One-hour FT4 “practice contest” sessions are set for May 9, 0000 – 0100 UTC (Wednesday evening, May 8, in continental US time zones) and May 14, 0000 – 0100 UTC (Monday evening, May 13, in continental US time zones). These events will follow ARRL RTTY Roundup rules. Everyone works everyone. Use a dial frequency of 7.090 MHz (moving higher in 2 kHz increments to avoid manmade interference). Participants must use WSJT-X version 2.1.0-rc5, which is a beta — or “release candidate” — version that contains the FT4 protocol. Installation packages for Windows and Linux are on the WSJT-X page. A full release of WSJT-X version 2.1 is targeted for release in July 2019.
Although still in a beta version that will expire automatically on June 7, the WSJT-Xprogram suite containing FT4 has proved to be popular, and the two operating events are an effort to wring out any additional program anomalies and issues.
“The scheduled practice sessions are intended to provide shakedown and exercising of the FT4 protocol, the software’s user interface, etc., under something approaching contest-like conditions,” Joe Taylor, K1JT, of the WSJT-X Development Group told ARRL. “We’re looking for feedback on what works well, what does not, and what an FT4-enabled contest might be like.”
Those planning to take part in the FT4 operating events are urged to read The FT4 Protocol for Digital Contesting beforehand. Some set-up will be required.
1) On the Settings | Advanced tab, check the Special operating activity and ARRL RTTY Roundup options. In the field labeled “Exch,” enter the two- or three-letter abbreviation for your state or province (US/Canadian stations) or DX if you are outside the US or Canada.
2) Make sure that 7.090 appears in your dropdown frequency list for FT4 mode. Navigate to File | Settings | Frequencies, right-click on the frequencies table, select Insert, then IARU Region = All, Mode = FT4, and enter Frequency = 7.090.
3) Go to File | Open log directory and rename your ADIF log wsjt_log.adi to something like wsjtx_log.adi.bak, in order to start the mock contest with an empty log. Also select File | Reset Cabrillo log. Restore your original ADIF log after the mock contest(s).
4) Go to File | Reporting and check Log automatically (contesting only) and Clear DX call and grid after logging.
5) Go to File | Settings | Colors and check these boxes (reading top to bottom):
- My call in message
- New DXCC
- New Call on Band
- CQ in message
- Transmitted message
6) Do not use a compound or non-standard call sign in this event.
“To all of the developers and beta testers involved: great job, guys!” said Rory Bowers, K5CKS, on the Yahoo WSJT Group reflector. “FT4 is a masterpiece and promises to be very well enjoyed by DXers everywhere. I think you have exceeded our wildest expectations. I am looking forward to the final release of 2.1!”
Reported Bugs in WSJT-X version 2.1.0-rc5
The WSJT-X Development Group reports that it’s aware of these bugs or anomalies in release candidate 5 of WSJT-X version 2.1.0, no further feedback on any of these issues is necessary.
1) The 64-bit executable for Windows resets the audio input gain to 100% on program startup, when the input audio device is changed, and when switching to a new configuration. A temporary workaround is to, if necessary, reset the Windows audio input to the desired level.
2) WSJT-X version 2.1.0-rc5 does not run correctly under macOS using the current build.
3) Any use of the Settings screen will mistakenly set your operating mode to FT8 when you exit Settings by clicking OK. A temporary workaround is to reselect FT4 from the Mode menu.
4) You may occasionally experience a program crash with the message, “Subprocess error: Subprocess failed with exit code 2,” followed by details that include, “At line 41 of file C:\Users\bill\src\k1jt\wsjtx\lib\ft4\ft4_downsample.f90.” The temporary workaround is to restart the program.
5) If you have configured WSPR mode to use band-hopping, the program may arbitrarily change your band setting in FT4 mode. The temporary workaround is to turn off band-hopping in WSPR mode.
6) Positions of the “OK” and “Cancel” buttons on the Log QSO window move around, seemingly at random. This is intended behavior. Obviously there are some disadvantages, and it may not become permanent.
Some discussion has also involved the choice of 7.047 MHz as the 40-meter FT4 frequency. The frequency is quite close to the W1AW bulletin and code practice frequency, 7.047.5 MHz. It appears that the selection of 7.047 MHz was a late change because of objections to the initial choice. 7.047 MHz is also CW territory, according to the ARRL Band Plan for 40 meters.
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