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Echolink - How to use it...
 

1. How does it work?
2. How do I use it?
3. Who can I talk to?
4. How does it work with a repeater?
5. How do I get into Echolink from a repeater?


   These are just a few questions I have heard concerning Echolink and Repeater use.

Repeaters are used to give someone utilizing a Hand Held transceiver with low power output or mobile units with limited range so signals can be sent over a greater distance.

TWO FREQUENCY REPEATERS

   First, there are repeaters that use two frequencies to operate. A repeater is defined as a automated system where a signal is received on one frequency and transmitted on another frequency, either simultaneously or immediately, depending how the FCC wants to define a repeater.

SINGLE FREQUENCY REPEATERS

   Second, there are repeaters called simplex repeaters which receive a signal, records for a set period of time then when the input stops or the time has expired , the repeater re-transmits the signal on the same frequency.

ECHOLINK

   Simplex repeaters are very popular with operators of Echolink, where a transceiver is attached to a computer where the audio outut from the receiver goes to the computer thus sending your audio through the Internet to another computer and the audio coming back to the computer is then transmitted on the same frequency to the radio operator. It is a two way conversation while sending only one direction at a time, normally called the “over procedure” just like talking simplex that most hams should be very familiar.

   If a two frequency repeater is used with a computer operator of Echolink then the signal repeater output is received and the audio is passed to the computer and the audio returning through the computer link will be transmitted on the input frequency of the two frequency repeater. This is also the “over procedure” talking one direction at a time. If you don’t stop and listen you will be told you are “doubling”.

   As everyone knows, repeaters or any signal transmitted over the air can be heard by anyone that has a receiver, thus this makes it just like the “old party line” on the telephone that many older people are very familiar.

   Echolink is the same thing except it uses Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and anyone that has the Echolink software installed on their computer and is a registered, licensed Ham Radio Operator can listen in. All of these computer links are called “Nodes” and are assigned a unique number. All registered Nodes can connect to any other Node thus making all of the Nodes operate as a single “party line”.

   If you install the software and you are registered with Echolink registry and on your computer you will see a list of Nodes. Usually as many as 4000-5000 at any given time. Some are listed as just operators with only their individual call sign, others are listed as links (CALL SIGN-L), some listed as repeaters (CALL SIGN-R) and then last but not least the ones listed as CONERENCES (*NAME*.). To the radio operator (links and repeaters) appear to operate the same and the only difference is the type of connection that has been registered with Echolink.

   If you do not want to operate Echolink from your computer you do not have to download the software and install it to get a Node listing. You can go the Echolink web site www.echolink.org and click on “Current Logins” and you can obtain all Nodes that are currently active.

   Some Nodes that are connected to repeaters and links have the ability to be controlled by the radio operator by the use of sending tones from the keypad on their microphone. The tones are called DTMF (Dual Tone Multi-Frequency) not to be confused with CTCSS which are the sub audible tones sent by a radio to activate entry into a repeater. Most Echolink Nodes that are connected to a simplex repeater system use DTMF tones, just like the touch tones on a telephone receiver by the radio operator to send Node numbers to connect. (The information of whether an Echolink Node accepts DTMF must be obtained from some source such as web sites or listings on QRZ.com under the call sign listed for the Node. For a list of Default codes can be obtained from www.echolink.org

   If you are on a repeater, either simplex or a two frequency repeater and the repeater is connected to a Node, when you talk your audio is going over the Internet and anyone coming back on the Internet is heard by everyone that is listening to the repeater.

   When you are connected to a CALLSIGN-L, CALLSIGN-R or a Conference everyone else connected to the same Node can hear everything you are saying and they can talk to you, this is the same as a “party line” as previously mentioned.

   Nodes listed as CALLSIGN-L, CALLSIGN-R are normally limited to a small number of connections where CONFERENCES list the number of connections that the conference can handle which can be from a few to several hundred or thousands.

   As an example, K8TPH-R allows a small number of connections (12) and then will be listed as busy and no one else can connect to K8TPH-R, but K8TPH-R is normally connected to a conference, such as “USA” which allows 1000 connections, thus allowing up to the 1000 connected Nodes and all can hear each other. Also if you connect to K8TPH-R directly and it is connected to the "USA” Conference you are also connected to the “USA” Conference. This also is true to any radio operator that is on the repeater to which K8TPH-R is connected will be transmitting to any Node or Converence to which K8TPH-R is connected, you can be heard by all connected and you can hear all that are connected to K8TPH-R or any node to which K8TPH-R is connected (Clear???)

   If you don’t understand the procedure just ask your 6, 7, or 8 year old and they can explain to you how a “Chat Room" works. Echolink is just a great big Audio Chat Room. All you have to do is know which Node (Chat Room) you want to join.


   For information purposes the following are Default codes used. These may or may not be used on all Echolink Nodes.

Connect to a node number * plus Node number
Disconnect from a node #
Node status 08 zero eight

   Node operators can chose any codes they wish to use but normally list these on their individual web site or QRZ.com listing under the call sign.


The Echolink program installed on a Windows Computer

 

 


Westlakes Amateur Radio Club Inc. York Street, Teralba NSW