Which Digital Modes Have Bitten The Dust?

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by KK4NSF, Aug 7, 2019.

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  1. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've spent a little time on Digital Modes, but not a lot..... and it surprises me how many modes are out there. It surprises me even more how many of them I've never actually heard on the air. So.... pondering which modes are still active, I did a Google Search and found a LOT of very old / obsolete / conflicting information going back to ~2002.

    For example, one web-site lists BPSK31 as the THING.... and says the hotspot is 7.035150. Another site says it's 7.040, and still another list puts it at 7.070...... but after watching those freq's for two whole days and nights,and sending a bunch of CQs on all of the listed frequencies, I only found three other folks to talk to: one from Mexico, one from Guatemala, and one from across town.... but he doesn't count since I called him on the phone, and we coordinated a QSO. Other than that, nothing. As far as I can tell, BPSK31 is not nearly as active as it use to be.

    FT8, on the other hand appears to be hopping, while modes like Contestia, Hell, and MFSK don't seem to be floating around at all. I used to see RTTY every now and then, but have not been able to find a signal lately. Fortunately CW seems alive and well.

    So here is the question: Which modes are still active in the real world? and which ones have bitten the dust? AND if a mode IS still active, what are the frequencies? (but please don't say "Google it" or "look on the ARRL website". Both of those searches render a lot of old /conflicting info. )

  2. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Well, given that there are over a HUNDRED "digital modes"....

    Probably not much point in spending time outside of FT8 and FT4 these days - if working "lots of contacts" is your goal (FT4 primarlily for contesting), and of course RTTY and the venerable CW (yes - it's a "digital mode"!) - legacy digital modes that will probably be around until it all ends as a hobby.

    I wouldn't spend much time on former darlings JT65 and JT9 - both are pretty much dead these days. Too bad too - I have a ton of great JT65 memories as I worked for my ARRL "Triple Play" award (W.A.S. via LoTW via CW, Phone, and Digital)

    The others - they all have their fans - and will likely be around a long time albeit in very low numbers - but steady over time, long term.

    KK4NSF likes this.
  3. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nominee: 300 Baud HF Packet. :)
    W2VW, W5PFG and KK4NSF like this.
  4. K7GQ

    K7GQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    In "the day", I loved GTOR from Kantronics. The protocol ensured that all data received was perfect - no garbage or missing data.
    KK4NSF likes this.
  5. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    AMTOR was a blast. I hated to see it go away.
    KK5JY, W5PFG, KA0HCP and 1 other person like this.
  6. W4KJG

    W4KJG Subscriber QRZ Page

    Unfortunately, UUU is probably 100% right.

    I'm not much into rag chewing, awards, contests, etc. I love to design/experiment with many facets of VLF thru microwave signals, antennas, equipment., etc. I was into the equivalent of SOTA, BOTA, etc., long before they became mainstream. Digital signals and reporting via the Internet really pushed my re-interest in amateur radio when WSPR came along a number of years ago.

    Starting in the mid to late 1960s I drove unknown miles trying to hear my beacon on 1750 meters running a 6U8 tube transmitter, OOK CW modulated with a homebrew equivalent of a drum music box that sent the last three letters of my ham call (GFS) and my lat/long over and over. I owned a swamp near the south shore of Lake Superior. My antenna was a 50 foot telescoping mast mouted on a pole that I sunk into the swamp mud through a hole in the ice in the dead of winter. The ground plane was four long pieces of chicken wire fencing that I laid on top of the ice, and which then sunk into the swamp at ice out.

    In the early 1970s, friends and I were experimenting with frequency hopping signals at overall negative signal-to-noise ratios at around 2400 MHz. Our beacons used on-off-keying and time synchronized frequency changes, with what today would be roughly known as QRSS. Narrowband reception and frequency accuracy/stability at 2400 MHz wasn't easy in those days. Narrowband meant no less than 1 MHz, and radiometer type detectors were needed for OOK detection. TWT (Travelling Wave Tube) amplifiers were inexpensively available as surplus, but they sure were heavy and very temperamental.

    Oh what I would have done for what we have today using digital signal processing, digital signals, and multiple reporting stations.

    I'm glad we have FT8 and PSKreporter. I miss JT65/JT9. I'm sure hoping WSPR doesn't go away anytime soon. It concerns me that over about the last year, I've been getting fewer and fewer hits on Reverse Beacon Network.

    I hope that Joe Taylor and friends continue to develop new digital methods.

    KK4NSF likes this.
  7. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    You know.... that's a bit sad. While FT8 certainly has a lot of folks using the mode, it seems a bit too automated / too impersonal / too structured for my tastes..... and rather diffucult to use for a conversation beyond "CQ and RR73". It's like talking to R2D2 on Star Wars.

    I think I'll spend some time exploring RTTY tonight and see if anybody out there.
  8. WR2E

    WR2E Ham Member QRZ Page

    There's usually a contest or two monthly and the RATTYS come out of the woodwork.
    KT5WB likes this.
  9. W5DXP

    W5DXP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Guys, you might want to try JS8Call.com, the newest weak signal chat mode that gets through when no other chat mode will (-24dB SNR). Presently, most of the activity is on 7.078 USB at night and 14.078 USB during the day. There were around 30 stations on 7.078 last night. Every second Saturday of the month, there is a 24 hour event. For August, we are running a JS8Call Portable Sprint / Contest. Here are the rules:

    When: August 10 19:00 UTC to August 11 19:00 UTC
    Participation: Global
    Bands: All Non-WARC Bands
    To Call CQ: use "CQ CONTEST"
    Exchange: SNR + State/Province/Country + Name + Power Output
    Points: (Based on your output power)
    <= 1 Watt of Power: 4 points per QSO per band
    <= 5 Watts of Power: 3 points per QSO per band
    <= 50 Watts of Power: 2 points per QSO per band
    > 50 Watts of Power: 1 point per QSO per band
    2x points multiplier if you are operating portable (you must use the /P callsign suffix, must be operating away from your base station / shack, and must be using a non-fixed antenna)
    2x points if you submit a photo of your operating station (portable or home shack)
    Submissions: Send log & photo submissions to kn4crd@gmail.com
    Winner: Bragging rights for the month and the opportunity to define the next QSO party theme
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
    KG5ILR, KX4O, KA0HCP and 1 other person like this.
  10. KS2G

    KS2G Subscriber QRZ Page

    You're not likely to find much (any?) "casual" RTTY these days.

    But, as WR2E posted, there's LOTS of RTTY contesting activity.

    See: https://www.rttycontesting.com/

    K0UO and KT5WB like this.

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