You too can be a special event station – GB70E FT8

Chris, G5CTH, operated as GB70E using FT8 – a mode that hadn’t been supported by the main station that BBRC and Cray Valley Radio Society ran over the Jubilee bank holiday weekend.

Here’s Chris telling us about his motivation and experiences running a one-man special event station:

I operated GB70E for 5 sessions:

10th June, 1200 to 1800

14th June, 1800 to 2359

18th June, 0000 to 1200

19th June, 1200 to 1800

24th June, 1800 to 2359

I’ve never done this before but it looked fun and complemented my rather thin FM and SSB sessions at the special event station.  I enjoy using FT8, I think the digital modes are a very good way to get started as they work well with lower power and simple antennas.

I made a total of 337 QSOs with 41 countries, at an average of 13.75 an hour, mostly limited by the number of people replying to my CQ calls.  FT8 isn’t fast, it takes 30 seconds for a call and a reply, so getting more than 20 QSOs an hour is difficult.

Distances ranged from 4km from people in Wycombe to Brazil (7510km) and Panama (8370 km).  The most prolific country was Germany with 85 QSOs, then England with 40.  Scotland had 6 and Wales 2.  I was more interested in providing a QSO service than maximising my distances so made very few calls, mostly calling CQ.

I used every band from 6m to 80m except 60m[1], the 40m band was the most popular with 93 QSOs.  The 6m band was very active over Europe in the first session and I managed a contact with EA8JK in the Canary Islands at a distance of 2900 km.

My set up is what I’d describe as a beginner’s set up, an IC-7300 with an EFHW designed for 10m to 80m. This worked on 6m as well.  It doesn’t tune on 30m or 17m but the IC-7300 will work at reduced power. Not sure how much of the power escapes in any useful way but enough does to make some contacts.  I was using vanilla WSJT-X and running about 30 W, except where the antenna isn’t tuned where it’s about 15W.

WSJT-X makes the logging easy because it does it for you.  All that’s needed is to rename the existing wsjt_log.adi file before you start, then at the end rename the new one to what’s required by the GB70E organisers and email it to them.

I would have liked to work more UK stations but they just weren’t there, not sure if it’s the effect of propagation or interest.

It’s worth doing, you don’t need a massive rig and there were plenty of slots available. It was open to anyone with a license and membership of the RSGB.

Finally here’s a map of my QSOs

When’s the next one?

Incidentally I’ve been running as GQ5CTH for the first part of the month and GQ5CTH/70 for the later part.  You wouldn’t believe how popular this is, sometimes I’ve had pileups of 3 or 4 stations.



PS I remember the Coronation vividly. I was 5 and it’s about my first datable memory.  What I particularly remember was seeing TV for the first time!  We didn’t have a TV but the local town hall had set up half a dozen in a darkened room, including a projection TV which produced a huge and vary faint picture on a screen.  Being me I wanted to know how it worked of course.

[1]You need to be careful on the 60m band because it’s a series of slots and the FT8 frequency is only 1 kHz from the top of it’s slot.  This means that you have to set a transmit audio frequency of 950 Hz or less.  Your rig doesn’t protect you!

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