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. See RFI at my Home QTH, every graph of S meter values there was made using S-Meter Lite.
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:
- IC-756 Pro Series (all radios)
- IC-706 Mark II G, (not other 706’s)
- Windows 95
- Windwos 98
- Windows ME
- Windows NT 4.0
- Windows 2000
- Windows XP
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:
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.
- Easy to install
- Generates long term graphs over time
- Allows for taking the difference between two signals
- Provides uninstaller
- Does not come in a Linux version
- Not intuitive to use or setup
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.