The IRLP and Echolink nodes were off-air today between 12.00 and 12.20 UTC for backup of the software. This is performed monthly, with three months of previous backups available should the present software become unstable. Apologies to anyone who tried to use the nodes between these times.
After a small amount of reburbishmemnt of the mast and aerial the IRLP and Echolink nodes are again on-air. Please feel free to test them. But it can be a bit like ships passing in the night, so I suggest to those who automatically receive this GB3OA news that they test at 10a.m., 2p.m. or 5p.m. if they wish to have a QSO.
In other news: the part of Southport Pier that runs across the sea will be closed from October 1st until Christmas for refurbishment and construction of new attractions. This means that the Pier-to-Pier Challenge as detailed in previous news items will not be able to be accomplished during this period. Briefly, it entails a QSO between the end of Southport Pier and one of Blackpool’s via GB3OA. A small ham-related prize will be awarded for the first to achieve this.
As mentioned in the previous news item the nodes had to be taken off-air last Wednesday, two days ago. After lowering the mast and aerial for the nodes in the gusty wind, a brief inspection revealed that they had suffered to some extent with the salt air. Some refurbishment therefore needs to take place but this needs to be done in dry conditions. The weather forecast for today (Friday) is for virtually continual rain and gusty conditions so unfortunately the refurbishment will have to be delayed until tomorrow (Saturday), when the weather is forecast to improve substantially over the weekend.
The repeater keepers apologise for this downtime, as there are a number of regulars as well as visitors to the town and world-wide connections who use the nodes. These include G3SEA/KH6 (Hawaii), VK5ACX (Adelaide), G0RLT/VE6 (Canada), and closer to home GW1SXT (Pontypool) and G3PNQ (Parbold).
Until the wind subsides the nodes at GB3OA have been taken 0ff-air. A further notice will appear when they are returned to normal operating.
The repeater section of GB3OA and the Shoutcast stream feed are unaffected.
The IRLP and Echolink nodes at GB3OA were off-air from approximately 14.05 to 14.25hrs this afternnon for the nodes software to have its monthly back-up.
There are around ten individual daily users of Echolink and several IRLP users that are regulars, one in Blackpool virtually daily connecting to a node in West Sweden. Popular times seem to be after breakfast, either side of lunch time, late afternoon, and from 20.00hrs into the small hours, with US stations appearing around 01.00hrs each night. Local mobiles seem to be active around 08.45 and 17.00hrs.
Several times each week the IRLP node is connected to the Alaska Morning Net at around 18.15hrs, 09.15hrs their time. It’s not just for Alaskan stations – amateurs around the world do check in. Friday is a popular evening when Roy KI7PKL is Net Controller as he keeps things moving and is very enthusiastic (and was only licenced last October). Also, the same with Craig K5CAP on Monday nights. If you wish to connect GB3OA yourself use DTMF tones 9109.
The coverage of GB3OA continues to be good, encompassing the North Wales coast, northwards up the coast to the South Lakes, and inland to East Lancashire, with a regular from Nelson. A full coverage map is available at https://gb3oa.org.uk/coverage/
The New Years Eve welcome to 2018 will take place as usual on node 9200, the Crossroads reflector in the US where countries log in as they go through the New Year. GB3OA will be connected to this reflector when the countries who usually participate connect. These are:
- New Zealand – 11.00UTC
- Australia – 13.00UTC
- Malaysia – 16.00UTC
- South Africa – 22.00UTC
- UK – 00.00UTC
OA will be connected at five minutes to the hour for twenty minutes.
Users of GB3OA are welcome to connect OA to node 9200 at other times themselves, and especially for the US at 5, 6, 7 and 08.00UTC the following morning. As the connection will be via IRLP there is no need to put a # or * before the node number.
A full backup of the nodes server software takes place during the afternoon of the first Thursday of every month. The nodes are taken down at this point, but this lasts only for about twenty minutes.
Most evenings of the week OA is connected to the Alaska Morning Net just after 6pm (9am their time). This net is not just for Alaskans! Anyone worldwide is welcome to check in when the Net Controller requests more check ins, and that includes locals direct into GB3OA. There is a different Net Controller each day and they run the Net as they prefer i.e. some ask how your day has been, some have a topic (e.g. what do you think of Chinese HTs), some have a trivia question related to radio, etc. Some of the check ins specialise and are very knowledgeable about a particular subject. The Net doesn’t run on a Sunday, but on other days, if OA is not connected to the AMN then please feel free to connect using DTMF tones 9109 between 6pm and 8pm. Please send DTMF 73 when finished.
Note that the Echolink Android app is now not available on Google Play Store until February when a new version will be released. However, the old version is available free from Amazon or the Echolink web site.
Finally, the Repeater Keepers wish all who use GB3OA Southport a Healthy and Prosperous 2018!
There’s been a small change to a custom decode Echolink script at GB3OA repeater that should help local Echolink users.
The original IRLP/Echolink server required outgoing echolink request connections to be prefaced by the hash (#) symbol. With the new server software this changed to the star (*). This confused users but its change was detailed on both the GB3OA news page and the internet-linking page.
Looking at the logs many outbound echolink requests are still trying to use the hash symbol before eventually finding that the star symbol works instead. So to stop this confusion an addition to the DTMF custom decode script has now been added allowing either the hash or star symbol to work.
For example, to now connect GB3OA to GB3CA (Carlisle) both #412685 and *412685 will work.