Thursday, January 28, 2010

JT65-HF : A New Hope

Back in late 2007 I wrote about what I thought was the impending demise of the JT65A mode on HF. I'm happy to report that I was wrong thanks in large part to W4CQZ (formerly W6CQZ) who developed several key components for this mode; a reverse-beacon system, a web-based chat/sked page which displays reverse-beacon data in near real-time, and an application (appropriately named JT65-HF) which improves upon the original WSJT application written by K1JT.

Each component is interesting by itself, but combined together they have generated a lot of interest and attracted a whole new breed of very active JT65-HF users; with more coming on the air every day. In 2007 interest in the mode was primarily from the US and Japan. Contrast that with this morning when my reverse-beacon logged nine European stations; including two new ones which I happily logged. Looking at global activity via the PSKReporter map it's clear that Europe is actually more active on JT65-HF than any other regions. South Africa, a rarity in 2007, has become an almost daily presence in the reverse-beacon display. I spoke yesterday with a ham friend in Egypt and hope to see North Africa in my log very soon.

None of this comes without a price, of course. There are some vociferous contingents in the HF digital world who have appointed themselves arbiters of the band-plan and created a lot of conflicts by publishing "official" bandplans which direct multiple (and often incompatible) modes to the same sub-band as part of a strategy to protect "their" channels. The group in question is skilled in search-engine optimization which means that when looking for information about digital modes you're likely to find their info first and take it for granted that this is "the law". Unfortunately this has led to a lot of people directing criticism at the JT65-HF users and (bizarrely) at people like W4CQZ for "promoting inappropriate use". Factoid for any EmComm dorks HFLINK/ALE folks reading this; W4CQZ's application, reverse-beacon system, etc are frequency agnostic. They don't "promote" anything. Choice of frequency is up to the user.


g8iht said...

Excellent post, you hit the nail right on the head!
Steve G8IHT

John said...

Makes me want to park on 14.109 and send a book or two in MT63 mode.

w1mnk said...

I agree, most excellent post. Beware of the HFLINK/PCLINK ALE cult. It appears that they think that we should give up all modes in favor of theirs. Not me. I think it is good, but I like diversity, and JT65 is a very interesting mode. I've been running WSPR on 20M for months, and it is fascinating to see the propagation change day to day and over longer periods.

Phil Pockras said...

I do wish people would avoid 3.577 MHz at 0300 during Standard Time and 0200 during Daylight Savings so that the Buckeye Net (Late) CW Traffic Net could operate at or near the frequency used and published in the ARRL Net Directory since the 1950s. That, or not complain we are qrming after we've asked QRL several times with no reply, and sometimes when the JT65-HF signal has started AFTER net callup. No ill feelings, but a bit of bewilderment. De NY8V

Sparqi said...

Phil; I will pass along your comments to the JT65 folks.