As promised, the WSJT-X Development Group has announced a new “candidate release,” WSJT-X 2.0 rc1. This beta version of the popular digital mode suite incorporates many new FT8 and MSK144 features that will be of particular interest to the Amateur Radio contesting community. It incorporates all FT8 DXpedition Mode changes already developed in WSJT-X 1.9.1.
“Enhancements to the FT8 decoder ensure that in most situations decoding sensitivity is slightly better than for the old protocol. Symbol rates and occupied bandwidths are the same as before, and false-decode rates are significantly lower,” the user notes explain. “The decoding threshold for MSK144 is a fraction of a dB higher than before, owing to the slightly larger message payload and higher code rate.” WSJT-X 2.0 introduces no significant changes to the JT4, JT9, JT65, QRA64, ISCAT, Echo, or FreqCal protocols.
- Support for standard ARRL Field Day exchanges, such as 6A SNJ.
- Better support for North American VHF contests with improved handling of grids and /r rover call sign designators.
- Six-character locators and call sign suffix support for portable operators, focused on EU VHF contesting
- Support for standard contest exchanges in the ARRL RTTY Roundup, such as 579 MA or 559 0071.
- Support for call signs of up to 11 alphanumeric characters, to accommodate non-standard and compound call signs.
Support for new exchanges should expand the ability of contesters to use FT8 and other WSJT-X protocols during contests that allow digital contacts and where the exchanges is a traditional signal report and state/province/country.
According to the release notes, WSJT-S 2.0 also offers “significantly better sensitivity” (about 1 dB) for the WSPR decoder. In addition, color highlighting of decoded messages provides worked-before status for call signs, grid locators, and DXCC entities on a by-band basis. Color highlighting can also identify stations that have — or have not — uploaded their logs to “Logbook of The World” (LoTW) within the past year.
For the convenience of beta-testers, the –rc1 and –rc2 releases will offer receive and transmit capability for both the new FT8 protocol and the older one. Starting with –rc3 and the full release of WSJT-X 2.0, only the new protocol will be supported. zIn contrast, the new MSK144 protocol replaces the old one from the outset, with no backward compatibility.
Those participating in WSJT-X beta tests are expected to report their experiences to the developers and upgrade to the general availability release when it becomes available. Visit the WSJT-X web page for more information.