Rig Monitoring with Flrig
(Mac OS X and Windows)

 

   Flrig is an amateur radio transceiver control program that runs on Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows systems. This article describes the user interface for vision-impaired hams who want to use the Mac OS X or Windows version of the program.

   Flrig for Linux is described in a separate article.

Software

   Flrig is freeware developed and distributed by W1HKJ. The program Help menu is accessible via the Web page. Flrig cooperates with Fldigi, the digital modem program by the same author.

   A list of supported radios is also on the Web site. Flrig has a control panel for each model.

Connecting the Radio to a Computer

   The Setup section of the Flrig Help page explains how to configure the program to use a CAT serial port. Push to talk (PTT) is via CAT radio control (if your radio supports it) or hardware PTT.

   For this review flrig v.1.1.9 was tested on a Mac OS X 10.7 system and a Windows Vista system. A MicroHam USB Interface III was used for the serial data connection. As with many other commercial USB interfaces, MicroHam provides software for both Windows and Mac OS X operating systems.

Visibility

   The flrig control panels are compact, so a large screen and magnifier software may be helpful. Flrig renders images with high resolution using vector graphics. Flrig controls are not accessible with keyboard shortcuts or screen readers, including Mac OS X Voice Over.

   There are two options for displaying the Main Dialog Window. The default is the newer "Wide User Interface" (Figure 1) with a larger frequency readout and a wider, adjustable-width window. The alternative interface (Figure 2) is narrower, with fixed-size and taller aspect ratio. Except for the frequency readout, text size in the two windows is the same.

Figure 1. Wide User Interface for an Icom 746PRO (Windows OS).

 Figure 2. Flrig Alternative User Interface (Windows OS).

 

   Windows:  On a typical 22" screen the window in Figure 1 is 2.2" high, and the minimum width is 8.4 inches. The VFO A frequency readout on the left is 0.4" high. The window in Figure 2 is 3.7" H x 4.8" W, and the VFO readouts are 0.25" high. Most text in both windows is 0.1" high. Flrig images, including text, are not affected by the screen DPI setting. The Windows Magnifier utility works well without pixelation problems.

   Mac OS X:  On a 13" screen the wide Main Dialog Window is 1.5" H x 6.4" minimum width. The VFO A frequency readout is 0.35" high. The narrower window is 2.9" H x 3.7" W, and the VFO readouts are 0.2" high. Most text in both windows is 0.09" high. The OS X Font/Style/Size browser does not apply to the text. The Mac OS X Zoom Magnifier utility works well with flrig.

   High contrast colors are customizable using a wide range of individual options for text, backgrounds, meters, readouts, indicator lights, and sliders.

Rig Monitoring

   Flrig updates the meters and rig settings in the display by polling the radio. You can use the Polling Dialog Box shown in Figure 3 (Config Menu > Xcvr Select > Polling Tab) to configure which radio parameters flrig follows.

   For example, when the polling cycle number for Volume is set to zero as in Figure 3, flrig controls the radio volume, but it does not poll the radio, so changes made with the real radio volume control are not displayed on the screen. For a Volume polling cycle number of one or higher, Flrig both controls the radio audio level and updates the position of the Volume slider and the digital Volume readout. Higher polling cycle settings increase the time between updates. This is a useful option because the latency between flrig and the radio depends on the number of controls that are polled each cycle.

Figure 3. Polling Dialog Box.

 

   When transmitting, the high resolution S-meter is replaced by an SWR meter. Clicking on the meter switches to an ALC meter.

Memory

   The flrig Memory menu lets you save and select frequency/bandwidth/mode settings in a database stored in computer memory.

Summary

   Flrig is a multi-platform (OS X, Linux, Windows) program that vision-impaired hams can use for rig monitoring and control. The high-resolution display works well with magnifier software, but not with screen readers. High contrast color options are available.

 

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. 9/21/2012

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