Realtime WSJT-X decode data map

Following on from my previous article on Enhancing Digital modes with Node Red I’ve now got to a point where I have realtime decode information from the WSJT-X digital application being plotted on a Node Red world map not just for CQ calls but, for stations in conversation too.

The flow has become somewhat more complex than it was originally as more and more functionality has been added. I have deliberately split out the flow process into more nodes than are really necessary so that the flow is easier to understand. Anyone from a programming background like myself will soon realise that a lot of the nodes could actually be combined into one big node however, the overall flow process wouldn’t be so easy to understand for the Node Red newcomer and would possibly put people off from trying it out.

Current WSJT-X Node Red flow

Above is a screenshot of the flow as it currently stands. It’s pretty easy to understand what is happening in the flow due to the fact that the processes are broken out into small, easy to digest blocks.

From the top down we connect to WSJT-X via UDP port 2237 and listen for the data stream. As the data is received it’s passed directly into the WSJT-X-Decode node that converts the information into a Node Red compatible format. The data is then filtered with only the information required being passed onto the next node. There are two outputs from the filter node as we require two different streams of information, namely “CQ” and “TX1” data. All the rest of the data from WSJT-X is ignored as it’s not required at this time.

The “Get freq & SNR + Others” node builds a decode message payload with all the correct data, in the right format ready to be passed on along the flow. This node also sets a number of parameters required by the map node to be able to control the display of the data.

The next node along is “Set msg.payload”, this brings together all the necessary data into a single message payload that is then worked on by all the nodes further along the flow.

The next 3 nodes perform the simple task of moving some of the data into the objects defined by the world map node, if the data isn’t moved into these specific objects the map will not plot anything.

Now we get onto the slightly more difficult bit that might put off those who aren’t from a programming background. The next 7 nodes are all javascript functions which I have created to perform tasks that cannot be done via the standard Node Red pallet.

At this point it’s worth noting that I’m not a javascript programmer, I’ve used Python, Rust, Go, C and many other languages during my 40 plus year career but, javascript has never been one of them. I’m sure any seasoned javascript programmer will most likely raise an eyebrow at my attempt at javascript programming but, you need to remember that I’m doing this in my retirement and my enthusiasm for learning yet another programming language has wained somewhat!

So, getting back to the flow, each javascript function does just one task each of which is as follows:

  • Set rx_time – Sets the time the data was received/processed
  • Remove RR73 in tx1 – Remove decodes where RR73 is in TX1 instead of a valid callsign
  • Set Dynamic Icon Colour – Sets the icon colour depending on what type of call is decoded
  • Maidenhead to LON/LAT – Converts Maidenhead locator codes into LAT/LON Coordinates
  • Calc Distance – Calculates the distance between “My QTH” and the DX station
  • Calc Bearing – Calculates the bearing/beam heading to the DX Station from “My QTH”
  • Generate Search URLs – Generates the URLs for QRZ and my own online log lookups
Editing the Calc Distance function with debug info in the far right panel

Once all the functions have run the resultant data set is forwarded on to the WSJT-X Stations Map node where it is plotted real time on a world map.

To view the map point your web browser at your PC running Node Red as follows:


Or if you haven’t got a DNS setup at home then just use the IP Address of the PC instead:

Don’t forget that for all of this to work you must configure WSJT-X to send data via UDP on port 2237 otherwise the flow won’t be able to connect and listen for the decode data.

You may have noticed that there are 3 other nodes that I haven’t mentioned yet. The two green greyed out nodes are Debug nodes that can be enabled when required to help see what is going on in the flow. These debug nodes will display data in the debug panel on the right of the flow editor screen when they are enabled, they are extremely useful for debugging!

The third is the blue My QTH node, this contains data pertaining to my QTH that is plotted on the map using an orange icon. You can easily edit this node to point to your QTH instead.

WSJT-X Node Red map showing orange icon denoting my QTH

Once the flow is deployed you’ll be surprised how quickly the data starts to be plotted on the map. Stations calling “CQ” are shown by Green icons and stations that are in a QSO with another station are denoted by the Red icons.

Each icon is clickable and will present all the information collected by WSJT-X for each station viewed.

WSJT-X Node Red World Map showing FT8 stations realtime on the 12m Band

The popup also has two clickable entries, one will take you to the page for the station being viewed and the other will search my logs to see if I have worked that station already and if so it will open a new tab showing the information.

Node Red Function Editor showing the Generate Search URLs function

You can edit the “Generate Search URLs” node so that it points to your online logs search engine so that you can view your own log data instead of mine.

Below is a close up of the popups that are displayed when each icon on the map is clicked. The popups show the information collected from WSJT-X for each station plotted on the map.

Left – Green “CQ” Popup and Right – Red “TX1” in QSO popup

If you fancy trying this out for yourself but, don’t fancy creating all the nodes in the flow manually then I have made an export of the flow available for download. All you have to do is download the file, unzip it and then import it to Node Red and you’ll have everything built ready to play with.

I’ll probably be adding more functionality to this flow as time goes on and will post further articles about it in the future.

More soon …

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