EchoLink Node On The Air

- Austin Wright, March 3, 2009

As of October 2011, this node is no longer in service since its sponsor moved to the USA to work for PBS. We'd love to hear from anyone willing to sponsor a node. (VE3UGG has taken this over on the VA3KCR repeater. It is now NODE: 852814. The Code/Functions are not the same. I will post the new codes as soon as I can. (INFO)- VE3UGG- March-04-14)

Chatham has its very first EchoLink node available over the air. Sponsored by VE3NCQ, this node, number 309497 is available for use by any amateur operator within range. Local hams are encouraged to scan and monitor this node - you never know when a QSO will connect, so let's make sure the world finds some activity in Chatham-Kent.

When using the 2 meter access on 147.420, you do NOT have to be registered with EchoLink to use this service! You do NOT need an internet connection. It does not cost anything. All you need is the node number of the user you want to connect with (which is of course available online at www.echolink.org), or simply reply to anybody that opens the link remotely. There are some shortcuts listed below, and frequently used nodes can be programmed into the system with shortcut access. Up to 10 different nodes can be connected at the same time for a mini-conference - this can be expanded by using one of the over 200 conference nodes (similar to IRLP reflectors).

Currently, the radio is set to 147.420 simplex, and it's run there two years without issues. If required for special circumstances, this could be temporarily retuned to the VE3KCR repeater on 147.120+ to create a wide-area link. All access codes are DTMF (touch tone).

Code

 Function

*

 Play station info

4 to 6 digit node #

 Connect to node entered on keypad

# or 73

 Disconnect

##

 Disconnect All

02

 Connect to Random Conference

01

 Connect to Random Link

00

 Connect to Random Node

03

 Connect to Random User

08

 Play Link Status

15

 Play Welcome message

0

 Play Help file (coming soon)

9999

 Connect to ECHOTEST node (Plays back a recording of your transmission)

2-4 digit shortcut #

 Connect to shortcut as programmed on server
 (send me your favourite node number)

90

 272345 *MISSLYNK* - Global Repeater

91

 321472 *NASA* - Space Shuttle Audio

92

 101377 *AMSAT* - Amateur Satellites

94

 326006 *HF_RADIO* - HF on 3855.000Khz

95

 278173 *IRESC* - Global Emergency

EchoLink Etiquette

  • LISTEN before keying up or entering DTMF commands
  • IDENTIFY your station before invoking commands
  • Enter 08 to find out if link is connected to someone already
  • Don't disconnect a connected link unless the other parties are finished
  • Remember this is a Simplex Node, not a repeater. There could be a distant station using the link that you can't hear.
  • Keep transmissions short. There is a 200 second timeout.
  • Allow a slight delay after keying up before speaking
  • Leave extra space between transmissions to account for packet delays
  • Don't key up rapid-fire after an internet transmission (like I do), the RX won't trigger for 1 second and you'll be talking to yourself
  • Close the link when finished (using #, or ##), and identify your station as clear
  • RESPECT the system. All connections will display my name and callsign to the remote system.

The station consists of an ICOM IC-230 which I modified to provide a carrier operated squelch signal along with all the other interface signals required. I built the radio interface board using spare parts, including relays and transformers salvaged from a pair of modems which were blown up by lightning. The whole thing is connected to my webserver (which hosts about 50 domains including this one) where the EchoLink software is running. The connection uses 2 of the USB ports - one controls the radio interface though a USB to Serial converter, and the other provides +5 volts to the interface board to drive the transmit relay transistor. (The same lightning strike which blew up the modems wiped out two DSL modems, three routers, the parallel port and both serial ports on the webserver, which is why the USB converter is needed.)

The sound card is a Sound Blaster AWE32 which uses the line in and out jacks. Audio is connected to the radio through the pair of phone modem transformers for isolation. The computer receives audio directly from the radio discriminator, and the line-out feeds the radio accessory audio input.

The antenna is a home-brew 5/8 over 1/4 colinear, constructed with copper pipe. The recipe, including 4NEC2 file, is available at www.ve3ncq.ca. The antenna is currently raised to 25 feet, fed with 8 watts. Most of Chatham-Kent should have mobile coverage, including the 401 from Tilbury to Ridgetown. It covers the city of Chatham well for those using an HT, and any type of base station or beam should gain access across Chatham-Kent.

Watch for new features and functions to be added to the system. I have obtained the SDK (Software Developer's Kit) with API, and have already programmed a courtesy tone at the end of local transmissions, and am working on some DTMF shortcuts and atomic clock time beacon. There are also plans to mirror the output to a transmitter on the 902 MHz band which will repeat both local and remote signals from 147.420, and allow full duplex to take advantage of some of the exciting HF nodes that are available.

Please enjoy using this link!

Echolink Mobile Coverage Map (approximate, using 20 watts into external whip)
Map





of Echolink Mobile Coverage