Sometimes I wonder if it’s obvious to other operators, why I’m so interested in JS8Call. Certainly I am no fan boy, but I think credit should be given where credit is due. Jordan KN4CRD has done an an amazing job, bringing us this magnificent “new” way of communicating in Amateur radio. This is something I sometimes feel has been lost in recent years.
The most important thing about JS8Call is its ability to morph into something for everyone. Many operators like to use it like traditional FT8, albeit with a greater freetext freedom as we have in other modes like PSK, MFSK or Olivia. There’s also its ability to be used as a round table or net system, giving operators the ability to chit chat with morning coffee or, … My favorite aspect of JS8Call is the networking. I love the fact that at any given time, there’s a global network of stations at my fingertips. I can use those stations for propagation testing as I would have with WSPR. For leaving an operator a message displayed as a pop-up, where I’m certain he or she will get the message, knowing to respond to it. I can send out my exact position and have it show up on APRS sites, or update my grid locator automatically, with a Ruby script and GPS integration via the JS8Call API. I can even have a chit-chat by relaying my messages through stations I can hear, to a station I can’t. JS8Call is not a mode, it’s a system! In many ways it reminds me of good old packet radio from back in the day.
There something for everyone in JS8Call. This is especially true for operators who can’t run big antennas, lots of power, or suffer from high noise levels. Whether the network is your thing, or chasing those elusive grid squares, there is something for you in JS8Call.
I didn’t spend a lot of time at the radio yesterday but as it has been for the last few weeks, the radio was on and JS8Call was running. It was a huge surprise to check my radio yesterday evening, to find this message waiting. It came from KC1GTU via HB9AVK. This is the beauty of JS8Calls RELAY system, and the global JS8Call network.
Certainly I could have received that message directly with good conditions, at the right time of day with the stars and planets in the right order. Or, that message could arrive via a station which we can both hear with relative ease. Well, that’s how I received the message. The message was RELAYED through HB9AVK in Switzerland. His is a station I can hear almost anytime of day or night, regardless of conditions. In the global JS8Call network, less capable stations can take advantage of the network to get there messages further than they would with their stations alone. This is huge for the QRP operator, with less than optimal operating conditions, and major departure from WSJTX and FT8. This also brings me to my point.
No matter how you use JS8Call, no matter what you consider fun or enjoyable about the mode, we finally have a system and supporting Network, which empowers the weak signal operator at home or in the field. For those weak signal operators who learn to take advantage of the global JS8Call Network, there’s nothing stopping them from collecting those rare qsl cards, just as the big guns do. Used effectively, there’s no reason you can’t use the JS8Call network, to expand your station well beyond its actual capabilities. All we need to do, is stop trying to use JS8Call like FT8, and take advantage of it’s weak signal capabilities, and supporting features (like RELAY via) which are typically lacking in other modes.
Finally, if you’re wondering why I make such abstract JS8Call videos, here’s the answer. I’m not trying to tell you what to do with the mode, I’m trying to share with you what’s possible!
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