JS8Call Ver. 2 is now out of beta and is available for general release. I’ve been using the beta version for some time now and I can tell you that it is a significant improvement over Ver. 1. It’s available for Linux, Win10, RaspberryPi and OSX, which should cover just about anyone reading this.
Most of you probably won’t care and are going “WTF is this JS8 thing?”, but if you’re into amateur radio, you probably already know what it is or have at least heard of it.
JS8 is built on the same communications technique used with the wildly popular FT8 digital mode, which means it is extremely robust at working with very weak signals as FT8 is. But FT8 is only good for very brief, pre-programmed exchanges that contain only enough information to qualify as a “contact” for contesting and awards purposes. You can’t really talk to anyone using it. JS8Call changes that because it allows people to actually chat with one another while retaining FT8’s ability to work with very weak signals.
JS8Call’s biggest problem has been that it is very slow when compared to other modes of communications. Because of bandwidth restrictions and other issues, it maxed out at around 15 words per minute and often was considerably slower than that. It worked well, but you needed some patience.
This new version offers a “turbo” mode that boosts that up to about 40 WPM, which pushes it up to speeds approaching that of other digital modes. There is a cost for this, though. The turbo mode uses a slighter wider bandwidth, and sensitivity drops a bit.
JS8 also offers a lot of other goodies, like call groups, message forwarding, relays and some other very useful features.
So if you’re into amateur radio and digital communications, click the link up there and go take a look.
3 thoughts on “JS8Call Ver. 2 Released”
I need a new hobby. Did you know back in my younger days I did a radio morning show for a few years? I really enjoyed that time of my life. I eventually got fired ( like everyone in radio) and considering the pay and commitment at the time, I moved on. What do you like most about amateur radio?
I had no idea you had a radio show! Unfortunately as the independent stations were bought up by the big media corporations a heck of a lot of employees, both on the air and in the office, got fired.
Everyone gets something different out of amater radio. Some people like talking with others. Some people chase DX – trying to make contacts with other ham radio people across the world. Some people like to experiment designing antennas, building equipment or tinkering around. Some people are into it for the emergency communications aspects of it. That’s why my wife got her license. You can go after various awards for achieving specific accomplishments, like working all states in the US, DXCC where you contact at least 100 different countries, things like that. (I’m only two states away from WAS (worked all states)
For me personally it’s tinkering with electronics, antennas and that kind of thing. I’ve always enjoyed fiddling with electronics and I’m fascinated with propagation and antennas, so amateur radio fits right in. I’m not big on talking to other people, but it gives me an excuse to play with computers, electronics, antennas and other stuff I do enjoy. While some people just like to talk, I’m usually only on the air when I’m testing something.
Getting licensed is pretty simple. The “entry level” license is the Technician, and if you know anything at all about electronics you can get through that easily. My oldest son passed it on three hours of sleep, hung over, and hadn’t even bothered to open a book. But he’s weird. The Tech class license is restricted to VHF/UHF frequencies, and tiny parts of the shortwave spectrum using CW only. Upgrading to the General class license gives you almost unrestricted access to all modes of communications on all of the frequencies available to amateurs.
The testing is done by volunteer examiners usually associated with an amateur radio club. There are resources on the internet that can give you more information.
That’s pretty cool. When I got fired was a really transitional time, everything was switching to digital and like you said, the corporations. I did interview for a couple of other jobs but they wanted me to do board ops to plug, play, and produce local commercials for national shows. I would’ve smoked myself to death with boredom. No thanks.