what is Echolink for and how and why do I use it?
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Thread: what is Echolink for and how and why do I use it?



  1. #1
    Deadeye
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    what is Echolink for and how and why do I use it?

    I just got a cell phone for the first time and one of the first things I did was sign up for Echolink.


    I'm not sure I understand how it works or what it is good for. I guess someone with a radio and access to an echolink repeater could contact my cell phone. Or, two cell phones could contact each other across the echolink internet connection. Or, I guess, I can transmit from my cell phone on an echolink radio repeater somewhere far away.


    But why would I want to do any of that? What purpose does it serve? If I want to communicate across the internet, why not just make a cell phone call? How is echolink different than making a phone call?




    Also, there is an echolink repeater with an IRLP node close to my house. But I don't see it shown on the list of available IRLP nodes on the echolink phone app list of available connections. Does somebody need to access the repeater and connect it to Echolink before someone other station on Echolink can transmit RF on the local repeater?


    Forgive my ignorance. I find HAM radio to be the most difficult technology to learn. Fun, but definitely for techies and not "user friendly". I guess that's part of the appeal.
    "...it is the man behind the gun that makes the difference. An inch or two in trajectory or a second or two in rapidity of fire is as nothing compared to sureness of eye and steadiness of hand." -- Teddy Roosevelt

  2. #2
    Tinhorn
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    I don't have much experience with echolink at all, but the way I saw it used was through a local repeater run by a club. They had an echolink node on 2m, and previous members who had moved away would sometimes randomly call in during the evening, or (more often) during weekly nets. The repeater would transmit what they sent via the 2m output frequency. I never tried it, but with the right access codes, I (supposedly) could use the DTMF keypad on my HT or base station to transmit to the repeater, and have my audio go out to a similar repeater somewhere else. The repeater would listen to all incoming RF, send it over the internet to the other echolink node, and the other node would transmit, etc. So, if someone several states (or countries) away was connected to the system, I could chat with someone using my radio gear to someone far away using their radio gear or someone connected to the internet with their computer & microphone.

    Yes, the same could be done with a cell phone, but when an echolink node is hooked up to a repeater like I described, it doesn't have to be a 1:1 conversation. It basically just works like any VHF/UHF repeater (many to many).

    With the cell phone app, which I haven't used, I understand it to be able to work like the following:
    Say I'm traveling out of state. I could bring my HT and hope there's a local echolink node I could connect to, or bring a laptop and connect via the internet. Then, I could access the local club repeater that functions as an echolink node. But, if I don't want to pack my radio gear or a computer, I could just use my cellphone instead. It basically turns your cell phone into an HT that's connected only to echolink. So, theoretically, if there was a local net going on back home on the club repeater, I could join in on it from my cell phone, without using a radio or computer at all.

    If I just wanted to talk to a single neighbor who is a licensed ham while on the road, it would probably make more sense just to make a cell phone call directly, assuming you have cell service where you are traveling. But, I think two people could talk to each other via the internet with echolink, and would work fine where you only have an internet connection, but no cell service.
    Kart29 likes this.

  3. #3
    Deadeye
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    Thanks for the response. That helps.
    Do you know how I find a particular Echolink repeater in the node or connection list in Echolink? I know my local repeater has an IRLP node but I cannot find it listed as an option on the list of available repeaters.

    Does a local radio need to connect the local repeater to the reflector first before it shows up as a connected node on the Echolink app?
    "...it is the man behind the gun that makes the difference. An inch or two in trajectory or a second or two in rapidity of fire is as nothing compared to sureness of eye and steadiness of hand." -- Teddy Roosevelt

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  5. #4
    Deadeye
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    Would someone familiar with Echolink be willing to connect remotely to my local repeater, have a QSO with me and then tell me how to connect to that repeater via the Echolink app?
    "...it is the man behind the gun that makes the difference. An inch or two in trajectory or a second or two in rapidity of fire is as nothing compared to sureness of eye and steadiness of hand." -- Teddy Roosevelt

  6. #5
    Gunfighter
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    In my opinion ....

    All of these other forms of communication ... other than standard HT, Mobile, or Base radio contact are a form of 'cheating' where Amateur Radio is concerned.

    I have watched while guys in my local club have fawned over Fusion, DMR, and even DStar ... Echolink included.

    In my opinion ... if I can't reach you with a standard, native UHF, VHF, or HF Transmission from my radio ... it doesn't 'Count' as Amateur Radio.

    I have even seen a lot of guys get worked up for making 'contacts' over VoIP.

    In my opinion ... the use of these internet and 'other platform' technologies to make contacts does NOTHING to help you become a better radio operator and only reinforces lazy behavior by using technologies that are 'cheating' when it comes to Radio Frequencies.

    When I got into Amateur Radio .... my express intent was to always evolve as a Licensed Amateur and to never use 'Cheater' technologies. To this day I have not, and will not. Sorry ... anything other than a Transceiver talking to another ... using an antenna ... is not Amateur Radio. You can kid yourself and convince yourself that it's 'OK' ... but really ... you aren't doing yourself any favors.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Team 45-70 #1790

    Team 1894 #554

  7. #6
    Tinhorn
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    You can do a search for echolink stations here:
    EchoLink Link Status

    There's an option to search by city, state, etc. to find ones near you.
    I'm guessing here, but a station ending with "-R" is a repeater. I'm not sure what the "-L" stands for, but it might be where you use it in simplex mode.

    If you're trying to connect with a local repeater hooked up to echolink via RF, you'll probably need some sort of DTMF codes to access it. This might come by being a member of a club, paying dues, etc. but you'd have to check for sure. If you're trying to access a remote repeater from a computer/phone, then I think you just use the echolink software.

    You can set up echolink without any radio (so it's basically VoIP) or with a radio. If you're in contact with someone via the internet only, you might as well just use something like Skype. I think the only appeal to me would be if I wanted to access a repeater remotely. From what I understand, IRLP is just accessible via RF, and echolink can be either RF or a computer/phone, but both do all of the "work" of sending audio via the internet.


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