Since the JT65 frequencies seem to be getting more crowded, I figured I’d give Joe Taylor’s bleeding-edge new JT9 mode a shot tonight. It’s made for HF and promises even more sensitivity to weak signals, making it possible to cast your signal longer distances on even less power.
Another good thing about JT9 is that the signal is very narrow, meaning many more QSOs can be jammed into the band.
The QSO process is very similar to JT65: One minute transmit/receive intervals with only the most basic of information exchanged — callsign, grid square and signal report.
The program currently used to accomplish this is WSJT-X, by K1JT. It can be downloaded from here. The interface is similar to JT65 HF, and perhaps more streamlined, with a better bandscope to boot. Once I installed the program I tuned over to the 20-meter JT9 frequency, 14.078 and surveyed the landscape.
I answered a CQ call from a station in North Carolina, made sure everything was working properly with my rig, and decided to just go ahead and call CQ and start “running” on the frequency.
Nine CQ calls resulted in nine instant QSOs, with stations calling me from as far away as Moscow and the UK, to the U.S. midwest and west coast. I sustained the run for an hour before I had apparently worked everyone on frequency that could hear me.
I saw K1JT himself in a QSO, but didn’t get to work him tonight.
I imported the WSJT-X logfile into Ham Radio Deluxe and ran into an issue with the JT9 mode field. HRD didn’t care for it. That was easy to fix. I entered the HRD mode configuration and added JT9 as an available mode.
When I went to upload the new QSOs to Logbook of the World, HRD gave me another error. I suspected LOTW’s certificate wasn’t aware of JT9 as a digital mode yet. I found some help online and a tutorial on how to fix it. In a nutshell, you must login to LOTW, check your account settings and download the latest configuration file. Once I applied the new configuration, HRD was happy and my new JT9 QSOs were on their way to the ARRL.
Now if we could only get a weak signal digital mode that worked as fast as RTTY… hmmm.