IV. Computer Requirements

    All three of these software packages are designed to run on any Pentium type computer with Microsoft Windows 2000 or higher operating system. VK3ZTR, the author of EchoShack, notes that the speech generators in Windows Vista and Windows 7 are better than the generators in earlier versions of Windows. All three applications worked well in my tests using Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows 7 Home Premium editions.

     The modem requirements are modest—56k or better for EchoLink and at least 33.2k for CQ100. EchoLink sets up peer to peer connections to your computer, so conferences require more than 56 kbps, depending on the number of participants. Your computer must have a sound card with speakers and a microphone or a headset.

     Depending on your vision, a larger screen or magnification software may enable you to launch any of these applications using a mouse. If not, there are several ways to use the keyboard instead. To run a program  every time you turn on the computer, put a shortcut icon in the Windows Startup folder. To start an application on command, Windows lets you set up a keyboard shortcut. Or, you can use a macro editor to automate things even more. For example, a short Workplace Macro Pro script can automatically start CQ100, enter the password, and turn on the speech output.

V. Conclusions

     The examples here demonstrate that it is not necessary to be able to read directly from a computer monitor to operate any of these applications. The ability to use a few keyboard shortcuts is sufficient.

     For hams with experience using a Windows computer, each of these applications includes an extensive set of keyboard shortcuts for operator control.

     For more information and to download the software, here are links to the websites:  EchoLink, EchoShack, and QsoNet (CQ100).

 

Acknowledgments

    Thanks to:  VK3ZTR for answering questions about EchoShack, K7TKA for helpful discussions about EchoLink, NJ3H for information about DPI scaling in EchoLink, and both M0SAL and K1CVP for tips on simplifying CQ100 operation. Thanks also to Lan Nguyen and Meagan Kirby, OTR/L, CVRT, of the Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted in Seattle, Washington, for information about screen reader software.

Author Information

    Peter DeNeef, AE7PD, is an Extra Class amateur radio operator in the U.S. This web site has no ads or conflicts of interest.
Email: hamradioandvision "at" gmail "dot" com.

rev. 2/11/2015

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