FT8 Mode Testing

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by KJ4TX, Jul 6, 2017.

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  1. KJ4TX

    KJ4TX Ham Member QRZ Page

    On the 4th of July, I was reading some of the things the people on Ping Jockey were saying about the new FT8 mode that is being developed and decided to give it a try. The only way to run it right now is by compiling the WSJT-X development version using the SDK.

    So I downloaded the SDK files (about 6 or so files) and followed the instructions to install and compile the WSJT-X Devl 1.7.0 files. It wasn't hard as there are detailed (more or less) step by step instructions but it does take about 20 or 30 minutes on a Windows 7 64 bit, 8 gig of ram i7 cpu computer.

    Luckily I had some helpful advice from a couple of people on Ping Jockey that got me through the few questions I had and pretty much within an hour I had it running. I made my first contact on 20 meters where there seem to be a number of people testing it... probably because the band is open to a large part of the world during the day. The development version is still in development, which is why you have t compile the software. Joe, the author, does a pretty good job of explaining some of the limitations right now.

    One area that needs work is that it does not decode as well as the other modes, like JT65 and JT9. I can be receiving a very good looking signal and it won't decode it. I can get a decode on a signal that I can barely see any dots in the waterfall. I can get a decode when someone answers my CQ but not any after that, even though we try for a number of cycles. So it does need some work in this area.

    Another thing I found out tonight, my version of JT-Alert X wasn't reporting FT8 contacts to hamspots.net and in fact it blocked my call sign because the FT8 contacts were being reported as JT9 or JT65 and if you report erroneous modes to many times it blocks your call sign for further reports. When I checked about it I found that there was a new JT-Alert that was about 3 versions newer than the one I used. So I downloaded and installed it, went on hamspots.net and cleared my call sign, and tested it out. Everything seemed to work just fine, except...

    I found out that JT-Alert had stopped supporting HDR Logger on the previous version and I use HDR Logger, which worked real well with JT-Alert to make it easy to log contacts. So now I am working fine between JT-Alert and WSJT-X but I have to manually enter my contacts into HDR Logger. But...

    LotW, which is where I upload my contacts, dose not recognize FT8 yet, so it rejects my uploads and gives me an error when I try. It's really just like the joke "I have good news, I have bad news, I have good news" from ages ago. LOL!

    The mode does seem to be gaining steam and lots of people trying it out, so I'm sure all of these issues are going to be resolved soon (except for HDR Logger and JT-Alert, I don't think that is going to be fixed). I'm not sure what I think about the shortened cycles though. After running it for a couple of days I find I have to stop to log the info, where's in JT65 you have about 10 or so seconds to do that, which is plenty of time without stopping your next CQ. Also, since the sequences go so fast, I see people sending extra just to confirm that the other party received their information. So people end up sending 2 RRR or R73 or a combination of the two twice just to be sure.

    It was funny though, that after running it the last two days I went back and did some JT65 and it seemed like that 50 seconds of sending or receiving is sooo long now. I remember when I started doing JT65 and JT9 that it flew by so fast I didn't know if I could do everything that I needed to do during the 50 seconds. Just like when Asteroids was played on the first IBM PC back in the 80's and hardly anyone could play it because it was too fast... and then we turned on turbo mode and it really blew people's minds. LOL!

    FT8 is fun to try and at least we are working above the (what is now becoming) crowded JT areas, which is nice. I figure FT8 will either get crowded soon or die away... although I suspect it won't die away as long as the digital modes keep growing in popularity. Hopefully some of the bugs will get worked out and it will be come a released version pretty soon and the mode will be supported by LotW and others.

    K2NCC likes this.
  2. VA3VF

    VA3VF Guest

    FT8 is still an experimental mode. It's not recognized in the ADIF standard, until then, most places will give you an error when uploading/importing.

    FT8 has around a 4db penalty when compared to JT65.

    Again, it's an experimental mode, a lot can change in the next few days/weeks.

    I think it's going to be a success.

    73 de Vince, VA3VF
    WU8Y likes this.
  3. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm anxious to try FT8. I've recently become hooked on JT65/9, so I think the faster turn-around time of FT8 would be a lot of fun.
  4. VA3VF

    VA3VF Guest


    To: All WSJT-X users of FT8
    From: WSJT Development Team

    Thanks to all alpha testers who have sent us helpful information on
    their experiences with FT8. The mode is basically working well, but
    we've determined that we can improve it further by making a change to
    the protocol that is not backward compatible.

    Therefore, until further notice: DO NOT USE FT8 MODE IN CODE REVISIONS
    LATER THAN r7782. In a few days we will issue another notice saying
    that the protocol change is complete and tested. After that time you
    must stop using FT8 mode in revisions r7782 and earlier. EVERYONE USING

    For those not building WSJT-X by themselves: We will plan to release
    WSJT-X v1.8-rc1 very soon after the protocol change. This release will
    include pre-built installation packages for Windows, Linux, and OS X.

    -- 73, Joe, K1JT (for the WSJT Development Team)
  5. KC3RN

    KC3RN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Vince, thanks for posting. I'll be anxiously waiting for the release.
  6. KJ4TX

    KJ4TX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the information. I'll keep an eye out for the notice and grab it right away. I'm looking forward to the improvements.

  7. VA3VF

    VA3VF Guest

    To: Users of FT8
    From: WSJT Development Team

    The planned protocol change in FT8 is now complete and tested. Effective
    at 0000 UTC on July 8, 2017, you should stop using FT8 with any WSJT-X
    code revision earlier than r7805.

    If you are building WSJT-X for yourself from source code, on July 8 or
    later you may upgrade to the latest code revision and recompile. You
    will then have access to the latest version of FT8.

    If you are waiting for pre-built installation packages: We plan to post
    a release candidate for WSJT-X v1.8.0-rc1 configured for Windows, Linux,
    and OS X very soon -- probably early next week. Thanks for your patience.

    -- 73, Joe, K1JT (for the WSJT Development Team)
  8. NH6O

    NH6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm having a lot of fun with the mode so far. I don't seem to have much luck if my signal strength is under -15 or -16, but I really like the 15 second transmission periods compared to the minute-long cycles of the other JT modes. It's probably similar to PSK31 from a weak signal standpoint from my experience so far.
  9. M0TRJ

    M0TRJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    where can we get the source code file please
  10. VA3VF

    VA3VF Guest

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