Friday, February 22, 2013

Wide boys

What's the point of PSK125? I just finished a session running PSK31 on 15m (which was really lively, by the way) when I thought I'd just check 10m to see if anything was going on up there. I soon found that there wasn't much. The waterfall was devoid of traces, apart from a weak, wide, nebulous trace which proved to be PSK125.  PY2DN was calling CQ, but try as I might he couldn't decode me.

It appeared that he was making some QSOs, presumably with people enjoying better 10m propagation than I had. PY2DN's signal was far from perfect copy. Most times he transmitted I received mostly garbage. But I'm sure there was enough energy in the transmission to produce solid copy had he been using PSK31.

I guess the point of PSK125 is speed. PY2DN's CQ and my reply both lasted about two seconds. But what's the hurry? Not only can I not type that fast, I can't even click macro buttons that fast. So the time saved is for nothing. I accept there is a role for PSK63 in contests, when speed matters, but only when signals are strong enough to provide good copy. PSK125 is a step too far. It spreads the energy too thinly.

I've tried loads of new digital modes but I keep on coming back to good old PSK31. I find it more satisfying in the long run. There's tons of activity from heaps of different locations. You can often find a PSK31 signal when the CW and SSB band segments are dead. PSK31 is a real QSO mode where you can actually converse with somebody and exchange information with them. And you don't need to run a kilowatt to a huge tribander to be successful. I was calling CQ on 15m with 40w to my attic dipole and I felt like a big gun: I was getting replies, including DX replies, to every other call.

I think PSK31 has earned its place alongside CW and SSB as one of the staple modes of amateur radio. Other modes are just for temporary amusement.


recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Hi Julian -Yes I agree with your final statement about PSK 31 earning its place ham radio.

Just wanted to say hello and let you know I am still enjoying your blog.

Best 73 from Ohio
-Mike W8MDE

Anonymous said...

Hi Julian,

would it be okay for you if I translate this post and submit it to my blog at

Of course I'll give full credits and a link here.

Vy 73 de Dirk DB6EDR

Unknown said...

Yes, Dirk, please do.

Anonymous said...

Already done - see

Christophe Jacquet said...

Hi Julian,

Do you know that PSK31's character coding scheme has just been adopted as an official ITU recommendation, under the name M.2034?

73 de Christophe, F8FTK.

PE4BAS, Bas said...

Well, I just experienced some nice DX on PSK31 this evening so I agree. I think JT65 is close to be adapted as non QSO mode. It isn't clear to me why there are still all kind of RTTY activities by DXpeditions and contests. PSK31/64 would be much better. 73, Bas

Bert, PA1B said...

Hello Julian, I used PSK before I got this call. PSK is working very well. PSK31 is fast enough for me, so I would use PSK31. 73, Bert

Fenris said...

There is certainly a lot of PSK31 activity, and that's a good thing if the bands are quiet or if they're busy. What I mostly see is a lot of macro use and many rubber stamp QSOs.

Now, perhaps none of us want to exchange irrelevant information with people we hardly know in far-flung places but I feel that before digital modes became so widespread that there were more "human" contacts from which friendships developed.

My favourite digital mode is Olivia, just about everyone that uses it is happy to stay around and chat and it manages to decode adequately when PSK31 is producing nothing but random characters. Activity is there, but can be hard to find even with the assistance of Hamspots.

I know there is a No-Macro PSK club but it's not that easy to find people that are advertising that they comply with its operating practices.

If you like to listen about then PSK is nice because you will find someone to earwig on, but sometimes I don't find it very satisfying to see someone's "brag" information scrolling by.

Unknown said...

Yes, most PSK31 is using macros. But I find most CW and phone contacts follow a set pattern as well. I think this is because of the languge barrier. Americans are more willing to chat, in any mode.

Julian G4ILO

Adrian (YO3HJV) said...

Maybe is Need for Speed, typycally for contest stations.