How to enable dark screens for WSJT-X and GridTracker

WSJT-X GridTracker NIGHT SCREENS setup

Last Updated on June 4, 2021

Operating FT8 is really gaining popularity with radio amateurs across the world. Some love it, others loathe it, but regardless of opinions, it’s here to stay. According to FT8’s creator Joe Taylor, FT8 is an excellent mode for HF DXing and for situations like multi-hop Es on 6 meters, where deep QSB may make fast and reliable completion of QSOs desirable.

The ‘8’ in FT8  designates the mode’s 8-frequency shift keying format. Tones are spaced at 6.25 Hz, and an FT8 signal occupies just 50 Hz.

FT8 is a relatively new digital mode introduced to amateur radio in July 2017. It has become very popular globally overtaking voice as the most used mode on HF and 6m according to logged QSOs at clublog.org

Graph of ClubLog FT8 uptake to 2021

ClubLog FT8 uptake to 2021

The two most popular programs used for working FT8 and other digital modes is WSJT-X written by Joe, along with the assistant program GridTracker. There are others, but these two programs pair well together and are very popular in the FT8 community.

Working FT8 in the late evening and early morning – come on let’s face it that’s when we all play radio – I found a way to change the bright white screens of both programs to something more suitable for night. I did this by… wait for it… reading the WSJT-X manual! Yes, something we amateur radio operators don’t do! So to save you from reading the manual, I made a quick how-to video on how to set both WSJT-X and GridTracker into a screen mode that’s so much easier to work with at night.



Here’s the written version.

  1. Locate the WSJTX shortcut on your desktop and duplicate it so you have two icons on your desktop.
  2. Right-click your copy and rename it DARK.
  3. Now select the shortcut tab.
  4. Copy and paste a link to the WSJTS style sheet after the program path. C:\WSJT\wsjtx\bin\wsjtx.exe –stylesheet :/qdarkstyle/style.qss This exact link is in the WSJTX manual.
  5. Now all you do is close the properties dialogue box and run the app.

Now you have Dark mode on WSJT-X.

To get the Night map running in GridTracker.

  1. Launch the program, open up settings and click the maps tab.
  2. At the bottom of the map options, you’ll see “auto night map”
  3. Enable the option and choose a map that works for you at night. I’m using the Dark Gray world map.

There are a few sliders you can adjust for paths and spot colours.

The auto night maps switch in around dusk.

That’s all there is to it. Next time you’re working FT8 in the late evening or in the early hours of the morning, you can spare yourself from the blinding bright white screen you probably accustomed to.