Too many digital modes? That’s the question. There are approximate 13 digital modes. Contestia, DominoEX, Hell, MFSK, MT63, Olivia, PSK, QPSK, RTTY, ROS, WSJT modes, Thor and Throb. It must be crowded on HF, or isn’t? Well, the most used digital mode is PSK31.
Number 1 of the digital modes is PSK31, the most used. The speed of PSK31 is average, about 52 wpm. The bandwidth is small 31 Hz. That’s pretty nice. And there is enough good software to run PSK31.
PSK10 is almost not in use but is very small in bandwidth but too slow, about 18 wpm. Only MultiPSK supported PSK10. But as you know MultiPSK is user unfriendly. If you want to combine 'small' bandwidth and higher speed than PSK63 is a good option.
PSK63 is perfect on the higher bands as 12 and 10 meter for Es propagation. But there is always a but, when you tell a story. Sensitivity. The sensitivity of PSK modes is not that great. The maximum sensitivity for PSK31 is about -10 db.
PSK63 about -7 db. When compared with JT65A, the sensitivity of JT65 have reached -30 db. (I think the best there is at the moment) ROS claimed that they could have -30 db, but I have never seen a report that goes beyond -24 db. Not bad at all, but too wide.
PSK10 can reach -18 but only a few users worldwide. A good second place for most used digital mode is for RTTY. But why? Maybe it has to do with nostalgia. It is a less sensitive mode, only about -5 db. Not suitable for QRP because you have to put a lot of power in your finals to be heard. And the bandwidth is 450 Hz.
Because of lack of space on HF it is necessary to use small bandwidth modes. Modes like ROS, Olivia 500/16, Contestia 500/16, Olivia 500/4, and RTTYM 500/16 are too wide, and will not be recommended for daily use. RTTY is average in bandwidth and speed comparison.
JT65A become more popular in use. It is extremely sensitive (-30 db) the bandwidth is comparable with RTTY, but in daily use the band is crowded sometimes because they only gather around the pre-arranged dial frequencies -/+ 1 KHz. It’s perfect in use with QRP and very low power. A lot of hams don’t understand the principle when they use more than 50 watts with JT65A.
MFSK16 is comparable with PSK31. Only it’s slower and have more bandwidth then PSK31. When we look to performance of digital modes and the percentage of errors / signal to noise ratio, than MFSK has a high percentage of errors, though it’s sensitive.
For weak signals than DominoEX8 is one of the best (a good second place!) a low percentage (10%) of errors is found and rather sensitive (-16 db). The third place goes to PSK31 12% errors / -10 db.
For me is JT65A the best digital mode. And all the other digital modes, except PSK31-63, RTTY, and ROS? Do you ever hear them? I don’t. (I do not search, really)
All we need is a good behaviour on the amateur bands and respect for each other. We just want to be involved with our great hobby and share the fun and knowledge with each other.
A temporary stop of blog activities | You can follow me on Twitter @Paul_PC4T
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