It was the Fox and the Hounds on the bands March 6, as the WSJT-X development group conducted a field test of the still-beta FT8 DXpedition Mode. A second beta version of WSJT-X version 1.9.0, which includes the DXpedition-mode-capable version of FT8 — was released recently. Version 1.9.0-rc2 was made available to allow further field testing of the FT8 DXpedition mode, which is designed to permit DXpeditions to make FT8 contacts at very high rates. Developer Joe Taylor — the “T” in FT8 — has released a few highlights drawn from his observations during the public test. The “Fox” is the DXpedition station, while “Hounds” comprise the pileup.
According to the FT8 DXpedition Mode User Guide, contacts between the DXpedition station and callers can be completed in as little as one transmission apiece by the calling station. DXpedition stations can transmit up to five signals simultaneously, allowing contact rates up to about 500 per hour, under ideal conditions.
“The overwhelming majority of participating Hounds operated as intended, and according to instructions,” Taylor said. “I copied 190 unique Hound call signs during the 2300 [UTC] hour — when I was acting as Fox on 20 meters — and 330 unique call signs during the whole 4 hours. I suppose that we had at least 400 – 500 participants, maybe more.”