Getting Started With The CAT Control Programs From Ian Spencer DJ0HF


Part 1 Foreword

Part 2 What Are The Programs For And Where Do I begin?

Part 3 Installing The Manufacturer's Drivers And The Control Program

Part 4 Extracting The Control Program

Part 5 Creating A Desktop Shortcut

Part 6 Find My Radio For FT-Talk KX-Talk And TS-Talk

Part 7 Icom Owners

Part 8 Editing The Configuration File and Installing Com0Com

Part 9 One More Step - Defender Folder Exclusion

Part 10 Appendix A Key Quick Reference

Part 11 Appendix B Radio Snatching Audio?

Part 1 Foreword

Here are the steps to get started with one of the self voicing control programs, from DJ0HF. I have written this guide using Windows 11 and NVDA for testing on my Mac during Christmas 2023. I sincerely hope it helps you to start using DJ0HF's CAT Control Self Voicing Programs and helps you to enjoy the hobby!

If you have a problem installing any of these Talk programs, please report accurately what steps you undertaken and the responses from the computer. Not stating a virtual comport error for example, can make troubleshooting very difficult. In addition if an expression is used in documentation that is a problem for you please state the filename accurately where the confusing or inaccurate text is written. This is very helpful for us as we can make these resources even better for everyone. There are other users of these programs who will be able and willing to help on the Blind Hams and Active Elements email lists. As we all want you to get the most out of the hobby and your radio and we understand that using a computer for a a new activity can be daunting. Please remember you are not alone.

2 What Are The Programs For And Where Do I Begin?

These programs are designed to give blind hams access to radios that do not have enough accessibility in their design. These programs control the radio because they are Computer Aided Transceivers via a CAT control interface designed by the manufacturer. DJ0HF designed and wrote these self voicing programs for those who don't need a graphical interface. By using a QWERTY keyboard the user can control many functions of the radio even if they have a touch screen.

To get started download the manufacturer's drivers for your radio. Hopefully the links below will help you find the right drivers. The list is alphabetical according to the talk program.

Note: The following list contains links to the different manufacturers websites. Some are easier to navigate to their USB driver downloads than others.

  1. FT Talk for a range of Yaesu modern HF radios This is the Yaesu HF transceiver catalogue. If you find your radio listed here, click on its name. Then find the word Files on the page. Although VoiceOver is not announcing that this is a link if I click on it. It opens an area where I can download the manual in many languages and at the bottom is the USB driver. It is annoying as these pages are not constructed with headings, so using the find function is a must.

  2. IC Talk for a range of Icom radios. It appears that one driver will support several radios. Icom set out a set of terms and conditions at the bottom of these, there is a tick box that you have to tick. Then the download button just below the tick box becomes active. When you click on that button the driver will download into your default location.

  3. KX Talk A number of Elecraft radios Download and install the Elecraft utility which includes the driver installation.

  4. TS Talk for a number of newer Kenwood HF radios

If you have a CAT enabled radio that might be supported by these programs. Made by Elecraft, Icom, Kenwood or Yaesu. You can ask if your radio is supported via this email link We would also appreciate a note stating a radio you have tried and it works as this will help other users and will be added to the list of radios in the help file.

* Suggestion: Reach out to other blind hams if you have difficulty with navigating the manufacturer's website and finding the right drivers for your specific radio.

3 Installing The Manufacturer's Drivers And The Control Program

Now you have downloaded the drivers and read the manufacturer's instructions the first steps are;

  1. Install the drivers. for your radio following the manufacturer's installation instructions.

  2. Ensure you have the right cable for your radio.

Now download FT-Talk, IC-Talk, KX-Talk or TS-Talk from the site given below. However, do be aware, Windows Defender is a little zealous and with Edge and Chrome browsers on Windows 11, the download is frequently blocked. To prevent this you can either adjust the security settings of the browser or use Mozilla Firefox.

DJ0HF Downloads Page

4 Extracting The Control Program

Now navigate to your Downloads Folder or wherever, your default download location has been set. This is probably easier via the browser you used to download the file.

If you have closed the browser, hopefully you have a desktop shortcut to access your downloads folder. If not, press the "Windows Key" and in the edit field type "downloads". Your screen reader will speak "Downloads Folder" as a suggestion. Press the "Enter Key" and your downloads folder will open. You can use the cursor up and down keys to explore the search results.

  1. Now highlight the zipped folder containing the control program you just downloaded. By cursoring onto the file. Using the 'Down Arrow Key' in list view or 'Down and Right Arrow Keys' in grid view.

  2. Now press the "Applications Key" or "Shift plus the Function Key F10 Key" to simulate a right click.

  3. Now type "x" (X Ray) or use the "Cursor Down Key" to the extract option, and press the "Enter Key".

  4. A dialog will appear asking where you want to extract the folder to. You can delete the proffered suggestion and type in the location. If you want to put the program on your "C" drive. Then delete the lot by pressing the "Delete Key" and just retyping "c:\" then press the "Enter Key".

  5. Once the extract has finished Windows File Explorer is open showing C:\.

  6. Press the first letter of the zipped file you downloaded. i.e. "k" for KX Talk or "f" for FT-Talk. Until you find the newly created folder, using first letter navigation.

In addition while you have the folder that contains your control program in focus. Simply press and hold the "Control Key plus the Shift Key then type c (Charley)'. to copy its path to the clipboard for use later.

5 Creating A Desktop Shortcut

While we are here press the "Enter Key" to open this selected newly created folder containing the control program and documentation. In order to create the desktop shortcut and follow these steps.

  1. Cursor Down and find the control program executable. Or use first letter navigation. When the control executable file is highlighted, press the "Applications Key" or press "Shift Key plus the Function Key F10 Keys" to simulate a right click.

    * Hint: This is likely to be the file that contains the version number as part of the filename. Thus if you have file extensions hidden, you will still be able to identify the file that you want a shortcut to activate. As it will be the only filename that contains a number for FT, TS and KX-Talk. However, be careful with IC-Talk as this has two executable files. Ensure you highlight ic-talkv??.exe. Where ?? is the version number.

  2. Now you have opened the context menu. Use the "Cursor Down Key" to find "Send to". However, on my computer I have to select "Show More" by typing "w" (Whisky) first to show more options.

  3. Then use the "Cursor down Key" or type "n" (November) for the "Send To" option.

  4. Then the "Cursor Right Key" followed by "Cursor Down key" to"the "Desktop Create Shortcut" option "d" (Delta) and press the "Enter Key".

6 Find My Radio For FT-Talk KX-Talk And TS-Talk

Also while we are here. You can get FT-Talk, KX-Talk and TS-Talk programs configured to work with your radio. To do this you run the find my radio utility included in the package by following these steps.

  1. Connect your radio to the computer with the correct driver installed and recommended cable.

  2. Provide power to the radio and turn it on.

  3. Press "f" (Foxtrot) to locate FindMyRadio.exe.

  4. Press the "Enter Key" and listen while the program searches for your radio.

If Find My Radio fails you must double check the driver installation and cable specification requirements have been met as published by the manufacturer of your radio. It is pointless to attempting to use any of the CAT control programs until Windows knows how to communicate with your radio.

It is very important that the first 2 lines of the configuration file is edited showing the right port and speed for your environment. If you use find my radio and it finds the radio, then these will be amended accordingly. If find my radio is not used, you must edit the configuration file manually yourself.

If Find My Radio has worked, by announcing a com port number and stating a radio has been found and the fun can soon begin! Congratulations. Now let us complete the process. As you are nearly ready to have the most access to your HF radio you had ever imagined possible.

However, before you leave this folder, you might want to read the help file included in the package in order to edit the CFG file. The CFG file contains settings such as; Power, Auto turn on, ATU On or Off and the frequency of SWR readout while tuning. While some of these settings can be controlled within the program itself. It is nice to have your choices preset. You will see, if used, that FindMyRadio.exe has entered the comm port and serial speed automatically for you.

Now you can close everything with the "Alt Key plus F4 Function Key" as many times as necessary. When you are on the Desktop you can highlight the shortcut and press the "F2 Function Key" to rename it, if you wish.

7 Icom Owners

Because of the way in which Icom CAT control works, it is not possible to find the port automatically. This means that the comm port assigned to the radio has to be observed in the device manager. To do this follow these steps. After connecting your radio to the computer and turning the power of the radio on.

  1. Press the "Windows Key" and type "device" and press the "Enter Key".

  2. Once the screen reader has announced the device manager has been loaded, press the "Tab Key".

  3. If the screen reader announces one or zero items, press the "Right Arrow Key" to expand the tree view.

  4. Now press the "p", (Papa) for the Ports, Com and LPT category. If it exists. If a Printer option is spoken, then the radio is not connected or the driver has not been installed.

  5. Expand the Ports Com and LPT category tree with the "Right Arrow Key".

  6. Cursor down to explore the assigned com ports on your computer. Some of the Icom drivers are easily identified as Icom and the model number make up the listing title. It is likely that there are two Icom drivers one of which is the CI-V driver. Whatever is spoken port number for that CI-V driver is the number you need to enter at the end of line one of the ic-talk.cfg file.

  7. Now turn off your radio and the power too. If the listing in the device manager disappeared then you have the right port number to be entered into the ic-talk.cfg..

  8. Press "Alt plus F4 Function Key" to close the device manager.

8 Editing The Configuration File and Installing Com0Com

This section is a continuation of the previous part for Icom owners. Although editing the configuration file is also useful to customise your experience with all the talk suite of programs by Ian DJ0HF. While installing Com0Com is only necessary for Icom owners.

Windows notepad will open the configuration file. Although, Windows may ask what application it should use to open files with a .cfg file extension, for the first time. Just choose notepad from the choices offered. You can use the "Tab Key and the Up / Down Keys" to navigate this dialog.

Once notepad has opened the configuration file. You can cursor up and down to read the options. When you find an option you wish to edit, press the "End Key' to jump to the end of the line and change the value. You will find the definitions of each item in the help file in the package. The most important are the top two lines for the port and baud speed.

It appears that Icom are making the baud speed setting obsolete as the radio will configure itself to what has been configured for it. Thus set the baud rate of 19200 speed as this is the highest baud rate documented for some Icom radios. While newer radios will accept 115200 baud.

You may have noticed that Notepad on Windows 11 behaves differently and Alt F4 does not close the document in the same way as before. Use "Control plus F4 Function Key" then both the document and application are closed.

Now you can close everything with the "Alt Key plus F4 Function Key" as many times as necessary. When you are on the Desktop you can highlight the shortcut and press the "F2 Function Key" to rename it, if you wish.

Installing Com0Com

Hopefully you will read Ian's help file included in the IC-Talk package. Which gives a full description of these steps, along with other details not covered in this document.

  1. Install the provided com0com.

  2. Run the setupcom0.bat file

9 One More Step - Defender Folder Exclusion

Windows Defender makes a lot of false positives so you need to tell it to ignore your newly installed control program. You will need to listen to your screen reader as Windows versions vary slightly so the numbers of tabs cannot be accurately quoted.

  1. First press the "Windows Key plus "i" (India)" to launch Windows Settings.

  2. Type "protection" or "threat" in the edit field.

  3. Press the "Down Arrow Key" once or twice to the "Virus and Threat Protection" option and press the "Enter Key".

  4. Now press the "Tab Key" 4 or 5 times to the "Virus and Threat Settings" link and press the "Enter Key".

  5. Now press the "Tab Key" 7 or 8 times to "the Exclusions Group "Add or Remove Exclusions" option and press the "Enter Key".

  6. You will be asked if you want to make changes to the system. If you wish to proceed, then press the "Alt Key plus "y"".

  7. The focus will be on the "Add Button". Press the "Enter Key" on that button.

  8. Use the "Cursor Down Key" to the "Folder" option and press the "Enter Key".

  9. Simply paste the path you copied to the clipboard in the edit field by holding down the "Control Key and typing v" (Victor). Followed by pressing the "Tab Key" once to the "Add Folder Button" and then press the "Enter key", on that button.

  10. Finally, press the "Alt Key plus F4 Function Key" as many times as necessary to exit settings and return to the desktop.

Appendix A - Key Quick Reference

Talk Program Keyboard Commands In Alphabetical Order and Function Key Assignments

Note: This is a quick reference only list for full detail of each command function and application refer to the included help file.

  • a Audio Gain
  • b Band Change
  • c Channel store
  • d Digital
  • e Enter Frequency
  • f Frequency Read
  • g Go to stored channel
  • i Insert CTCSS / DCS
  • l Level
  • m Mode change
  • n Number of Menu item
  • p Power Level
  • q Quit
  • r RF Gain
  • s Signal Strength or SWR
  • t Tune mode
  • u Up Saved Channel
  • v VFO split
  • z Zero frequency

Function Key Toggles

  • F1 Pre-amp
  • F2 Attenuator
  • F3 Noise Blanker
  • F4 Noise Reduction
  • F5 Notch
  • F6 CW 0 or Contour
  • F7 Speech Compressor
  • F11 Mic Gain ALC
  • F12 Auto ATU

Appendix B - Radio Snatching Audio?

When Windows detects you have plugged in a new sound card like a radio it automatically switches your audio to the new device. If you have not already done so, you need to configure your screen reader of choice to use the device you wish it to use. Thus when windows messes up your audio mapping, your essential screen reader remains the same. Refer to your screen reader help system on how to do this.

Now we can stop Ian's audio being sent to the radio along with any other audio being played.

Likewise, the microphone is also snatched so if you use zoom or teams. You will not be heard when your radio is connected to the computer and you might want to set this too. and map it to the right microphone for virtual meetings. Follow these steps.

  1. Remove all the radios or new devices that are been automatically configured as default. If you wish to rename the windows listing of your desired default device so that makes more sense to you. If not jump to step 7 for setting the default.

  2. Press the 'Start Button Key" and type "control". Your screen reader might announce control panel before you have finished typing the whole word. You can press the 'Enter Key' at that point, or press the 'Enter Key' when you have typed the whole word.

  3. Type 'sound' in the edit field.

  4. Cursor down once to Sound link and press the "Enter Key".

  5. Your screen reader should have announced you are on the sound playback properties. You will need to put the focus upon the device you want to rename. Do this by pressing the 'Cursor Down Key'.

  6. Press the 'Alt Key plus 'p' (Papa) to open the properties. You are likely to be placed in an edit field containing the current name. You can change it to something more meaningful to you and press 'Shift Key plus Tab Key' a few times to the OK button and press the 'Enter Key' to close the properties dialog.

  7. Now plug in your radio's USB cable into the computer and and provide it with power.

  8. You can use the cursor up and down keys to explore the devices. When you hear the speakers you want to be the default. Press the 'Applications key or Shift plus F10 Function Key' to bring up the context menu. Press the 'Cursor Down Key' until you hear "set as default" and press the 'Enter Key'. Or you can use the shortcut key *'d' (Delta).

  9. Do the same for the recording tab so that you can use the microphone as you require for your circumstances. To get to the recording tab press 'Shift Key plus Tab Key' until you hear "General Tab". Now press the 'Right Arrow Key' once and the screen reader should announce "Recording Tab". Simply tab around the dialog and make your changes as indicated above.

  10. Press the 'Alt Key plus F4 Function Key' a couple of times to return to the desktop. That should be good until the next Windows update ;-)

From M0EBP "Empowering Blind People" to enjoy the hobby. 11 February 2024