A new “pre-release” version of WSJT-X now is available. This is the Amateur Radio digital software suite developed by Joe Taylor, K1JT, that includes the new FT8 mode, which has been catching on like wildfire. The September 2 release, WSJT-X version 1.8.0-rc2, fixes a number of issues, provides better performance, and offers some new features.
“Implementation of FT8 and its auto-sequencing feature is now more capable and more polished,” Taylor said in the release notes. “The decoder is faster and better. It now includes signal subtraction, multi-pass decoding, and the use of accumulated ‘a priori’ information as a QSO progresses. Sensitivity extends downward as far as –24 dB in some circumstances.”
Taylor said that overlapping signals “two and three deep” are frequently decoded at essentially the same frequency, and on a crowded band “we sometimes see more than 30 decodes in a single 15-second interval, over a 2-kHz window.” In addition, the North American VHF Contesting Mode has been expanded to include both FT8 and MSK144 modes, and the WSJT-X User Guide has been extensively updated.
“Depending on what code revision you upgrade from, it may be necessary to do a one-time reset of the default list of suggested operating frequencies,” Taylor pointed out in his release notes. Some new features have been discussed in the WSJT Meteor Scatter and Weak Signal Group.
Digital modes such as JT65 and FT8 require that your computer’s internal time clock be set precisely. If your computer’s clock is off by more than 1 or 2 seconds, contacts may be difficult or impossible. Internet time synchronization may be sufficient. The WSJT-X documentation recommends using Meinberg NTP on Windows machines to synchronize with internet time servers.
Logbook of The World (LoTW) now supports the upload of FT8 contacts after a TQSL configuration file update, which was released shortly after the mid-August debut of the new ADIF standard (version 3.0.6) with support for FT8. — Thanks to the ARRL Contest Update