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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.  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:

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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10 Responses to Review of W8WWV’s S-Meter Lite

  1. Steve, W7JOD

    Hi Dave, just wanted to let you know that the program works with my Yaesu FT-990. Just configure the program for as FT-1000D. The only issue I see is that the program shows a S9 from the receiver as S9+10. I will play with the program configuration to see if I can get the program to agree with the FT-990.

    • Dave

      Hello Steve,
      Good to hear, there is a configuration option for calibration of S-Meter Lite to your rigs S-Meter… I believe you right click within the graph to get to it.

  2. Chuck Pool

    Hi Dave,
    Can this program be used with an old receiver, i.e. Drake R-4C to locate RFI?
    Thank you.
    73,
    Chuck

  3. Anonymous

    I set it up, connected it, it works as a real time meter trace but HOW do you get it to SAVE to a file?

    • Dave

      Right click on the area where the graph is drawn. From there, select your target directory, file name, and then OK…

  4. Dave

    Hello Arthur,
    Try using the 756 PRO setting, and be sure to change the Radio CI-V address to whatever your new Icom has, also verify the baud rate’s match… Beyond that you will need to contact the program author…

    • Arthur

      Hi Dave, the problem in the connector. The 7800 has a rs232 connection but on 7600 it is not present.
      I use the usb connector, but the s-meter lite has no ptt com 25. It shows olly th com 20! Thats the first problem. In 7800 the com port was 4 or 5. Ok I will write a letter to w8wwv. Because he has an idea.
      Thanks for help.

      Arthur

  5. Arthur

    Hi Dave, here is Arthur from Berlin Germany. Since last Saterday I have an IC-7600 and tried to connect smeter lite with it. Di you have an idea how I can work with it and ic-7600? I had an 7800 bevor and I like smeter lite very much.
    Thanks for your return.
    73 de DL7AHW http://www.mydarc.de/dl7ahw/

    Arthur

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