DIGI modes from the point of view of YL operator or FT8 in practice

I will loosely follow up on an article my brother Martin, OM1MJ, in which it describes the process, how he managed to make the operation of DIGI modes work, specifically FT8. I first became aware of the existence of digital traffic in 2004 as part of the course for young radio amateurs in Martinské holy while learning the necessary theory for exams. However, with the passage of time, I did not investigate this issue further.

The joy of radio amateur connections always came through the classic way of talking into a microphone, possibly using morse code and it would never have occurred to me, that one day I will communicate with the world digitally as a radio amateur.

GSA diploma 50 OM1ADA
GSA diploma 50 OM1ADA

Until the turning point at the end of August 2020. Thanks to Brother Martin OM1MJ, who cleverly built a box for connecting a laptop with a transceiver, plugged in the necessary components and installed the software (technical details in his post) I discovered the magic of FT8 operation. I worked very quickly, since the operation and maintenance of the FT8 is easy for the operator. I state this from a woman's point of view, whose friendship with the transceiver was not always a matter of course. However, the right time has come.

Everything in the world has its supporters, even opponents, and DIGI fashion did not avoid it either. After more than 3 months of establishing connections via FT8 I have to admit, that without the necessary technical equipment, knowledge of this operation, antenna system and finding favorable conditions for the propagation of radio waves, even digital connections would be very difficult to establish, if ever. I just want to say, that DIGI modes naturally belong to radio amateurs and for me are a certain enrichment of classic connections via SSB or CW.

WSJT-X program pre FT8

By default, I launch FT8 through the program WSJT-X, which inherently includes a program window with a graph (Wide Graph). By the way, the graph is an essential part of the program, because this is where I regulate my position and frequency during the broadcast and follow, whether other stations are threatening me with their signal, which could ruin my desired connection.

The WSJT-X program is cleverly and clearly designed. The main window of the program is divided into two parts, where in the first part I monitor the activity of the stations on the band and in the second part I monitor the course of the connection itself in the lines. What I consider also very important is the color range, according to which the stations on the band are distinguished accordingly, whether this is a completely new DXCC country, badge, with which I have no connection, possibly about a station like that, with whom I have already established a connection. The line is highlighted in red, in which there is a connection with my brand. Rows, which are not tinted with any color are stations, which are just connecting to each other.

Diplom WAC 15m FT8 OM1ADA
Diplom WAC 15m FT8 OM1ADA

If I want to start a connection, I have two options, as well as on other types of operations. Either I'll issue a challenge, or call the station, who sent the invitation. In the case of FT8, this process takes place virtually, by clicking with a computer mouse, but it still applies, that the operator is the one, which regulates the connection.

A pop-up window informs about the success of the connection, but watch out, if the situation arises on my side, it doesn't mean yet, that everything is fine with the operator on the other side. An important sign of a successfully completed connection is magic 73 sent by both parties. Established connections are automatically saved in the log file, so there is no need to record them somewhere separately.

Diplomas for FT8 and digital operation, program Ultimate AAC

The joy of connecting on DIGI modes is enhanced by the possibility to apply for beautiful diplomas. which is better than the FT-1000MP, that this fact was also one of the motivators for me to try FT8. The Ultimate AAC program is used to process and request diplomas, where the operator simply uploads a file with connections and the program automatically evaluates and generates diplomas in a few days. There are several clubs from different countries, which diplomas they issue. Registration is required for individual clubs, which is not a difficult process at all. Diplomas can be downloaded either directly from the Ultimate AAC program or from the EPC Club website, which is much clearer and easier. The diplomas themselves have countless categories, for which they can be obtained. For example, by the number of different countries, for a certain number of prefixes, locators and the like. I consider it a nice reward for the time spent with the trasceiver with the typical FT8 sound accompaniment and it is definitely worth it.

330PAT101 Andrea
330PAT101 Andrea

Over the course of time spent with FT8, I managed to get more than 400 diplomas. You can see a selection of the most beautiful ones at photo album, where I gradually complete the diplomas. At the same time, I am attaching the procedure, how diplomas can be applied for. It's nothing complicated:

  1. Download the app „UltimateAAC“: http://epc-mc.eu/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&view=category&id=2:windows&long=and (Windows OS)
  2. Start the installation and choose your language part
  3. Start the application, it will prompt you to install it the first time you run it database driver (do so)
  4. Bookmark "User Data": Fill in your call sign, full name and email address
  5. Bookmark "Daily": "Choose" (select the ADIF file with your FT8 connections)
  6. Click "Impose"
  7. Choose from the menu „FT8DMC“ (you can also choose other clubs from the menu, which issue diplomas)
  8. Wait a moment, while the application processes the connections
  9. Subsequently, you will see all available diplomas arranged in tabs according to categories (CQMM DX CONTEST are, country)
  10. Green bookmarks contain diplomas, which you are doing right now, click on one
  11. If the button is displayed "Send", you are entitled to it, click on it
  12. Notification email, that the diploma is already ready for download, it will arrive in a few days, the diploma manager must prepare them manually
  13. You can download diplomas from the application „UltimateAAC“ by clicking on the yellow icon in the top menu (after moving the mouse cursor to the icon, the text will be displayed: Download diplomas)
  14. Repeat the procedure 1013 for each new diploma
  15. Enjoy your nice diplomas!

73/88 Andrea, OM1ADA

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