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FT8 - DX Pedition mode

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    FT8 - DX Pedition mode

    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.

    The basic goal of *FT8 DXpedition Mode* is to enable DXpeditions to make FT8 QSOs at the highest possible rates. We have been working together with members of the Baker Island (KH1/KH7Z) group. Their planned expedition will take place in June-July 2018. Like most major DXpeditions, this one will almost certainly make a majority of its QSOs using SSB and CW. 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. Another test run will probably be scheduled in a month or so. There will be plenty of advance publicity inviting others 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. In this way, we hope to continue shaking bugs out of the program and generally to improve its usability — both for the DX operator and those seeking to work him.

    FT8 DXpedition mode includes a number of new and innovative features. For further details on what’s in store, I draw your attention to a draft of the “FT8 DXpedition Mode User Guide” posted here: http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/...ition_Mode.pdf

    With best wishes,

    73, Joe, K1JT, for the WSJT Development Group
    73 Al 4L5A
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    #2
    Hi all,

    Here are a few highlights of results from last night's public test of FT8 DXpedition Mode:

    - The overwhelming majority of participating Hounds operated as intended, and according to instructions. I copied 190 unique Hound callsigns during the 2300 hour (when I was acting as Fox on 20m) and 330 unique callsigns during the whole four hours. I suppose that we had at least 400-500 participants, maybe more.

    - Fox's multi-signal capability worked very well at the tested values, NSlots = 3, 4, and 5. This feature is surely a "keeper", and I see no reason not to use NSlots = 5 -- especially if Fox is running power.

    - In the four test hours the number of "QSOs" logged by Foxes on 20, 30, 40, and 80m was 320, 189, 454, and 351. However, a regrettable program bug was preventing deletion of Hound callsigns from Fox's "QSO-in-Progress" list after a QSO had been logged. As a result, many repeated "RR73" messages were sent, many dupe QSOs were logged, and the QSO-in-Progress list kept growing. As another consequence, some QSOs took up to ~20 min to complete, and a number of Hounds who had been sent a report never received their QSO-confirming "RR73".

    - AA7A actually worked 120 unique calls in the 40m hour, and the other Foxes worked comparable slightly lower numbers. When this program bug is corrected, hourly QSO in the 300-400 range should certainly be achievable.

    - Of course, some Hounds did not operate as intended. Several kept trying to raise Fox by calling below 1000 Hz. (Most of these that I noticed were from non-English speaking countries. We will probably need translations of the FT8 DXpedition Mode User Guide.) A few would-be Hounds were not obviously not using v1.9.0-rc2, and were calling Fox "blind" in 1st sequence. A few Hounds tried using compound callsigns, which is not supported -- and which needs to be made more clear in the instructions.

    - Nearly everybody noticed the XE1GK calling CQ on the low-end Fox frequency and working people these. Please don't be too hard on Ignacio: he obviously misunderstood what was supposed to be happening, and how to operate in the test run. He sent me an abject apology.
    Anyway, his signal helped us to evaluate how well we can cope with QRM and DQRM.

    Two operating hints that should be used as needed, but in general were not:

    - Hounds should manually reset their Tx frequency as needed to evade QRM.

    - Fox may decide to use the randomizing feature to vary his own Tx frequency.


    I list here some relatively minor bugs and other things that came to light during the test run:

    - Spurious "Callsign mismatch" warning messages were displayed to the Fox operator.

    - Fox's log window should automatically scroll to the bottom. Or maybe it should simply show the most recent ~10 QSOs logged.

    - I'm not sure that Fox's "Max Calls" parameter worked as designed.

    - Sometimes Fox sent RR73 to the same station in more that one slot, in the same transmission.

    - The dreaded "Blue Decode" button was seen by some.

    - Hounds sometimes send a spuriously low signal report to Fox, even when Fox is loud.

    - If Hound hits "Enter" with the DX Call box empty, a blank message can be transmitted.

    - It a random station (not Fox) calls a Hound, it can trigger a Hound transmission just as if Fox had called.

    - It a random station (not Fox) calls a Hound, it can trigger a Hound transmission just as if Fox had called.

    - Previously decoded Hound calls can sometimes reappear in Fox's left window, when they should not. Finally, let me outline a few new features we may decide to implement.

    - At least for debugging, and possibly as an option, offer a display window that shows the Fox operator the contents of all active queues.

    - Limit the number of QSOs in progress to no more than NSlots. - Option to suppress display of the waterfall timestamp.

    - Have Fox call CQ in one slot at least once every few (1 or 2?) minutes.

    - Should Hound's Tx3 frequency be re-randomized for each repeat try?

    I'm sure there is more to be said, but that will do for now. Depending on programming progress and on my own travel schedule, we may schedule another public test within a few weeks.


    73, Joe, K1JT

    73 Al 4L5A

    Comment

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      #3
      As far as I know K1JT Joe wishes to have 5 kHz wide FT8 subbands. Good idea but everyone may rethink the so called digital portions in each semi-official band plans and name precisely which subband will be chosen for FT8, JT65, JT9, RTTY, PSK and last but not least OLIVIA which is good for those who can type using ten fingers. These OLIVIA signals often appeared in FT8 subbands and buried e.g. KH6CW when I called him as the 49th state for my FT8 WAS.
      GL de HA6NN

      Comment

      •  

        #4
        Hi all,

        I write to remind you of the second public test of FT8 DXpedition Mode scheduled for Saturday, April 7, 1400-1600 UTC. You are cordially invited to participate -- the more participants, the better!

        Our main goal is to simulate pileups in which many "Hounds" call and attempt to work a desirable rare DX station, the "Fox". The test will help us to improve our software so as to maximize the practical QSO rate in such situations. We hope you can be there and try to work both Foxes.

        Here's the detailed schedule:

        Date UTC Frequency Fox Callsign Operator

        April 7 1400 14.105 MHz W1/KH7Z N1DG
        April 7 1500 14.105 W7/KH7Z AA7A

        All participating stations must use program version WSJT-X v1.9.0-rc3.
        If you don't yet have it, download links are available near the bottom of the page here:
        https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html

        [If you are compiling the program for yourself, be sure to use code revision r8576 or later, taken from the repository's WSJT-X development branch. All revisions since r8576 will perform identically in FT8 DXpedition Mode.]

        Detailed instructions for both Fox and Hound are posted here:
        http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/...ition_Mode.pdf
        Some details in these instructions have changed, so be sure to read and follow the latest instructions carefully! Don't just try to wing it.

        As you will know after reading the instructions, Fox can conduct up to 5 QSOs simultaneously, using frequency slots spaced by 60 Hz. Fox transmissions always occur in the frequency range 300-900 Hz above dial frequency.

        If you (as a Hound) can legitimately use more than one callsign -- your spouse's call, club call, etc. -- feel free to work each Fox multiple times. No dupe QSOs with the same call, though.

        Real-time liaison will be available on the "Ping Jockey Relief" chat page (PJB), https://www.pingjockey.net/cgi-bin/pingtalkB . Everyone should monitor this page for possible last-minute announcements of a frequency change, etc. To ensure that announcements from Fox stations are easily visible, Hounds should monitor PJB but not post messages there during the test.

        The deepest pileups will help us tune the final-release software version for optimum performance on both Fox and Hound sides. After the test, please post any comments you feel will be helpful to one of our two email forums, wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com <mailto:wsjtgroup@yahoogroups.com> or wsjt-devel@lists.sourceforge <mailto:wsjt-devel@lists.sourceforge>.net . You will need to be subscribed to the list in order to post there.

        We sincerely hope you can join us for this test, and that you will work both Foxes!

        73, Joe, K1JT (for the WSJT Development Group
        73 Al 4L5A

        Comment

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          #5
          The third public test of FT8
          DXpedition mode will be conducted on 5 May, and all radio amateurs are invited to participate. The goal is to simulate a rare-DXpedition pileup by
          having many stations ("Hounds") calling and trying to work a designated pseudo-DXpedition station ("Fox").
          Participants in the test MUST USE the NEW Release Candidate version of WSJT-X (v1.9.0-rc4). Installation packages for Windows, Linux, Macintosh
          and Raspian Jessie are available on:
          http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html.
          In addition, participants in the test MUST READ the latest revision of the "FT8 DXpedition Mode User Guide" dated 26 April (some details of the
          operating procedures are different from previous editions):
          http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/...ition_Mode.pdf
          The scheduled test will take place as follows, with each session lasting one hour:
          Date UTC MHz Fox call
          -------------------------------
          May 5 1400 14.090 W1/KH7Z (operated by N1DG)
          May 5 1500 14.090 W7/KH7Z (operated by AA7A)
          May 5 1600 14.090 K1JT (operated by K1JT)
          If last-minute instructions are necessary, they will be announced on the "Ping Jockey Relief" chat page:
          http://www.pingjockey.net/cgi-bin/pingtalkB.
          73 Al 4L5A

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