I tried FT8 from a portable location in early April 2018, for a short period, using my FT817.  Band conditions weren’t great (on SSB voice) and I found some technical issues:

  • Despite setting up the software at home it at first didn’t work for CAT control when out portable.  Found that the USB/RS232 dongle that I need to use didn’t retain its com port number from home but was allocated a different one!
  • The weather included a cold fitful breeze, although it felt warm with the bright sun.  I initially had few FT8 decodes and immediately suspected the laptop clock was being affected by the temperature changes.
  • I plugged in a GPS module purchased on the web, running from USB, using NMEATime to discipline the laptop clock.  Problem solved, but further experiments with software needed, not least about another com port number reallocation…

Reading the laptop screen is also less than easy in full sun, and my polarised sunglasses make it appear completely black.

In summer 2018 and 2019 I tried again /P from a local hill, which was more successful being in my parked car, mainly sporadic E stations on 50MHz and 24/28MHz.  The GPS derived timing I found to be essential.