"Flavours" Challenge - Discussion

Purists need only consider Question 1 of the Foundation Licence exam paper: “What is the purpose of amateur radio?” Answer: “Self training in wireless telegraphy”.

Or in other words, continually seeking to learn new skills and improve oneself in this fascinating technical hobby.

Anyone who thinks FT8 is “too easy” has probably never ever successfully got it running in the field (and probably never will).

Anyone who thinks FT8 is “not real amateur radio” clearly does not understand how it works.

A while back, I didn’t understand the concept of WSJT and these weak signal mode protocols. So I read an explanatory article about them in Radcom, and it all clicked. My initial reaction was “What a clever and interesting idea” and started finding a way to operate some JT65 from the summits.

I find activating with FT8 a lot of fun. I still use SSB, FM, CW of course. FT8 just adds some extra variety. I understand why some people choose not to use it themselves, but don’t understand why some people who choose not to use it feel the need to dismiss it as “not proper amateur radio”.


+1. It doesn’t interest me but if it appeals to others, that’s just fine. I don’t like Guiness either but I don’t stand at the bar mocking those who order it…


I totally agree. The whole point of a challenge is to get you to do something that you would not normally do. My only reservation about the current flavours is that we could have put more thought into the way they were grouped. For instance, it was a mistake putting 80m and 160m together, as 160m is a greater challenge so most people only tried 80m. A more fun coupling might have been 160m and 70cm! Since many people would have to buy a new rig for DV perhaps that should have had a more conventional challenge coupled with it. We’ll see what other thoughts crop up as the year progresses.

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The counter argument about the 160m-80m thing is that 160m-only would have been significantly less inclusive and resulted in much less overall activity. But as you infer, this might also prove to be the case with the DV-only Flavour - but then there would not really be much point in a “DV or FM” Flavour. But then you could similarly argue that there’s no point in a “160m or 80m” Flavour, and round in circles we go!

There’s no doubt that experiences and results from the 2020 Flavours Challenge will inform the make-up of the 2021 Flavours Challenge - which was our plan all along.

I actually think the significant increase in the number of 80m activations was a very positive and welcome thing (which I know you yourself enjoyed Brian), so I don’t share your acute disappointment at the lack of 160m. I also rather suspect that several activators - like me - had an attempt at activating on 160m, but not particularly effectively. I know that I am already thinking through how to do topband better in the April flavour, and I imagine others are too.

True - but many people - have one that sits there doing nothing, a bit of a “white elephant”. In actual fact, the 7 day period makes it more likely that interested parties could arrange to borrow a DV-capable rig for such a short period if they didn’t wish to buy.

You reserve your scorn for those that order a tray of 3 one-third pint taster glasses IIRC.


We had a lot of discussions and satellite didn’t make the cut and I think the issue was it’s fine for the activators, they go out and work anybody. But it’s a lot harder for the chasers to work the activators. The disadvantaging the chasers was one of the issues.

I think there will be plenty of people with some DV capability that only gets either occasional use or used through interlinked repeaters. In this case we’re getting people to try DV modes simplex and that’s something that they may not have tried much or at all. It will be interesting to see the take up and whether under less favourable conditions, DV can be shown to have a real-world advantage.

I sold my D-STAR handy 2 years back and was expecting to miss this flavour… I’d never thought of seeking out a loan set. D’Uh! What a simple idea!

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What I am musing on is coupling dissimilar challenges. For instance take DV. A rig with DV is not cheap, and I’m darned if I am going to shell out a few hundred quid for a handy that I may never use again, or a new main rig that only covers one option (DV is seriously Balkanised and the jury is still out on whether it presents any real advantage) but for those who already have one a challenge seems good to me. Why not couple it with something totally dissimilar so that DV-less hams can join in, say 17m? Why not couple say 12/10/6m with data so that those who find data about as fascinating as watching raindrops run down a window can still have a challenge instead of sitting it out for a month? After all, DV and data make up 40% + of the challenge, which some would see as a serious imbalance. We are the wrong end of the year to seriously discuss this but as the challenges progress we need to gather ideas for next year.

UHF dual slot DMR 2W handheld £35.99 inc P&P. Yes sir, they are not cheap.

No not for me. The Flavours get us all together with a shared focus, it would seem pointless giving us all contrasting things to go away and do individually. We have normal non-challenge SOTA for that already.

I’ve not seen that one, but have you seen the big three prices?

I can’t speak for other DV types but I activate C4FM on almost all my WOTA activations (averaging about one a week) usually with the same chasers I worked ten minutes earlier on FM, so I’m regularly doing A vs B comparisons. Tom (M1EYP), me and others discussed this recently on another thread, and the consensus was that it usually makes no difference, sometimes a bit better and sometimes a bit worse.

Still, I look forward to the DV event hoping there’ll be more chasers (more distant and maybe hilltop) than usual to make a more comprehensive judgment.

Thanks Tom.

Do any lightweights use an android phone for SOTA FT8?



I find it difficult to believe that this will be any good. Having found a source I am slightly tempted. Has anyone tried one?


I am (was) not aware of any such solution. But having just done a quick Google, found some videos of people demoing how they are running WSJT on Android phones. I haven’t watched them, but they are there if you wish to investigate further.

At the price I have just seen on MLS (and probably other suppliers too; I haven’t checked) a brand new FM/C4FM 2m/70cm FT-70DE looks very good VFM. Best HT I’ve ever used - way better than the much more expensive VX7, and knocks spots off the supposedly superior FT1DE / FT2DE / FT3DE Fusion HTs.

Rather than gamble on an unknown quantity, I’d strongly consider investing a few more £s in this highly impressive rig.

Hi Tom, could you quantify the spots knocking? I’m happy with my FT1DE but would like to know what I’m missing.

Yeah. Side-by-side comparison found the RX on the FT70DE to be vastly superior.

As I’m retired I would be very careful about spending £170 on a handheld with DV when a similar but dual band handheld with plain FM is £100 cheaper unless there is solid evidence that there is a significant advantage in using DV. For that reason I will follow this flavour with interest but I will not take part.

Understandable Brian - but I am making the point that this handheld - even if only used on analogue - is outstanding, easily the best I’ve ever owned.

As for the flavour - just borrow one for a week. There are loads locked in cupboards doing nothing in various clubs, emporiums and individual QTHs.

I do wish people would answer the question accurately before throwing in opinions or strawman arguments.

It will be better than you think. But it wont be worry people with EME grade 70cms receivers. Watkins- Johnson, Rhode & Schwartz, Kuhne et al. will not be losing sleep. It will work well enough to be usable. It will use one of these modern single chip transceivers. It will be lacking decent front end filtering and may be prone to overload/selectivity issues in RF rich environments. But we’re talking 70cms here not 144MHz and there is much less of an issue. c.f. number of amateur handhelds which are useless in RF rich environments on VHF but absolutely the ‘mutz’ on UHF. Expect average build quality, less than stellar user experience (programming may melt your mind without extra software) average battery quality and life.

These things work fine against the UHF DMR repeaters. I have no dog in this race and never used DMR and I don’t know how much simplex DMR operation occurs. There are DMR calling/working frequencies about. It’s a case of whether people using DMR are listening for anonymous CQs or spend their DMR time using specific talk groups on repeaters (RF and internet linked).

As for an FT70. It’s £170 which is £90 more than the high performance, ultra rugged hand 2m only FM handhelds Yaesu used to sell. The FT-270 isn’t available any more and I don’t know anyone with an opinion I trust, with a new FT25 who can confirm it works as well. So if I needed a 2m FM handy tomorrow I grimace and buy an FT70 and ensure I used its 70cms and DV functions to lower the impact on my wallet. But the best reason to buy one is Tom “the destroyer” EYP hasn’t been able to gub his yet despite bunging it in pockets and using it in all weathers. So even as an expensive 2m FM handy it’s certainly very tough as old boots which makes it desirable for SOTA.

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