A Soft Panel Application for the K3

I have recently built a small application for controlling the K3 using the SioElecraft.DLL, a DLL I wrote several years ago for use with CQ/X. This project was started in response to a number of requests in which the interest of the user in such an application was piqued by the K3 interface included in CQ/X and described in some detail here. Although interested in the interface the potential user, not being a mobile contester, typically considered the CQ/X part of the application extra baggage which brought along an additional learning curve. So the following K3 Soft Panel application was developed with the idea of including just enough functionality wrapped around SioElecraft.DLL to make it useful but with a small learning curve for someone already familiar with the K3. The main user interface, shown below, consists of controls placed on a high-res screen shot of the K3 front panel, a small area for logging QSOs, and a menu system along with associated dialogs to tie the whole application together. Another goal was to do all CW keying via the K3 internal keyer, to provide some means of defining a small set of user-configurable messages along with a keyboard function for use in more free-form conversation.

K3-Soft Panel 
Since the underlying DLL containing the panel image and associated controls is the same as the one used in CQ/X and previously described here the interested reader is referred to that page for a more detailed description of the functionality of the panel, including some features of the soft panel that have been included to augment the functionality of the actual panel. Only the functionality added to make the DLL into a viable application will be discussed in this section.

Logging Grid – This grid is laid out similar to a single line of an ARRL log book and is used to record an in-progress contact. The FREQ, MODE, and POWER entries are filled in by data received from the radio and the other entries are the result of operator entry. To begin a QSO click on or tab to the UTC-ON column which will set the DATE and UTC-ON time. Type in the call of the station being worked in the STN.WRKD column. If the station is listed in a OperatorNames.csv file in the Documents subdirectory the name will be inserted and if a member of FOC and/or CW Ops that information will appear in the ORGS column if the logging menu items Show FOC (CWO) Members have been checked. Once the QSO is over click on the UTC-OFF column to record the ending time of the QSO. Click on the Log button or use the F7 key to log the QSO and clear the logging grid. QSOs may be logged to a default log file, a log file defined by the user or via a real or virtual serial port to another separate application for logging. 

Radio Menu – Use this menu to configure various parameters associated with the radio that are not part of the K3 Config and Main menus. This includes the following items:

  • Enable Control Subset check this item to enable access to a smaller dialog for controlling the K3. Once this item is checked a "Small" panel will appear under the RIT knob on the front panel image. Clicking on this panel will replace the "Full" panel with a smaller version which can be useful in conserving screen real estate.

  • Set Parameters – clicking on this item will call up a dialog for setting the following parameters associated with the radio: Hold time for use with the left mouse button to activate the HOLD functions, Frequency increments associated with the page up/down keys, RIT Increments, some miscellaneous settings including power and time for checking SWR, Preferred Power Settings associated with modes and antennas, Quick Memories to be used with the M->V button, and definition of front panel controls that you want to include in the tab key sequencing. Once these parameters have been set and applied they will be retained across a restart of the program so there will be no need to revisit this dialog unless changes are desired.

  • Set Band Limits – use this item to call up a dialog for setting the max/min frequency range to be used for the different modes with the values for the current mode highlighted. Right click on the "Band Limits" panel at the top of the table to load sets of limits that are either pre-defined based on operator class or limits that you have setup and saved. The main use of these limits is in setting the upper and lower limits for the frequency control when using the K3 Control Subset dialog.

Messaging Menu – For operating CW you can use this menu item to setup six messages for use in keying the K3 via its internal keyer. These messages, which are defined in a template, can be linked to entries in the logging grid using certain symbols to represent placeholders for the actual data. The Messaging menu includes the following items:

  • Edit Current Template – Clicking on this item will call up a dialog for defining the six messages and for specifying the delay between Auto CQ messages. Type the desired message in each of the message edit windows. To include a link to an item in the logging grid right click on the position in the message edit box and select an item for insertion in the message. A symbol will be inserted in the message and during operation the inserted symbol will be replaced by the item entered in the logging grid or a space if no item is entered. After applying any changes use the Update Template button to save the modified template. These messages will remain in effect until it is desired to change them. If desired, the messages can also be saved to a file for later use.

  • Load Template from File – If you have saved templates for later use you can make them the current template using this menu item.

  • Show Keyboard – If you want to use the Keyboard feature click on this menu item to open up the keyboard window at the bottom of the panel display. This menu item also has the Ctrl+K hot key.

  • Show Message Buttons – If you want to use the message buttons from the extended front panel click on this menu item to extend the front panel. You can also use the buttons just below the logging grid to initiate the messages. This menu item also has the Ctrl+B hot key.

  • Set Auto CQ Delay – use this menu item to set the number of seconds between auto CQ messages

  • Enable Auto CQ – check this menu item to enable CQ messages to be repeated with the specified delay between each

  • Stop Messages – this menu item, which also has the Ctrl + S hot key, can be used to stop an in progress message. Note that the same can be accomplished using the Escape key as long as no dialog is open. If a dialog is open two presses of the Escape will be required, one to exit the dialog and a second one to stop the message.

Logging Menu – Use this menu item to control the following small set of logging features.

  • Clear Log Line – Use this item to clear all entries on the logging grid except FREQ, MODE, POWER which are provided by the radio. This item may also be performed using the Ctrl+W hot key.

  • Show FOC Members – Use this item to show whether the STN.WRKD entry is a member of FOC.

  • Show CWO Members - Use this item to show whether the STN.WRKD entry is a member of CW Ops.

  • Setup Local Log File – All contacts logged using either of the logging buttons or the F7 key are captured in a default log file K3SPan_DEFAULTLOG.txt which resides in the Logs subdirectory. If desired, you can use the Setup Local Log menu item to define your own file in either a CSV or ADIF format. If this is done the default log, which is in CSV format will continue to be used.

  • Perform Serial I/O Logging – Use this menu item if you wish to log contacts to another application that can accept logging information over a real or virtual serial connection. A logging application (SioDemoLog.exe) of this type is included for demonstration purposes and can be found in the Logs subdirectory.

Additional details are available in a small set of user notes that are included in the download.

Availability of the Application -If you are interested in using the application you can download it using the link below. I am particularly interested in receiving feedback related to any problems you might encounter and ideas you might have for enhancing the application, and in how the application works in a remote control environment. While it is not intended that this application be developed into a full-blown contest or general purpose logging application, I am open to suggestions for improvements that users of the program might find useful, including those of a contesting or general logging nature.

Downloading the Application - To begin the download of the latest version (1.1.0) right click on this link K3 Soft Panel Download Package and elect to save the file to a directory of your choosing.

Upzip the Package - Once the download is complete unzip the package. This will result in two files: a user notes pdf file and a setup exe file. 

Install the software - Run the exe file to install the software.

Support - Once the software is installed you can access the user notes from the Help menu should you have questions. If you continue to have questions after reviewing the user notes feel free to contact me via the email link provided on the CQ/X Support page.

Updates - There is currently one update patch to the program which can be downloaded from here.

Issues - You can check on any known issues here.

Copyright: C.W. Sanders, NO5W
Last Updated: 18-March-2014