«Poor» HF condition?!? I’m still having fun!!!


Did you search and pounce across the HF band recently? Of course, we are going for sure into the minima of solar cycle 24 for the next years to come. Many years of poor condition are in front of us. But wait, poor condition I said? We have now a good opportunity to step forward and look at this «dark period» that will last for several years to come, and bring all this on a positive manner. With some perspective and also with good will, it could be also a great period to do some «experimentation» and enhance our knowledge into this great hobby!

I am hearing all week long, quite too often,  from many hams, sometime from friends of mine : «I can’t do radio, the HF bands condition are too poor! Yurk!”.

OK then, but what “experimentation” could we do could help us to resolve the bands condition??? The use of a combination of two important things. First of all, our good will, then…. the digital modes! Many will say : “OK Jeff, we all tried PSK31 or RTTY!!! Now what??!?” But my short answer would be : “But, did you try a more effective mode… like JT-65???”


As a ham myself since 2003, I discovered one flavor of the JT mode, the JT-65 from Joe Taylor K1JT, a few years ago from a good friend of mine who saddly died  last year Jacques VA2JOT. This smart guy has been involved back in the 70’s into deep research on digital modes especially for commercial use. I remember when he told me at that time: “Jeff, the use of a computer combined with the JT-65 mode could let you decode message that you might not even be capable hearing at them!”. And this is indeed totally true.

Last autumn 2015, I decided to try for real JT-65. Since that moment, I am getting quite amazing results with only 20 Watts or less, using mainly basic a wire antenna at 25 feet high. So, not much money investment, but mainly my good will! Now, I having a lot of QSOs on bands that are usually “dead” for many people using traditional modes like SSB or even CW. Just listening to JT-65 frequencies, and we could easily hear hams from all over the world sending CQ’s looking for fun!


The other good thing I also discovered…. another good use of the 60m band! Using the 60m at the frequency 5.357 on JT-65 is totally awesome. Many new countries around the globe are also getting recently the right to use this small portion of the spectrum. So the challenge is also getting more and more interesting!

Here an example I received earlier this morning by e-mail:


We could easily complain about poor HF bands condition, but we could also explore other aspects of our great hobby and continue to enjoy it!

For those interested using digital modes, just type as a example «jt-65» into Google, and start reading, do some experimentation, join discussion group and share all your experiments… and continue to have fun!!

With low or poor HF condition during the solar cycle will now become a true joy!!!

Have fun!

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!


Jeff | VA2SS