First time on FT8

Working FT8 in my backyard with a Yaesu FT-817.

Worked FT8 today for the first time - I tried js8call but couldn't get it working. I worked entirely on 20 meters and made contacts in

  • QM09 - Japan
  • DN88 - North Dakota, USA
  • FN04 - Ontario, CA
  • FM19 - Pennsylvania / Maryland, USA
  • EM69 - Indiana / Illinois, USA
  • DN84 - South Dakota, USA
  • DM78 - Colorado, USA
  • DM79 - Colorado, USA
  • EM16 - Oklahoma, USA
  • QM08 - Japan
  • EN43 - Wisconsin, USA
  • BL01 - Hawai'i, USA

So - two countries (though HI probably counts as one in this regard) and eight states over a period of two and a half hours (with some breaks) using a glorified walkie talkie and some speaker wire strung up on my fence. The average distance for a contact was right around 2,000 miles and the longest was almost 5,000 miles. Radios are freakishly amazing.

Some technical notes

I used my Yaesu FT-817 and a Radio Oasis 20m dipole strung along my fenceline oriented roughly north-south, probably 5 or so feet off the ground. I noticed that I couldn't make contacts with a signal below about -6dB, though I made one contact at -8 dB. The radiation pattern of a dipole is orthogonal to its orientation, and my Japan contacts were in a fairly western line to my antenna - that's probably what made it work. I used the Z817 antenna tuner to try to tune to each frequency as I switched, maybe that helped.

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