FldigiVI LiveUSB
for Vision-Impaired Hams


   FldigiVI LiveUSB gives vision-impaired amateur radio operators convenient access to the fldigi digital modem program.

   Features include:

          •  Fldigi, flrig, flarq, flmsg, and flwrap are pre-installed.

          •  Magnification

          •  Logging with fldigi or Xlog

          •  Persistence—saves program settings and macros.

          •  Portability

   This article is the user support page for the FldigiVI LiveUSB SourceForge project.


Fldigi is freeware developed and distributed by W1HKJ. It includes software modems for the most popular amateur radio digital modes. The user manual is available online.

   Four related programs by W1HKJ are also included on the LiveUSB: flrig, flarq, flmsg, and flwrap.

FldigiVI LiveUSB

FldigiVI LiveUSB is freeware available from SourceForge. Installed on a USB flash drive, it can boot most PCs with a 32-bit or 64-bit CPU, regardless of the native operating system. (It does not work with Mac computers.) The LiveUSB runs only in RAM, so it does not make any changes on a PC  hard drive.

   The operating system is Ubuntu 14.04. No previous experience with Linux is required to use the LiveUSB.

Figure 1. The FldigiVI LiveUSB desktop.



Making a LiveUSB

   The free UNetbootin program for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X will write the fldigiVI ISO file to a USB flash memory stick. The Chirp LiveCD Wiki by SourceForge developer bgiff158 explains how to use UNetbootin. A 2 GB drive is adequate for the fldigiVI LiveUSB installed with 500 MB of persistence memory.

   Figure 2 shows the UNetbootin panel before writing the fldigiVI ISO file.

Figure 2. UNetbootin control panel.



   UNetbootin does not recognize flash memory sticks certified to work with MicroSoft "Windows to Go" (Windows 8). These are configured at the factory as a fixed drive rather than removable storage. You can run UNetbootin to check whether a drive is listed in the pulldown menu. Also, the drive type is shown in the Windows "My Computer" display. If the flash drive icon is in the Hard Disk Drives group, UNetbootin will not recognize it.

Booting with the LiveUSB

   Magnification software will not work when a (BIOS or UEFI) boot menu is displayed, so sighted assistance might be necessary to discover how to boot your PC with a USB flash drive.

   For some PCs the USB drive can be moved to the top of the boot order to start the LiveUSB automatically when the computer is powered on. Other computers require you to select the flash drive manually from the Boot Devices menu. When you have learned the sequence of keystrokes to select the boot device, it is not necessary to use the screen.

Enabling Magnification

   The Enhanced Zoom plug-in magnifies everything on the Desktop. To enable it:  Open the Dash by tapping the Windows logo key (WIN) > Type "ccsm" (without quotes) > Press Enter to open the CompizConfig Settings Manager. Double-click on Enhanced Zoom in the Accessibility section to open the command editor.

   For the Zoom-In key:  Click the Disabled button > Select Enable > Click "Grab Key Combination" > Press WIN and Up Arrow together and release > Press OK. For the Zoom-Out key:  Repeat the steps and use the WIN + Down Arrow key combination. Close the editor and settings manager. (In Editor, WIN is called the Super key.)

   A quirk of fldigiVI:  If you enable mouse scroll-wheel or trackpad buttons in Enhanced Zoom, intermittent "System Problem" warnings pop up when you use fldigi.

Using Magnification

          Zoom In:        WIN + Up Arrow

          Zoom Out:    WIN + Down Arrow

               (WIN = Windows logo key)

   Enhanced Zoom magnifies everything on the screen except the icons in the Launcher (left margin of the screen) and the icons in the upper right corner. When the Desktop is magnified and you move the mouse cursor to the left edge of the screen, the cursor disappears behind the Launcher. Clicking behind an icon launches the application.

   To Shut Down when the Desktop is magnified, move the cursor to the upper right corner of the Menu bar, "off the screen." Click to open the magnified pull-down menu > Select Shut Down > Click on the large Shut Down icon.

   To adjust input and output audio levels, click behind the System Settings (gear) icon in Launcher, and click on the Sound icon.

Launching Fldigi

   Here are some ways to launch flidigi after booting a PC using the LiveUSB:

         • Tap WIN to open the Dash > Type fldigi > Enter.

         • Tap WIN > Drag the fldigi icon to the Launcher sidebar.

              (It will stay there across reboots.) Click on the icon.

          • CTRL + ALT + T opens terminal > Type fldigi > Enter.

   The same methods work for flrig, flarq, flmsg, flwrap, and xlog.

Configuring Fldigi

   The Fldigi User Manual is available online. The first time fldigi runs, a configuration Wizard opens. Or, you can use the Configuration menu at any time.

Configuring USB Rig Control

   CTRL + ALT + T to open a terminal and type

          sudo adduser ubuntu dialout

Press Enter. No password is needed.  

   The Fldigi User Manual has a section on hardware PTT control. It's not necessary to install a software driver for a USB cable when you use the LiveUSB.


Ubuntu has a "Large Text" option:  System Settings (gear icon in Launcher) > Universal Access > Toggle Large Text On. This enlarges text in the Menu bar at the top of the screen, in menus, and in the Xlog program.

   Fldigi and the related programs are not affected by Ubuntu settings.

Fldigi has a wide range of font, size, and color options in Configuration menu > Colors & Fonts.  Also, the User Manual describes many options to configure the appearance of the user interface. These preferences are saved.

   For larger text in the menus and control panel labels as shown in Figure 1, launch fldigi using the terminal by typing

             fldigi --font sans:18

Press Enter. This setting is not saved when fldigi is closed.

   For flrig the "User Interface" and "Operating Controls" sections of the User Manual describe how to select high contrast colors for text, backgrounds, meters, readouts, indicator lights, and sliders.


   The flrig monitoring and control program can run alone, or it can share data with fldigi. The user manual describes how to configure the program. (See the adduser command listed above if you plan to use a USB serial connection with flrig.)

   A separate HamRadioAndVision article describes the visibility of flrig.

Xlog Logging Program

   Fldigi has built-in logging capability. Xlog, another option on the LiveUSB, is a logging program by Andy Stewart and Joop Stakenborg. The manual opens via the Help menu. To display the menus, click on the Xlog window so it has the focus, and move the cursor to the Menu bar at the top of the screen. The menu names will appear.

   With magnification the Log pull-down menu is enlarged and functional, but the other menus do not open. Fortunately, every menu item has a keyboard shortcut, for example, Log Save is CTRL + S, and Log Quit is CTRL + Q. The shortcut CTRL + H opens the User Manual, and the list of shortcuts in in Appendix C.

Internet Access

   The discovery of the Shellshock vulnerability highlights the importance of updating Ubuntu if you use an Internet connection. Click on the Software Update icon to get the latest patches.

   Also, the fldigi LiveUSB does not require a password for adminstrative (sudo) privileges, so it is not secured until you enable that feature. The default settings are

          User:          ubuntu

          Password:   <blank>


   FldigiVI Live USB gives vision-impaired hams convenient access to W1HKJ's fldigi program. No previous experience with Linux is necessary.


   The model for this project is bgiff158's innovative ChirpVI LiveUSB project on SourceForge.

Author Information

   Peter DeNeef, AE7PD, is an Extra Class amateur radio operator in the U.S.  Email:  HamRadioAndVision "at" gmail "dot" com.

rev. 5/10/2016

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