Longtime followers of MiscDotGeek know that we’re about two things: DIY and QRP. With the solar cycle being at a minimum, digital modes have really taken off. FT8 is extremely popular, but for those of us that long for something more than an automated exchange, JS8Call has been just right. If you’re not sure what JS8Call is, go check out our post: Getting Started with JS8Call.
Slow, Normal, Fast and Turbo
Since our last post about JS8Call in 2018, it has grown huge amounts! There are more stations on the air than ever before, and the capabilities of JS8Call have taken a giant leap forward. In the last post we highlighted the ability to relay messages. That still exists, as does messaging. But now, you can choose the speed of your QSO based on band conditions and station capabilities. How so?
JS8Call now has four different speeds to suit varying conditions! In addition to the pre-existing “Normal” mode, there are now Slow, Fast, and Turbo. Let’s compare:
|Slow||30 Seconds||25Hz||~8 WPM||-28dB|
|Normal||15 Seconds||50Hz||~16 WPM||-24dB|
|Fast||10 Seconds||80Hz||~24 WPM||-20dB|
|Turbo||6 Seconds||160Hz||~40 WPM||-18dB|
For QRP operators, the new Slow mode really makes every watt count! Overnight, my 5-7W output was not just reaching across the US now and then, but now I was actually able to have a 2600mi QSO in slow mode because of the extra sensitivity.
On the other hand, I answered a CQ from VE6JMB in Calgary, Alberta who is about 500 miles to the NorthEast of Casa de W7RLF. My initial reply was in Slow mode, but as the QSO progressed we worked all the way up to Turbo mode- and it was five times faster! 40M was being nice to us, and there was only a few dB difference between the two. Just as a good operator uses no more power than is required for a contact, a good JS8Call operator has the opportunity to use the fastest speed that conditions will allow for.
Do you FT8? Give JS8Call a try!
The JS8Call network continues to expand as new operators come online, but you can help! Try out JS8Call. Even if you don’t have time to operate, leave your station on Auto mode with Normal or even Slow speed selected. This will help grow the network and allow other operators to send relays through your station as needed to complete contacts, leave messages, and the like. If the laws in your jurisdiction allow, of course.
Special Call: Hawaii and Maritime stations
Are you or someone you know in Hawaii? Hawaiians, you are in a prime position to make a lot of contacts on JS8Call! Leaving your station on Auto will allow many US West Coast stations to complete contacts along the Pacific Rim.
The same is true for maritime portable stations. No matter your location, you can help by just being on the air.
Are you a JS8Call user?
If so- share this post! Lets get the word out about JS8Call and see it proliferate even more. Show your friends who do FT8 this post and encourage them to give JS8Call a go. It’ll be fun!
Which Band should you try?
Right now the most activity is on 40 Meters at 7078khz, Upper Sideband of course. There is also activity on 20M but not as much. If you’re just getting started, leave your station running on 40M as previously mentioned. On the west coast of the US, most activity happens a couple of hours around Sundown. Your locale may vary. 73!
1/18/20: Article Updated to mention which band to start with