Foxes and Hounds — FT8 DXpedition Mode is in the Works for WSJT-X
Speaking on behalf of the WSJT-X Development Team, Joe Taylor, K1JT, has issued a progress report on the team’s efforts to develop FT8 DXpedition Mode. The new digital mode will include new and innovative features, which are detailed in a draft FT8 DXpedition Mode User Guide, released on February 2. Taylor said the basic goal of FT8 DXpedition Mode is to enable DXpeditions to make FT8 QSOs at the highest possible rates, and the WSJT-X Development Team has been working with members of the Baker Island KH1/KH7Z DXpedition team, ahead of its mid-summer operation, to work out the wrinkles.
“Like most major DXpeditions, this one will almost certainly make a majority of its QSOs using SSB and CW,” Taylor said. “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.”
In FT8 DXpedition Mode, a DXpedition stations is the Fox, and calling stations are Hounds. The new mode permits contacts to be completed with as little as one Fox transmission per contact. The Fox also can transmit up to five signals simultaneously, upping the potential contact rate to 600/hour. “With expected signal levels and likely levels of QRM, sustained rates of several hundred QSOs/hour are expected to be possible,” the User Guide asserts. The User Guide points out that FT8 DXpedition Mode is suitable for use only by legitimate DXpedition stations and by those attempting to work them and should not be used for day-to-day FT8 operation.
“Another test run [of the new mode] will probably be scheduled in a month or so,” Taylor continued, adding that others subsequently will be invited 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.” WSJT-X release candidate versions, identified by an -rcx suffix, are offered temporarily for beta-testing but are not suitable for long-term general use.
Taylor said the Development Team’s approach to FT8 DXpedition Mode will continue the process of “shaking bugs out of the program” and generally improve its usability for DXpedition operators and DXers alike. — Thanks to Joe Taylor, K1JT