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.
It looks like some of the major DXpeditions are beginning to embrace FT8. This will certainly create a need to handle “pileups” in FT8 mode and to make it possible to make many contacts in the shortest period of time possible. It appears that Joe Taylor, K1JT is working on an update to WSJT-X to create a variation of FT8 tailored for DXpedition use. Also, we will also need to update our copies of WXJT-X to take advantage of the new FT8 DXpedition mode. The link above is an article by Joe which gives more information about his new FT8 DXpedition mode and the software which will support it.
Digital Mode FT8, the “fast-mode” version of WSJT-X was first introduced in the Summer of 2017. WSJT-X is a computer program designed to facilitate basic amateur radio communication using very weak signals. The first four letters in the program name stand for “Weak Signal communication by K1JT,” while the suffix “-X” indicates that WSJT-X started as an extended and experimental branch of the program WSJT. The FT8 decoder can often copy several overlapping signals at nearly the same frequency.
As Micheal, G7VJR, of Club Log notes, “Every few years, I’ve posted a chart of which modes are being used on the air (based on what is uploaded to Club Log). This report isn’t lightweight to calculate, so I don’t have it as a standard feature in Club Log for you to access, but I’m just as interested in the results as everyone else. 2017 was, of course, the year when digital modes changed forever with the advent of FT8. It is a remarkable technical achievement which has breathed life and enthusiasm into DXing for a whole new audience. See what you think about the side-effects.”
JT65 has nearly disappeared. This is probably because a round trip QSO on JT65 takes 5 to 6 minutes whereas an FT8 QSO can be completed in a little over a minute. A DX station with an FT8 ‘pile-up’ can work 50-60 QSOs per hour.
Activity in all the other modes have dropped; especially CW.
” .. the coming year will be extremely interesting. FT8 has had a spectacular beginning and it’s hard to know what might happen next – or whether it will still be quite so popular when conditions change. I’ll keep running the reports based on the evidence in the uploaded logs, and we can collectively try our best to interpret that … Michael G7VJR”
Our Club, N1FD, was the leading world scorer in the 2017 13-Colonies Event. With the addition of FT8, we should remain “on-top” in this year’s event!
FT8 Mode is not for everyone. Many do not like the “mechanical” QSOs. It does not require the skill of the CW masters. For me, I’m far from being bored at this juncture. —Layne AE1N