WSJT-X Full-Auto mod

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by SQ9FVE, Mar 27, 2019.

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  1. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yep. The source code is available to be modified by anyone. This is nothing new. No different than a MARS mod anyone can do on their radio if they are so inclined. That doesn't mean they will transmit out of band. It just means they CAN.
    K4AGO likes this.
  2. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Interesting ideas. Sounds like you have a good understanding of the few bits of automation that the WSJT-X guys left out. :cool:

    It's unfortunate that your links were redacted on page #1. What few people seem to understand is that WSJT-X already runs with a very high degree of automation, and does so due to the requirements of the protocol Dr. Taylor used. I would estimate that the vast majority of QSOs are well over 90% automated, so I'm not sure why people get so offended by the idea of adding the last few percent of automation actions to the software.

    "Automatic" (as in unattended) HF operation in the US is subject to certain Part 97 rules, as previous posts pointed out, but those only apply to operations under US licenses, and compliance with those rules is a matter of operator behavior, not the level of automation exercised by the software.

    Then again, you probably knew you were going to start an interesting discussion before you submitted your links, didn't you? ;)
    K3XR likes this.
  3. AA6YQ

    AA6YQ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    You have not pointed out any flaw in my logic. US hams cannot allow their stations to make unattended QSOs outside the frequency ranges specified in 97.221.

    Yes, enabling "call 1st" allows exactly one unattended QSO to be made. One cannot abuse it to make a sequence of unattended QSOs.

    In contrast, your application allows an unlimited number of unattended QSOs to be made. If widely used, the FT8 sub-bands could be consumed by unattended instances of your application ceaselessly calling each other in a quest to work every callsign.

    Spectrum is a common good, the effective use of which requires courtesy and collaboration among amateur radio operators. Your application makes it easy to intentionally or unintentionally violate these long-established principles. As software developers, we should strive to develop applications that improve the effective use of spectrum - as Joe K1JT has done with his development of significantly more sensitive digital protocols. Sadly, you have done the opposite.

    I strongly suggest that you retract the functionality that enables unlimited QSOs to be made without an operator at the control point.
    KB2SMS and N2ADV like this.
  4. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are no "FT8 sub-bands," not even in the US.

    FT8 operators tend to gather at pre-agreed 3kHz-wide locations on each HF band, but there is nothing stopping them from running anywhere digital modes are allowed, just like all the other digital modes. Most of that space is mostly crickets most of the time. The OP's design doesn't do anything close to consuming even a tiny minority of the available HF digital space. Obviously a number of people find the idea of fully-automatic (in the sense of no operator intervention) QSOs to be offensive, but there is nothing inherently wrong with the OPs idea. It's just a small extension of the already-existing automation in WSJT-X.

    By comparison, other digital mode software is far more easily automated. E.g., fldigi has a full XMLRPC interface. That interface can control almost every aspect of the running software modem, and the data sent. The ARQ mode included in that package exploits that to do automated QSOs. But fldigi doesn't offend anybody for having such a rich interface, does it?
    That's the great thing about open-source software, and particularly software licensed under the GPL. The end user can use it however he/she likes. :cool:
  5. KF6SGY

    KF6SGY Ham Member QRZ Page

    How is there nothing wrong with illegal, unattended, fully-automatic QSOs?
  6. AA6YQ

    AA6YQ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    "FT8 sub-bands" is my shorthand for "pre-agreed 3kHz-wide locations on each HF band".

    What's stopping them is that they are unlikely to find QSO partners outside the "pre-agreed 3kHz-wide locations on each HF band". Panoramic reception is only useful if stations congregate at pre-agreed locations.

    What, users are going to point the original poster's application at an empty 3 kHz wide location and let it call CQ there? Be serious. Some users will will deploy the original poster's application in the "pre-agreed 3kHz-wide locations on each HF band", where they will continuously call CQ, respond to CQs, and call decoded callsigns they consider "needed". With no physically-present operator required, wide adoption would greatly reduce the availability of open slots in these "pre-agreed 3kHz-wide locations on each HF band".

    Automation is not offensive. Making QSOs without an operator being present is inherently wrong -- and illegal for US operators outside the sub-bands specified in 97.221(b).

    Users don't invoke programmatic interfaces, they engage with applications through user interfaces. It is the provision of a user interface that enables QSOs to be made without an operator being present that is irresponsible.

    That's obviously false. "But I modified an open source application" will cut no ice with the FCC when they fine you for unattended operation outside the 97.221(b) sub-bands - even if the application was licensed under GPL.
    W4CDO likes this.
  7. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Fair enough. It's still not a problem, because FT8 ops can operate anywhere in the digital sub-bands.
    Maybe so. The solution for that is for them to call outside their little 3kHz self-imposed jails. Every other digital mode has the same constraints. Nothing about 3kHz watering holes is unique to FT8. The proliferation of wide-band panadapters makes it easy to spot callers outside your current SSB-sized receiver passband.
    Now wait a minute -- that's a completely different issue than the software the OP described. It's an unfortunate side-effect of the way FCC chose to define (or not define) certain terms, but automation in the digimode software is a completely different thing than "automatic operation" in Part 97. You can have a 100% automated QSO without having "automatic operation" according to the rules.

    WSJT-X can run unmodified for any number of minutes without an operator being required at the control point. Does that mean that illegal operation is the only possible use of WSJT-X? Of course not.
    No, it's not. Your own quote of 47 CFR 97.221 proves that it's not wrong, since FCC specifically allows such operation. You're making a value judgement that isn't supported by the rule you are quoting.

    The only question for US licensees has to do with what constitutes "at the control point." E.g., if someone's home station runs a fully automated WSJT-X, while he monitors it at work via remote desktop software on a smartphone, that's actually remote control, which falls under completely different rules. In that scenario, he is at the "control point," which is far removed from the actual radio. There's a separate issue about how much attention he gives to monitoring the station operation from the remote control point, and that question is not answered in the rules.

    Another example is running a fully automated WSJT-X at home. while sitting in front of the screen. That's obviously local control as long as the licensee at the control point. But what if the operator turns on the TV, and splits his attention between the TV and the radio? What if he spends 90% of the time watching TV, and 10% watching the radio? Or vice versa?

    What if he gets up and walks across the room to pick up a soda? Did he leave the control point? What about across the house or down the hall? What if he takes a phone call while the automation does its stuff? Again, the rules are silent on this issue. Unlike driving a car, or flying an airplane, there is nothing in the rules requiring you to give your undivided attention to the operation of every transmission. It's good practice to do so, but it isn't strictly required. You are still responsible to correct any misbehavior of the station, but if you can do that with less than full attention, you are free to do so by the letter of the rules.

    Automation can be validly used to optimize work flow for either local control or remote control, both of which are explicitly lawful according to Part 97 on any of the common FT8 calling frequencies. Just ask any contester if automation has valid uses for local control.
    Again, that's a value judgement. There are plenty of valid uses for an automation interface that don't involve breaking rules, even in the US. You obviously don't like the idea of automation used in software, and that's fine. That doesn't make it wrong or irresponsible for others, especially for licensees that aren't even in your jurisdiction.
    No, it's part of the license. You should go and read it. The OSS license specifically allows the user to use the software and source as they see fit. If they use it to break rules, that's a separate issue from the software license.
    Now you're just making absurd conclusions to avoid addressing the issues. ;)
  8. AA6YQ

    AA6YQ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    If the users of the original poster's application would exclusivly "call outside their little 3kHz self-imposed jails", there would be no QRM problem - because there would be few QSOs made. The DX stations that ops want to work won't be found outside the current FT8 watering holes in hopes of being worked by an unattended station. Those who use the original poster's application in "unattended 24x7 mode" will focus on the current FT8 watering holes because that's where they stations they want to work are operating; the resulting increase in QRM will be miserable.

    The objection is to providing an application that - intentionally or unintentionally - can be misused to make QSOs 7x24 with no operator physically present.

    No significant amount of QRM can be generated that way, unintentionally or otherwise.

    I cited 97.221 as preventing US ops from employing the original posters application on sub-bands other than those specified in 97.221(b). If you read the FCC's rationale for defining those sub-bands, you will see that they considered it a laboratory for dealing with the interference created by unattended operation. No laboratory is required to know that a large number of unattended stations continuously calling CQ in the current FT8 watering holes will reduce everyone's ability to make QSOs. It's flat out rude.

    If your station is transmitting without your specific knowledge, you are not at the control point. If you are sitting in your family room controlling a basement station via a laptop running TeamViewer, you are at the control point; if you basement station is making QSOs while you watch TV in the family room, you are not at the control point.

    Here are the relevant definitions from 97.3:

    Automatic control. The use of devices and procedures for control of a station when it is transmitting so that compliance with the FCC Rules is achieved without the control operator being present at a control point.

    Control operator. An amateur operator designated by the licensee of a station to be responsible for the transmissions from that station to assure compliance with the FCC Rules.

    Control point.
    The location at which the control operator function is performed.

    It is clear from these definitions that an amateur radio station that is transmitting must have a control operator present at a control point. No one is saying that the control operator must be 100% focused on every transmission. However, a control operator cannot be absent while his or her station is making QSO after QSO - a usage scenario that the original poster's application enables, and the primary reason for my strong objection.

    I do not oppose automation; the suite of applications I've been developing and supporting for the past ~20 years provides lots of automation for DXers. What I strongly oppose is any application that enables a unattended station to continuously make QSOs. HF and VHF signals are not limited to "jurisdictions". These are worldwide bands; misuse anywhere can cause misery everywhere.

    Yes, you can modify open source software licensed under GPL and then use it to commit a crime without violating the GPL license. My point is that you will still be held accountable for the crime. So you can't "do what you want", as you claimed; software licenses aren't the only limits on behavior. Just because you can modify WSJT-X to enable unattended 24x7 operation doesn't mean you should. To do so may result in your being labeled as the person who killed FT8.
    VK3AMA likes this.
  9. SQ9FVE

    SQ9FVE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    So this is a lot more fun than expected ;) When I talked about 'experiment' I honestly thought of a smaller scale :D

    Two things that stand out in this discussion:

    - mixing software licensing with government regulations

    GPL has nothing to do with the functionality ones decides to build. Look at loads of hacking tools licensed under the GPL. Downloading a bruteforce password attack software doesn't make you a villain :D using it on a box other than your own, for fun or learning purposes makes it illegal though.
    Is the analogy clear enough?
    If you sit at your rig while running auto CQ, this is still legal. If the user decides to leave the shack, it's that decision that makes the operation illegal, not the built in functionality.

    - assuming single unattended QSO legal, but consecutive ones illegal

    That point I guess is self explanatory. If you steal just once, and take a break is that ok?

    All that being said, the links are gone and I'm not planning to republish them, I will keep using this functionality when I work from the shack, if you don't like it - hope you downloaded a copy of my mod already, you can add me to the ignore list that I've built in :D

    I still don't agree with any of your points, the only argument that made any sense so far is that the original author(s) of the mode didn't want these levels of automation.

    People who will want that automation will still find a way, auto macros, lego powered bots ;) or just modifying the code, which to run autocq would take LITERALLY two lines of code ;)

    Question remains - what about hams who wanted to use the automated feature in a legal fashion, while controling the radio (and judging by the number of emails I'm getting there's quite a few of them)? Is that ok that they don't get the feature they want cause others may abuse it? Or just because you say it's bad for the community?
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
  10. SQ9FVE

    SQ9FVE XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Just got an email with a request to include a feature to automatically change bands based on time of day :D (seriously).

    I wonder what you guys think about that :D
    ND6M and KK5JY like this.
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