"Some Commits About Echo Link From KRWU"

Hi, my name is Paul (KRWU), I am fairly new to Echolink myself, but I thought I would voice my feelings, about some of the talk that has been going around, concerning the Echo Link system. The Ancient Modulators Club members may or may not agree with me.

Personally, I don't think there is any substitute for good old ham radio talk on radio, but sometimes there are needs for other means of communications.

I have several friends that live in areas where radio propagation to my location is not always good, and Echo Link has filled that gap.

Echolink offers the Ham Radio operator the choice of communicating when they are not able to put up antenna systems.

With Echo Link you can extend your communication capabilities by getting into radio systems, and repeaters, all over our country, and the world.

One of the best things about Echolink is that it gives you the ability to contact your personal Ham friends that are in distant areas, even while they are out and about town in their mobile, with telephone quality signals. And, of course, they can contact you, in your town, through your local Echolink repeater.

Another nice thing is that it gives the ham operator the ability to establish a contact with a DX station, in a country he need a contact with, then setup a sked with him at a selected frequency and time.

Some operators are confused about chatting with a DX station through their local repeater.

Remember, when you connect to a Echolink DX station you are only talking locally to your repeater site. The DX station is not a DX contact, he is just a wire line remote control station connected to the repeater. You can exchange QSL cards, but you must mark them as an "Echolink internet contact", not a radio contact.

I have heard Hams say, "What's to keep non-licensed people from getting on Echolink". Well, I have yet to hear one, and I think the people at Echolink do a good job of making sure that no un-licensed people get access. But, it is up to the registered ham users, to keep unauthorized people from accessing their computer, and Echo Link.

You know, there is no real way to keep un-authorized people from getting on any radio transmitter, as well as Echolink, other than to do your best to keep your equipment in a secure place. So with that in mind, don't blame Echolink for any un-authorized traffic you may hear. Just report the violation to Echo Link officials.

Let me also say, that I don't agree with internet chat rooms, and personally, I think most of the chat room users are sick individuals, and that I sure don't want to talk with them.

Echolink is much more than a chat room. They keep it clean by restricting it's use to only us amateur radio operators.

When you use Echolink, you are not just talking on an internet connection, you are a ham radio operator, with the capabilities of talking on radio transmitters, or repeater stations, located all over the world.

When you connect to a -R or -L station any where in the world, such as KAMC-R, our club repeater station located in High Ridge, Missouri, it is just the same if you were sitting in High Ridge, at the repeater site, with a microphone plugged into the repeater. This is the reason anytime you access a repeater (-R), or Simplex link (-L) radio station, you need to use your call sign, and identify within every 1 minutes, and keep your language clean, remember, you are controlling the repeater station.

Although I'm not to keen on the hams just chatting among each other on Echolink, without going through a repeater, when they should be doing that on the radio, but like I said before, when no bands are available for the contact, by all means, use Echolink, and by all means use the remote repeater access feature. Echo Link is yet, jut another tool for us to use, it's great and it's free.

AMARC Echolink Setup

Most of the Echolink operators have trouble adjusting audio levels and using the system, but hopefully their operating procedures will eventually smooth out.

The Echolink repeater systems are another story. Most that have connected to our repeater have sounded terrible, and also it's been a problem with keeping our system locked up with multiple repeater connections in operation.

Recently, a repeater system connected to us that must have already been connected with two or more other repeater systems. The connecting control operator left it that way, and went out to lunch. Trying to decipher what was going on was almost impossible, and I was away from the house to disconnect the echolink.

In an effort to improve Echolink traffic, and clean up the system, at the present time, We have disabled some of it's functions.

We are not allowing any incoming connections from repeaters (-R), or link stations (-L) sites, and Conferences.

To setup your echolink computer, go to Tools and then to Preferences.
List: OK for default. No changes.
Connections: Uncheck "Allow Conferences"
Security: Uncheck "Conferences"
Signals: OK for default. No changes.

Because we feel that unlimited incoming calls would also crowd the repeater activity, we have limited the incoming stations to 2 connections, so if a Echolink user wants to monitor our repeater, and another echolink station comes on our line, it will block any other incoming traffic. So, we have also set a time out period to disconnect any Echolink station after 5 minutes when there is no repeater, or Echolink activity.

Maximum Echolink station key down time has been set to 5 minutes.

There is no time limit set for a QSO, just for Echolink stations key down time.

The Echo Link outgoing node dialing system is disabled, because our Echolink is remoted and we would have to listen to the touch tones from the repeater, and also we feel that outgoing calls would crowd the repeater activity, so at the present, we have no plans to connect it.

Echolink Computer Operating Procedures And Tips

The list of stations that contain a -R stand for repeater stations, and the -L stand for simplex radio stations. Normal call signs indicate amateur stations.

The first thing to remember is that the keyboard space bar controls transmit and receive. The space bar is a "toggle switch". You press and release the space bar to switch modes from receive to transmit and vice versa.

After finishing with your first transmission, press and release the space bar again to switch back to receive, most starters forget this and you can't tell them they are still on the air, untill they time out, another reason for our 5 minute timeout.

The Space bar can be configured to be used as a PTT button by going to tools, preferences, connections and select space bar TX control to momentary. Personally, I think toggle is best, but if you are having trouble remembering to toggle, switch to PTT, which means you have to hold the space bar untill finished talking.

Next of all, while using Echo Link, If you have opened any other window, or program on your desk top, it will stop the space bar from working, and you can't toggle back to receive. You must close, or minimize the open windows first to get the space bar to work again. This can happen while adjusting your microphone level.

I suggest you use your call sign even when you chat directly with another amateur station, just to keep in practice for when you connect to a radio link, or repeater station.

Another reason to identify with a amateur station, is that it is possible to connect to a amateur station, that is also presently in a conference with a repeater or link station.

Another reason to identify, is that if you are getting a poor internet connection, your audio may breakup sometimes, making the station on the other end think you turned it back to him.

Get in the habit of identifying yourself at the begining and end of all transmissions.

If your operating system is Windows XP, you may have trouble connecting to, or passing audio on to Echolink stations. There are procedures listed on the Echo Link web site about how to configure your XP security system and/or firewall to allow ports to be opened for Echolink usage.

If on a network, you may have to configure your router to pass the ports also.

I have heard Hams say, "What's to keep non-licensed people from getting on Echo Link". Well, I have yet to hear one, and I think the people at Echo Link do a good job of making sure that no un-licensed people get access. But, it is up to the registered ham users, to keep unauthorized people from accessing their computer and Echo Link.

You know, there is no real way to keep unauthorized people from getting on any radio transmitter, as well as Echo Link, other than to do your best to keep your equipment in a secure a place as possible. So with that in mind, don't blame Echo Link for any unauthorized traffic you may hear, or think Echo Link is to blame, or it is a bad idea. Just report the violation to Echo Link officials.

It seems that the majority of Echolink users have trouble with there modulation levels.

The Echolink people have made it real easy for you to adjust modulation. They put a real nice modulation bar at the bottom of the screen. You need to adjust the level so while speaking close to your microphone, the blue bar reaches the yellow marks most times, but never into the red.

Some guys think that adjusting the Windows mixer, microphone level, will correct the problem, wrong, it will not adjust anything but probable mess up your normal audio setting.

Echolink has a recording level adjustment, and a microphone level control, which can be found on the echolink screen in tools, preferences, audio. Note: that when you open any window, the space bar stops working.

Something I have noticed that some hams do is to call CQ on an FM frequency.

You know that a FM simplex, or repeater system, on 1, 6, and 2 meters, and above, is on pacific channels, and a station is either going to be on that frequency to hear you or not.

Calling CQ only takes up air time, and it can be annoying to a station waiting for you to stop transmitting "CQ" so they can answer your call. A simple, to the point transmission, is all that is needed. I suggest saying something like: "KRWU monitoring" or "KRWU monitoring the frequency", or "KRWU is QRZ the frequency".

Calling CQ on the CW, AM or SSB frequencies, of and amateur band, is just fine, and I wish more hams would do that.

Another thing I have noticed some hams do on FM radio, or Echolink is to connect, then make a call, and then if they don't receive a reply within a few seconds, they disconnect.

If you don't receive an answer, wait a minute and try again. Sometimes operators are busy doing other things, and maybe just can't get back to you for a minute or so.

OK, enough said for now, Enjoy EchoLink, and please don't abuse it, or bad rap it. It is a great help to amateur radio.

To use Echolink all that you need is a ham radio license, a computer connected to the internet, a sound card, and a microphone.

Written by Paul Schlipp KRWU (All suggestions or commits welcome)

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