Wednesday, September 19, 2018

OK, I'm an Idiot....

Sometimes, it helps to just admit it to yourself. Let me explain.

Back in December 1st 2017, I started using FT8. I set up the WSJT-X Mac software and made my first contact. Mostly operating on 17m, 30m, 12m. I later discovered 6m. Indeed, this last summer was a huge opportunity to work much of the country on sporadic-E (Es) on 6m. I was amazed to work 40 states in just one summer. On all bands, I've worked all fifty states, and quite a few countries with this mode.

So, I've been using FT8 for months. However, one thing bothered me - everything seemed off frequency. You see, there are standard frequencies that are published for FT8, 12m is 24.915 MHz. But if I dialed in 24.915 MHz, everyone was too high -- like no one was using frequencies less than 2 kHz, and some were visible at 3.5 kHz and higher.

My solution to the problem was simple -- I just tuned higher. I decided that 24.916 was more accurate, and operated that way for months. I even reprogrammed WSJT-X so the 1 kHz higher frequencies were the right ones.

But, it bothered me. It seemed wrong.

I managed to work Baker Island using FT8, but it was a bit of trouble, and I had one fellow email me saying I was calling too low for the fox/hound DXpedition mode. I used a higher frequency and almost immediately had an exchange. This made me think about this issue more.

Originally, I had my K3 set up for RTTY using AFSK. This means I was using the AFSK A data mode on each band. For FT8, I would select DATA REV, so it would use USB instead of LSB.

What I didn't realize is that AFSK A means the display frequency is adjusted to reflect the Mark frequency of (in my case) 1445 Hz. This accounts for my frequency being too low -- I was off by 1.4 kHz.

With that figured out, I switched to DATA A, which has the display frequency of the suppressed carrier, as it would for LSB or USB. The frequency jumped, and I tuned again to the standard frequencies (the real ones, not my artificial higher ones).

But, it didn't work. I couldn't hear any signals. Back to AFSK A, and they are there, but switch to DATA A, and they are gone. What?

Turns out, AFSK uses LSB by default, while DATA A uses USB. Since I was using DATA REV, this means DATA A was LSB. Oops. Back to straight DATA mode, using the DATA A sub-mode, and everything works just as it should. Gosh, that's too easy.

I'm an idiot....

I'll just have to remember to change the DATA MD back to AFSK when I'm doing RTTY.

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