“Even though digital modes other than RTTY have been permitted in the RTTY Roundup for 30 years, FT8 was excluded in 2018, because it could not manage the required exchanges,” ARRL Contest Branch Manager Bart Jahnke, W9JJ, said. “Through the work of the WSJT-X development team, the latest version of FT8 can handle the necessary exchanges that earlier versions were unable to do.”
Some limitations will apply to FT8 entrants. Participants must use WSJT-X version 2.0 or later to ensure they are able to transmit and receive the exchange messages the event requires. No unattended operation, including QSO/macro automations, will be allowed. Neither is FT8’s Fox-and-Hounds mode; each contact must be carried out in a one-to-one mode, manually accepting/logging each contact.
Since ARRL contest rules regarding spotting assistance prohibit the use of “automated, multi-channel decoders” by Single-Operator entrants, stations using software that decodes more than one FT8 signal at a time will have to enter as Single-Operator Unlimited or as Multioperator, just as PSK participants have had to do in the past when using fldigi or DigiPan software.
Logging software developers have been advised that “DG” will be accepted as a mode abbreviation for all digital QSOs other than RTTY, which will continue to be designated as “RY.” This will assist the ARRL Contest Branch in distinguishing RTTY from other digital-mode contacts in order to assess the popularity of each. Logs designating all contacts with “RY” will be accepted, however.
The Contest Branch is encouraging all participants to make the use of FT8 a success in RTTY Roundup by managing frequency selection and being patient with new contest operators. FT8 users also are advised to spread out to help increase decoding and contact success. The FT8 users’ groups and online discussions will offer information about alternate carrier frequencies for FT8.
“This is a great opportunity for beginners interested in digital mode contesting,” Jahnke said. “If you are a first-time RTTY, FT8, or other digital-mode contester, understand that high power and large antennas are not necessary for successful decodes.”
Complete rules are at www.arrl.org/rtty-roundup.