How to set up WSJT-X / FT8

Dear friends,

Is there a resource available with a detailed explanation on how to configure WSJT-X on the software side to be able to transmit the summit reference, that is: how to re-configure the standard messages? I found several sources stating that with the latest version one can do it, but I was not able to figure out how.

Any help is highly appreciated since the rules of SOTA in current version state that it is not absolutely necessary but “strongly recommended” to give the summit reference in a QSO*.

Thanks a lot!
73, Alfred, OE1SQA.

  • … QSOs must comprise an exchange of callsigns and signal reports, it is strongly recommended that the summit identifier be given during each contact. Where the summit identifier is not given in each contact (for example in slow CW QSOs) it should be repeated frequently every few QSOs.”

Tom M1EYP or AN Other activator who has used the WSJT-X software in the outdoors /P will be able to help I’m sure.

As a chaser / general MGM user I cannnot advise as I use the standard message format, which can of course be edited if need be “on the fly” if you are quick enough on the keyboard. I know the restriction on message length character wise though causes problems if you don’t get it exactly right and not too long, so you do right to ask the question Alfred.

73 Phil

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Hello again Arthur

Just worked HA7UL/P Feri on 40m FT8. Feri is using the standard FT8 QSO format and sending the locator only in his CQ. He’s working very efficiently this way, and we also have SOTAWatch of course where the reference is being given. See my screenshot:

73 Phil

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Hi Alfred @OE1SQA
About SOTA FT8 configuration I don’t recall one thread was talking about, but you can ask Tom @M1EYP and Roger @F5LKW, they are working FT8 with the SOTA message solution :wink:
73 Éric F5JKK

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Hi there Alfred,

The best way I have found for dealing with this is not to reconfigure the standard messages. Just use the standard messages and the normal FT8 QSO protocol.

Have your macro panel on display 2 - so that “Gen. msg” and “Free msg” appear. In your Free msg field, have your SOTA reference, preceded by the word ‘SOTA’ - ie “SOTA G/SP-015”.

At the end of your QSO, you will send “M1EYP OE1SQA/P RR73”, then you will receive the final message from the chaser station: “OE1SQA/P M1EYP 73”. While you are waiting to RX this final message, check the “Free msg” box, and also Enable TX - then after the other station has sent 73, you will immediately send your SOTA reference.

The other station may acknowledge, but usually won’t, so you go back to sending CQ - you’ll need to remember to check the “Gen. msg” box during the RX cycle, otherwise you will just send the SOTA ref again!

When you have found a slot on the band and start calling CQ, that is a good time to self-spot, using the comments field to advise the datamode (because you can only spot the mode as “data”), the spot frequency and transmit cycle:

“FT8 - 1435Hz - TX even” (eg)



Nothing more than Tom !
Settings windows ==> Enter ur callsign + ur SOTA Locator.

You add … of course !

TX 6: You write “SOTA” directly between CQ and ur callsign
TX 5: You wait that msg automatically sent - Your QSO is valid then

TX 5: You change the msg for the free one with ur SOTA ref

I do hope, it’s enough clear for you

73 QRO
Roger - F5LKW/P


The only thing I would add there Roger is that it’s not always optimal to include “CQ SOTA”. Judging by how many replies I get when I include “SOTA” to when I don’t, I fairly sure that some ops decide NOT to answer because they think I’m LOOKING for SOTA, or only interested in working SOTA chasers. I do still sometimes do “CQ SOTA”, but mainly just CQ without the SOTA. I nearly always do send the SOTA ref at the end of the QSO though.


Dear all, especially M1EYP and F5LKW, thank you for your answers. It was exactly what I was looking for! Thanks once again, Alfred, OE1SQA.


Thank you Alfred. I look forward to working you S2S on FT8 once this horrible COVID19 situation is behind us.


Alfred, Tom
C U next … depending « confinement « and work timetable.
73 QRO Roger


Thank you both, looking forward to hearing/reading you on the bands too! All the best, Alfred.


As I was giving FT8 a try this Saturday I noticed that the free text with SOTA Ref. is only partically working.
It is fine for G and F I guess but for OE it skips the last digit.
So SOTA OE/OO-129 became SOTA OE/OO-12 (missing the 9)
I needed to change it to

Conditions were a bit weird. I noticed Phils @G4OBK and Rogers @F5LKW encouraging spot messages. Sorry that it did not work. Conditions on 40 and 20 were a bit strange this day. All QSO toward north and south of Austria. Although one G station made it in my log.

An interesting experiment and something for local easy hikes but bringing the notebook and audio interface on a proper hike (I am talking 1000+ meter ascent). I don’t think so.

73 Joe


I didn’t see anything from you on screen last day, then next time.
In the free text window, you can only write the REF without SOTA in front.
73 Roger


Hi Joe! Fully agree, not suitable for serious hikes. Maximum I can agree to carry is my PSK31 setup made up from FT817, battery, fiberglas mast, 20m dipole self built, the Android Phone with Android PSK App and the phantastic Wolphilink Modem which doesn’t need a power supply since it triggers PTT through the mic voltage and is super small (5x3x1cm). However even this adds up to around 2.7kg… :grimacing:
As to the free text, I had the same issue and solved it by “73 OE/NO-999”.
Hope to hear you on the bands again soon!
73, Alfred OE1SQA.

Hi Alfred!

Yes, you can send your summit reference as the last message in place of just 73. The random text FT8 messages can be up to 13 characters, which provide just enough room for something like "DE W0C/FR-063 " or “73 W0C/FR-063”. You can program it as a “FREE MESSAGE” on the TAB 2 selection, and switch to it whenever you want. Of course, with the most recent WSJT-X, you can now call “CQ SOTA” as a standard message :wink: GL and VY 73, Lance

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Hello group. I’ve only done one FT8 activation, but I found it easiest to not bother with adjusting the sequence, the CQ, or the 73 lines at all. I just program in the summit reference as a macro and send it manually: after completing QSOs (when auto sequence has stopped on its own) and periodically when calling CQ. Seems to work well.


@KL7BSC Brandon, thanks!! This sounds like a very practical solution to me too! KR Alfred

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Does anyone (chaser) use WSJT-X along with TS-870

73, Jarek

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