Enhancing a GVARC Repeater with EchoIRLP

Have you ever wanted to talk with your ham radio friends back in your old home town? Sounds easy enough to do, all you need is an HF radio and an antenna. Oops, I forgot about those pesky CC&Rs that prohibit antennas on your house or property. You had better run out to the car and use the mobile rig. Darn, the bands aren’t open today; you’ll have to try again another day.

There’s a reliable alternative to HF. Using Voice over Internet Protocol, (VoIP) as incorporated in EchoLink and IRLP, (Internet Radio Linking Project) you can call other hams all over the world. How would you do this? The club has installed an EchoIRLP node on one of the club's repeaters. You are now able to call any individual or repeater that has either EchoLink or IRLP capability.

An EchoIRLP node is a hybrid that incorporates both VoIP systems in one computer. Only one system at a time may be accessed with no capability of interconnection between the two. The computer uses Linux as an Operating System and subsequently is extremely reliable, running for long periods of time with no administration required.

To connect to another node, you simply key up your radio, enter in the node number using a touchtone pad, and the connection is established. Once connected, simply make your call, as you would on any repeater. If the other node operator has taken the time to ensure good audio quality, it will sound like the other station is also on the local repeater.

Once the conversation is over, a "73" entered on the touchtone pad shuts down the link.

One advantage to using the EchoLink system is that you can call through the repeater to individuals running the EchoLink software on their Windows computer. As well, they can initiate a call from their computer to the repeater. There is no cost involved to install the EchoLink software on a computer.

Both systems also support simplex RF links as well as repeater links. They also utilize special nodes that are called conferences on EchoLink and reflectors on the IRLP system. These conferences or reflectors are like ham radio repeaters, in the sense that multiple nodes can be connected at one time. A transmission that comes from one node is repeated to all nodes connected. You can get some very interesting roundtables going with hams from all over the country or world.

Now that we have your interest, our own IRLP/Echolink station is working well on the 145.27 repeater. It is open and free to use. Have a Question? Call Ron AA7RP or Gene W0KAD on 145.27.

Gene was driving up La Canada a couple of weeks ago talking to a station in Sweden.

For further information on both VoIP systems, check out these web sites:
EchoLink – www.echolink.org
IRLP – www.irlp.net

Ron Phillips, AA7RP /GVARC