To the extent that FT8 is a way to bring people into the hobby or re-ignite passion among those who haven't been on the air in a while, what's the easiest way to get someone on the air with this new mode? Cost is a factor, but simplicity of components and ability to transceive (not simply send a signal) are relevant too.

It's safe to assume this is someone who has a cell phone, laptop/PC, or Raspberry Pi and can be convinced to take any of these paths.

Bonus points for addressing the US license requirements too.

  • Sorry, but as stated this is mostly going to get product recommendations, which is not a type of question allowed here. If you can restate it in the form of, say, "What is the minimum equipment required for FT8?" then that would be OK. – Kevin Reid AG6YO Oct 19 at 21:14
  • done. – tedder42 Oct 19 at 21:55
  • 1
    When a question is on hold, you should edit it to fix it, not post a variation separately. I've edited this one for you, but since you had a link I assume that you had something specific in mind to refer to from the previous version. – Kevin Reid AG6YO Oct 19 at 22:13

Without getting into specific product recommendations, I believe the simplest way is as follows:

  1. Obtain a license. An amateur license is required for using amateur bands. I am not aware of any non-amateur bands using FT8. A technician-level license is sufficient in USA for VHF and UHF but it looks like a General level license is needed for the HF bands.

  2. Buy a radio. Pretty much any radio. I suspect a cheap HT would work just fine, especially for just starting out. Easier if it has a phono out and a mic in; even easier yet if it has a digital audio out and digital audio in. Of course, more power is more better, but 5 Watts is plenty for talking across many hundreds of miles, especially if you have a good antenna.

  3. Download FT8 software. I am not an expert on this, but it looks like software is freely available here: https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html This software covers many different digital modes in addition to FT8.

  4. Hook the radio up to the computer (or tablet or whatever). You might need a special cable depending on the radio.

  5. Start using FT8.

Once you start working with this, you will quickly see what opportunities exist to make the setup a little better. But this is enough to get started quickly and inexpensively.

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    Remember that in the US, VHF also includes the 50MHz (6-metre) band, and there’s an awful lot of FT8 on there. So the minimum licence required is actually the Tech. – Scott Earle Oct 22 at 13:50

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