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Author Topic: Just getting started with FT8 and WSJT-X  (Read 3943 times)
KE2KB
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Posts: 1085




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« on: February 05, 2018, 06:24:37 PM »

Hi;
I just made my first few FT8 contacts using WSJT-X. I have read the "getting started" section of the manual, as well as the very helpful "FT8 Operating Guide" by Gary Hinson ZL2iFB.
I have WSJT-X set up to use Auto Seq, and wondering how many times it will attempt to make contact with another station once I have double-clicked on that station's CQ in the Band Activity window.
I am trying to get a feel for WSJT-X and just how strong a signal must be in order for me to make contact, so I am having lots of unanswered calls.
My intuition is telling me that I shouldn't allow more than 3 attemps for the same station. When I see that another station is already in QSO with the station I have tried to call, I immediately click the Halt TX button, even though I am working split and probably not interfering (especially if the other station isn't hearing me).

What about duplicate contacts? Is contacting the same stations on the same band over a period of days, weeks, or months frowned upon?
I would think that past logging would be irrelevant during contests, and only that contest log would apply so far as duplicate contacts.
On the other hand, since we're not having a real QSO, there really isn't any point in contacting the same stations once you have them logged on a particular band. Unless you want to experiment with noise levels, etc...

I see that WSJT-X highlights anyone calling me in red, so it is easy to know if I have already made contact with a particular station on that band on that day. But once I close out or erase the list of decodes, what method do I have to avoid dupes?

Perhaps that is something that JTAlertX will do?
I have it running, and it is receiving data from WSJt-X but I really don't know what to do with it at this poing. I see stations popping up in its boxes, but they disappear more quickly than I can know what to do about it.
I will be reading the manual here too, but for now I'm really trying to get the hang of WSJT-X and the whole concept of just making contacts without having real QSO's.



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K0UA
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Posts: 4317




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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2018, 06:59:46 PM »

JT alert will show a cq'ing station as B4 and will be gray instead of green when you have worked them "b4".  If you are attempting to work a station on its calling frequency and they work someone else, your calling attempt will be automatically halted by the program, and you must manually restart the call by enable transmit when the time is right.

 As you have noted if you are working split it won't do that, however it is good practice to halt it yourself just like you are doing..  You get used to scanning JT alert rapidly with you eyes. You might need to turn on three rows of boxes as busy as the bands are getting. You might get on 17 and 15 meters during the day if you can as it isn't as busy, as you are a newbie. Or call until you are blue on 12 or 10 meters, but with the way props have been in the last couple of weeks, don't expect much on them.

You can also turn on call history in JT alert and minimize the window and bring it up when you need to "look back" on a busy band when it all scrolls off so darn fast.   Also handy to peruse and look over to determine how you are hearing stations and who and where they are located. 

Turn on alerts for wanted states, and start working on your 5 band WAS.  She will say "new state", and turn that call box yellow (by default) you can double click on that very box to call them quickly IF they are calling CQ. You can also turn on the location and S/N level of stations in the JT alert boxes  just under the box so you can see if they are worth an effort for you to contact.  Also you can turn on LOTW stations only in the JT alert boxes so you don't waste effort contacting stations that are not LOTW if you want too.  ( I did).   If sometime you want to look at my desktop as I operate, and talk with me on the phone for a while, I could probably teach you some tricks.  Smiley   Load teamviewer 13 and I will let you see my operation.  My phone number can be acquired in this manner.  Drop me an email, (my email is on QRZ.com), and ask for it.   See you on the waterfall.
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
KE2KB
Member

Posts: 1085




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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2018, 07:21:14 AM »

What about logging? How do I get my log from WSJT-X or JTAlert into LOTW? Is there an automated method, or do I have to upload it myself?
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K0UA
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Posts: 4317




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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2018, 07:49:32 AM »

What about logging? How do I get my log from WSJT-X or JTAlert into LOTW? Is there an automated method, or do I have to upload it myself?

There are some other logging programs that will upload to LOTW, but uploading from WSJT-x is so easy to do manually.  Just click on tqsl and point it to the .adi file in the wsjt-x directory.  Just do it every day before you quit. Sometimes I upload several times a day, it takes 15 to 20 seconds to do.  Give me a call. we can go over these things.
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
KE2KB
Member

Posts: 1085




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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2018, 09:43:50 AM »

OK. Thanks.
Sorry, but I'm not really one for using the telephone. Just something I never felt comfortable with. That said, I still prefer SSB over anything else.  That said, I seem to have run out of worthwhile things to talk about. I do a lot of listening, and once in a while I try to contact some really weak DX station... who am I kidding...

Last night I did some experimentation with audio levels. I want to be sure my signal is clean, and that I can be copied if the band is open.
I have SDRPlay with SDRUNO v 1.21. I have two instances of WSJT-X running; one for the FT-450D, and the other for SDRUNO. With the antenna input to the SDRPlay grounded or connected to a dummy load, I can see my own signal as it is decoded.
It appears that the proper audio level going into my radio is determined by watching the wattmeter (Diamond SX-200) and adjusting the sound card's output and/or WSJT-X's "Pwr" slider until the output power just peaks. I would think that anything lower and I'm not transmitting the max that I have the radio set on, and anything higher I might be clipping and causing splatter, although that is not evident in the receive waterfall.

In the end, I am unsure of whether or not I can really 'get into' this digital thing. The concept of making contacts for the sole purpose of getting awards like WAS, etc doesn't appeal to me at this moment. But that might change as I get more familiar with the mode, and play a bit.
What I am really interested in is to find at what signal level I can make contact. For example, if I see a station on 40m FT8 calling CQ and his signal is -6dB, I think I should be able to make contact. Considering that most digital modes are low power, I shouldn't have a disadvantage there. My big disadvantage would have to be my dipole antennas. Having my power go whichever way it feels like going and not having control over where I send it has to be the biggest problem when the bands aren't too good.
So maybe I will have to run just a little bit more power. So far I have not gone higher than 25W, but as I understand it, up to 50W is probably acceptable.

I'm going to do a lot more listening/decoding and reading of manuals, etc and see if I can optimize my station. Perhaps I could build a small Yagi and get it up 30 feet or so with a rotator. If I do that, then perhaps I can work more phone and cw as well...
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AA2UK
Member

Posts: 907




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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2018, 09:59:59 AM »

I use the WSJTX suite mainly MSK144 for meteor scatter on 6/2 meters & 222mHz. In addition for weak signal work JT65A and B modes. For weak signal and weak E's to full blown E's I use FT8.
I'm one of those that doesn't use any "electronic" means of QSO verification.
If you want a QSL I request an SASE for a return QSL. I may soon try LOTW especially for Eu contacts using 6 meter multi-hop propagation.
Bill, AA2UK
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VA3VF
Member

Posts: 2860




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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2018, 05:09:01 PM »

Is there an automated method, or do I have to upload it myself?

Since you said you are new with the mode, see the following:

Lesson 1: Don't use the word AUTOMATED in an FT8 discussion ever again.  Grin
Lesson 2: Reread lesson 1! Grin Grin

The 'enemy' is always watching, and ready to attack. Shocked

Somebody likely mentioned JTAlert to you, if not, download and install it. A number of logging software/packages can be used with JTAlert, and if they offer LoTW uploading, you are all set.

I'm currently using DXKeeper, part of the excellent DXLabs suite, but there are others.
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NI0C
Member

Posts: 3226




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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2018, 06:19:37 PM »

Quote
What about duplicate contacts? Is contacting the same stations on the same band over a period of days, weeks, or months frowned upon?
I would think that past logging would be irrelevant during contests, and only that contest log would apply so far as duplicate contacts.
On the other hand, since we're not having a real QSO, there really isn't any point in contacting the same stations once you have them logged on a particular band. Unless you want to experiment with noise levels, etc...
I really try to avoid duplicate contacts (on the same band) on FT8, but there are those who will hound you for a third or fourth contact.  My approach to some of these is to complete the duplicate QSO but not log it.  As others have pointed out, JTAlert can be set up to label calls as "B4," or omit them entirely from the display.     
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