Tutorial on using the Echolink program

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Tutorial on using the Echolink program Powered By Docstoc

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                        Using Echolink
 Echolink is a communications program written by Jonathan Taylor, K1RFD for
Amateur Radio Operators across the world.

 Its purpose is to provide a link between radios, repeaters and licensed operators
which is done using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). The program enables
worldwide connections to be made between amateur stations, from computer to
station, or from computer to computer.

 As a single user of the program you do not have to possess an amateur radio to
converse with operators worldwide but you do have to have a current, verifiable
amateur radio license in order to use the program.

 The purpose of this presentation is to show the benefit of using Echolink in
Emergency communications and its ease of use in NTS message handling.

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                       Using Echolink
 You might ask, “ What has this got to do with EmComm?”, or “ Why do I need
this program. Isn't the internet going to go down during a storm?” or possibly, “ I
have my HF rig and I can get to anyone that I want to talk to.”

  There will be occasions where a message needs to be sent and you are not
by your station but a PC with an internet connection is close at hand. At other
times you may have a message to deliver to a location and no one from that
area is on the regular traffic net. If the internet is down at your location, you can
still use your radio to connect to another operator and get a message outside of
your affected area.

 Echolink can be used to send and receive voice or text information to an
individual operator, and voice information to a repeater or HF station, or
another operators linked radio in many areas around the world. Through the
use of internet linked radios, Echolink becomes a useful tool in global
communications and EmComm.

  (Some Emergency Operation Centers such as KA4EOC in Tallahassee
Florida use Echolink as another method of communication and relaying
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                      Using Echolink

                                                   An example of Echolink in

 On this screen you can see that the operator is connected in conference to the
Amateur Radio Newsline to receive the latest Ham News. There are many different
conferences available and you can create your own, if you choose.

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                     Using Echolink
                        Let's get started!
 The first item you will need is a copy of the program which is available from


 The program is designed to operate with Windows 95 and later versions of
Windows and will work with the Linux operating system using the Wine
Windows emulator with minor adaptation*.

(*minor adaptation – under Linux you will need to use the native volume
controls for adjusting microphone and speaker volume as the volume controls
inside of Echolink will not work properly)

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                       Using Echolink
  On the Echolink download screen,follow the instructions to enter your call sign
and email address which registers the program and click on submit. The file is a
self-extracting installer, which installs the program and the help file. Download this
file to your hard drive and then open it to begin installation. (In Linux, right click on
the file and select open with Wine Emulator)

  After installing, you can run EchoLink from the Programs section of your Start
menu. (in Linux you will have a desktop shortcut to the program or it can be run
from the Wine program files area)

 Before using Echolink you must run the program once. For now, leave the
defaults for single user mode as they are. Enter your callsign, password, location,
and email information on the System setup screen and select OK, then go to
Echolink at;


to validate your current amateur radio license.

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                        Using Echolink

  “If you wish to be validated, the document you send must be a photocopy (or digital
photograph) of the Amateur license, showing the callsign under which you are
requesting validation. The copy must clearly show the station license expiration date,
if applicable in your country. If you live in a country where operator licenses and
station licenses are separate documents, you must provide the station (or apparatus)
license. You must send an un-altered image of the document, not the text of its
contents.” (from Echolink)

 For validation a computer scanned copy of your license in JPG, GIF, TIF, PDF, or
PNG form is acceptable and must be less than 5 mega bytes in file size.
 There are a couple of other options for validation available such as faxing or by
phone and these options are explained on the web site.

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Echolink Screen Layout

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                   Single User Mode
 Single user mode does not require a connection to an amateur radio. In this mode
all you need is a microphone and speakers or headphones connected to your
computer and to set the proper volume levels for them.

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                       Single User Mode
                                                       Once your license has been
                                                       validated, the program will
                                                       become active and available
                                                       stations will be displayed in the
                                                       main windows.
                                                        It is suggested that you adjust
                                                       microphone and volume levels
                                                       (click on Tools and select adjust
                                                       sound device) before making
                                                       contact. You can easily test
                                                       your settings by choosing
                                                       connect to test server from the
                                                       Station drop down menu.

  Once you have selected a station or conference to connect to, you click on the green
connect icon in the tool bar to connect. To disconnect, you click on the red disconnect
  Transmitting is performed by clicking on the yellow lightning bolt icon or by pressing
the space bar on your keyboard. Your Amateur Radio License rules and protocols
apply when you are transmitting a voice or text signal.
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                      Single User Mode
                                                         While you are in QSO with a
                                                       station you can also type text
                                                       messages...just type in the text
                                                       and press send.
                                                         You may copy and paste text
                                                       from a file into the text entry
                                                       box and then press the Send
                                                       button, so a previously saved
                                                       text file becomes easy to send,
                                                       which can be useful for sending
                                                       a radiogram, or other text

 If you are sending sensitive information, such as medical or private information,
always assume that this information can be viewed or heard by others. It is
recommended to NOT use this software for private or sensitive information.

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                       Single User Mode
                                                                    This Echolink web
                                                                   page shows stations
                                                                   that are close to the
                                                                   authors point of
                                                                   operation which can
                                                                   be single users, linked
                                                                   radios or linked
                                                                   repeater systems.

 You can go to http://www.echolink.org/links.jsp and enter your latitude and longitude,
your grid locator, or city,state and country to find connections close to you.

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                        Using Echolink

 There is more information available to you on single user mode and custom
settings of Echolink which can be found in the extensive help file built into the
program or in the user guide which can be downloaded from the Echolink web

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                       Using Echolink

    This concludes the presentation for the single user mode in Echolink

  The next section to be presented is the Sysop mode of Echolink which uses an
interface to link the computer to your radio.

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            Sysop mode of Echolink
  Echolink can be used to extend the range of a common frequency (simplex) or a
frequency pair (repeater). This can be useful to connect a community or an event
which is outside of normal communication range back to the main point of
communication such as a repeater or central command.

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          Sysop mode of Echolink
 This image depicts one method of using Echolink to link a repeater to an area
outside of the repeaters normal range of operation.
 The “Station B” computer could also be connected directly to the repeater,
eliminating the need for the second transceiver and antenna.

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            Sysop mode of Echolink
 In order to use the Link or Repeater Sysop modes of Echolink it is necessary to have
some form of sound card interface between the computer and your radio.

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             Sysop mode of Echolink
 When you use sysop mode you must re-validate your license with Echo link for
each suffix which is appended to your station ID. The screens for Sysop mode will
remain blank until the amendment to the station ID has been approved.

  The suffix, usually -L for Link or -R for repeater, changes the behavior of
Echolink for the sysop mode of operation and will let other operators know what
type of link you are running. There are other suffixes which may be used such as -C
for conference.

 The link and repeater functions are used to make the programming connection
between a radio and the computer as the sound card interface makes the physical
connection. The radio may be set for a simplex frequency and you would use the -
L suffix. If it is set for a repeater frequency or if the computer is connected directly to
a repeater, then you would choose the -R suffix.

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             Sysop mode of Echolink
 Before linking to a repeater frequency, it is common courtesy to request permission
to do so from the owner or operator of the repeater.

 There is a certain amount of setup to be done in link or repeater operation if
signals other than voice are to be passed through the radio or repeater.
 DTMF tones can be used by Echolink to control its operation remotely. These
tones can be differentiated so that tones destined for a repeater are passed through
to the repeater controller, and tones for the Echolink program are acted on by the
 Echolink can also be remotely controlled by the use of a voice modem if the
computer is connected to a land line. Most DTMF tones, except A B C D, can be
passed on a regular touch tone phone.

 Echolink will work “out of the box” in link or repeater operation but it is beyond the
scope of this presentation to go into great detail on these settings as each situation
will different, but there is a wealth of information in the help file and the users
manual to aid in determining what settings will need to be adjusted.

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             Sysop mode of Echolink
 By Federal Communications rules, any station in operation must have a control
operator. This remains the case when using Echolink software to control the radio.

 If you are going to be with the station while it is in operation, as in the case of
testing the equipment, then setup for linked operation is very easy.

 There are three items that must be set for proper operation....

 Microphone Volume- click on Tools and select adjust sound device

 Speaker Volume- click on Tools and select adjust sound device

 Push to talk settings- click on Tools, select Sysop settings, and choose TX ctrl.

  The Mic and Speaker volume have been discussed in Single User Mode. For the
Push to Talk settings you will need to consult the information that comes with your
sound card interface to find which setting is right for your system. Echolink has a
variety of options for setting Push to Talk and there is much information in the help
file and Users manual.

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              Sysop mode of Echolink
 Remote operation requires you to monitor operation of the station and have the
capability to control it from your location. This can be accomplished by a number of

 The use of DTMF signals through a radio can control the operation of the Echolink

 The remote Echolink program could be controlled through the internet by the use of
remote console which is available to Windows and Linux operating systems (this method
may reduce the bandwidth available to Echolink and is not recommended for a “dial up”

 DTMF signals can be sent through the phone line to a voice modem on the remote
computer to control the Echolink software.

 A qualified amateur operator can remain with the remote PC to control the software or
station manually, receiving instruction from you on what actions to take.

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             Sysop mode of Echolink
 If you are using more than one mode of operation or changing settings on a
regular basis it is useful to be able to save your settings for the next time that you
use the program. Echolink has a function for Profiles that will allow you to do this.
 First you set up Echolink as you want it then click on File on the menu bar and
select Profiles...

                                  You will get a pop dialog like the one on the left.
                                   Select New and give your profile a name. You
                                 can set Echolink to open this dialog each time the
                                 program is run or you can choose to have short
                                 cuts to profiles placed on your desktop.

 Any changes that are made to settings are saved when you exit Echolink so the
profile is updated each time you use it.

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              Sysop mode of Echolink
    This concludes the presentation for the sysop mode of

It is hoped that this presentation has been found useful to you as an aid in making the
    Echolink software work for your communications needs.

                  Credits and contact info are found on the next slide.

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                    Credits and contact


 Author: Alan McGrew KC4MTS EC Hernando County ARES
          email: kc4mts@bellsouth.net
 Carmen McGrew ( XYL ) – for putting up with me while I prepared yet another
 Jonathan Taylor, K1RFD – for making a very useable and useful program.
 Hernando County Emergency Communication Services – for supporting local Emcomm
  Hernando County ARES – To the guys and girls at HCARES that have to learn this stuff
and much thanks for supporting local and Florida state Emcomm needs.

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