Test your antenna system using WSJT-X

WSPR stands for "Weak Signal Propagation Reporter". It's a computer program which will control your rig to send and receive messages to and from other WSPR stations. The results are then plotted on a map to show you how far you have been heard and how far you can hear other stations. The program was created by Joe Taylor, K1JT, it is now open source and is developed by a small team. Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WSPR_(amateur_radio_software)

Using the WSJT-X application (which can be downloaded from here), an actual performance map for your radio and antenna system can be produced through the WSPR website. The system relies on other operators around the world to also be using the system. When they hear you, details of your contact are uploaded to a central WSPR database, likewise, when your system hears somebody else this is also uploaded.

The result is a map of all various contacts that you have made over a set time. 

This is very useful for comparing different antenna systems and configurations. 

The WSJT-X application will send and receive on its own, so once it's setup and running you can make a cup of tea and let your PC do all the work. Good stuff.

This page briefly covers how to use the WSJT-X application and WSPR website to test your antenna system.

Data mode communication on the FT-817
Data mode communication on the Yaesu FT-817

First, you'll need to set up for data modes

You'll need to get your PC and radio working together, data mode communication should already be working before you can use the WSJT-X application. Please follow one of the 'Setting up for data modes' tutorials also present on this website for help if this is needed.  Once your sound card and PC interface are working correctly, then proceed to the next steps.

Install the WSJT-X software and configure

Go to the WSJT website and download the latest version of the WSJT-X software: https://www.physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/wsjtx.html. Navigate to the download hyperlinks on the page and download the WSJT-X package required for your operating system. Install the WSJT-X application by clicking on the package and follow the on-screen instructions.


Setting up the software

You need to setup the WSJT-X application to work with your radio. Go to the settings tab, then configure the General, Radio and Audio tabs as shown below:



Switch on and let your PC do the work

When everything is configured, you're ready to start receiving some WSPR data.  Select the required frequency band, check that the WSJT-X application has changed the radio frequency correctly.  If the application is not able to control your radio, then there is a problem which needs to be fixed.

  • Note: Ensure your radio is set to USB!
  • Note: Ensure your transmit power is set to QRP (<5Watts)

Click 'Monitor', you should soon see call signs appear in the top of the screen as you receive WSPR data. The information will be uploaded to the WSPR database, more on this later.

 

When you're happy everything is working correctly,  click 'Enable Tx' and 'Tx Next'.  Wait a few minutes and the WSJT-X application should begin to transmit your call sign and other data.  Great!


Log in to the WSPR website and see your communication map

The filter screen at the bottom of the map is easy to use. Don't forget to click 'Update'


  1. Go to: http://wsprnet.org/drupal/. Create your WSPR account by clicking "Create a new account". 
  2. Login to your account and select the Map screen.
  3. At the bottom of the page, you will find the filter menu. Select the band, enter your callsign and time period. When you click update you will see the people that you have either heard or have heard you.

If you click on a callsign flag, the map will show you if you were heard or hearing that station. Try leaving the WSPR-X system running for a while to get a full picture of the capability of your antenna system.