IRLP, Echo Link, and D-Star
This is where I get to stick my neck out and worry that I may have someone give me the axe. It's an area I have not been participating in but instead have been watching a bit from the sidelines.
My local ham club (West Coast Amateur Radio Association - WARA) have an IRLP link and it gets very little use, perhaps because there are not that many of us who know others who have links to it. I hope to change that by getting active in the use of the IRLP myself. Maybe you can too. There is plenty of literature on the WEB that explains all about it.
Here is a current list of the available BC nodes
|BC IRLP Nodes June 15 2009 || || || |
|Copied out of the IRLP Status Site: |
|deID ||CallSign ||Node City ||Province or State ||Frequency ||CTCSS |
|1461 || VE7RVA ||Abbotsford / Chilliwack ||BC ||146.61 ||110.9 |
|1747 || VE7CRC ||Campbell River ||BC ||146.55 ||None |
|1020 || VE7RNA ||Chemainus ||BC ||146.68 ||None |
|1073 || VE7RAD ||Chilliwack ||BC ||444.7 ||None |
|1503 || VE7VCR ||Chilliwack ||BC ||147.22 ||88.5 |
|1547 || VA7MWR ||Clinton Village ||BC ||446.2 ||67 |
|1160 || VE7RAP ||Comox ||BC ||146.91 ||None |
|1660 || VE7CAP ||Cranbrook ||BC ||146.94 ||None |
|1848 || VE7KGF ||Grand Forks ||BC ||147.33 ||67 |
|1348 || VA7RHH ||Hudsons Hope ||BC ||146.54 ||100 |
|1888 || VE7JFB ||Kamloops ||BC ||446.275 ||None |
|1473 || VE7KTV ||KELOWNA ||BC ||147.3 ||88.5 |
|1491 || VE7OGO ||Kelowna ||BC ||147.57 ||100 |
|1403 || VE7ICA ||Langley ||BC ||446.75 ||None |
|1958 || VE7CPQ ||Logan Lake ||BC ||146.58 ||None |
|1910 || VE7RMR ||Maple Ridge - EchoIRLP -#51910 ||BC ||146.8 ||156.7 |
|1284 || VE7RIZ ||Merritt ||BC ||147.08 ||None |
|1811 || VE7EDA ||Nakusp ||BC ||146.94 ||None |
|1003 || VE7ISC ||Nanaimo ||BC ||146.64 ||None |
|1755 || VE7BSM ||Nanaimo ||BC ||446.725 ||141.3 |
|1130 || VA7LPG ||Nanoose Bay ||BC ||444.3 ||141.3 |
|1946 || VE7EDA ||New Denver ||BC ||146.56 ||None |
|1507 || VE7WCC ||New Westminster ||BC ||145.15 ||123 |
|1015 || VE7RNV ||North Vancouver ||BC ||444.95 ||None |
|1375 || VE7DTT ||Okanagan Falls ||BC ||147.56 ||123 |
|1180 || VE7PQA ||Parksville ||BC ||147.28 ||141.3 |
|1164 || VE7PEN ||Penticton ||BC ||146.58 ||123 |
|1606 || VE7RCP ||Penticton ||BC ||444.775 ||136.5 |
|1849 || VE7MTY ||Pitt Meadows-EchoIRLP #44463 ||BC ||443.625 ||None |
|1120 || VE7KU ||Port Alberni ||BC ||147.24 ||None |
|1250 || VE7FFF ||Prince George ||BC ||146.7 ||None |
|1210 || VE7DQC ||Prince Rupert ||BC ||147.33 ||None |
|1190 || VE7UHF ||Richmond ||BC ||443.8 ||100 |
|1207 || VE7BAS ||Richmond ||BC ||147.51 ||156.7 |
|1148 || VE7GDH ||Salt Spring Island ||BC ||147.57 ||100 |
|1041 || VE7BYN ||Sicamous ||BC ||147.57 ||None |
|1126 || VE7RBH ||Smithers ||BC ||147.33 ||100 |
|1147 || VE7SQR ||Squamish ||BC ||147 ||None |
|1150 || VE7NUT ||Summerland ||BC ||145.35 ||None |
|1463 || VE7RSC ||Surrey ||BC ||443.775 ||110.9 |
|1420 || VE7RAM ||Tappen ||BC ||146.485 ||None |
|1560 || VE7FFU ||Terrace ||BC ||147.33 ||None |
|1000 || VE7RHS ||Vancouver ||BC ||145.27 ||100 |
|1010 || VE7RHS ||Vancouver ||BC ||441.975 ||100 |
|1396 || VE7RPS ||Vancouver ||BC ||442.225 ||107.2 |
|1694 || VE7RPT ||Vancouver ||BC ||146.94 ||None |
|9000 || REF9000 ||Vancouver ||BC ||Accepting Calls || |
|1269 || VA7SCA ||Vancouver WIN System Affiliate ||BC ||444.4 ||100 |
|1228 || VE7DIR ||Vernon ||BC ||147.495 ||151.4 |
|1301 || VE7EGO ||Vernon ||BC ||145.45 ||None |
|1050 || VE7RVN ||Vernon (SIRG) ||BC ||444.275 ||None |
|1030 || VE7VIC ||Victoria ||BC ||146.84 ||100 |
|1040 || VA7VIC ||Victoria ||BC ||443.95 ||123 |
|1649 || VE7OVY ||Victoria ||BC ||441.5 ||100 |
If you look at the Victoria nodes you will see the node # 1030, frequency 146.84 and that's the main WARA repeater. If you look up at the top of the list you will notice that the Abbotsford repeater on node #1461, frequency 146.61 MHz that we use for the Wild Card Net is right up there amongst the IRLP nodes.
One caution about this is that these are internet linked nodes. If we had an earthquake those links would quite likely be temporarily broken and so of no value. The same thing for Echo Link and for D-Star. All depend heavily on internet linking. Practicing message handling and net managing using these tools is perfectly alright but should be backed up by having local simplex nets because simplex is what you can be sure of. If you have rough terrain then you will have to learn to have comunicators relay messages to get around the physical blockages, perhaps some in your groups should also consider purchase of radios which can provide cross band repeat so that you can have reliable local repeaters in a pinch. They can even be made portable to fulfill a local emergency communications need.
Echo link also leans heavily on use of the internet. With echo link you can call through someones linked radio but you can also place calls through distant radios via your computer. In that case if you are a new ham and can't afford to purchase a radio you can still get onto nets with other hams. If you live in a condo or restricted housing development then Echo Link mmay also be able to fill your immediate communications needs.
Echo link is a very viable communications alternative but one short fall is that it does not seem to have caught the imagination as broadly as the IRLP . You can see that by the volume of nodes each has. Still, those who use Echo Link seem to have a love or fondness for it so it's worth a try as part of your own education. It's easy to set up your own Echo Link node if you have the ambition and with a used mobile radio and an inexpensive adapter to go between your radio and a good used computer you're off and running.
The last link I provided was one that shows nodes and I asked it for all nodes close to me. My lat and long of:
48 degrees 29 minutes North and 123 degrees 19 minutes West gave me that result. You can do the same for any lat and long in the world and that site will find the local nodes for that area.
You have to go through a similar linking to call someone in a node area for both Echo Link and IRLP. So, you need to know the node in the location of the person you want to call.
D-Star was developed by researchers in Japan, people who were members of The Japanese Amateur Radio League. I'll refer you to Wikepedia:
There is a good article on the subject. We have a D-Star link at the WARA radio site in Victoria BC. D-Star is a hardware and data protocol supporting digital transmission of both voice and data. There are two big catches to it, there always is. It's almost twice the price for a D-Star radio than a conventional analog radio and Icom is the only manufacturer to date who has decided to support it. We are still waiting to see if other manufacturers will start manufacturing similar products which are compatible. There are many benefits to D-Star. The ease of data transport is one and the other is the clarity of voice transmission. The repeaters have to be connected to the internet to make full benefit of the capabilities.
When you purchaase a D-Star radio you must program in your call sign and you must register that call sign:
Once registered and your radio is programmed your radio location is tracked and associated with D-Star repeaters close to you so that other people who also have D-Start compatible radios can connect to you through the D-Star network. The core of the network is the internet which links the nodes together around the world.