This morning was typical of other winter mornings lately:
I'm up early (5am) with two things in front of me - a cup of java and a radio tuned to 40- or 80-meter CW. The caffeine is good; the CW bands are barren. Again.
NN4NC is calling "CQ DX" on 7005 but no one answers. Someone else is having a chat on 3528 kHz, and that, dear readers, is it for CW.
No VK's, ZL's or JA's.
The thrill of DXing that has been waning is now, largely, gone.
Everyone's on 7074 but, with the exception of 60m, FT8 has lost its appeal to me. I think it's the lack of talent required for it's participation that renders it superficial. It is utilitarian - I can see where and to what extent a band is open - but working China on 80m FT8 was as fulfilling for me a few weeks ago as having a winning lottery ticket worth $1.
With that in mind, I've begun wondering about the value of all the high performance transceivers on the market. If FT8 is all there is, do I need to pay for receiver specifications that only manifest themselves on crowded CW bands? What use is razor sharp 50 Hz selectivity when all the activity is on a wide 3 kHz spread of frequencies?
The day to day use of CW for DXing has already evaporated and, unfortunately, that is not due to solar conditions; therefore, it is a permanent change.
Couple that with the fact that most of a radio's specifications that cause it to cost $$$$$ are those that benefit mainly CW operation. It's great to have an awesome CW machine, but if there's no one to play CW with, you essentially have a Maserati that's relegated to taxi service for little old ladies.
As Archie Bunker would say, "What's the pernt, Edith?"
But we all know that bragging rights are saleable commodities and people will buy a SuperRig just to be able to say (even if only to themselves, since an FT8 contact won't allow it) that they have one.
Here are the two questions I find myself asking:
For FT8 operation, does a $3000+ radio offer any additional benefit over, say, a $1000 IC-7300?
Is there enough CW (DX, contesting) to warrant the additional expense of a TS-890, K4, FTDX-101, etc?