HamPod K3 Reader

 

   The HamPod K3 Reader provides text-to-speech access to the control settings, screen data, and menu configuration data of an Elecraft K3 or KX3 transceiver for blind and vision-impaired hams. Unlike the K3 Voice and K3 Texter monitor programs, the K3 Reader is a stand-alone device that does not require the use of a personal computer or additional screen reader software.

   This review is based on the excellent manual, which is available on the Web site, and on information from the developer, Rob Santello, K6DQ.

HamPod Station Accessories

   From the K3 Reader manual:

   "The HamPod series of amateur radio station accessories are stand-alone, micro-processor based text-to-speech devices designed to provide speech output and accessibility to common station equipment such as transceivers, antenna controllers and rotor controllers, SWR/Power meters, and other equipment capable of serial data exchange. The voice synthesizer utilizes the popular Double Talk voice synthesizer and is customizable to your personal preferences."

HamPod K3 Reader

   The HamPod device (Figure 1) is 5.3" x 4.0" and about 1.9" high, including the attached 16 button keypad and enclosed speaker. It communicates with an Elecraft K3 or KX3 transceiver via a supplied serial cable.

Figure 1. HamPod K3 Reader.                          hampod.com

 

   The firmware is upgradable via downloads from the Web site. When the Reader is connected to a radio, no personal computer or computer display is used.

   There are two male DB9 serial ports. A different build of the firmware is available that combines the K3 Reader on port 1 and the HamPod W2 MeterReader on port 2. In that case, pressing the [D] key can switch between a K3 (or KX3) transceiver and an Elecraft W2 Wattmeter.

Operation

   K3 Reader can automatically report changes to the K3/KX3 controls, or you can configure it to report only when you query the radio using the K3 Reader keypad. It automatically sets the serial connection rate of the radio to 38,400 baud for rapid responses.

   In the Normal mode, key presses query the radio for data. As the manual explains, "[Each key can be] operated with both a standard push or an extended longer push and hold action. With the addition of a 'SHIFT' key and optionally a 2nd press of the 'SHIFT' key, each key can generate up to six unique operations."

   For example, the [1] key is assigned the function of announcing the frequency of VFO A. Holding the [1] key down for 0.5 seconds or longer announces the frequency of VFO B.

   Here are additional examples from the extensive list of accessible data:

     • filter bandwidth, IF shift, and currently selected crystal filter
            number for the main and sub-receivers.
     • S-meter levels, SWR, RF power, and ALC readings.
     • menu configuration data from the VFO A and VFO B areas of
            the K3 LCD screen. The manual explains that these
            messages may be "abbreviated and therefore cryptic," so
            you can choose to read them one character at a time.

   You can also enter the operating frequency and band using the Reader keypad.

Data Modes

   The K3 and KX3 have a built-in sound card and demodulators for receiving CW, RTTY, and PSK-31 modes without the use of a personal computer or mobile device.

   The decoded text scrolls across a small area of the LCD screen on the radio, and K3 Reader can speak the contents of the text buffer. If a group of characters includes a number (for example, a call sign), the characters are spoken individually. Otherwise, the text is spoken as words.

   To transmit RTTY or PSK 31 signals without an attached computer and keyboard, the K3 and KX3 have a CW-to-Data mode for entering text with a CW key.

Summary

   The HamPod K3 Reader is a convenient, well-designed accessory that blind and vision-impaired hams can use to monitor control settings, screen data, and the menu configuration of an Elecraft K3 or KX3 radio. No personal computer or display is used.

   The HamPod device has upgradable firmware and two serial ports, so it can provide text-to-speech access to two items of station equipment supported by HamPod software, for example a K3 transceiver and a rotor controller.

Acknowledgment

   Thanks to Rob, K6DQ, for information about the K3 Reader operation.

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. 2/3/2015

HamPod W2 MeterReader

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