FT8 / Technical Articles

FT8: What is JTAlert Software and How Can it Help with FT8 Mode?

So you’re getting the hang of this FT8 thing. You have almost all of the states and are just a few countries away from DXCC. You are learning these callsigns and grid squares, but they scroll by so fast. There should be an easier way to decode that one needed station.

Good news! There is a program that will make your experience so much better. JTAlert is a free program of audio and visual alerts for WSJT-X created by Laurie Cowcher, VK3AMA.

This software comes in three parts. There is the main application (JTAlert), the Callsign Database file, and an Audio add-on for spoken announcements, which is quite nice if you aren’t directly in front of the radio and computer. Updates happen often and there are always nice features added.

Among many features, this software provides:

  • Alerts for needed WAS, DXCC, WPX, and many other awards
  • Alerts for specifically defined stations, CQ and “Calling You”
  • Check for LOTW and eQSL users
  • Activity report by bands
  • Integrated logging for many third-party programs
  • Worked B4 detector tied to the above
  • Chat capability with other users online
  • Bands on which you have already worked a station

One of the extra features is a pop-up when you click on the colored numbers on the top right of the application. This gives you a summary of activity by band and mode decoded by color, as shown above.

Configuration is pretty straightforward. Pictured above are the different kinds of alerts that you can set to be notified of visually by color and/or audibly through your speakers. Through the logging tab, shown in the above picture on the left, your QSOs can be automatically logged to many mainstream logging software programs.

The support group for this software can be found here.

One last note: JTAlert is for the Windows operating system. People who have a lot more patience with computers than I do may have gotten it to work on Linux under emulator software, but there is some debate as to if that is accurate. I have heard there is an application called Gridtracker that works with Linux natively. As for me, I have recently switched to an entirely Apple/Mac household and use a similar application called JT-Bridge. It works seamlessly with my MacLoggerDX and automatically logs to eight online logging services, including LoTW! If there is interest, perhaps an article discussing ham radio software on non-Windows computers can be a topic for the future.

Questions? Share them in the comments below or email me at KE8FMJ@arrl.net.

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