New versions K1JT weak signal digital modes

Bob, G3WKW, has passed on this information from Joe Taylor K1JT:

“Date: Fri, 07 Aug 2015 16:28:19 -0400

Several people have asked for an update on development of the “Fast modes” in WSJT and WSJT-X.  So here’s a brief summary.

First, a review of some relevant terms and motivations.  It’s convenient to think of the various WSJT protocols (“modes”) in two groups:

*Slow modes* — JT4, JT9, JT65, and WSPR.  These modes are designed for communication with extremely weak signals — often too weak to be heard. Target propagation modes include EME and long-distance troposcatter on HF-and-up bands, and QRP Dxing on the LF, MF, and HF  bands.  Relevant signal amplitudes are approximately constant over a minute and more, aside from so-called “libration fading” for EME. Transmit/receive sequences are 1 minute for JT4, JT9, and JT65, and 2 minutes for WSPR.

*Fast modes* — JTMS, FSK441, ISCAT, and JT6M — and now also *FSK315* (implemented in WSJT) and *JT9E* through *JT9H* (implemented in WSJT-X. These modes are made for communication with rapidly varying signals:for example, meteor scatter, ionospheric scatter, airplane scatter, and scatter off the International Space Station.  The decoders are designed take advantage of short enhancements of signal strength.  T/R sequences are 30 seconds (or sometimes even shorter).

Bill, ND0B, has implemented a trial version of FSK315 in WSJT.  Think of this mode as FSK441 slowed down to 315 baud; the bandwidth is therefore narrow enough to make the mode legal in the “CW and data” portion of the 10 meter band.  Bill and a few others have been experimenting with FSK315 and also ISCAT-A on 10 meters, under dead-band conditions, using meteors and ionospheric scatter propagation.

I have implemented experimental submodes of the JT9 protocol in the program branch WSJT-X v1.6.1.  As with JT4 and JT65, letters following the “JT9” designator indicate increased spacings between the FSK tones. Traditional JT9 (now also called JT9A) has tone spacing 1.736 Hz, so the signals used at HF and below have total bandwidth 9*1.736 = 15.6 Hz.  The widest of the new submodes, JT9H, has tone spacing 200 Hz and therefore bandwidth 9*200 = 1800 Hz.

When used with the standard 1-minute periods, the wide JT9 submodes should be useful for the same purposes as the wide JT4 submodes: microwave EME, for example, where libration fading can cause Doppler spreading of 100 Hz or more.  Used in this way, all JT9 submodes are “slow” modes; they use 1-minute T/R periods and keying rate 1.736 baud, and they send the full 85-symbol message protocol in 85/1.736 = 48.96s.

Optionally, the wide JT9 submodes can now also use “fast” keying rates equal to their tone spacing.  “Fast JT9H”, for example, uses keying rate 200 baud, so the full message protocol is transmitted in 85/200 = 0.425s.  The message is sent repeatedly for the full Tx period, in the same way as done for the other fast modes.

The fast JT9 submodes should be very effective for meteors and ionoscatter propagation, especially on the 6 meter band.  Sensitivity should be similar to ISCAT, or perhaps slightly better.  Because JT9 includes strong forward error correction, decoding results are like those for all the slow modes: you should see messages exactly as they were transmitted, or nothing at all.

Tests of the fast JT9 submodes are currently under way, with excellent results.

   — 73, Joe, K1JT”

Roger Lapthorn, G3XBM, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cambridge, England.

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