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Short Exchange Digital Modes


K3MRI

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I've been a "digi" modes user from the beginning it was possible to work via soundcards in a PC. I was one of the first PSK users ever, as I was one of the first FT8 users ever too ! 

Hats of for K1JT, he made some really great low signal modes (NOT LOW POWER MODES !!). I've never seen such a quick raise of popularity as it happened for the FT8 mode. The mistake K1JT made is that he dropped this modes on HF frequencies that have been in use for a long time by other modes like PSK, Olivia, RTTY etc. That created a big love and hate story, I've been irritated myself, even wrote some mails to Joe Taylor himself. Not IARU but K1JT is writing the bandplans this days ... 

But as mode, FT8 and FT4 deserve to be a part of the hobby ! 

73 ON4VT.be aka OT4V

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As a new Ham joining the hobby during a low in the sunspot cycle, there's no way I would have been able to achieve WAS and DXCC without use of low signal modes like FT-4/8!

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  • Elmers

There are modes for every purpose and interest group!

The PSK, Olivia and other "Sound Card" modes have not gone away. Newer modes are probing the limits of technology and HF radio. With the advent of the personal computer came along a whole new range of possibilities. The WSJT-X modes only serve to put more "tools" into you HF toolkit. Some of these are purely experimental modes (WSPR), and some serve to provide QSOs where voice communication is not possible (the "FT" modes). No one mode is perfect for all communications and the enjoyment of Ham Radio is enhanced by the now wide choice of modes from CW to RTTY, to PSK31 to the more computer enhanced modes of the JTx and FTx series that Joe Taylor has brought out.

Many modes are not voice or "conversational modes", but many are! You can pick and chose which mode you want to use for the mood or pure enjoyment of learning a new way to communicate. But please remember to be a "good neighbor" when learning a new mode! Make sure that your signal is contained to the needed bandwidth and you are not generating spurious signals up and down the band because you are over-driven! Most of the sound card modes are VERY sensitive to any non-linear products (the PSK and Olivia type modes) and although you may have a powerful signal, if the signal is not linear and there are distortion products outside of the needed 31 Hz (in the case of PSK31) you will not make many friends or be very successful in making any QSO's! Learning to control your signal and IMD by operating your station can make you a better operator and you will gain respect from all that see your "clean" signal. On the other hand, being recognized by a poor wide and distorted signal will make you easily recognized and avoided. If you take pride in the quality of your signal, you will be rewarded with a great operating experience and the personal satisfaction of having mastered another aspect of Ham Radio! In digital modes it is much easier for your software to decode a "clean" but weaker signal than trying to decode a strong but distorted signal. It's just the way things in technology work!

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46 minutes ago, AE2A said:

There are modes for every purpose and interest group!

The PSK, Olivia and other "Sound Card" modes have not gone away. Newer modes are probing the limits of technology and HF radio. With the advent of the personal computer came along a whole new range of possibilities. The WSJT-X modes only serve to put more "tools" into you HF toolkit. Some of these are purely experimental modes (WSPR), and some serve to provide QSOs where voice communication is not possible (the "FT" modes). No one mode is perfect for all communications and the enjoyment of Ham Radio is enhanced by the now wide choice of modes from CW to RTTY, to PSK31 to the more computer enhanced modes of the JTx and FTx series that Joe Taylor has brought out.

Many modes are not voice or "conversational modes", but many are! You can pick and chose which mode you want to use for the mood or pure enjoyment of learning a new way to communicate. But please remember to be a "good neighbor" when learning a new mode! Make sure that your signal is contained to the needed bandwidth and you are not generating spurious signals up and down the band because you are over-driven! Most of the sound card modes are VERY sensitive to any non-linear products (the PSK and Olivia type modes) and although you may have a powerful signal, if the signal is not linear and there are distortion products outside of the needed 31 Hz (in the case of PSK31) you will not make many friends or be very successful in making any QSO's! Learning to control your signal and IMD by operating your station can make you a better operator and you will gain respect from all that see your "clean" signal. On the other hand, being recognized by a poor wide and distorted signal will make you easily recognized and avoided. If you take pride in the quality of your signal, you will be rewarded with a great operating experience and the personal satisfaction of having mastered another aspect of Ham Radio! In digital modes it is much easier for your software to decode a "clean" but weaker signal than trying to decode a strong but distorted signal. It's just the way things in technology work!

Extremely well said Mitch. In fact, in a funny way, the clarity with which you explain the co-existence, and the actual need, for an open and experimental approach to the development of new modes in amateur radio, makes me want to probe further into these new modes. After all, isn't society ripe with those who have wanted to defend the status quo and failed? Isn't the present built on the future vision of those who dared before us? Thanks for the reframing of my own thoughts.

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Jim and Mitch.  Good thoughts all around.  I was an early adopter of FT8, etc. and along the way have taken advantage of the many other WSJT-x modes available.  It's a constant learning opportunity.  It's very true that every new mode you try has some 'strings' that one must be aware of; typically usage norms and especially the frequency norms on constraints.  Another new ham adventure is JS8Call.  Some love it; some hate it.  But there's no question it has a growing popularity among hams.

An important consideration, for digital voice modes such as DMR, DSTAR, Fusion in particular, is talk group etiquette.  One should always spend some time listening on a TG or other type of 'channel' before using it.  (Just like FM repeaters!) Not only to keep from interrupting an ongoing QSO, given there are some gaps between transmissions; but also to be aware of how the channel is normally used.  For example, DSTAR's 30C or 001C are primarily intended for short contacts.  They have GLOBAL listeners; which is part of the charm!  If hams 'tie up' that channel for more than a few minutes for a 'rag chew' they are probably going to become very unpopular.  Know how to move to another channel that's more friendly to rag chews.  Similarly on DMR, statewide TGs are popular meeting places; but be aware if you are using one, you are tying up that channel on repeaters all over your state.  Learn to move to a TAC channel for your longer QSO.

Enjoy all the digital modes and keep learning!

Bruce/KN4GDX

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