FT8 killed Hamradio – really?

There is propably nothing more polarizing in our ham radio comunity than FT8! Since the invention of FT8 by Joe Taylor K1JT and his team, there is litterly no week without some post on facebook, twitter or elswhere that FT8 or Jow Taylor killed ham radio. Really?

Everyone has seen these sharepics dozends of times somewehre, right?


Oldtimers my remember that once (many years ago) sideband killed amateur radio, the AM guys said.

I personally remember that the loss of CW exams killed ham radio, the CW guys said.

I also remember that entry level licence (Class-E in Germany) killd ham radio, the B-Licence holders said.

Letting E-Class licence holders onto HF was even more evil!

Now – yet again – ham radio is beeing killed another time (!) – now by Joe and his devil FT8.

I am not an “FT8- FANBOY” at all. I do operate FT8 but I prefer SSB and RTTY. I like CW and between 30%-40% of my QSOs are CW.

My professional work is DATA – so why we are not looking into some data?

The data source I am looking at is QSOs uploaded into clublog since Jan 2010.

  1. The first oberservation on this chart I made is that the major CQWW contests create huge spikes in QSOs uploaded in September for RTTY (yellow), October SSB (grey) and by far the most QSOs come in from CW in November. So these major contests seem to be a big driver in QSO numbers. Month without these events are way down! So contesting defenetly does not kill ham radio.
  2. The maximum of total QSOs is around 2014 – 2015. This is also the maximum of the last sunspot cycle.
  3. FT8 (orange) kicks in after June 2017 and there is a fast increase in FT-8 QSOs – but NOT a fast decline in CW or SSB!
  4. CW and SSB stay kind of stabile – remember than we are in sunspot decline!
  5. You can compare this with the percentage chart from above yourself. Yes – if a new mode comes in 1.5 to 3.5 Million QSOs per month the “percentage” of everything else goes down, but NOT in absolute numbers!

Lets put some trend lines in.

(remember sunspots declining as well sice 2014/2015)

The same picture seems to be true if you compare all NON-FT8 QSOs to FT8.

Blue is all modes without FT8 and orange is only FT8. Sunspots in mind. The NO FT8 QSOs are actually slightly rising – to me that is not looking like Joe Taylor killed CW and SSB.

Lets put the FT8 QSOs and the non FT8 QSOs together into a total sum and see if ham radio – measured by QSO numbers is really suffering?

The new line (grey) is total QSOs now and at least in the last 11 years there has never been a month where users uploaded 7.5 million QSOs into clublog before FT8 started.

This is just data points by QSOs counts, but to me this is what matters. The hobby is not listening to white noise on empty bands – its about finding ways to communicate and enjoy the radio. If I do not like SSTV for example – i simply don’t operate SSTV, but I would also leave the people alone who enjoy what they are doing! If you don’t like FT8 – fine for me – don’t do it then, but please stop telling other operators that their “mode” is BAD for hamradio and the community.

I personally know many many people with a balcony antennas, or a small wires that would not be on ham radio without FT8 at all.

The average age in our hobby is increasing. The bound to the clubs like RSGB, DARC, ARRL and others are declining. Many OM’s will go QRT or SK over the next 10-20 years …

German link:  https://youtu.be/nUknPQCnLNE

Just be happy of someone who buys a cheap china radio and puts his small wire up.

73 and good dx