One thing I like about ham radio is the variety. There are new modes to try and new things to learn all the time.
Most recently, I’ve been playing with the low power, weak signal JS8Call mode. JS8Call takes the weak signal characteristics of the JT8 mode that has taken the ham world by storm, but enables actual ragchew-style QSOs. This means that with low power, modest antennas, and poor propagation conditions, hams can have actual conversations with one another.
This represents a significant departure from FT8 where callsigns, grid squares, and signal reports are about all that get exchanged. I’ve played around with JT8, too, but the appeal seems limited to me. Yes, my elmer got DXCC on FT8 in less than a month, and yes, I’m still working my way there on SSB. But, JS8Call suits my interests more directly. The developer, a guy named Jordan Scherer is an open source guru and all around righteous ham, and he has a plan about where this sort of tool might go. Check out this YouTube video to see what I mean.
Here’s how my 25 W signal was getting out earlier today.