The real utility of JT65

Since the holidays I have been playing around with JT65, a fairly new digital mode used on the ham bands. JT65 uses very low data rates. It takes about six minutes for a simple exchange of signal reports. But it has the advantage of outperforming other modes in low signal-to-noise ratio situations.

Until today the contacts I had made with JT65 were with stations that could have been worked using other modes. But this afternoon I worked a station in Indiana on 12-meters. I was running about 25 watts to a wire antenna.

On the higher amateur bands such at 15, 12 and 10 meters it can be difficult to work states that are nearby. Generally on those higher bands, if the bands are open only distant stations are heard (for me, California, Washington, Oregon, etc.). There is a huge “skip zone” which is the area between the stations you can hear, and those that can be worked directly via ground wave.

Generally the way for me to work a state like Indiana on the higher bands is to be lucky enough to catch an intense sporadic-E opening (intense ionization of the E-layer of the ionosphere) in that direction. It is not “rare” but it is uncommon, and you have to be patient.

Today I have heard a number of “close in” states on 12-meter JT65, most of which I had never heard before in many years of operating that band. So far I have only been able to work the Indiana station, but with luck I will work a bunch more in the near future.



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