Hello everybody and welcome back to the Everything Ham Radio Podcast! In this episode we are going to be talking about Echolink.
What is Echolink?
Echolink is a piece of free Windows software that allows you to connect to repeaters, other users or conference servers all over the world. Below is what the official description is:
EchoLink® software allows licensed Amateur Radio stations to communicate with one another over the Internet, using streaming-audio technology. The program allows worldwide connections to be made between stations, or from computer to station, greatly enhancing Amateur Radio’s communications capabilities. There are more than 200,000 validated users worldwide — in 151 of the world’s 193 nations — with about 5,200 online at any given time.
After you download the software, you will need to validate your call sign. This is done to make sure that those that are using the software do indeed have an amateur radio license. There are a couple of ways that this can be done. You can upload or fax a copy of your license, which you can find complete instructions on how to do this on the Validation Pages. The second way to do it is by using a digital certificate through Logbook of the World. If you live in the US, you also validate your license via the telephone or credit-card-based verification.
Running Echolink Locally
After you have installed Echolink and you have validated your license, you can start using Echolink. If you are using it locally, all you need is your computer, a microphone and speakers. If you are operating on a laptop, the built-in mic and speakers will work, all be it your audio quality will probably stink.
Once you start-up the program, you can pull up the list of all the users or nodes that are currently logged on. You can connect to someone directly, or to a link or repeater and your connection will be sent out over the air from the repeater that you are connected to. Anyone that you end up talking to will be sent back across the internet to you computer.
You can also use echolink on your IPhone or Android device. Both types of phone has an app that you can use that will basically do the same thing that you can on your desktop. The biggest difference is that you will typically go through a relay on your phone by default. When you do no one else can connect to you. However, you can go into the settings of the app and set it to direct and you others will be able to connect to you. However, when you have it set to direct, you will have to be on Wifi to use it. If you are on your cellular data, you will need to set it to Relay again.
Running Echolink Remotely
If you are planning on running an echolink node is “sysop” mode or remote mode, you will need some type of interface between your computer and your radio. What this piece of hardware does is it allows your computer to key up your radio and in some cases accepts and processes DTMF commands from the receiver.
This type of setup is generally used for simplex operation or when you are setting up a link that will service a repeater. If you are not the repeater owner/trustee, make sure that you get their permission before you setup your echolink interface.
Below is a list of some of the interfaces that you can purchase
|Kenwood TM-V71 and TM-D710 Transceivers|
The Kenwood TM-V71 and TM-D710 dual-band FM transceivers are the only commercially available rigs with EchoLink capabilities built-in. With these rigs, no special interface is required; you can use the optional PG-5H cable (or a homebrew cable) to connect the rig directly to your PC. For answers to frequently asked questions about using EchoLink with the TM-V71 and TM-D710, please click here.
|WB2REM & G4CDY’S Linking Interfaces|
These interfaces are available fully assembled, or in kit form. The original circuit was described in QST for March, 2002. The newer ULI and AMI models have additional features.
|W5TXR Electronic Labs Interface|
The W5TXR Electronic Labs EchoLink/Multimode interface is available as a kit or completely assembled and tested (serial or USB models). Large prototyping area. FCC Part 15 compliance is pending.
|USB and Serial Port EchoLink Interfaces|
Advanced Repeater Systems offers several EchoLink Interfaces: a low-cost Serial Port PCB device, a USB device with speaker/microphone plugs for most portable radios and a USB Universal device that can interfaced to virtually any transceiver or repeater.
|RIGblaster from West Mountain Radio|
Several models of these general-purpose digital-mode interfaces are available, all of which are compatible with EchoLink. Use EchoLink’s internal DTMF decoder when using a RIGblaster and set it to VOX in the Sysop mode. (If you wish to use a RIGblaster and join the EchoLink QSO using the linked radio’s microphone, the RIGblaster Pro model is required.)
|G3VFP iLINK / EchoLink Interface Controller|
Fully assembled and enclosed, fully isolated interface designed expressly for iLINK/EchoLink. Can be used with other digital-mode software such as PSK31.
|Tigertronics SignaLink USB|
This is a USB device that functions as an external sound card, with VOX-controlled PTT, so no connections to your computer’s sound card or serial port are required. Pre-wired cables are available for popular transceivers. Can also be used with digital modes such as PSK31.
Here are some other interface options for EchoLink.
- PY2JF Interface (from Brazil)
- DL5MGD Controller (diagrams and PIC source code)
- AB6CQ’s PC to Radio Interface
- Fox Delta EchoLink Interface
Any installation of Echolink can be used as a conference server for up to 99 people, if your internet speed can handle it. Each connection requires 17 kbps of upload speed, so if your upload speed is 128kbps, then you would only be able to support seven or eight connections before users started experiencing chopping issues.
If you are interested in setting up an echolink server full-time, you can set up a dedicated server by using a program called theBridge. The server should be installed on a fast, reliable dedicated server with plenty of bandwidth. Remember, 17kbps is required per user, so the more users, the faster the upload/download speed has to be. theBridge is a program that is developed seperately from Echolink, but as of version 1.06 if can be used to host a conference. The program can also be used for other VoIP amteur radio systems as well, like IRLP or ILink.
If you want to do dedicated server, the server name has to be approved by Echolink and it will be surrounded by stars(*). It will also be listed separately from other users on the Echolink system. One of the other requirements with a server is that is can not be linked with another VoIP system link IRLP or ILink and must be used for amateur radio use only with no commercial advertisements or services.
For more information on Echolink or to look up users online or links near you, goto the Echolink website
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Amateur Radio Club Spotlight
Sierra Nevada Amateur Radio Society
The Sierra Nevada Amateur Radio Society started in April of 1968 by Larry Oakley, K7UGT, then a 23-year-old man from Los Angeles, CA. After basically being told that his opinion didn’t matter to the club he was in at the time, he decided to start a new club. So with the help of six other hams, the SNARS club was formed.
From then on it has thrived! They have put up repeaters, have several nets, do a lot of other functions and has since became northern Nevada’s largest amateur radio organization and possibly presently one of the largest in the state of Nevada.
Repeaters – All repeaters are linked
- 147.150 + PL 123.0
- 147.210 + PL 100.0
- 147.030 + PL 123.0
- 146.925 – PL 123.0
- 146.670 – PL 123.0
- 444.875 + PL 100.0
- 444.125 + PL 123.0 (Coming Soon)
- Daily @ 12PM – SNARS Noon Net – Entire Linked Repeater System
- Sunday @ 6 PM – Red Cross Net & Disaster Nets – 147.300 IRLP: 9257
- Mon-Fri @ 10 AM – The Morning Net – 147.300 IRLP: 9109
- Monday @ 10 AM – Hospital Net – 147.300 IRLP: 9258
- Monday @9:15 PM – Bishop’s Storehoouse Net – Entire Linked Repeater System
- Monday @ 7:30 PM – Northwest Nevada District AREA Net – Entire Linked Repeater System
- Tuesday @ 8 PM – Nevada State SATERN Net – 147.300 & 441.650 IRLP 9258
- Tuesday @ 7 PM – Nevada DMR Net – SNARS DMR System / SNARS (RenoTahoe) Talk Group
- Wednesday @ 7 PM – Nevada State Skywarn Net – 147.300 & 441.650 IRLP 9258
- Wednesday @ 7 PM – Winnemucca Net – 146.670, 146.925 & 443.075
- Wednesday @ 8 PM – Northern Nevada Preppers Net – Entire Linked Repeater System
- Thursday @ 7 PM – Nevada State ARES Net – 147.300 & 441.650 IRLP 9258
- Friday @ 5PM – Open Forum Net – 147.300 IRLP 9668
- Saturday @ 7 PM – Ranchers Net – Entire Linked Repeater System
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Until next time…
73 de Curtis, K5CLM