FT82SOTA: Spotting via FT8?

In a discussion with my fellow BV OM on RBN CW spotting, an idea was raised, that maybe FT8 or other digital modes can also be used for spotting, just like APRS2SOTA. Any thoughts?


RBN is currently collecting data as part of a process to determine whether or not to introduce FT8 spots. But maybe a “PSKreporterHole” could be introduced along the same lines as the RBNhole.

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The issue when I last did the code was the sheer quantity of spots led to rate limiting from the sites in question.

Should be possible, some devils in the details

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HamAlert can capture rule-based FT8 spots from PSK Reporter, which would enable a chaser to get a push notification when a given activator is heard by the network. The chaser could then sneaker-net it over to SOTAwatch. However, the skimmer networks don’t capture full message text, so there’s no way for example to take your FT8 free text message and convert it into a spot for a different frequency or mode. In other words, using FT8 to spot for SSB further up the band (or a different band) is not possible with the current infrastructure.

Past current reality into concept, it’s certainly possible to write an application that listens to the complete decodes coming out of WSJT-x. Such an application could trigger on a specially formatted message (or series of doorbell and data messages), then turn around and file a spot. This would obviously be more of a case-by-case basis, running a specific skimmer station/app in a region where the activator knows the station will hear and decode them. I think it would be fairly challenging to get any kind of a wide coverage skimmer network built up around this.

As go most of these kind of threads, you’re probably better off just spotting via APRS or SMS. In theory APRS on HF is an option if there’s a gate out there to hear you. I also think Winlink on HF would be an option, although I haven’t seen anyone running a proper email-to-spot gateway, so you might be stuck sending Winlink-email to a friend who can spot on your behalf.