Tuesday, May 15, 2018

FT8 now filling WSPR's role?

I received my RSP2 five days ago and have been putting it through its paces up and down the spectrum. I am surprised at its performance - happily surprised, and I'll write more about exactly why that is later (read the ARRL's review here).

Much of my use of the receiver has involved using it to decode FT8 signals from 6 to 80 meters. During that time I've realized that FT8 is now so popular (on all the HF bands) that it is, in large part, accomplishing the same goals that WSPR was designed for.

Over two nights, while I slept, the little $200 receiver and my tiny laptop decoded and reported to the web all that it heard. With coffee in hand the next morning, I was able to see who I'd heard, with what signal strength I copied them and where they were.

Only the proliferation of FT8 and the websites that support it (HamSpots and PSKReporter) make this possible. To be able to do it on the cheap with an inexpensive receiver is icing on the cake. As more hams realize this, I wonder if WSPR use will decline in the coming years.

FT8 stations received overnight on 80 meters

As mentioned, there's much more to the RSP2 and I'll be writing more about it soon.


  1. Looking forward to your comments. I have been one click away from buying an RSP(2) on a few occasions over the last year or so.
    I'd like a cheap bandscope for the K3, but the spectrum analyzer function you mentioned would be the actual deal maker.
    Not with you on FT8 though. Can't feel the buzz...

    Keep it up!
    Franki ON5ZO

    1. Hi Franki,

      Yep, FT8 seems quite polarizing - people either love it or want it to go away completely.

      I'll be looking forward to your future blog posting regarding your K3/RSP bandscope ;-)

      Actually, an RSP1A would do the job for half the price of the RSP2 and much cheaper than Elecraft's tiny P3.

      73 for now,
      John AE5X

    2. Hi John - my bad, you're right: of course I meant the RSP1A as in 'RSP 2nd generation'. No need for the fancier model.

      FT8 doesn't have to go away for me. I just don't see where the fun or magic is happening on the operator's level. I find RTTY boring already. Technically it's a marvel, I want to admit that.

      The P3 is too expensive, especially if you need to get it into EU/ON. 21% VAT is a killer, especially since S/H is taxed too.
      Today I get a mere 1.18 $ for 1 EU. I bought both my K3 rigs ages ago when it was 1.5$ or more (1.65 I seem to recall) for 1 Euro. Then it made more sense.

      'C'est la vie'.