Magnifying Ham Radio
Program Displays for Windows
This article is for amateur radio operators with impaired vision who are interested in magnifying the computer display of a ham radio program. I tested two screen magnifiers—Windows Magnifier and ZoomText—using five ham radio programs: EchoLink, EchoShack, CQ100, basic Ham Radio Deluxe, and DM-780.
Windows operating systems include a Magnifier accessory. On Windows Vista and Windows 7 systems it is located in the Ease of Access folder: Start → All Programs → Accessories → Ease of Access → Magnifier. With Magnifier running, open the controls by clicking on the icon in the status bar at the bottom of the screen.
Magnifier in Windows 7 is easier to use than earlier versions thanks to a variety of new features and an improved user interface. However, all versions of Magnifier lack an important feature—font smoothing. Without it, text magnified by 2X or more is jagged and may be difficult to read.
Figure 1. Text enlarged X3 using Windows Magnifier.
Windows has a font smoothing technology called ClearType, but Magnifier does not use it. Figure 2 shows text enlarged X3 using Magnifer when ClearType is turned on. The letters are still jagged.
Figure 2. Windows Magnifier With ClearType On.
Fortunately, a number of third-party screen magnifiers use font smoothing technology.
ZoomText and ZoomText Express use anti-aliasing to smooth magnified text. Both also have other useful features such as high-contrast color conversion and customizable mouse-pointers. The less expensive Express version has a maximum magnification of 2X.
Figure 3. ZoomText Toolbar
Magnifying Ham Radio Programs
All five programs—EchoLink, EchoShack, CQ100, basic Ham Radio Deluxe, and DM-780—operate normally with the screen magnifers running.
Figures 4 - 7 show different programs using ZoomText. Each figure is a full screen view. Various high visibility mouse pointers are also shown.
Figure 4. Full screen capture of EchoLink magnified 3X with ZoomText.
Figure 5. Full screen capture of EchoShack magnified 6X with ZoomText.
Figure 6. Full screen capture of CQ100 magnified 2X with ZoomText.
Figure 7. Full screen capture of Ham Radio Deluxe magnified 4X.
A separate article describes the use of ZoomText with Ham Radio Deluxe Digital Master 780 (DM-780) for HF digital modes. The article describes how to avoid problems with a scrolling waterfall display or a stream of incoming text.
The EyesOnSuccess Podcast #1428 (July 9, 2014) is an overview of ZoomText features as well as other AI Squared company vision software.
Screen magnification software works with a variety of ham radio computer programs. For these applications the usefulness of Windows Magnifier is limited to low power because it does not smooth the text. Third-party screen magnifiers such as ZoomText provide easy to read text at greater magnification, as well as high-contrast color conversion and customized mouse pointers.
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.