FT8’s inextrable progress, now in ARRL contest

Given the RSGB debate about FT8 in some of the UK VHF contests, I read with interest the ARRL’s decision to include FT8 as a valid mode in the January 2019 RTTY Roundup contest.

Have to use version 2 and a practice sesssion is planned for contest participants this Wednesday.


I was surprised when I heard there was an update in v 2.00 of WS-JTx (now at RC3 by the way) to allow use in the ARRL RTTY contest. FT-8 is NOT RTTY! But then I found out that the “RTTY roundup” has included digital modes for some years to increase the number of people taking part, so adding FT-8 to the list of digital modes already allowed, seems reasonable.

73 Ed.

According to the bulletin on the princeton.edu site, from release RC3 onwards WSJT-X v 2.00 will cease to have backward FT8 compatibility with ver 1.9.1 and earlier.

Does this mean that if I upgrade to WSJT-X v 2.00 RC3, I will no longer be able to work any stations who have not upgraded to RC3? I have absolutely no interest in using FT8 as a contest mode and this seems to me to be a thoroughly retrograde step.

To make matters worse, K1JT is advocating that the new encoding should be used on dial frequencies 7.078 and 14.078 MHz, which are exactly the frequencies currently being used by the recently developed JS8 conversational mode. What a mess!

Walt (G3NYY)

FT8, FT8 contest mode, version 2, version 3, JS8… what next? HC8? Headless Chicken mode? It sounds to me like it is headed in the wrong direction. I just wonder whether it will ever truly be relevant to SOTA. No doubt Tom will tell me otherwise. :wink: As they say, “I’m outa here”, my laptop is already far too slow.


RC3 was originally planned to be the last test version before the release version and it was to stop having backwards compatibility with v 1.9x and earlier versions. v 2.00 RC1 and RC2 have support for both the old and new format and when talking to a v 1.9x WSJT-x installation are simply not able to use the new features (longer message, support for /P etc etc.).
Hence v2.00 RC3 will still work with V2.00 RC1 and RC2 and v2.00 RC1 and RC2 will work with all versions.
Once the final release version 2.00 comes out then it would be best that those with pre-v2.0 installations to upgrade otherwise their calls will not be decoded by those using v 2.0.

7.078 and 14.078 MHz, were (and possibly still are) the JT9 frequencies way before FT8CALL/JS8CALL adopted them.

73 Ed.


Walt (G3NYY)

One option is to install both versions RC2 and RC3 in separate folders and name accordingly the desktop icons.

It is very poor programming practice to remove backward compatibility when a new version of an existing program is released. If the new version is that different, it should have been launched with a completely new name.

Walt (G3NYY)

Exactly! It has been hijacked by a minority contest-orientated faction.

Walt (G3NYY)

1 Like

Joe and his team write the software; they make the rules. No surprise that it should be so US oriented. You wanna play another game? OK take your bat and ball and go play it.

There is a developer’s forum where Walt and others have already made some suggestions. A few do get implemented.

BTW I have no problem with the new version being incompatible with the V1 versions. There are already incompatibilities between the developmental versions and the public release V 1.9. I have said before that it is dopey to use a beta bit of software when the fixed version exists, but there are plenty of dopey people out there. I think they are the same people who don’t read release notes, let alone the manual but are quick to post a “bug”.

With the longer message format SOTA ops will be easier but unless most users upgrade the pool for contacts would be small.

The program can’t be totally USA based else the objective of working DX will be defeated. But it is understandable to have the home contests catered for when possible. All I ask for is a box to tick or untick to disable such stuff.

In VK CW and SSB remain the main modes. FT8 tends to only yield DX as few SOTA locals use it. This creates negative feedback and few activators bother with the mode. Most dx is 8,000 km to 18,000 km away. Even on FT8 it’s a struggle with 5 W. VK6 is 2,700 km from here and even VK4 is over 1,000 km. For the UK these might be DX distances but here it is local and beneath any self respecting DXer to bother with.

Going out to the garage to potter.


It would be a lonely hobby for me if I only spoke to the DX.