Thursday, June 6, 2024

The gradual normalization of automated FT8

The one-man FT4GL DXpedition on Glorioso is ground-breaking.

As Wayne N0UN notes on his blog (and others elsewhere), the single operator has been making FT8 contacts for over 134 hours straight, making digital contacts on multiple bands simultaneously.

This is discernible by looking at each days' activity on ClubLog. Click on the "Total QSOs" for a particular day, then mouse over the hourly totals.

Making the effort even more Herculean is the fact that the op at the key mouse is on Glorioso for work, not ham radio.

When does the poor guy sleep?!

Understandably, there are whispers of "robotic operation".  Actually, they're more than whispers - they are valid questions.

Once the ARRL has emerged from the more pressing fiasco of the last 3 weeks, will they approve FT4GL for DXCC credit? Many DXers have waited over a quarter of a century for a contact with Glorioso - will the ARRL disappoint them or cave to popular demand?

Interesting times ahead:

  • If FT4GL is approved, it will, in effect, be a statement of approval for a level of digital-mode activity that cannot be performed by a licensed human at the keyboard.
  • If not approved, the ARRL will alienate many of its paying customers.

My own prediction is that robotic FTx will become normalized and acceptable, for DXpeditions, contests and casual log-filling.




  1. Oh boy... It's that a long time ago I decided NOT to respond anymore on locust mode things.
    So... NO QRL ES NW QRT ...-.-

  2. Places without permanent human settlements shouldn't be DXCC entities at all. They constitute a list of attractive nuisances deliberately promoted by the ARRL. Consider the expensive disasters that have plagued efforts to activate Bouvet, or the Spratlys, or other remote rocks. Then look at how many "successful" DXpeditions to similarly remote places have turned in disappointing results after expending tremendous amounts of money and effort.

    And for what? We're certainly not demonstrating the value of ham radio to the penguins and land crabs at these sites, and saying you received "UR 599 QRZ" from another nerd freezing in a tent somewhere doesn't help sell the hobby back home, either. It's irresponsible to keep encouraging this nonsense.

    1. Hello Alan, I agree with you on the subject of DXCC entities...if no one lives there, it ain't an entity. A permanent population should be the first criteria of how we define the term.

      But.... I disagree with the implication that "safety" should be a criteria for the hobby - we should each define that for ourselves, whether we're talking about sky diving, mountain climbing or, yes - even ham radio. If it's too risky for your taste, don't go. Or don't work those who do.

      Safety isn't everything, nor should it be. That mantra is harmful (and therefore, unsafe) for our species because it would (and has) result(ed) in stagnation. We need risks to make life interesting and even productive, even if those risks don't make sense to some.


    2. I didn't mean to suggest trying to ban risky or even outright stupid operations, just that the main mouthpiece for the hobby shouldn't deliberately encourage them.

    3. What's the point of climbing a mountain, then? It's an expensive, often dangerous hobby that doesn't demonstrate anything to whatever creatures are upon it. And should we only climb mountains that have at least a hermit or two at the top?

      As John Kennedy said, we do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

  3. I decided to make my own blogpost regarding the subject. We all take this way to seriously. It's just a hobby....a technology hobby... 73, Bas

  4. The ARRL has already approved many of the "DXpeditions" conducted by Rebel DX who is well-known for running FT-8 in automatic mode.