Elecraft K3 Voice Program
This article is for vision-impaired amateur radio operators interested in the Elecraft K3 Voice Program, which uses the sound card in a personal computer to give spoken feedback on the control settings of a K3 radio. A program is also available for the older K2 model.
K3 Voice is a stand-alone program, unlike K3 Texter which is designed to work with a screen reader.
The HamPod K3 Reader is a stand-alone device described in a separate article.
What K3 Voice Does
• Gives voice feedback when a control on the radio is changed.
• Provides graphical buttons to query the radio about settings.
What K3 Voice Does Not Do
• No reports about radio menu items.
• No reports about radio channel memory data.
• Does not control radio operation or menu selections.
• Is not designed to work with a screen reader.
The free Voice software can be downloaded from the Elecraft Web site. The Help menu describes how to configure and use the program. Dick Dievendorff, K6KR, derived K3 Voice from K2 Voice, which was written by Eric Swartz, WA6HHQ.
Connection to the K3
A serial port connection to a Windows computer is required. If the PC has a serial connector, you can use a standard serial cable. Otherwise, a serial-to-USB adapter can be used.
On a typical 22" display set at 120 dpi, all of the K3 Voice screen fit inside a window 7.5" W x 4.4" H. The text is 0.1" high.
At a setting of 96 dpi, the window size is 5.7" W x 3.8" H, and text is proportionally smaller than 0.1" high.
Using the Program
There are three options for configuring spoken feedback using Options Menu → Info Mode. Here is a description of how the program operates in each mode:
Mode 0 or "Manual"—To hear a spoken setting, mouse-click on a menu item or button in a Voice Program window. An example is shown in the figure.
Mode 1 or "Semi-Automatic"—The radio sends a spoken response when a frequency or mode-related change occurs (such as switching from CW to Single Sideband).
Mode 2 or "Automatic"—The radio sends a spoken response when any front panel control change occurs.
The Graphical User Interface
Figure 1 shows the program window.
Figure 1. K3 Voice Program.
For Manual Mode operation, each of five areas on the K3 front panel has an associated pull-down menu in the Voice Program. The panel groupings are named Primary, Multi-Function, VFOs, Display, and RIT/XIT. To hear a control setting, select it from the appropriate menu.
Or, you can choose one of the five tabs that display the same menu items in the form of buttons.
K3 Multi-Meter Readings
K3 Voice can report the current reading for three multi-meter functions: S-meter, Power, and Compression. To read the power, for example, select the Multi-Function tab and click on the Power button while transmitting. You can also select Power from the Multi-Function menu.
The spoken reports are contructed usingby combining WAV files. WA6HHQ recorded the numbers 0 - 49, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, "hundred", and "thousand," so the program can report the full range of values returned by a K3.
Speech compression has a value from 0 through 40. There are two power ranges: (a) 0 - 100 watts, spoken as integers, and (b) "Extended K2 Mode" which is 0 - 10 watts, spoken as a dotted decimal for fractional values. S-meter readings are spoken as "S" then the digit 0 - 9, then plus 5 to 60 dB (in 5dB increments), eg "S9 plus 10 dB."
The Elecraft K3 Voice Program uses the sound card of a personal computer to provide spoken feedback about the control settings on a K3 radio. It does not report information about the radio menu or channel memories.
Three operating modes (Manual, Semi-Automatic, and Automatic) give you a choice of how the program works, and the user interface is very well designed.
Thanks to Dick Dievendorff, K6KR, for answering my questions.
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.