Category Archives: Digital Modes

New Digital Modes Changing Complexion of Bands and Perhaps of Ham Radio

The wave of software-based digital modes over the past several years has altered the atmosphere of the HF bands. Some suggest the popularity of modes that make it possible to contact stations neither operator can even hear has resulted in fewer CW and SSB signals on bands like 6 meters and 160 meters. Traditional modes require far more interaction and effort on the part of the operator; the newer digital modes not so much. The recent advent of the still-beta “quick” FT8 mode, developed by Steve Franke, K9AN, and Joe Taylor, K1JT — the “F” and the “T” in the mode’s moniker — has brought this to a head. Some now wonder if FT8 marks the end of an era and the start of a new, more minimalist age.

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New “Pre-Release” Version of WSJT-X Includes FT8 Changes

A new “pre-release” version of WSJT-X now is available. This is the Amateur Radio digital software suite developed by Joe Taylor, K1JT, that includes the new FT8 mode, which has been catching on like wildfire. The September 2 release, WSJT-Xversion 1.8.0-rc2, fixes a number of issues, provides better performance, and offers some new features.

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Decoding Data Hiding in Star Trek IV
January 13, 2016

scotty-11986: The US and Russia signed arms agreements, Argentina won the world cup, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home hit the theaters. Trekkies and the general public alike enjoyed the film. Some astute hams though, noticed a strange phenomenon about halfway through the film. During a pivotal scene, Scotty attempts to beam Chekov and Uhura off the Enterprise, but has trouble with interference. The interference can be heard over the ubiquitous Star Trek comm link. To many it may sound like random radio noise. To the trained ear of a [Harold Price, NK6K] though, it sounded a heck of a lot like packet radio transmissions.

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USNA APRS/PSK31 CubeSats Offer Something Different
May 28, 2015

The APRS/PSK31-equipped US Naval Academy satellites appear to be operating, with one exception, according to Bob Bruninga, WB4APR. The CubeSats were launched on May 20 from Cape Canaveral. The launch included a pair of 1.5U CubeSats — the PSAT APRS/PSK31 satellite and BRICsat, a propulsion/PSK31 satellite — as well as a 3U CubeSat, USS Langley (Unix Space Server Langley). The launch also included The Planetary Society’s LightSail-1.

PSAT, a student satellite project named in honor of USNA alum Bradford Parkinson, of GPS fame, contains an APRS transponder for relaying remote telemetry, sensor, and user data from remote users and Amateur Radio environmental experiments or other data sources back to Amateur Radio experimenters via a global network of Internet-linked ground stations.

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