You have probably heard something about recent efforts to develop a special “FT8 DXpedition Mode” in WSJT-X. This message aims to bring you up-to-date on our progress, and generally to make our plans more widely known.
The basic goal of *FT8 DXpedition Mode* is to enable DXpeditions to make FT8 QSOs at the highest possible rates. We have been working together with members of the Baker Island (KH1/KH7Z) group. Their planned expedition will take place in June-July 2018. Like most major DXpeditions, this one will almost certainly make a majority of its QSOs using SSB and CW. However, the group is well aware of the rapid rise of FT8 popularity, and they plan to use FT8 as well.
Making FT8 QSOs with KH1/KH7Z will require the DXpedition and everyone trying to work them to use a new, yet-to-be-released version of WSJT-X.
We have tested the new program features on the air several times, and found them to work well. Another test run will probably be scheduled in a month or so. There will be plenty of advance publicity inviting others to upgrade to a “Release Candidate” called WSJT-X v1.9.0-rc1, and to join in trying to work one or more specific “pseudo-DXpedition” stations at a certain time and frequency. In this way, we hope to continue shaking bugs out of the program and generally to improve its usability — both for the DX operator and those seeking to work him.
FT8 DXpedition mode includes a number of new and innovative features. For further details on what’s in store, I draw your attention to a draft of the “FT8 DXpedition Mode User Guide” posted here: http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/FT8_DXpedition_Mode.pdf
With best wishes,
73, Joe, K1JT, for the WSJT Development Group
My call are from 1977 and I had practically left the radio. It was just boring to always be listening to the same talks from the same group of friends. With the competition of social networks and messaging services, there is no longer any interest in amateur radio for young generations. That, plus the high cost of the equipment have influenced so that there are fewer radioamateurs today. Now with FT8 (I just discovered it and was more curious than anything else) I have returned to the radio, I improved my antennas, I cleaned the shack and I EXPERIENCED with other things and modes. If I had not discovered FT8, I would be dismantling antennas and station. If we do not adapt to innovations, we simply disappear.
Somebody told me a few months ago FT8 is the shit. After 2 contacts (not QSO’s) I agree. FT8 is shit.
The FT8 “mode” isn’t determinant of the radioamateur world,
in that thin band segments. This is a bad back step from the authors.
The future data mode’s SNR is better like – 32 dB (WSPR)
and that’s get – make a real data communication … etc.
And, the best, easy HAM rig is a CW transceiver (on the pocket)
on hiking (without pc), in the past, today and the future, forever CW HAM WORK !
I operate my station. I do not allow my computer to play with another computer using my station!
FT8 does not add anything to hams to grow and refine their skill, both technical and operative.
it’s just a sort of video game. It is just the last easy “slots’ filler tool” that humiliates and frustrates
years and generations of studies and experiments about propagation and all its possibilities for exploitation.
My only regret is that, showing this mode to a possible new ham, I cannot make him/her feel the thrill of aradio contact with a human being… It’s more like a PC to PC and we are some sort of supervisors. Which is far beyond the scope of being a ham…
I tried CQ FT-8 few times….but when you complete a qso and other station (just worked) starts CQ exact on your QRG….oooo boy what is this??? I started to laugh… unfortunately there are stations with no clue what they are doing 🙁
Because of my inability to deploy a decent antenna at my house at present, I love FT8. A small loop antenna on my deck and my measly 5 watts allows to make an occasional contact now and then. I love FT8 and LONG MAY IT LIVE
Excellent! At this moment, half of voters think that FT8 is damaging ham-radio, other half think it doesn’t.
What a nice result.
People, do whatever you want to do, legally, and leave others to do what they want to do, legally.
So what if 3000 of us think that FT8 is dangerous? Many more people think that skiing is dangerous and I didn’t see anybody whining about skiing.
Do what you want to do. CW portions of bands are beautiful recently. No QRM, slow CQs, no TRRRRRR-da-dit, da-dit QSOs…
73, cu on bands, all modes
It is fine to experiment with new modes, but here it seems people have gone too far, to the point where traditional modes activity is decreased way too much!
Ham radio is certainly not dying because of a new breakthrough mode that allows radio contacts with lower power or in worse propagation. But it has a huge problem with narrow-minded, anti-progress people that think that only what they know how to do is “real” ham radio. With that attitude, we would probably still be painting cave walls or sending smoke signals. Be open minded, people !
I never tried FT8, but sounds promising. Is there any way to put it to full automatic mode? I would leave my station running ft8 for weeks or months waiting for HR completion.
What happens if you are deaf? I know a few who are great dxrs but cant hear voice or cw and data is the only way. Wither its psk rtty or ft8 is all pushing buttons.
There is a place for it in the hobby it may be not your place or my place but its someones.
If your a foundation license holder with 10w and a wire at the house working dx on ft8 and it gets them hooked brilliant, trying doing the same with CW or SSB and you wont get the same results.
I cant stand internet radio c4fm junk which hooks to the internet but plenty do, its the hobby that allows for different options to be done within amateur radio and ft8 does that also, for me well done to joe and frank for giving an option but for me ssb or cw is what ill be doing.
The excuse of bad propagation, noise and lack of big means does not hold. I set myself the challenge of working the DXCC Honor Roll and 2000 band points using a single wire antenna (a Windom) and only using CW. So far, in less than four years – from a disadvantaged Northern latitude location, and with the solar cycle down to nothing – I worked 291 DXCC and over 1,500 band points. Not because I am especially good – because it can be done! So, don’t give me the horse-manure excuse that FT8 is the only way to make QSOs for a small pistol. For me, the satisfaction is is the challenge – doing something that is intrinsically difficult – and I take great pleasure from CW. If somebody finds satisfaction and pleasure in an automated, totally inhuman, standardised, repetitive, push-button and unspeakably boring procedure, be my guest! Who am I to criticise?
And, incidentally, spark, CW, AM, FM, SSB and – until the advent of the hideous macros – RTTY are person-to-person forms of communication. Like macros-automated RTTY, PSK31 and others, FT8 is a machine to machine form of communication whereby all the human “operator” has to do is to push a few buttons to complete a “QSO”. Again, if somebody finds pleasure in this, be my guest.
Ceux qui sont contre le FT 8 peuvent retourner vivre dans les cavernes ! 73
Better real QSO mode: WSQCall V1.20
From Southgate Radioamateur News
A new version of WSQCall, a specially designed ‘chat’ mode for LF/MF has been released.
The sensitivity rivals that of WSPR, yet it designed for free-form QSOs, and goes at 5.5 WPM. It requires no error correction, and includes optional selective calling and auto-replies.
The main improvement in this new version is the addition of a clever synchronous decoder, which markedly improves intelligibility of really weak signals.
Shouldn’t radioamateur licence (callsign) to the FT8 mode.
Let it be a free radio game, on the FT8 channels only. That’s all.
Ya…what Frode LA6VQ said!
WSQCall v1.00 by ZL2AFP-ZL1BPU: SNR threshold -25 dB,
true (!) communication for LF-MF.
The noise-floor = 0 dB.
The human ear can hear the -18 dB cw waveform.
The WSPR-2 SNR threshold abt – 32 dB.
JT65B (2m EME, msk-fec-R&S), abt – 28 dB.
C-BPSK-EbNaut (VLF): -57 dB (!)
HF-SW true communication OLIVIA (msk-fec): – 12 dB
Many thanks to the authors !
What is the future ?
Judging from the comments above, ham radio is on the death bed and will soon be history. And only because of a new digital mode (presented 7 months ago!) specifically designed for weak signals, and therefore carrying some extra features like the need for precise times of transmission and decoding. I believe some of you hold a misantropic view of ham radio, not supported by recent evidence, like the ever increasing number of hams, applying all sorts of bands, modes, technologies, and activities in the various parts of their ham radio activities.
I took the time to check the above pessimists’ QRZ biographies, and found no lack of use of digital technology, digital filters, digital services like LoTW/eQSL, Club Log, Paypal, etc., with some of you having big gun stations probably not fully analog and paper-based. Since some of you seems to be into contesting and dxpeditions, I assume that digital logging is also quite wdiely used. So it could not be digital technology as such that is the problem with FT8, or rather anything not being SSB, CW and RTTY. Imust admit that I am not smart enough to see the difference between computer-decoded signals in RTTY, PSK, or any other digital mode, and computer-decoded signals. I believe the use of macros in RTTY, PSK, Olivia, Contestia, and other digital modes can be easily compared to the macros in FT8. So what is the problem? I guess it boils down the fact that the ingenious inventors on FT8 have built in an option for the operator, I say again “an option”, where the operator does not have make another click to start transmitting the replying macro. Let’s stop there, and take a loo back. FT8 is a direct response to one of the drawbacks of JT65 and JT9, that every exchange takes one minute and that a standard QSO takes 6 minutes. JT9 and JT65 and their relatives seems to have at least some respect, as they have been used in respected real ham radio activities like EME, meteor scatter, etc. On the plus side for JT9 and JT65, we see that they can decode signals at -30 dB. As a response to the long decoding time, Franke, Taylor, Somerville et al, invented a mode which at a “cost” of 6 dB decoding depth and a realtively shorter time between decoding and transmission, could increase the turnaround time by 4 times. With increased speed and much shorter time (1 sec FT8 vs 10 sec JT9/JT65) to respond to decodes, they also built in some options to make it possible to respond fast enough and to select which stations to respond to. I strongly believe it is this optional (I repeat: optional) automation that has created all the nausea among those who still insist that FT8 is not ham radio. However, gentlemen, it takes only a couple of mouse clicks to deautomate the responses and bring FT8 all the way back to real ham radio, working like RTTY, PSK, etc., assuming you are fast anough to orientate yourself among the (sometimes quite many) responders, select the one to respond to, and click on his line in the list of decoded signals, in the 1-2 seconds available. Because there is still a timing issue in FT8 not present in RTTY, PSK, etc. The latter have their signals buffered in the waterfall so you can look around for a whiile until you select which station you want to respond to. In FT8 and the other WS modes, you need to have a relatively precise computer, i.e within a couple of secongs from correct time, to decode the signals, and to respond on time. For hams, and especially oldtimers having had to log everything for decades, precise timing should be a reflex, not an exception. And for that matter, I would not be very surprised if new weak signal modes pop up that is not so sensitive to precise timing, perhaps not at all.
The FT8 DXpedition mode also seems to be a great invention for the small pistols to work DX, and also to justify DXpedtions to rarely activated entities even at the bottom of the cycle. And I am confident that FT8, combined with PSK Reporter, have taught hams many a new thing about propagations, and what connections that can be made, which they would otherewise not have picked up.
Someone did not pay attention, or is a little short sighted on what ham radio has been and achieved through history, or conceit believing tham ham radio today or 30 years ago is what real ham radio is. Hamradio 2.0 – 3.0 – 4.0 probably took place only a very few years after amateurs were allowed on the air, more than hundred years ago. Without having made a thorough review of ham radio history and breaktroughs calling for a new version number, I would believe we must have reached Hamradio 25.0 or so.
So, cheer up, guys, ham radio is not on the death bed, you can still do everything you have done, and even do the new things in the old way, and if you bother, even learn a thing or two about the new stuff if you are open-minded and still have fast minds, eyes and fingers. Good luck, its really fun!
I strongly appreciate the idea of Hamradio3.0. But just before the summer hits northern hermisphere it will become obsolete. Hamradio4.0 is on the desks now. This will be an absolute novelty. Imagine the whole necro-sphere of organized hambots ready to call the DXpedition with say, 50 or more simultaneous signals. You will succeed every single time, just one period of 150 well timed calls and you got it first shot, perfect!
As a CEO of Hamradio4.0 i promise, you will not be disappointed. There will be multiple instances for hire at very reasonable prices, targeted for ham pocket. Starting from 50 bots monoband, the deluxe version will offer up to 1500 bots multiband with 1kW output no time limit plus WARC bands as a bonus.
In free time your necro operators will do their everyday duty such as calling each other, stealing frequencies or simply QRMing each other at randomly chosen band segments. Or simply call CQ with dozen of signals at every HF band just to check out the propagation.
Human operator will be moved to control role as this is the most weak and low MTBF part of the net.
That’s the bright future we provide. At bargain prices !
Hamradio3.0 is near and you, old chaps know it. It is inevitable – no more spoiled nights in DX pursuit – now all our girls will get us back for good. You will chceck your DX status daily on your smartphone. 5BDXCC is an armchair work starting from today.
The FT8 is a auto – robot report mode between the computers.
That’s including an interesting modulation – and code system,
good job by F&T, but this isn’ suitable for EME works and/or HF QRP.
“so far and so farther” .
It isn’t a true radioamateur communication. 73.
“nice to have some activity on otherwise largely empty bands”
Just because no one come in, I read my signal on a rbn in VK, with 100w, but no one on the band.. few days ago VK7JON was good on 17m ssb, with 100w and wire antenna, only signal from vk.
Paul, many dxer, too many, are simple slot filler, they will find the way to do that, filter or non filter, on my zone I see many doing ft8 only to ADD something, some slot, some band/mode etc. with 2kw and call call call again until they receive theirs +10db..
Remotering on ft8 ? Now is difficult because there’se not suitable software and hardware, but soon it will be estremely easy, also to help all the honest om that use a remote from their holdings and not in an “abusive” way, much more than ssb or cw, all automatic, lotw guaranteed ! 🙂
No, is not for me thanks ! 😉
Cu on the band.
Let me first say that I have always placed a much lesser value on digital qsos than cw / ssb qsos. This is not a recent mindset. I have always thought RTTY and PSK silly modes and in fact I did not see the value in digital until JT-65 came along. JT-65 can actually do something that cw and ssb cannot, RTTY and PSK serve no useful purpose, they are just silly digital versions of a qso that could easily have taken place on ssb or cw (FT8 is very much the same).
Many JT-65 qsos could not be achieved on cw and certainly not on ssb. So JT-65 has a legitimate function.
That said, even still, I value JT-65 qsos less (than ssb or cw) as I feel it is not actually me that made the qsos. I place absolutely no value on RTTY, PSK or FT8 qsos – I just think, why was cw or ssb not used for those qsos.
So why I am open minded?
At least with dxpeditions using FT8 the prolific level of cheating by using ofshore remotes will be reduced. It is a lot harder to cheat using an overseas remote on FT8. The kh1 dxpedition will make many EU contacts on cw and ssb (cheating qsos) so it will be interesting to compare comparative EU numbers on FT8. (I am not saying that EU cheats any more than elsewhere – simply that kh1 will be a particularly difficult entity for EU to work)
I have no problem with FT8 replacing RTTY as the main digital mode. Listening to the z6 dxpedition running RTTY over the last few days it has simply confirmed to me that RTTY is an outdated and inefficient mode. The z6 team would have been better off using the new FT8 system if it had been available in time for them.
If you support the use of RTTY or virtually any other digital mode I just cannot see how you can be logically opposed to FT8?
New JT invented modes, particularly JT-65, are opening up new propagation paths on six metres that we did not even know existed. 6 metres is still considered by many to be a band that only comes to life during a good solar cycle peak but we now know (mainly thanks to JT-65) that long haul dx is commonplace on six even at the absolute trough in the cycle.
Watching the Space X rocket launch the other day made be feel the excitment I once felt as a young man re technological innovation. Ham radio has become staid and obsessed with old technology – too many old men reminiscing about the good times 40 years ago rather than engaging in the excitment of new innovations. Of course, not all innovation will bring postive outcomes but this is supposed to be a hobby about technology and may be the infatuation with keeping things the same (really – RTTY should have been scrapped years ago) is simply unhealthy.
There is no doubt that K1JT is the most influental man in ham radio right now – I doubt there is another individual that has had a more profound impact on the hobby in the last 2 years and most likely in the 2 years to come.
All that said there are some things that concern me:
Adding FT8 and not getting rid of RTTY simply means that we are adding another 9 band slots which ops will seek to fill – ie ops will now want 9 bands ssb, 9 bands cw, 9 bands RTTY and now 9 bands FT8. K1JT says that FT8 will level the playing field for small stations but this will not happen if big gun stations are now chasing 9 FT8 slots as well (again, lets dump RTTY and replace with FT8)
I am a little concerned at the left leaning philosophies espoused by K1JT in his documentation – may be he has spent a little too much time with his left leaning students on campus. The suggestion that the software could be used to filter out stronger stations to favour weaker small pistol stations I frankly found a little outrageous. So, I am to be punished because I have spent 100s of hours building a decent station and my signal is too strong and thus I will simply be filtered out. Yet another example of the world celebrating mediocrity over effort and achievement. Of course k1jt would argue I can simply weaken my signal and I will not be filtered out – yes I can reduce power output to milliwatts – or may be just replace my towers and beams with a simple dipole.
Other than that, I am willing to give the new system a go. What is the worst that can happen – the thing could be a disaster or it could make far more dxers happy in gaining a qso that they otherwise would not have made. It could also make some dxpeditions cheaper as less ops would be required. FT8 is also keeping the bands alive at present – and although I do not like digital modes particularly, it is nice to have some activity on otherwise largely empty bands.
Paul – vk4ma
Pali, just go straight, make qso where u like, band are full of activities on every modes, at least my log say that… 😉
FT-8 is a real virus. Infect. He destroys everything. Ultimately he himself dies with the host.
I hope i’m wrong…….
Paul.. this is not hamradio, believe me, is another thing.. open minded ok but there’s a limit, Dxing is not make a “contact” (or fill a slot….) at any cost, it’s like play football on the grass, and play Fifa on PS4, 2 different things.
There’s no reason to make only ft8 on the hf band like actually most operator do, it’s just an obsession, 95% of these “qso” could be done on ssb, rtty or better on cw.
Extremely bad progress = decline.
I personally am not a big fan of FT8 but I see no difference between it and other digital modes including RTTY. This argument that RTTY is different because you can actually hear the tones is just ridiculous. The vast majority (if not all) RTTY ops cannot decode in their own head RTTY tones. This means your computer is doing the decoding and that makes it a PC to PC contact.
Similarly, any one using a cw decoder to make cw qsos is also making a PC to PC qso.
I knew it was only a matter of time before this FT8 technology would be extended to a dxpedition making multiple cqs / qsos on the one band at the same time. In fact, with a bit of organisation it would now be possible to do a multi band dxpedition with just one dxpedition operator. Set up your various antennas for each band, a radio for each band and let your computer make 5 qsos per band whilst you sit in overview drinking a beer.
In fact we may reach the point where no human op is required at all. Helicopter drop a couple of guys on Bouvet to set up some antennas, radios and computers automated for FT8. Solar power the whole set-up and leave all the gear securely in a shipping container. The guys leave after 2 days of set-up and the computers work the pile-ups for months thereafter until the batteries run dry. QSO data is sent back to civilisation via pactor or sat link and a $20 fee is charged for immediate LOTW upload.
I guess that “progress” has both good and bad consequences and the outcomes can be unpredictable. I am still open minded re these developments.
Right now most bands have virtually no activity except for on the FT8 frequency. Hey, this is better than no activity at all. But it also begs the question if hams still need the expansive amount of spectrum made available to us if all our qsos can be made digitally in a tiny amount of band space.
As an avid cw op I do not agree with k1jt that FT8 is a better mode for working weak sigs as compared to cw. If you are a bad cw op then FT8 is clearly superior but I am yet to work a station on FT8 that I could not work on cw.
JT-65 is however a different story. The ability of JT-65 to decode weak signals is clearly much better than cw and the invention of JT-65 is likely to revolutionise dxing on 6 metres in particular for years to come.
All examples of “good progress” and “bad progress” I guess
Paul – vk4ma
LOL! CW dead! If I had a nickle for every time I heard that. I can guarantee that the major contestors will not move away from CW. The large field of QRP ops will not either. The CW bands are always busy, especially when rare DX hits. FT8 is fun for a while then it gets old.
Low cost DXing..this is what FT8 represents in nowadays Low Propagation times. You can note that most of stations are already repea ted and operators are already leaving FT8.Enrique PU2PSP
Hi Jo, not only that, to operate correctly with ft8 you have to take pc clock sincronized, so you are not indipendent from any other kind of communication system.
Dxing is not make a “contact” (or fill a slot….) at any cost.
Hans and Stanislav are right – this special kind of Digi-Mode using in DX-Pedition will kill our hobby.
FT8 clashed with DX Code of Conduct: “I will only call if I can copy the DX station properly”
@ Gust: not the DX Cluster himself is the problem, the problem is that to many people trusted in an so less people to be up to turn the dial for searching on the band.
Time’s changing…..but in this case I miss the good old days too!
I agree with Hans SM6CVX!
He is right!!!
I think – FT8 is fake mode!!!
This is not radio amateur mode!
The real modes are CW, SSB and RTTY!
FT8 mode – you better to make QSOs via SKYPE and mobile phone!
73! Stan, LZ1GC ( also H40GC, H44GC, T2GC, C21GC, 3D2GC – Fiji, 3D2GC/P – Rotuma Isl. ).
Dear Gust and Hans! I know you call signs many years and respect your view point on a new mode but how about EME QSO,s when you can,t hear anything only decoding reflected signals. I think that FT8 and other digital modes open a new world for the beginers – pupils and students, Where they can learn CW? No where! Only with self educated programms like OPAC etc. Yes, we all respect and remember old days when using simple TX with just 40W and 2-V-0 RX we could work WW with VS1AA antnenna. Could you do this today? Modern HAM,s armed huge power with huge antenna farms and they realy kill DXing with no chance for little pistols. Nobody forbiden CW or even AM but if we wish to left after us a new generation of HAM,s we should accept all innovations and enjoy it. I watching statistic that most people who against FT8 are QCWA, OOTC, OTC or crazy contesters. How you think – DX clusters, Web SDR,s killing our hobby? Yes, the old days were killed since DX clusters began. Keep calm my friends!
73 Igor UR5LCV
Always doom and gloom. Same old Same old. That da** CW will kill off ham radio says the spark operators. That da** SSB will kill off ham radio as we know it says the AM ops. Well yep it it just that, and we are all better off for it. 73 advance or die. 🙂 James K0UA
and what about clocks to syncronize?? radio WO internet is radio, ft8 WO internet??
All little pistols that think to easy win, must understand that if ALL OM ‘ll work ft8….they remain little pistols.
Any OM must improve the antenna system, no easy way…only hard way.
The difference is :: On RTTY you ALWAYS hear the station in your radio that you work,,,,
on FT8 you can NOT hear stations less as minus 1 db that your computer connects to.
YES Its all OK that you and many others like FT8, BUT still a problem,,,it will kill our hobby.
You will see…Enough from me.I work these that are left to hear.
Kind regards and enjoy
Bull shit! Try to remember from what all began. First was spark-CW- AM- FM -SBB – RTTY – DIGI. WSJT-X is the brake through in our hobby and we should accept it. I undertsnd thta some people spent tonns of money for own hige set up with kilometers of beverages which now can disconect and put on garbidge. No huge power any more. Most people has no large property for CW or SSB Dxing and FT8 gave then the same pleasure. All signals decoding from the air and it,s not a PC lan. Please believe me< I,m in the air 45 years and 50 years in HAM radio. Have all prestigiouse plaques but with FT8 I,ve found a second wind especially in conditions of low solar activity.What makes FT8 worse than other digital modes including RTTY?
one thing.. there is no human intervention on the server side called DX. No one will QSO you or select you from the screen or use a finger to touch the keyboard. It is what it is a computer hand shake based on a protocol. There is nothing to like or dislike, prefer or not prefer.
It is a great benefit for the ham community to move all LID’s out of the CW bands
The best is,,, if you run FT8 you do not need any Ham license. You can probably operate from any place
with a computer to computer. NOONE can hear with their ear any signals less as minus 1 db.
Its NOT Ham radio.Its computer -business. So think about it. No need for license.You can activate
Syria, North Korea and all these countries,,,,,
YES it has killed not only CW, BUT our hobby.
73 Hans SM6CVX
time to change hobby!
For as far as FT8 did not already (unintentionally) kill CW completely, here’s the final deathblow!
Next thing is a special “FT8 contest mode” and CW is history.
Time to re-arrange the band segments I guess.
Any link for download please. Can,t see this new version on WSJT-X web site. Thank you!
I wish I had ver. 1.9 or Z6 as standard prefix in order to avoid free text mode.
GL Baker island with a lot of red screen!
73 de Mario, S56A, N1YU
Can we have something also on WA ? 😉
Read it cover to cover and what a great added feature for the troops. Love the Fox Hound check boxes! FT8 is really killer app!