Wednesday, September 19, 2018

WSJT-X 2 versus FT8Call


K1JT Joe wrote:

"Many have noticed signals in the 7.078 and 14.078 MHz sub-bands that look like FT8 but are undecodable. These appear to be “FT8CALL” 
signals. FT8CALL is *not* FT8 — and probably it should not have “FT8” 
in its name. It appears that the author of FT8CALL did not bother to select a different Costas array for synchronization. If the legacy FT8 decoder is enabled, WSJT-X will waste time fruitlessly trying to decode these non-FT8 messages."

KN4CRD Jordan wrote in answer on that:

Howdy folks! We've just surpassed 5000 testers of FT8Call! I've heard of some really great QSOs happening and hope there are many more in y'all's future. I also keep getting loads of emails about a couple recent happenings...so I wanted to make an announcement to help communicate with y'all.

The WSJT-X group has started testing their new release (2.0 RC1) of WSJT-X and have chosen 7.078 and 14.078 MHz to trial the new FT8 features. These are two frequencies where you'll find FT8Call operators. What this means is that if you're operating FT8Call, you might see some signals transmitting every other interval in the waterfall and those signals will not decode. Those signals are likely the WSJT-X 2.0 FT8 signals. It should be nothing to worry about, as there is plenty of room for all of us on the band. But, if you run into problems, please let me know.

Next up, FT8Call is Free Software. It is and will always be free. Free as in beer and free as in speech. Meaning, you will never have to pay for it, and, you can do with it what you want. It is a derivative of WSJT-X, is open source, and licensed under the GPLv3.

The last question I am getting is about the name "FT8Call" which was likely prompted by a particular statement made by K1JT today. I want to point you to the history section of the documentation where I've explained the timeline of the experiment and further why FT8Call is named the way it is: 

You might be asking...why is this named FT8Call? Why not something else, like JS8Call or HF Messenger? Good question! It is named this way an homage to its heritage:

FT8Call uses FT8 modulation (Franke-Taylor design, 8-FSK modulation). More specifically it uses the same modulation and demodulation engine developed by the WSJT-X group. This is the base RF transport.

FT8Call has a directed “calling” protocol laid over top the base RF transport to support free-form and directed message passing.

 Hence FT8 + Call = FT8Call.

I hope this helps clear up some confusion on the topic. At this point in time, there's no plans to change our operating frequencies or the name of the application. If you have any other questions, let me know. I'd be happy to answer! 

Also, stay tuned for more info on FT8Call 0.7...lots of exciting stuff coming down the pipe! 

Cheers!

Best,
Jordan / KN4CRD

With both programs using FT8 but a different protocol the confusion is evident. However, FT8Call is something complete different compared to WSJT-X.

Again I'll write here that FT8Call is highly experimental. Though it seems to be more populair then other similair software we tested over the years. Just look at my picture....even S01WS from Western Sahara Africa made his appearance on FT8Call to experiment with it. Is this software a new mode? Another way to contact DX? No, no and no. It is not ment for that, the software has a complete different view on communication as most radio operators know it. If you want to DX and fill your logs with DX please use WSJT-X or JTDX or whatever you like to use but not FT8Call. In fact I think the log button is not neccessary in FT8Call because I doubt if a log entry would be really valid since you can ask the computer of the opposite station for a report and you can send a directed message with your report to the opposite station and so it does only involve one operator. The other op doesn't have to be at the radio. Personally I only log contacts if I made a personal chat like you see in the above picture with R2AT,

Till now I really like some of the features in FT8Call:

- Sending out QTH locator which will be picked up and send to APRS.fi.
- ALLCALL? which gives you a immidiate view of were you are received.
- Relay messages, Although I still learning how to use it, it has great potential.
- Customization features to alter colors/text

If you had it with radio communication the way it seems working out now on the amateurbands try something new, experiment and try FT8Call.


FT8Call 40m 21 UTC

Sunday, September 16, 2018

VERON HF day meeting

For the first time ever I attented the VERON HF-dag (HF day) which is a meeting for dutch HF users last Saturday. The main reason to go was to get the trophy I won with my second place in the PACC section SO LOW SSB, the section with the most participants (137). Besides that there were presentations about the alternator transmitter Grimeton from Sweden by Ola Hernvall and tips on how to work DX and the DXpedition to Rotuma this year (3D2EU) by well known dutch DXpeditioner PA3EWP Ronald. There was also a FT8 presentation but we didn't go there since we were not interested. I was there with neighbourstation PD2TW Tjip who won the novice section of the PACC.




Well just when we arrived and had a cup of coffee we had a surprise meeting with fellow blogger PA1B Bert who is well known from his power attenuators and his energydrink can antenna's. That was a lot of fun of course and we had to make the picture for one or both our blogs...nice to meet you Bert!

Well, the presentation from Mr. Hernvall was very interesting but though a bit too much into detail. So sleep overwhelmed most of us... The presentation with DX tips was nice, but actually I did know all the tips probabely because I am experienced and read the "complete DXer" from W9KNI in which the most basic tips are already described. What was most interesting was the presentation about 3D2EU, unfortenately not heard or worked by me (not enough time). I spoke to some other well known dutch operators as well and saw some faces now from well known dutch DXers. At the end we were tired but finally went home with our trophies...a nice day,

Friday, September 14, 2018

Contests and certificates

Once again I obtained some first places in contests and the accompagnied certificates. Not that I am a fanatic contester but with the lack of real competition it's easy. Not even using the best equipment, just 100W from a Icom 706, a all band vertical and a inverted-V till now. I'm shure a station with a big beam on a large tower can do better. I might be a experienced operator, although location helps a bit of course. I'm living at a reasonable quiet location with free sight to to south. At the north it is only 3km to the open sea.

1990 plate for 3rd place...


I was much more active in all kind of contestswhen I just arrived on HF in 2006. But since I got a family it's not possible to do a contest every weekend. Besides that I've much more interests in this radio hobby instead of contesting only. My first contest ever was the "White Rhino Contest" in 1990 which was organized by some amateurs from the RSA to get more attention for the fast dying white rhinos in the wild. Of course that was before I was licensed radio amateur and it was on 11m/CB.

What I like in a contest is the amount of DX that can be worked with little effort. Another thing I like is mastering a pile-up. I think I do pretty well but things can be better and I'm always trying to do better. Listening in the first place because many faults are made when you don't listen carefully. I think the best contesters are the best listeners. When you do a 48 hours contest like the CQWW or the CQ WPX you learn what frequency to choose, you learn how operators behave and you learn to listen well. Not that I know everything, I'm still learning. Some radioamateurs hate contests but it is something that is part of our hobby, you can't stop it and you can learn a lot from it. There are also things I don't like in a contest like the QRM, stations that don't listen or don't ask if a frequency is clear and take that frequency like no one else is there. I don't like it when people deliberate make QRM although I know it is difficult when you're in the heat of a contest and frequency is over crowded.

At the moment personally the large contests like the CQWW and CQ WPX are the best ways to work new DXCC since I normally don't have time to be on the radio at daylight. In a contest I have a excuse, and it is only a few times a year. The big contests are something to look forward to for me. And even when you have a modest station you can have great results if you practise what you learned in previous contests...