FT8 Checklist

The following information deals with my ham radio hobby, and is designed to be shared with my friends who may want to try a new, low power weak signal operating mode that’s become very popular: FT8.  We’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Here’s a checklist of useful information which you’ll need as you  get ready to use FT8:

  1. Bookmark the main FT8  page: http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/wsjtx.html and the online manual: http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/wsjtx-doc/wsjtx-main-1.8.0.html You’ll need to refer to the manual often.  Download the latest version of WSJT-X, which at the moment is 1.8.0. 
  2. Fix the time on your computer. Click here to see how far off your time is now.  Follow the instructions for your computer in Section 3 of the manual to install one of the recommended programs which will make sure you are in sync with everyone else. 
  3. Google is your friend.  Search for your rig and “FT8” or “JT65”.  There are likely to be several helpful YouTube videos explaining exactly how to set up your rig to work with these modes.
  4. Dig out your rig’s manual because you need to interface your rig’s control signals with the program.  If you’re lucky, you got a USB cable with the rig or may have another way to interface the two.  If not, you may need to get a Signalink.
  5. If you want to use your computer’s sound card, follow the adjustment procedures in Section 3.  Most people have better luck either using an external USB sound dongle or an external device such as Signalink.  You also need two stereo 3.5mm plugs to go from the dongle to your rig’s audio input and output. 
  6. The software will create its own ADIF file which you can import into your favorite log, or the qrz.com online logbook.  In addition, several other logging programs interface directly with the software, including Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD), and the DXLab suite or Log4OM.  I use N3FJB’s Amateur Contact Log.  Whatever you use, get it working with the ARRL Logbook of the World (LOTW) and eqsl.cc .
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