Like a lot of amateurs out there I've recently discovered the joys of a recent innovation in the world of digimodes, a new mode called 'FT8'. I had been playing with JT65 as band conditions have been very poor for quite some time and for me, the only way to make reliable QSO's was to run digital mode. I've racked up a lot of contacts on PSK31 and first dabbled with JT65 back in 2013 but FT8 has been a revelation. Each over takes 15 seconds to complete resulting in a QSO that can be completed between 2 stations in 1 minute! As with JT65 there is no extraneous waffle about station equipment, the local WX, etc... just 4 digit locator, signal strength and 73, that's it!
It seems to me that FT8 is taking the digimode world by storm, I've checked the PSK frequencies and they don't appear to be as busy as they once were and this morning I managed to work 14 Japanese stations on 20M using FT8. I wonder how many I might have worked by PSK31..?!
The software is free and can be downloaded from https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html
Once your callsign and location details have been entered and you have configured it to run with your rig that's pretty much it. You can call CQ and when a station replies the QSO will be completed automatically with the auto sequencing option selected. Logging is handled by 'JTAlertX' which can be downloaded from http://hamapps.com
I use Ham Radio Deluxe v6 for logging and I had to manually add FT8 as a mode by going into 'Tools > Configure > Modes' and adding FT8 to the list of modes, by doing this each QSO will be correctly logged as FT8.
Enjoy FT8! If anything it's just a great way to rack up your contacts and of course, being a weak signal mode there's no telling who might reply to your CQ!