Tag Archives: Digital Modes

Can I get into FT8?

Can I get into FT8?  Technically for sure, but as an intellectual engagement I’m stuck in a quandary.

It is not that I lack the gear or the experience to run another digital mode – I’ve tons of contacts on PSK31/PSK63, Hellschreiber, and most of that wave of modes including Throb.  Then I played with some Olivia/Contessa type modes.  I’ve only dabbled with the semi-automated modes which include FT8.

In the day I even completed the ARRL’s online classes for digital, and ever took first place in one obscure digital contest – most likely because I was the only one who read the rules realizing that the multipliers were too generous compared to pure raw numbers of QSOs.

A lot of my digital radio time was through necessity.  While my voice is not a “radio voice” it would travel through the house if I went on the air SSB once our young children were put to bed, the majority of the time I had available for radio was late after the bands shut down for SBB, and I didn’t have very good antennas available – so digital was my solution.  I even bought a “no-click keyboard” keep from disturbing the house when I was operating, as I’d learned our small children would grasp at the noise as an excuse from their evening routines and sleep.

But over time the kids got older – they became the evening/night noise makers keep us from our sleep!  The bands became marginally better.  And I invested in a tower and decent antennas.  Oh, and I figure out how to use the equipment & later software better so my voice worked as a “radio voice.”

And I found I preferred talking over typing.  Actually more accurately I found I could do a voice QSO at the same time as doing emails or other typing.

When I started working PSK it was hand-typing everything.  Avoided Macros and used the typing as a way to keep my keyboard skills up.  I even ran some PSK63 events hand typing, but started using Macros to run faster versions of PSK and because I wasn’t all that satisfied with my PSK QSOs.

It is hard to get your personality to come over typing.

I started running more Hellschreiber largely because I thought the mode was cool & retro, and different enough to be interesting.  Not the best mode to run though as unless there is a published event few hams monitor for a Hellschreiber CQ.

Staring into the increasingly automated modes didn’t last long for me.

While I was technically fascinated the QSO’s became more about Macro’s, computer clock timing, and then even character limited.  FT8 is of course just a flavor in the continuum.

While I have a Twitter account I never spend any time on Twitter, though I do let announcements of my radio postings “tweet” automatically.  Have to admit that part of the account is to “control” the user name that matches my call sign.  A good hacker or any other technical glitch could end that of course.

So back to FT8 – while I have had the software up and running, done a few QSOs and figured out how to get all the software I’d like to run playing well with each other, I didn’t get “the buzz.”

Letting the machine manage a series of FT8 contacts feeling like pushing the graph command back in Lotus 1-2-3 days – the “gee-wiz” fades to a “meh” after a few repetitions.

Wonder if I am alone on this or if I’m just missing something?

Thinking I will set everything up to run FT8 again and maybe set a quick goal of an FT8 WAS (Work All States) or take a stab at a  FT8 DXCC to see if I’ve stopped running FT8 too quickly and before the “bug sets in?”

Or I may find that already know the answer – that I need to do QSOs on modes where more personality is shared.



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DigiFest this weekend!

DigiFest this weekend!

This is a farily straightforward and fun contest each June.

You can work one or more time periods (there are special awards for those who only work one time period):

I Period 04:00 UTC – 12:00 Saturday 2 June 2012
II Period 20:00 UTC – 04:00 Saturday 2 June / Sunday 3 June 2012
III Period 12:00 UTC – 20:00 Sunday 3 June 2012

In CDT (Local) Time

I Period 23:00 CDT – 07:00 Friday June 1st / Saturday June 2nd
II Period 15:00 CDT – 23:00 Saturday June 2nd
III Period 07:00 CDT – 15:00 Sunday June 3rd

MODES Allowed are (NOTE NO PSK31)

RY = RTTY (75 baud)
OL = OLIVIA (250 Hz, 4 tones)
MK = MFSK16 (or MF)

80/40/20/15/10 meters bands BUT NOT the 20m PSK31 Area 14.070-14.071 which is a Disqualification!

Dupes Contacts allowed on ONLY if on different bands or by different modes on the same band (5 QSO’s in different modes will be counted per each band).

Exchange: Signal report + four-digit Grid Square (Example: 599 EN64)

Full rules: http://www.mixw.net/misc/DigiFest/rulese2012.html

GL & 73


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K9ZW Joins the JT65 160m Affray

Decided I should give the JT65 mode a whirl after hearing how much success Scott W9JSB was having.

As I had earlier been on the 160m SSB Every Night Net, I thought I would see if there was any JT65 on 160m.

What a surprise as at 1.838 there is a raft of stations – at least that is what it sounded like “by ear.”

Downloading the JT65 software was easy – setting up things to work with PowerSDR and the Flex-5000A was a bit roundabout but doable.

The result was QSOs from the start!

Here is a screen shot of the software running (you can click to see a larger version):

K9ZW in a JT65 160m QSO with N4UPX

K9ZW in a JT65 160m QSO with N4UPX

All told I only made Eight JT65 160m QSOs – they take several minutes each – here is the calls and reports:

WA3WZR -17
N4UPX -08
K4JJQ -08
VE9DX -03
N6KMR -10
K0IDT -04
W5GW -12

Went right back and added another ten QSOs:


JT65 is a rather unusual mode in that it is about making the contact, and just about anything else is “chatter” and generally technically a difficultly.

Here is a descriptive and history of the mode: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WSJT_(Amateur_radio_software)

The Project’s Homepage is at: http://sourceforge.net/projects/jt65-hf/

Flex had an article on configuration that was based on an older versions, but helped: http://kc.flex-radio.com/KnowledgebaseArticle50362.aspx

Definitely an interesting mode and I am sure I will play around with it a bit.

Hope to meet you on 160m JT65 sometime soon!



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Hellschreiber – that Fuzzy Mode

K9ZW as received at KX5JT

K9ZW as received at KX5JT

Hellschreiber remains on my favorite mode list.

Simple, ticker-tape style, retro, steampunk… all are said to apply to the Hellschreiber mode.

The Flex-5000A does Hellschreiber well – https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/flex-5000a-does-hellschreiber/ – though this time I was using fldigi for the digital program.

Several years ago I put together a longer piece on exactly what Hellschreiber is: https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/repost-hellschreiber-about-the-mode/

Thank you to KX5JT  for sending me the screen shot  of his end of our QSO.

Hope to catch you on Hellschreiber!



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Neat YouTube – Alex OZ9AEC Demonstrates how to decode digital hamradio traffic without a radio

Very interesting demonstration on now to use the Web to listen to Ham Radio Digital Traffic (WebSDR Receivers) and locally decoding it on your PC/Mac/Linux-Box !

The Direct YouTube Video (you can also click above) at:


Decoding digital hamradio traffic without a radio by Alex OZ9AEC

Websites featured in the Demonstration:




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Flex-5000A on Digital – First PSK on the New Flex-Radio at K9ZW

Took a few minutes (would be quicker if I read the directions) to set up the Flex-5000A to use MixW and a neat internal interface called “VAC” (Virtual Audio cables) to set up the Flex-5000A for Digital Mode.

Here is a screen shot:


First Flex Digital at K9ZW

First Flex Digital at K9ZW

I’ve a ways to go to make this all work as I would like it to.

BTW with the speed of the new machine it looks like all my logs could be merged.  I had avoided this on the old XP Box as it was easily overwhelmed whenever my logfile got big.

For details on the setup using MixW and VAC see the Knowledge Base and Manuals at Flex-Radio.



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