a whole new audience. See what you think about the side-effects.”


  • This cart does not include the added emphasis on the FT8 mode due to the ARRL’s  2018 Grid Chase.

  • JT65 has nearly disappeared. This is probably because a round trip QSO on JT65 takes 5 to 6 minutes whereas an FT8 QSO can be completed in a little over a minute. A DX station with an FT8 ‘pile-up’ can work 50-60 QSOs per hour.
  • Activity in all the other modes have dropped; especially CW.
  • Don’t forget the Decibel advantage over other modes. See my article “It’s All about the Decibels” here:
  • ” .. the coming year will be extremely interesting. FT8 has had a spectacular beginning and it’s hard to know what might happen next – or whether it will still be quite so popular when conditions change. I’ll keep running the reports based on the evidence in the uploaded logs, and we can collectively try our best to interpret that … Michael G7VJR”
  • Our Club, N1FD, was the leading world scorer in the 2017 13-Colonies Event. With the addition of FT8, we should remain “on-top” in this year’s event!

FT8 Mode is not for everyone. Many do not like the “mechanical” QSOs. It does not require the skill of the CW masters. For me, I’m far from being bored at this juncture.         —Layne AE1N

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