I’m a big fan of FT8. It’s allowed me to work far more stations recently near the solar minimum with a very modest home station than would otherwise have been possible. I’ve worked all US states and received the ARRL’s WAS award on a couple of different bands using this mode.
Sometimes getting that last state or two can take a lot of effort, particularly when the remaining states are far away and/or have a relatively small population. Recently I was on the hunt for Rhode Island on 17M. I heard one RI station on the air but his signal strength was weak and he could not hear me at all. I had tried calling CQ RI, but got no response. Looks like I would have to wait another day.
But then I looked at PSK Reporter and I had an idea. I’ve written about PSK Reporter before. It’s a fabulous web based tool. But one use I had not considered before was to use it to hunt for stations to work even if they had not yet transmitted. The PSK Reporter map shows both stations you’ve heard, if you’ve configured your station to be a reporter (and you should), and those stations that have heard you. It’s that second group that was interesting to me this time.
Here’s an example of how to pick out those stations I call silent receivers. Take a look at the PSKReporter map below. Note the southern Rhode Island station contains a typical Google small map marker with an “L” inside of it and a bubble marker as well. That is a station I heard transmitting who also heard me. The station near Providence here has no map marker, only a bubble marker with the number of minutes since they last reported hearing my station.
Hover over that bubble marker to get pertinent information such as the station’s callsign as well as an indication of how strongly they are receiving your signals.
On this day I saw there was a listener on 17M and he heard my signal. He actually heard my signal quite well. The problem was I could not be sure the operator was even present at the station. Many Hams leave their receivers on to report what’s received. That’s a useful service for other operators and you should do so as well. But it also likely means calling that silent listener would likely yield no result.
With no downside to trying I simply called CQ to the receiving station and in a minute or two he came back and I had RI in the bag! This operator, like other silent listeners, may have been working around the shack or just waiting for something more interesting to pop up. A caller out of the blue caught his or her attention.
I used the exact same technique to snag a Wyoming QSO for my 50th state on 17M just a few days later! Now I just wait a Logbook of the World confirmation so I can send for my 17M WAS endorsement.