REPOST: Making a List & Checking it Twice – Checklists & Screen Shots for Amateur Radio

The modern Amateur Radio rig may have dozens to hundreds of user adjustable settings. The computer in the ham shack, specially if running Digital Mode soundcard software and CAT (Computer Aided Transceiver) can easily add several dozen additional software & hardware settings.

Then there are cables, antenna switches, antenna tuners, possibly amplifier settings, rotor control settings, perhaps interfaces and more to keep track of.

Not to mention simply getting the band, frequency & mode set on the radio!

Fortunately all these settings/configurations tend to fall into a few groups:

  • Those that once set almost never are changed unless the shack is upgraded
  • Those that once set, are seldom changed
  • Those that change as a group when switching operations style – say as an example switching from 15m SSB to 40m Digital
  • Those few we change a lot – such as frequency, band, volume, antenna bearing
  • Getting everything running as wanted is ususally the result of a period of adjusting, trying it out, and adjust some more.

    So what happens if our set up is lost? What if the rig needs a firmware or software update to match changes in band allocations? If that new security update changes an operating setting? If we change our computer? If we moved our shack to another QTH for field day or Emcomm reasons? If something quite unexplained happens upsetting or loosing settings? If family “fiddles” with our computer? If that demo of the lastest & greatest Radio Software/RC Simulator/Star-Gazer/MP3 or other software adjusts our “perfect settings” to something else it needed?

    If we do two simple things any of these set-backs becomes trivial.

    Checklists Help!

    Checklists: For each of the major configurations of my station I have a “cheat sheet” of what wires go where, major bits needed and what fires up in what order. This has been invaluable when taking the gear out for Field Day or even down into our local submarine for Ships-Afloat activations.

    Radio Folder

    Screen Shots:These have proven invaluable in resetting sound card and software sliders to known working settings, specially after some other software package messed with the settings. For the Windows machines the ctrl-PrntScrn and then Ctrl-V into Paint seems to work ok, or you can use one of the screen grabbers that can be added to your system. For the OS-X Mac systems Cmd-Shft-3 shoots the whole screen into a desktop placed photo file (png by default) or Cmd-Shft-4 lets you select a screen area and snap a part screen photo.

    On either system I then create & label a folder to store the related setting screen shots and checklists.

    Do remember to store a copy of your home-brew documentation someplace off the machine.

    I lost the operating system on my main shack desktop to a S.M.A.R.T. Drive failure, wiping out all my settings. I was able to use one of the copies of my setup folder of checklists and screenshots, one that was stored on another drive, to reset all the settings & software sliders when the new drive was installed.

    You might even consider emailing a copy of a zipped version of your setup checklists & screenshots to a storage account (perhaps gmail or yahoo) to get a copy safe outside of your shack. You should do teh same with software keys & registrations you would need to rebuild your shack.

    Good luck and here’s hoping you never need to consult with your stored checklists and settings screen shots!



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