Both IRLP and Echolink linking are available from this repeater. These use DTMF tones sent by the local user, which the local repeater then uses to connect through the internet to other nodes around the world. You can see which DTMF tones to send by clicking on the links at the bottom of the page.
Before connecting to a distant node please listen for 30 seconds or so to check that no-one else is using this facility. Then announce your callsign and input the DTMF tones numbers for the wanted distant node. Your rig will need a DTMF keypad either on the rig or mic to send these tones. Another way is a DTMF app on your smartphone or sometimes the smartphone’s phone dialler puts out DTMF tones.
Connection may take several seconds as an encrypted key is sent to the distant node to ensure that GB3OA is a valid node. When connected, you must speak your callsign as part of your licence conditions. This can of course be part of a CQ.
During a QSO wait two seconds after the distant op has dropped carrier. This will enable the two nodes to get ready for your transmission. If you do not leave this gap the beginning of your transmission will be dropped. This will probably be part of your callsign.
The timeout on both IRLP and Echolink is 4 minutes.
At the end of your need to use the distant node, send 73 in DTMF tones to close the link down.
The bullet points are:
- listen first to ensure no-one is using the node
- press the PTT, give your callsign and put in the DTMF numbers of the wanted node
- when connected give a CQ
- when finished put in DTMF numbers 73
Points to consider
- If your signal is quite noisy into the repeater your tones may not be decoded correctly – the repeater will give a K but will then remain silent and there will be no connection
- When you switch your rig to the repeater frequency and you listen for 30 seconds and there is no activity, it’s quite possible that a previous user has not cleared down a link to a distant node. By sending 73 separately before setting up a link, you can clear down any previous link
- You can test how good your signal strength and audio quality is by sending DTMF tones 9990, which will connect you to an echo reflector. If you then make a speech transmission and then listen, your transmission will be played back, giving a good idea of the two qualities. Please send 73 in DTMF tones after finishing with this facility otherwise it can confuse future users
- When linking to another country think of the time difference. Generally, if the country is north or south of the UK, or slightly to the east then they will be one hour ahead. Going much further east, NZ is thirteen hours ahead. Going west the US is between five and eight hours behind. Google can help – just type in What is the time in <country>. These time differences change when the UK moves to British Summer Time each year
There are two types of IRLP nodes
The first type is like GB3OA, a normal node. The other type is called a Reflector, which normally does not have an RF port so users cannot get in over the air. Instead, you get your local node to connect to it as normal, but there may be other nodes connected to it, so you will be in a net situation with possibly many other countries. Think of it like a traffic roundabout with many roads coming into the roundabout. Each road is a link that a user of a local node has set up.
Echolink is similar to IRLP except for two main differences. The first is that you add a star (*) before the node number.
The second is that amateurs with a PC, tablet or smartphone can connect to an Echolink node using the Internet. This means that via OA you could be talking to an op that’s using either an RF node at that time or PC, tablet or smartphone.
Note that with Echolink the timeout is four minutes and OA will disconnect the distant end when this is exceeded.
‘…but how do I use Echolink when away from home on my smartphone?’
Just download the Echolink app, and put your callsign in. On the app look down the list and choose the node you want to connect to (GB3OA will be there). Then just hit the TRANSMIT button on the screen and speak your callsign and CQ. You will need either a Wifi or 3G connection to your smartphone.
How many IRLP and Echolink connections can be connected to GB3OA at once?
Up to five Echolink connections can be connected at once. Only one IRLP connection and when that is connected no Echolink connections. Also, when you try to connect with Echolink and there is a local RF QSO on GB3OA, you will receive a message saying that the node is busy and to try later. Keep trying immediately as you may be able to connect whilst a K is being sent to the RF QSO.
Some IRLP nodes and reflectors
Antartica – Palmer Station – 8838
Australia – Sydney Reflector – 9500
Australia – Brisbane – 6403
Australia – Wagga Wagga – 6260
Aus – Bannockburn Nightclub – 6993
Canada – Toronto – 2470
Canada – Discovery Reflector – 9010
Japan – Shizuoka City – 8626
NZ – Wellington – 6931
St.Kitts and Nevis – 7512
USA – Silicon Valley – 3133
USA – Crossroads Reflector – 9200
A full list of active IRLP nodes are available here.
For a list of IRLP Reflectors and which nodes are connected go here.
An explanation of OA’s error codes is available here.
A full list of Echolink nodes are available here.