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Review of W8WWV’s S-Meter Lite

Posted by on October 7, 2012

S-Meter Lite

S-Meter Lite display window

I have a very bad RFI problem at my home QTH.  This necessitated my looking at S-Meter values across time in order to quantify when the start and end times for my RFI issues were taking place.  After looking around for software, I discovered S-Meter Lite by W8WWV.  This software is installed under Windows XP on my home setup and does exactly what I needed, plus a lot more…  After taking a look at this software I thought I would provide a review of W8WWV’s S-Meter Lite.  S-Meter Lite will graph S-Meter readings in real time, save spreadsheet ready files over very long time frames of your S meter values, assist in generating a pattern for your beam antenna, show RF levels in S units or in dB, and show signal level differences in dB between one signal and another on the same graph.  In short S-Meter Lite does a lot of things, some of which I have not tested yet, but look forward to testing.

S-Meter Lite talks to your radio using a data connection to your radio provided by the manufacturer.  In some cases the radios do not provide data connections, so S-Meter Lite is unable to talk to those radios.  If you are set up with radio control using your computer, you are probably already set up to use S-Meter Lite.

As of 10/07/12 S-Meter Lite will talk to the following radios:

Icom:

  • IC-756 Pro Series (all radios)
  • IC-706 Mark II G, (not other 706’s)
  • IC-746
  • R-9000
  • IC-7100
  • IC-910H

Yaesu:

  • FT-920
  • FT-1000MP
  • FT-1000D
  • FT-2000
  • FT-5000
  • FT-950

Elecraft:

  • K3

TenTec:

  • Orion
S-Meter Lite runs under the following Operating Systems:
  • Windows 95
  • Windwos 98
  • Windows ME
  • Windows NT 4.0
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
Note there is not a Linux version of this software, which is unfortunate, hint to the author.  The software is easy to install, stable, (that is important in a piece of software), works well, and in general is no problem to use once installed.  It also does not install any ad-ware, nor does it fail to show up in the uninstall list as many pieces of software do today.  The software and some interesting discussions about it’s functioning can be downloaded here.  S-Meter Lite has an online manual which is very complete.  I used the software to graph S-Meter values across time in order to quantify my RFI.  This has been invaluable to me in locating the RFI I have been getting.  Here is a sample of what it generated in actual use.
Example S-Meter values

Example S-Meter values

As you can see I have a pretty bad RFI problem, what you are seeing is the result of almost two years of RFI hunting.  In the past my RFI was 20 over S9, 7 X 24 a day.  As you remove RFI sources, other sources become visible, which were lower than the original source.  S-Meter Lite has been an invaluable source of data for RFI hunting, and I would recommend it it anyone who is needing to quantify RFI times, or generating beam patterns.

S-Meter Lite also saves data in Excel ready spreadsheet form, and more importantly the time/S-Meter resolution of the graph is very small:

High time resolution graph

High time resolution graph

As can be seen from the graph above data is stored in 30 second intervals.  This makes it very handy for pinpointing start/stop times for an RFI source.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Easy to install
  • Stable
  • Generates long term graphs over time
  • Allows for taking the difference between two signals
  • Provides uninstaller

Cons:

  • Does not come in a Linux version
  • Not intuitive to use or setup

Conclusion:

If you are hunting RFI, looking to create a beam pattern, on in general curious about your background signal levels, S-Meter Lite is the software for you.  It is very informative to take S-Meter Lite and look at WWV as it comes alive in the mornings/evenings.  If you want to see when a band is open, drop S-Meter Lite on a station close to your operating frequency, and graph it for a few days.  You will quickly know when the band is open.


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