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Using PROCON's High Visibility Fonts for Video Graphic Card's ROM BIOS in the Video Card's ROM BIOS

Replacing a Video Card's ROM BIOS font with HVFont

The HVFont ROM BIOS package contains files - and information - that may allow you to replace the full screen VGA OEM "hardware" fonts in your computer's video card with PROCON's Hi-Visibility HVFont.

Doing so means the clearer HVFont will be used in full screen MS-DOS applications running in:-

MS-DOS mode, and
All Windows true "DOS Boxes".

It will not change the font used in:-

Windows DOS or NT terminal "Boxes" run in a "Windowed" Window, or
Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7 32 bit full screen Console modes.

(PROCON's HVDOSBox.FON is designed to be used in "Windowed" Windows, and the HVFont Code Page Information File package allows you to change the fonts used in Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista/7 full screen Console modes.)

What is a VGA OEM Hardware Font?

The so called "hardware" OEM fonts are provided as part of the ROM BIOS in the computer's video card.

BIOS fonts generally use the U.S. English PC8 character set - Codepage 437 - although cards sold in Europe may provide a Codepage 850 implementation.

The full screen fonts are stored as bitmaps in the BIOS data area and are copied into the computer's memory during the boot process. Several font sizes are provided. The most important is 8x16 (8 pixels wide, 16 pixels high), but 8x8 and 8x14 fonts are also common.

All video cards should provide 8x16 and 8x8 fonts. Some cards may not include an 8x14 font, as the VESA standard now encourages manufacturers to drop this font to make room for other video ROM functions.

The actual sizes are a by-product of the history of video card resolutions. In modern PCs, they allow the standard VGA 640x480 pixel resolution to support an 80 character wide display with a user specified number of text lines (usually 25, 28, 30, 40, 43, or 50).

How can these Video Card Fonts be changed?

Modern computer video cards hold their software and font images in EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) so that bugs can be corrected and new features added.

Manufacturer's websites provide updated binary ROM image files - and "flash" utilities that use these image files - so that card purchasers can update the BIOS in their cards.

Unfortunately very few manufacturers' utilities allow you to view - or change - the embedded fonts within the video card's ROM BIOS.

However, for most popular video cards, there are public domain editors available that allow you to replace the manufacturer supplied fonts - and often "tweak" some of the card parameters to optimise performance.

To Update a Video Graphics Card with New Fonts

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * CAUTION * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Flashing a video card's ROM BIOS involves some risks. For example:-

It will probably void the manufacturer's warranty.
It could destroy your video card.
It can leave your screen unreadable until the card is restored.

The risks can be minimised if you meticulously follow the instructions provided with the manufacturer's flash utility - and take the extra precautions recommended below.
In any case YOU assume ALL RISKS INVOLVED.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Go to the video card manufacturer's website and download the correct flash utility for your video card. (Or check these links.)
Check the website - or search the internet - or check these links - for a video ROM BIOS editor for that type of video card. Download it.
Set up a MS-DOS boot floppy containing a copy of the flash utility. (Hardware flash utilities must be run from DOS - not Windows!)
Boot to DOS from the floppy. Use the flash utility to save a copy of the current video card's ROM BIOS as a binary image file. Save a copy of this file on both the floppy and the harddisk.
Most flash utilities allow you to verify an image file and compare it with the current video state. Do this for both binary image files.
Create a GOBACK.BAT batchfile on the floppy that will flash the video ROM using the ORIGINAL binary image file. Structure it like this:-
ECHO Press a Key to Restore Old Video ROM, or
ECHO <Ctrl><C> to Abort . . .
ECHO Starting Video ROM Restoration > %LGFN%
. . . then the command to flash the video . . . >> %LGFN%
ECHO Video ROM Restore Complete! >> %LGFN%
Switch the printer on, and run GOBACK.BAT to flash the BIOS. Wait for the log file to print and record how long the whole process takes. Some flash utilities can take several minutes. NEVER stop a flash utility before it completes! Examine the log file printout for error messages.
Remove the floppy and reboot the PC. Check thoroughly to ensure all video functions and modes are working.
To produce a "fail safe" boot restoration process with the verified image file, append the following line to the floppy's AUTOEXEC.BAT file so that it runs GOBACK.BAT:-


(Remember: If something goes wrong with a BIOS update you may not see anything on the screen. You must remember to press a key in response to the PAUSE command and then wait long enough for the restore process to complete - relying only on feedback from disk drive lights and the printer, etc.)

If you wish to update the BIOS using the manufacturer's latest image file do it now. Create a similar batchfile - GOUPDTE.BAT - and follow the same procedure using the new image file.

When you boot to DOS from the floppy, hit <Ctrl><C> when prompted to bypass GOBACK.BAT. Run GOUPDTE.BAT and wait for the log file to print.

After upgrading, use the PC for several days to ensure there are no incompatibilities with the new release.

Copy the original - or verified - image file and use the video ROM BIOS editor to replace the fonts in the renamed copy with the appropriate HVFont files (HV8X8.FNT, HV8X16.FNT, etc.,).
Create a GOHVFONT.BAT batchfile (similar to GOBACK.BAT) on the floppy to flash the video ROM using the MODIFIED binary image file. (Make sure you do NOT overwrite any files necessary to restore the original ROM.)
Boot to DOS from the floppy. Hit <Ctrl><C> when prompted to bypass GOBACK.BAT. Run GOHVFONT.BAT and wait for the log file to print. Remove the floppy, reboot and you may see the new fonts being used during the boot process.

While this may sound tedious, it provides a relatively foolproof process that can be largely automated. (Use the included batch files as templates for your own flash procedures).

Restoring improperly flashed "dead" video cards is more tedious!

What is included in the HVFont Video ROM BIOS Package?

The HVFont ROM BIOS package contains:-

Various ROM BIOS Utilities.
Some Template BATCH Files.
Binary HVFont Image Files in 8x16, 8x14, and 8x8 pixel sizes.

Click here to download an Evaluation version of the HVFont Full Screen . (The HVFont ROM BIOS package is part of this package.)

Click here to purchase a licence for any of the HVFont packages.

Purchase HVFont Packages by Credit Card

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Last modified: 22 August 2010
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