Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A JT65A Monday

JT65A 10 Meter Contacts 11/12/2012
I spent some time on 10 meters yesterday with the ever popular mode JT65A. My power output began at 19 watts but I backed it down to 14 watts as I exchanged reports with the stations I worked. It seems this mode on HF is becoming very popular. There is a bit of a learning curve with not only rig settings but the software itself. But once you watch a few exchanges, do a bit of research, it wouldn't take long for anyone who has the ability to do digital communications to be up and running on this mode. I've found it extremely useful for the low bands were my HF antennas are less than adequate. It has helped me work states that I never thought I would get, not to mention some good DX as well.

JT65HF Screen Shot
I won't get into the meat of this program as there is plenty of "How To" articles on the web. Having an Icom 756PRO, the main key is making sure my Compression is off and there is no movement on the ALC meter when transmitting. Depending on the band conditions, I will run no more than 20 watts and normally 15 watts or less. Other key factors are making sure your computer clock is in sync and I use Dimension 4 to keep me "on time." I have found that when using Google Chrome, it very much slows down my computer clock and if I'm on the internet browsing the web, I need to sync my clock before using the JT65HF software. I don't want to overuse the time servers so I adjust my sync times accordingly. I'm familiar enough with my aging computer, I know now how often I need to sync when operating. I only need to sync more often if I'm multitasking but I try to avoid that. 

I think one of my main complaints and it's happened several times, are stations calling me when I'm not done with a QSO. It's pretty easy, once you get the hang of it, to know who is calling who and who called CQ just by the sequence of exchanges. It's also pretty easy to know when the end of the QSO is. JT65HF seems to easily get confused if you have more than one station calling, rightfully so. I also had a station move in directly next to me who was very wide and that left me ending up asking for several repeats until the station moved on. Even with my receiving bandwidth to the lowest setting and using attenuation with my Icom,it was a rough QSO but thankfully the station that called me stuck with it and in the end, the QSO was successful. 

Either way, this is such a fun mode and if you have not given it a try. It's getting popular enough that it can be tough finding a clear place to call CQ. I enjoy using it with the Hamspots website. It plays like the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) in that you can see who is hearing you and how well you're being heard. I use this information to help with awards I'm chasing and also to make any power adjustments on my end. It's surprising how well this mode works for weak signal. If we have aurora, I can see the effects on the waterfall and the software can have some problems decoding the data. This is to be expect but I find it a bit more forgiving with aurora than PSK31 but not as good as let's say, Olivia. There have been several times that my reception reports have been uploaded to Hamspots and the stations calling CQ can see that my station is hearing them. I've returned to the shack to see where stations have called me but I was only receiving and away from the rig. 

I had lots of fun yesterday and the Google Earth photo at the top shows you where I worked with 14 watts on 10 meters. These were the actual QSO locations and it only confirms my normal paths to the lower 48. I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by beautiful mountains but thankfully, my path to Europe and the Lower 48 is pretty darn good. My location is not as good as if I were living on the Kenai Peninsula but I have no complaints! As mentioned before, I'm addicted to 10 meters so if that band is open and I'm occupying my hamshack, you can more than likely find me on 10 meters! We hams need to enjoy the solar peak while we can as it won't be long before 10 meters becomes ever so silent once again, especially up here.  


  1. I just dont get this mode of operating, to be honest. it just seems so impersonal, and the only exchange is a sig report. Im not saying it isnt a valid contact, just seems that after years of chasing DX with the standard 5NN report, i try really hard to actually have conversations with people and get to know them when time allows. Even when i do PSK31 i will type away at them rather than just the standard Macro exchange.

  2. W7DTG I'm with ya! Yea, I also like having chats with people and it does seem impersonal. Since being pretty active here, I often times encounter pile-ups and it can be tough to just have an uninterrupted QSO. I cherish those moments for sure. I have my standard macros in PSK31 that I open with but that gives me time to log and type actual text. But, I'm with ya!!