WSJT-X version 2.1.0-rc5 – introducing the FT4 Protocol for Digital Contesting

From Joe (K1JT):

Soon after the “FT8 Roundup” held on December 1-2, 2018, we started serious work on a faster, more contest-friendly digital mode that can compete with RTTY-contesting QSO rates while preserving many of the benefits of FT8. The result is FT4 — a new digital mode specifically designed for radio contesting.

Over the past month a small group of volunteers have been conducting on-the-air tests of FT4. The early tests were very successful and helped us to make a number of important design decisions. We believe FT4 has considerable promise for its intended purpose.

We’ll soon be ready for testing by a larger group. If you might be interested in participating and offering your considered feedback, please read the descriptive document “The FT4 Protocol for Digital Contesting”, posted here:

You can download WSJT-X 2.1.0-rc5 from The pdf document linked above includes:

  • Instructions for installing WSJT-X 2.1.0-rc5 and FT4 configuration
  • Operating instructions for FT4
  • Basic description of the FT4 protocol, modulation, and waveform
  • Detailed sensitivity measurements for FT4 under a wide variety of simulated propagation conditions
  • Schedule for upcoming test sessions

Please consider helping us to make FT4 a successful mode for digital contesting.

Release candidate WSJT-X 2.1.0-rc5 is intended for beta-testing through
June 7, 2019. Please note that the FT4 mode should NOT be used in the
ARRL June VHF QSO Party (June 8-10) or ARRL Field Day (June 22-23).

We have done our best to provide suggested operating frequencies for the
test period consistent as far as possible with world-wide band plans and
existing usage. Please note that thanks to good user feedback, some of
these frequencies are different from those suggested in the document
linked above.

Default frequencies currently recommended for FT4 are as follows:

Band MHz Notes
80 3.575 (3.568 MHz in Region 3)
40 7.047
30 10.140
20 14.080
17 18.104
15 21.140
12 24.919
10 28.180
6 50.318
2 144.170

FT4 is designed for contesting, but it will likely find some use for
normal QSOs as well, especially during the beta test period. In the
coming month we hope to receive useful feedback on the user interface,
message sequencing, interaction with logging programs, etc. Probably
it’s best to use “normal” (non-contest) messages except during the
mock-contest practice sessions scheduled for 0000 – 0100 UTC on May 9
and May 14, and (if needed) June 5.

With best wishes and 73,

— Joe (K1JT), Steve (K9AN), and Bill (G4WJS)