RF power and SWR meters - readability

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  • Idea
  • Updated 5 years ago
  • Under Consideration
These meters are difficult to read for so many reasons. The dark blue against a black background is difficult to read.

The colour of the red in the scale being darker the lower the reading does not help and neither does BRIGHT white test overlying the scale numerals. Personally, I would like to be able to see the bar better in the lower regions of the scales.

I would apply these comments to all similarly coloured scales too. Could these not be user configurable?

Sorry for the rant
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DrTeeth

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Posted 5 years ago

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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DrTeeth

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Voted. I wear glasses for close work/reading. Even when everything is sharp, I have to get close to my monitor to see the meters in detail. With the right colours, that would not be necessary.

Is there a Guinness World record for remote operating?
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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If there is I must be getting close to it.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Guy,
Also see this idea link....(and pix re-posted below).  If the ideas work for you, please add you VOTE. 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com



https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/idea_to_improve_the_swr_and_power_scale_readability


**** changes in color and addition of digital readout ***
*** two options shown for digital display *****






**** current scale on top and suggested changes  on bottom **********


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DrTeeth

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A BIG YES to the first of your mockups. I'd like more configurability for the end user too

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W5XZ - dan

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sure wish people would ' vote this up..'    73, w5xz, dan
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Dan,
The idea with the pictures has 17 votes and is listed as "under consideration." Maybe it will be updated to "planned" or included in a release eventually.  

https://community.flexradio.com/flexradio/topics/idea_to_improve_the_swr_and_power_scale_readability



Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
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W5XZ - dan

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1239 members, only 17 votes? I don't get it...I agree, this part of the GUI is disappointing..
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Dan,
17 votes is actually not bad when compared to other ideas.   It is in the top 10 out of 383 active ideas.   A few stats:

- there are about 380 active ideas
- only about 2% of the ideas have over 20 votes
- about 98% have less than 20 votes
- Or expressed another way, 98% of the ideas get votes from less than 2% of the community



Voting overall is probably low for a few reasons. 
- unless you use the community a lot, it may not be clear on how to vote
- it isn't always easy to find an idea when you search.
- unless you read every post and comment,  you can miss some new and good ideas that come along. 
- if you want to review the active ideas from the "ideas" list, it is very long ( 20 pages or 383 ideas)
- the status is not always accurate and up to date.  (complete, not planned, etc)
- If you want to review the "no status" ideas to decide whether to lend your support, it is very time consuming (think hours....)

IMHO, the solution is to make voting and reviewing ideas easy, fast, and clear.  It also needs to be easy for FRS to review the ideas and keep the status up to date.

FRS uses the GetSatisfaction software for the community.  GetSatisfaction also has a community for input and ideas on their software.   I've submitted a few ideas to improve the voting which are being considered.    You can see them and vote for them if you like the ideas.  

https://getsatisfaction.com/getsatisfaction/topics/vote_like_me_too

https://getsatisfaction.com/getsatisfaction/topics/vote_from_the_idea_list

https://getsatisfaction.com/getsatisfaction/topics/call_to_action_buttons_on_a_thread_dont_pop_anymo...


Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com


 
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W5XZ - dan

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agreed. don't understand the relatively low participation rate.

things tend to scroll off into oblivion, too; it's like a series format, if you will, where a parallel format would make it easier to look at specific issues..especially those previously addressed..

I DO believe FRS 'aims to please', but needs are quite diverse.

JM2C, 73, w5xz
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NX6D Dave

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I agree the low contrast indicators are hard to interpret quickly.  When I get an antenna very close to "in tune", the SWR almost disappears.  It doesn't completely disappear, but the contrast is so low that I have to slow down my tuning changes quite a bit to see where the null is.  This means I'm transmitting tuning carrier longer than I otherwise would need to.

My conventional crossed pointer forward and reflected power meters are much easier to work with.  They have sharp black needles against an illuminated face.  I realize that implementing a crossed needle type of display in SSDR isn't likely to happen because such a display would consume too much screen real estate, but if we can't have such a display then let's at least have one with good contrast.

This is a big bang for a small buck issue.  Changing this display is not a significant software effort (I was a SE in my previous life) but it would make a big difference to the "irritation factor" associated with the SSDR interface.

(Edited)
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DrTeeth

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I get the tunign as best I can with my ATU, then use the SSDR SWR meter to get it bang on - I have to get *really* close to my monitor to see it though.

If anything, the colour gradients should be reversed. I would say that most people would not be bothered too much about differentiating between SWRs of 2.5-3, but would really like to see what is going on in the 1-1.5 region.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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How about just displaying the Digiital Number for Power and SWR. Much easier to read and much more accurate than trying to guess what that the analog line/bar means.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Howard,
There can be a benefit to both digital and analog displays.  Sort of like evolution of the car speedometer.  There was a trend to digital / numeric only speedometers for a while,  then back to analog and now some new ones are dual indicators.   Analog can be easier to determine trends, digital/numeric is easier to get a quick number.   For some it is just user preference.




I updated the POWER pic to include the numeric display also.  




*** two options shown for digital display *****



Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
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DrTeeth

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I like the 2nd versions of the above bar graphs, but would harmonise the font side...that in the SWR v2 seems larger than that in the power v2.
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Guy,
I also like the 2nt or bottom versions.  Agree the fonts need to be the same size and large and easy to read.  (they mockups are just meant to give the developers an idea of what might work).  

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I like the BIG BLUE One on Top.. MUCH Easier to read...than the bottom ones

Of course, they have been designing Digital Spedometers for a while..so they obviously figured out what works

BTW... my car has a heads up display for the speedometer on the windshield.

Sorry for the Fuzzy Picture as it was taken as the reflection off the windshield

.. it displays the speed in large Bright Yellow easy to read Digital Numbers.. no analog.. I no longer ever look at the Analog display as that takes too long to interpret and is never that exact... plus I have the advantage of never having to take my eyes off the road..


I really wish my Flex had digital displays for Power, SWR and S Meter (dBm) all in one place with user selectable color schemes...
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DrTeeth

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I would not mind the blue one, but the font used for the figures is not clear. It reminds me of those optical illusions that only have parts of the letters and one's mind fills in the rest so they look complete - in the example above, my mind places a bar in the zero to make it look like an 8.

The only issue I have with digital readouts is that some companies use them to give an illusion of accuracy.
(Edited)
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km9r.mike

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I like qrp work and I would like to see the ability for expanded scaling on the rf power meter wrt power out and appropriate selectable power out.  For example three options each reflecting full scale deflection:

1.    0 - 1.2w

2.    0 - 12.0w

3.    0 - 120.0w

Overall, the current meters are nice but it would be neat to have the ability to select higher precision or an expanded view.

(Edited)
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Tom

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  Now that's a great idea, especially the ability to read reflected power with more precision.

Tom W4TMW
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Steve Walker

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Pfffft! Power meters should be in dBW and with 21dBW at the end :-) In case anyone is stuck P(W) = 1W · 10(P(dBW)/ 10)

But as a web developer for modern devices I do know the blue / red / black can cause issues for some people. This was and still is a godsend http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2007/01/applying-color-theory-to-digital-displays.php I find figure 6 probably the best on my eyes for something that needs to stand out. As this is all WPF maybe the colour wheel can come into play :-)

Digress! Digress!

73 Steve
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DrTeeth

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"Power meters should be in dBW"

Why? The UK licensing authorities decided some time back to list power outputs in our licences as dBW - not a popular move and now Watts are listed again. I know what a Watt is and can easily measure it, conceptualise it and calculate it. Why complicate things with a log scale?
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Steve Walker

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There was a degree of sarcasm in my dBW comment :-) But it would be nice ... to have the choice.

Actually I have just looked at my license band plan and I have these in plenty of places "Licence Notes: Amateur and Amateur Satellite Service - Primary User: 26dBW permitted..." Has that changed back to W somewhere?

I come from kit that had no S units just dBm and dBW ... 73 Steve
(Edited)
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DrTeeth

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https://services.ofcom.org.uk/amateur-terms.pdf - latest copy of UK licence terms and conditions.

In the frequency tables, dBW relegated to brackets after power in Watts. I was serious in asking, why the preference for dBW? Seems like an unnecessary complication to me, but them I work in healthcare and not in anything electronic at all.

Best 73
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Steve Walker

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Not a worry, mine has the dBW scales against the licence notes - it is though a couple of years old - in the world of commercial kit dBm and dBW are the norm rather than S units and watts - I guess it's the way things are - from what I have heard or overheard most comms people only know dBm/W where-as we are pretty much S units and Watts. Differing cultures I suppose - but the 6x00 series is so good it should offer commercial "scales" - not all will be sold to us lot  :)

I've got some kit Guy that has spec like this for the metering LOG Scale: -20 to +40 dB linear (60 dB range) and another bit of kit is (S0) -124dBm, (S9) -73dBm and (S9+60) at -13dBm. - comparison values in ().

So it would be nice, not desirable or a show stopper but nice.

73 Steve
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km9r.mike

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I was not necessarily suggesting a change in measurement units but the ability to select different ranges for full scale deflection and the rf pwr slide on the control panel would reflect the same providing a higher degree of precision.

Also I have noticed it would be neat to be able to detach the meters so they could be a stand alone window like cat or dax control windows. I like to hide the TX panel on SSDR but when I do I would still like the meters to be visible w/o hiding any of the displayed spectrum like when the TX panel is opened.

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Al / NN4ZZ

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Mike,
Is this what you had in mind for switching scales for QRP.  Does this capture what your were thinking about?  See pic and notes:

- modify the RF Power slider to show the level below 10 Watts in a different color.

- add line to indicate the 10 Watt level (end of the low power region)

- when the slider is in the HIGH power area, display the 0-120 watt scale.

- when the slider is in the LOW power area, display the 0-12 watt scale.

- if you and others agree with this basic idea, I'll copy it to the other thread.

- I picked 10 watts in this mockup for the automatic cut off point since some folks like to run above 5 w for QRP.  There could be more options for the scales (i.e. 0-1 watt, 0-5 watts) but I didn't want to make it too complicated for the illustration. 

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com


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km9r.mike

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Yes exactly and I just went with 12 as max ( 1.2, 12 and 120 ) because the current scale is based on this. I also suggested a max of 1.2 for qrpp work.
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DrTeeth

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Al, not that I QRP, but I can see that level of sensitivity being a Good Thing© and I would 'like' it in a shot. Nice mockups.
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Tom

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Looks good to me too.
Tom 
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Guy,
Ok, here is an update with 3 scales.  

0 - 120 WATTS
0 - 12 Watts
0 - 1.2 Watts

The scale would automatically switch depending on the POWER level you select with the RF  POWER slider.  If this idea get implemented I'm sure the developers will make it look better but at least this gives you the idea.    Easy to read, digital and analog, a scale legend automatically selected depending on the power level.  

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com

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DrTeeth

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@ km9r.mike

I would not take the part of the scale in red into account as that is a no-go area and not an area for regular use AIUI. I'd base the scale on 1, 10 and 100. The red bit only needs to be present when the scale reads to 100.  So in Al's mock-up above, I would have a blue 1-10W scale only.

Update:- On reflection, I would have the 1 + 10 W scales as above, but all in blue as if one wants a max of 10W, one has to be able to see past that to be sure.
(Edited)
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km9r.mike

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Yes an important clarification.
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Steve Walker

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From a demo I have just found these look nice and clear but you'd want a lighter theme or it would be in your face! You can then if you wished add mouse over pop up for the value or have it scaled to the right or left whatever fits.  Again it all depends on if you rely on the radios metering or not. But UI is a minefield ...



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Matt - KD5FGE, Employee

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Official Response
Wow! So much great feedback! Thank you all for participating in this conversation. Please keep the ideas coming!
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Al / NN4ZZ

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Hi Matt,
Thanks for the feedback, I think we have just about wore out this thread (hi hi).

Hopefully it will make the improvement list and I'm sure you will make it look and work even better that what we've suggested.  

A common thread in many of the GUI improvement requests is to make the controls easier to read (color and font size) and provide both digital and analog versions.   I suspect many of the developers are in the under 40 crowd (with better eye sight) and many of the users are in the over 40 crowd.   At least that was common for the IT teams and user communities I used to work with.      

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ  
al (at) nn4zz (dot) com
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Stan - VA7NF

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Since the Rx metering and SWR are log scale (with whatever labels are put on it) also:
  + Make the forward power meter log based.
  + Add colour for high SWR, high power out, and high Rx levels

The reading of the S meter would be inside the filter but the colour the net power delivered to the A-D converter where, e.g., orange is approaching protection and red and flashing is when protection is imminent or happening. 

Its just a matter of programming  

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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Still has that totally invisible Red on Black colors

BUT at least it has a very useful Numerical Digital Readout