I wish there were a way that
I could put in a shortcut that would take you straight to
my EchoLink node, but I can't. I have to depend on you to take
the time to download the free program, enter your license information,
get confirmed and then click on my node in your list. So do that!
Don't forget that there is an "EchoTest" server that you can connect
to that will play your audio back to you. This allows you to hear
what you sound like and get everything all set up. Or, you can just
call me. I'll be happy to tell you what you sound like!
Due to my 25 years of working
the night shift, I still cannot sleep at night. In the past,
even with my amateur radios, I generally sat here all night and
stared at the computer and listened to static on the ham bands.
Even C.B. gets dead at night many times! All of that changed as soon
as I downloaded and installed EchoLink. I have no idea why I waited
as long as I did. It certainly wasn't hard to set up! We have a local
"node - link" here in town, put up by the local club president. Many
nights I would sit and "play" with it by pressing "00" which over a
radio link connects you to a random node. You never knew if you were
getting an individual, a conference server (which could be reserved
for any number of "things"), an RF link or a repeater. Worse (or better),
you never knew if you were calling the U.S., Japan, The U.K., Israel,
Iraq, wherever! I soon discovered that I could access a list of "nodes" on the
internet even though I wasn't a user myself. This helped narrow it down.
Even though I monitored the local link at all times, I very seldom ever heard
anyone call it. Anyway, when I finally set the program up, found the old
Mic. that came with the computer and plugged it up, Etc., I got a few calls
now and then. I finally figured out that people are hesitant to call believing
they may disturb you (which, if you did not want to be called, you would
simply mark yourself as "busy" and no one can call, so it's a bit
silly to think that way!). One night, I replaced the usual "location field"
for my node with "Up All Night, Indiana, USA". Wow, what a difference! Now
I get at least five calls a night. I just needed to put out an invitation!
Well, now I have found new
friends (and some old ones!) from all over the world. Many
places like Australia, The U.K., Africa, Etc., are in the middle
of the day when it is night for me! I discovered that with my Broad
Band Cable Internet service, I could handle linking to quite a few
stations at one time. Dial up systems don't have the band width
to handle it. I have set my node up to handle many, many connections
at the same time. Many nights I may have 15 or 20 nodes connected
at the same time! We all take turns talking, but with EchoLink's ability
for all nodes to send text messages, even while others are talking,
and all stations see the text, it is not unusual to have several
conversations going at once. At the very least, there is no shortage
of comments on what the person who's talking has to say. I guess it
is similar to a "chat room" in the text part, but you get to actually
talk too (if you want to).
I'll admit, sometimes it is
hard to think of EchoLink as amateur radio. I guess you have
to keep in mind that you MUST be an amateur radio operator, and
prove it, before your node is assigned and "turned on"
(which you know when this happens because the "node list" on your
program fills in. When that happens, you are ready to go!). You never
know when one of the people you are talking to may be going through
a "private RF link" which may not be listed as such. You also never
know when an RF link will join in, or when a repeater will connect
(maybe at random) and then it IS amateur radio, so you have to watch
yourself and remember to ID., Etc., just like you would on the radio.
One thing is for certain,
I never would have had the opportunity to speak with all these
great "Hams", from all over the world. The telephone companies
have to to be quaking in their boots when they learn of programs
like this where you can chat with your friend in Australia, for free,
unrushed, and with audio quality that rivals the telephone, easily.
I've already heard of many "Ham families" that stay in touch this
way. Some just computer to computer, some link to computer, some repeater
to link, Etc. The combinations are many. We have a local here that uses
the town link to call his father (of course he has to be a ham also)
every Monday during his mobile trip to work which takes about 30 minutes.
His father is 7 states to the SouthWest. I have a good friend in Alaska
that calls me from a 2 meter repeater with EchoLink about every three
or four days. It is the only communications he has...., and all he needs.
The repeater also has a "phone patch", so he can make calls, call 911
if needed, talk all over the world on EchoLink as well as keep in touch
with other "locals", all with just one radio (and a back-up).
What else can I say? If you don't have
it, get it.
It's free, and if you have a computer that has been made in the
last 6 or 7 years, you've got everything you need. By all means, call
me! My node # is listed above, or look me up by call sign. I look
forward to speaking to you and putting another "blue" (for EchoLink) tack
in my world map.