• The Old Codger's Guide to JT65A and JT9 via WSJT-X Software

    Rick found a very useful article on JT65A and JT9. It's available here.

    The Old Codger's Guide to JT65A and JT9 via WSJT-X Software
    By Andy K3UK
    (This article may be freely reproduced with credit to the author)
    Version 1.01 , a work in progress.

    Introduction:

    After a few hours of use, I feel the new WSJT-X is very useful. When I wrote the Complete Bozo's Guide to JT65A years ago, I teased the WSJT author, Joe Taylor K1JT, for being so smart. There is an element of that same sentiment when considering the WSJT-X software with the new "dual mode" capability. Aside from the intellect that goes in to the appearance of the software , the GUI is simple and effective, there is also the brain power that came up with the amazing "split" transmission method that is the centerpiece of WSJT-X V1.1 . Despite Joe being a pretty smart bloke, I see he has a "team" of hams helping with the development of this project . This group of smart people have made weak signal DXing via the JT65A and JT9 mode much easier for us in the bozo classes. Our thanks should go to Joe K1JT plus AC6SL, AE4JY, G4KLA, PY2SDR and VK4BDJ.

    What Is It ?


    For those still in the dark ages, JT65A and JT9 are digital modes that have become quite popular within the past few years. They are not "rag chew " modes where you have a 10-15 minute "chat" about your recent surgery , or the blue LED's that you installed in your $5000 Icom. These are digital modes where you exchange your callsign, grid square, and signal report , and a brief "73", via a series of 46 second transmissions that your computer decodes. The nature of these digital signals is such that even VERY weak signals are detected and decoded by your computer's sound card, thus most operators use these modes at power levels below 5 watts. Many use power levels below 1 watt. Above 10 watts is frowned upon!

    History:

    It is always interesting to see how our attitudes and abilities change as we age. When I wrote the Complete Bozo's Guide to JT65A, I made fun of the length of time JT65A takes for a QSO to be completed. Those were the days of rapid-fire RTTY contesting, where we worked 5 QSOs per minute , and did so without much effort. Nowadays, I like the fact that there is a 46 second transmission followed by a 14 second period that allows my brain and my computer to reflect on the meaning of life (it is 42) and to have a good think about the callsign and signal report that is about to pop up on my machine. I can take a minute or so between transmission cycles, log the QSO, look the other station up on HamQTH or QRZ, double check I actually have an antenna plugged in, and engage in a few second of meditative mindfulness exercises designed to help me cope with the fact that my old brain screwed up again and since I sent "73" rather than the expected signal level information. In about another 10 years, we should be at the developmental level where our brain's are aided by a cognitive assistant in WSJT-XX V100.1 . When we press a "macro" out of sequence, WSJT WSJT-XX V100.1 will say " Excuse me Sir, are you really sure you want to do this? You are going to look really stupid sending 73 before you even send your signal report". That same 2023 version of WSJT=XX will also come with a sub-mode feature that instead of detecting weak signals, it will detect moisture levels in your shack. As your drool content exceeds the drool "squelch" level automatically set by WSJT=XX V100.1 (this is based an your age and the outcome of a cognitive functioning test that you complete in the configuration area) , a bib comes out and wipes your chin periodically.

    I digress (something that old codger's practice a lot). Anyway, the intention behind WSJT-X V 1.1 (may be up to 1.2 by the time you read this) is to allow us to monitor two different digital modes at once. As a younger ham, I would have thought "who needs special software to do that? " You can always open a JT65A application and then a software package that decodes JT9, have two applications running at the same time. Well, you could.. but WSJT-X now makes dual mode monitoring much easier. In fact, it automates the whole process. Your old brain does not even need to know what mode you are decoding or what mode you need to be transmitting with. Joe and his team of smart dudes take care of all that for us.

    What Skills Do I Need ?
    1. The ability to set your computer's clock accurately and keep it synchronized
    2. The ability to connect your radio to a sound card for receive and transmit (receive only, if an SWL).
    3. Be able to use a computer mouse or keyboard (fingers, feet , or nose will work just fine). I have not tried it with a touch screen.

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