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ACE-HF System Simulation and Visualization Software, V2.02.1

Richard and Sue Buckner teamed with Joe Ahlgren (author of GeoClock) and Steve Biro to create a dynamic system simulation and visualization software package which uses the VOACAP Propagation prediction engine to create animated maps and charts to help all users of HF radio choose the best times and frequencies for communications.

PowerPoint presentation of Propagation Reliability Factors
Download this PowerPoint Briefing (2.9MB) PDF Version (0.9MB)

This comprehensive program simulates the effect of many factors on communications reliability. Therefore, it can be used, not only to choose operating times and frequencies, but also to predict the effectiveness of antenna and equipment changes.

The program is delivered on CD with a floppy disk key for your location. After installing ACE-HF, you first set the parameters for your location and station information (antennas, UTC offset, etc.). One of the great features of ACE-HF is the ability to match the simulated antenna system to your actual setup - or the one you are thinking of buying. You can even simulate a new antenna using the compatible NEC-Win Plus software.

The current actual sun spot number can be downloaded from the web, entered manually or based on the long term forecasts included with the program. You can define a single circuit, such as the one to TO4E from your location, or set the program up with multiple circuits to different areas of the world you are interested in.

Animated Path Prediction

Once the setup is complete, the program will generate predictions of signal strength and path reliability which can be plotted on animated maps and in tabular format. The animated prediction makes it very easy to choose your best shot at working the DX station.

Band Openings Map

Similarly, you can choose a band and plot the band openings available for any given time, or animate the day to choose your operating time wisely. An exciting animated table shows the currently transmitting beacons in real time with a propagation prediction for each one to your location.

Beacon Table

Given the complexity of the program, and the enormous number of options and additional features, it is relatively straightforward to use. In many cases, the default operations will work, and once you have set your own defaults, creating new displays with changed data is easy.

Unfortunately, there are a number of major defects in the user interface which make it look more like a DOS program than one for Windows. The program fills your screen (no matter how big) and most of the windows are not resizable. Given that the maps were originally generated for a smaller screen, this gave them a very granular look when displayed on a large modern Windows display. In many cases, the user interface is not according to the normal Windows standards. Together, this gives the program an unfriendly appearance and also makes it difficult to use in conjunction with other programs. Perhaps future versions will address this issue.

For functionality, ACE-HF can't be beat. There are so many features that the folks at ACE-HF have created additional help files and tutorials to show you how to make the most of the software. Visit the ACE-HF web site to learn more.

(Review by AB6WM)