Rig Monitoring with the
Elecraft K3 Texter Program

 

   This article is for vision-impaired amateur radio operators interested in displaying the settings and menus of an Elecraft K3 transceiver on a computer screen for improved visibility. A magnified display of the K3 Texter Program can be used to monitor plain text reports from the radio.

A Different Use of K3 Texter

   K3 Texter is ordinarily used with a screen reader, as described in a separate article.

   This article is about a different use of the program—to display magnified, plain text data from a K3. A screen reader is not required.

What K3 Texter Does

     • Provides plain text reports when K3 controls are changed.
     • Reports the radio menu configuration in plain text.
     • Provides graphical buttons to query the radio about settings.

What K3 Texter Does Not Do

     • Does not access data in the channel memories.
     • Does not control radio operation or menu selections.

Software

   K3 Texter is developed and distributed by Mike Reublin, NF4L. It is derived from the Elecraft K3 Voice program, which has a similar user interface. The main difference between the programs is that K3 Texter is designed for use with a screen-reader, and K3 Voice is a stand-alone program not designed for screen-readers.

   K3 Texter is free software that can be downloaded from the NF4L Web site or from Elecraft.

Connection to the K3

   A serial connection between the RS-232 jack on the K3 and a Windows computer is required. If the PC has a serial port, you can use a standard serial cable. For a computer without an RS-232 port, a serial-to-USB adapter can be used.

Graphical User Interface

   A plain text report is displayed in the Text Box of K3 Texter when you operate a control on the radio front panel or when you query the K3 using the graphical user interface.

   A query is made by clicking on one of the K3 Texter buttons. Selecting the Band Button, for example, might result in the plain text reply, "Band 160 meters."

   The K3 Texter Web page gives two examples of automatic reports. One confirms that the serial connection is working:

               Trying COM7 at 9600 baud
               Connected on COM7 at 9600 baud

   The second example is a report generated when the Transmit Equalizer Menu is accessed with the [Menu] key on the K3 front panel:

               Main Menu Transmit equalizer
               TX EQ 6
               Value=0.05-13

K3 Multi-Meter Readings

   K3 Texter can report the current reading for four multi-meter functions: ALC, Compression, Power, and S-meter levels. For the ALC reading, for example, select the Multi-Function tab and click on the ALC button while transmitting in a mode that uses ALC. You can also select ALC from the Multi-Function menu.

   Selecting COMP returns the compression reading when the COMP knob is adjusted.

Visibility

   Without magnification the text is small—K3 Texter is designed to work with a screen reader. Figure 1 shows the program window, including the Text Box at the bottom.

Figure 1. K3 Texter window (actual size).

    On a typical 22" display set at 120 dpi, the unmagnified window is 5.9" W x 5.6" H. The plain text is 0.1" high.

   At 96 dpi the window is 4.6" W x 4.3" H, and the plain text is proportionally reduced to less than 0.1" high.

   You can enlarge the text with a bigger computer screen or by using magnification software that also offers high contrast color schemes.

   Increasing the screen dpi setting from the typical default 96 dpi to 120 dpi will also help enlarge text without making it jagged.

   Figure 2 is a magnified view of the report.

Figure 2. Enlarged report from the radio.

Summary

   The K3 Texter Program provides plain text reports on the control settings and menus of an Elecraft radio. These can be magnified for high visibility rig monitoring.

   Ham Radio Deluxe and other remote control programs can monitor data from a K3, but only K3 Texter can read the menus.

Acknowledgment

   Special thanks to Mike Reublin, NF4L, for developing the program and for answering my questions.

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. 11/28/2011

          Related Articles:  K3 Texter
                                     Magnifying Ham Radio Programs
                                     DPI Scaling

                        HamRadioAndVision Home Page