27 October 2011

printing my swl cheat sheet

For several years now, I've been maintaining a cheat sheet of hf radio frequencies, schedules, broadcasting bands, terms, reception tips, and so on for my outdoor listening activities. It's a single sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper, folded into eighths (two across by four down). It easily fits into my pocket or my logbook.



While preparing my autumn 2011 shortwave listening cheat sheet back in September, I replaced all of the schedule and station frequency data, and tightened up the text to take full advantage of available space. I noticed that the 8-point text looked a little small on both the screen and the paper. But there was a more serious problem: the left edge of the text was not printed correctly.

When my shortwave listening cheat sheet first came together, I looked at the one-inch margins on the printout and thought, "I can do better. This doesn't all have to be whitespace." So I reduced the top, bottom, left, and right margins from 1 inch all the way down to 0.15 inch, and it worked. This made it possible to fit more text on a page, and as a bonus, the frontmost eighth of the cheat sheet (when folded up) was both more impressive and more useful.

Then, after an OS update on my home computer, I tried printing the updated document with the same 0.15-inch margins. No good. I made several small adjustments until ending up with a usable printout with 0.25-inch margins on the left and right.

So, I lost a tenth of an inch along each of the four sides of the page. I also bumped the font up to 9-point, which took a lot of reformatting and some loss of data. To make this work, I cropped some of the schedule data, remove the air traffic control and selcal sections, and tightened up the wording in the "propagation and reception" section. My revised and reformatted shortwave listening cheat sheet has been very valuable during the past few weeks for outdoor listening sessions, away from all the noise sources conveniently listed.

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