WSJT vs CW

Every now and again the odd big gun pops up and complains about the lack of CW activity and how WSJT is killing EME!  Well … actually the evidence suggests something much different!

During the ARRL EME contest over the 26-27 October 2013 there was over 300 stations logged by the MAP65 loggers in the USA using WSJT. That’s a pretty significant number working the moon on one weekend.

So whats the beef against WSJT?

Well – first lets see whose complaining! 

So far the main opponents are super stations that have huge arrays/dishes and therefore the headroom to make good CW QSO’s. Lets be honest to make CW QSO’s on 144 EME you need 4 yagis and at least 1KW to be reliable.  This is not within everyones grasp!  If you have an 8M dish parked in the garden then CW EME is easy on any band – but many hams are faced with the pressures of modern life in small suburban gardens and on a limited budget. 

The other issue is age. Sorry to be ageist but its true! Most of the complainers come from an age where computers are not second nature. They regard the use of a PC as cheating and one where the use of software in the QSO clearly has some deep evil meaning to them!

So lets look at facts!

1. EME is now in a renaissance period – there are more stations than ever active on EME – not just on 144, but 50 MHz where single yagi stations can make EME QSO’s and on 432 through 10 GHz. 

2. WSJT has encouraged more stations on the band since its inception than any other mode or technical improvement. Stations can run dxpeditions using small yagis now appear on a regular basis activating DXCC’s never before active on EME.  

3. WSJT has opened the door to the little guy! Now EME is open to anys tation from single yagi station usings a few hundred watts upwards, rather than the big arrays of the 60-90’s. A single 12 element and 300W can make DXCC now on 144 – this is not a derisory view of their activity – its just as valid as a superstation but it does mean more stations active and even small pistols get interested and perhaps venture out on dxpeditions or special events and are active on the bands – what can be so wrong about that! 

4. WSJT is cheating! Really?! The main beef of the superstations is that there lies within WSJT a text file of active EME stations that you can add too – WSJT uses deep search algorithms to match up this to what its receiving – but it does not mean it makes the QSO or cheats! Thats still up to the operator – It still has to see the signal! And its still coming from the moon!! Sounds like EME to me!

5. Using a PC means people get bored and leave EME this is killing EME! – Errmmm not from the evidence – 300+ stations active on WSJT during a weekend contest – I’d say the evidence is conclusive – people are interested in WSJT, maybe because they are not big guns and they can enjoy EME – regardless of station size. Whats wrong with that. Ahh thats right … the number of CW stations for the big guns to work is reduced and prove how wonderful they are becomes limited. Bit of ego rubbing there I think!

6. People get bored of looking at a PC screen! – Well no more than they would using say RTTY or PSK31 or heaven forbid WSJT-HF – This is another weak point by the WSJT bashers!

7. Modern technology and the use of cross polarised antennas and diversity reception has meant that faraday rotation lockouts are a thing of the past. Well mostly – there are still other propagation issues but yes using XPOL arrays and dual receivers in diversity mode has meant a big leap forward and the use of MAP65 has allowed whole band views to be available over the internet allowing further liaison between stations making more QSO’s.

8. WSJT users cannot make QSO’s without loggers and PC’s. I think the intimation is that again using a PC or logger is cheating and the only real(sic) QSO’s are random CW or SSB ones . Again fine if you’re a super station but the poor little guys loose out!

9. WSJT makes EME like using a repeater! Come on guys this is clutching at straws for an argument. If you do not build decent stations using the right components and equipment even WSJT will fail! The 250 dB path loss is a killer and uncaring what mode is being used – yes it gives some headroom over CW but thats the advantage of using DSP techniques!

10. WSJT is killing CW EME! – Yes I am afraid so – for all the reasons above. Sorry this is progress – Is it a bad thing – well if you’re a dinosaur of a super station who refuses to move with the times yes it is – but no different from the spark transmitters to carrier based CW ops or SSB over AM, etc – The use of PC’s and software in amateur radio is here to stay. Accept it and use it but stop bitching about it if you don’t want to!

The facts are there was 300+ stations heard on EME at the weekend and most have migrated to smaller arrays using digital modes. There is nothing surprising in this. Many cannot have big arrays or afford large amplifiers but should that be a bar to EME?

No – with WSJT small stations now have access to the moon and in large numbers. Every day you will find many stations active looking for QSO’s
Many of these are small stations using single yagi’s – a few 100 watts and simple stations yet many make DXCC and enjoy their moonbouce activities.
it should not be the pleasure of the rich man or man with big gardens.

Today EME is open to every man – big station small station rich and poor.  But the moon is more active than ever in EME on all bands.

WSJT is no more the death knell to EME than SSB was over AM or a PC based RTTY setup over a teleprinter.

Times have moved on – some live in the past – most have accepted and embraced the new modes – Incidentally WSJT has now allowed us to move away from periods of bad conditions – where previous signals were locked due to faraday now with X pol yagis and 2 receivers and MAP65 you can get round this. 

In the past years I worked over 400 stations on EME – 60 DXCC’s.  I would NEVER have come onto EME without access to WSJT as I do not have the inclination to spend life hunting microscopic CW signals at 144/432. And even with my 4 x 12 yagis and 1KW this still meant hard times.

Those rejecting and complaining will die dinosaurs. The rest of us have embraced technology in the station and moved to the digital modes – its a phallacy to suggest that EME is now like operating a repeater – it still takes dedication skill and focus to build an EME station but not everyone can have a big dish. WSJT moved the goal post!

Incidentally I notice all those shouting about lack of CW have huge dishes, SV1, SM and VK – all huge 10m dishes I suspect very heavily that if they only had small gardens they would find themselves looking at the world in a different light.

EME is alive and well …. in digital form and its JUST as much fun – in fact more so as there are so many to work off the moon. Give it a go – you can work some of the big guns with 50W and a small yagi. Try doing that on CW!

Recent development are also showing big leaps in small station EME at 10 GHz driven by the use of WSJT-X and JT4G data modes. Stations using small dishes of less than 1M and a few watts are making QSO’s on 10 GHz where a few years ago this would have been unheard of and technically unreachable for small low power, and relatively, cheap stations.

I guess my biggest gripe is that some people can’t let others have fun – if they enjoy CW with their superstations then fine – but don’t cry in your milk when the little guys go else where to play with their ball!

See you on the moon!

73 Simon ZL4PLM

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