HCRA – IRLP Node #7270
IRLP Operating Guidelines
Thanks to Dave Cameron VE7LTD, Amateur Radio is receiving a new breath of life through his Internet Radio Linking Project. Many repeaters around the world that were next to empty are now alive and well with radio amateurs now speaking with other hams around the world. The HCRA has sponsored a local IRLP node. This is the KX1X node #7270, simplex repeater on 146.46 MHz with a PL of 123.0.
As with any new technology, it does take some time to adapt to operating procedures that differ from conventional FM repeater use. This work in progress can serve as a guideline for those wishing to use the HCRA IRLP enabled simplex repeater node.
ACCESSING THE HCRA NODE
The HCRA IRLP node is an “open” node. This means ANYONE who is a licensed ham may use the node. It is not necessary to be a member of HCRA to, however your membership in HCRA helps with support for the project. Use of the node is extremely simple; the hardest part is choosing which node you wish to connect to since there are over 900 worldwide!
There are only two codes you need to remember to use the node
These two codes are:
Connect to another node/reflector = nnnn (simply enter the 4 digit node number)
Disconnect = 73
For example, if you wish to connect to Antarctica first look up their node number. A list of all the nodes is available at http://www.irlp.net/status.html I’ll help you out here and give you a hint; it’s node #8880.
I would check (by listening) to be sure the node is not in use, then key my mic and announce “this is KK1W, Jim in Brimfield, Massachusetts, USA connecting to node #8880”, then press ‘8880 on my touchtone pad. I’d release my microphone and wait for the node connect announcement from Antarctica to come back from the HCRA node. When I’m done with the QSO, I’d simply key my mic, announce “KK1W releasing node #8880”, and then press ‘#73 on my touchtone pad. The HCRA repeater will announce the disconnect and the node may now be connected to a different node, reflector, or it will standby waiting for another user.
So, if you can remember that the node number turns on (and connects) a node and #73 turns off (and disconnects) you’ve got it made!
Once you become familiar with the node, here’s a few more useful codes you can use:
#411 = The node will tell you what (if any) node is connected
Direct connect is just like it sounds where repeater (node) “A” connects direct with node “B”. With this type of link the two nodes are interconnected and no other IRLP connections are possible. While repeaters “A” and “B” are connected, anyone attempting to connect with either node will be told by a recording that – “The node you are calling is currently connected tocallsign” however all local traffic on each repeater will be heard on the other repeater as well.
While Direct Connect is preferred for a city to city chat, the most common type of connection in use today is via the Indianapolis Reflector ( Ref 9200 ). A reflector is a Linux computer that is not connected to any radio but rather sits on lots of internet bandwidth capable of allowing many repeaters to be inter-connected together by streaming the received audio back to all other connected stations. At any given time there are usually 10 to 20 repeaters around the world interconnected via this Reflector. You can always check which stations are connected to the reflector by visiting http://status.irlp.net and looking for nodes connected to individual nodes or reflectors.
Due to the slight increase in delays created by multiple Tone Squelch radios in the links between the repeater and IRLP link radio, a slight change in our normal operating procedures is required with IRLP.
By leaving a pause between transmissions it …..
Reflector Guidelines Courtesy
Along the same line, if two stations become engaged in an extended dialog involving only themselves, then I would recommend they both move off the reflector and make a direct node to node connection, freeing up the reflector for others. If more than two nodes are involved, then moving to one of the lesser used reflectors might be an alternative, especially if one of the stations can check the web site for an available reflector. In the future, moving to one of the available sub-channels will become an option.
Calling CQ DX 🙂
It IS acceptable to talk about the weather, or anything else that is geographically significant. But like anything else, within reason. A station in Indiana that says to a Colorado op, “Hey I heard that you have a mountain out there” will probably cause eyes to roll worldwide.
In general though, long winded, channel consuming conversations should be avoided. Remember there are usually a dozen or two connected systems, with perhaps hundreds of users that might like a chance to use the system.
A few other Reflector operational guidelines:
Being BLOCKED from Reflectors.
Nodes are usually blocked for a technical malfunction, such as a locked COS, open squelch noise, extended hang time, or your repeater ID (with no user traffic) or courtesy beeps audible to IRLP, or any other problem that that impairs operation of the Reflector. Your node may also be blocked for rapid fire local traffic making it impossible for nodes to break in between transmissions.
The reflector control ops may try to contact a local control op on the air to advise the problem, however this may not always be possible. It is important that the node owner respond to the e-mail message advising the problem has been corrected.
If you have any other specific questions I can address, please send them along.
MAKING A DIRECT CONNECTION
Once connected and after hearing the confirming voice ID, wait at least 15 seconds before transmitting as…….
Press and hold the microphone PTT for a second and then announce your presence and your intention such as you are calling someone specifically or just looking for a QSO with another ham in that city.
If no response is heard, announce your call and your intent to drop the link and then touch- tone in the OFF code. Not a good idea to transmit touch-tone commands without first giving your call-sign. Not only is this courteous it is a regulatory issue in some countries who may be connected to the reflector.
Some nodes are configured so you cannot connect to them if that repeater is active. In this case you will receive the message “The node you are calling is being used locally” If you receive this message wait 5 or 10 minutes and then try again.
If you stay connected to a node and there is no activity on your repeater for 4 minutes, the connection will time out and automatically disconnect with a voice ID disconnect message on both nodes.
WHAT ARE THE NODE CODES?
CONNECTING TO THE REFLECTOR
Don’t be in a hurry to hear someone come back to you. You may have to do a bid of pleading from time-to-time to un-lodge someone from whatever they are currently involved with.
By default, connections to the reflectors now time out with no activity however many node owners set this period for a long period so it is not unusual for repeaters with minimal traffic to stay connected to the Reflector for extended periods of time. When or if the node times out from a Reflector connection a standard time-out greeting will precede the timeout saying,“Activity time out … Reflector xxxx, link off”
If you hear or wish to engage in a prolonged rag-chew on your local repeater (long discussion of a local nature) out of courtesy to other node listeners drop the reflector.
Many users of IRLP express desires to exchange QSL cards. With many IRLP users not being on HF they may have never considered having QSL cards printed. Now here is a new Internet technology for you to easily exchange QSL cards.
eQSL is an electronic QSL service that allows you to custom design your own card which is then formatted with your contact info and automatically sent to your contact. You are able to create your custom card from many graphical templates provided or upload your own graphic to the eQSL web site. This graphic is then used to automatically generate all of your outgoing cards with the contact information.
The eQSL web site is http://www.eQSL.cc You can check right now to see if you already have cards waiting by placing your call in the form and pressing Search.
The eQSL service is free, supported by some advertising and private donations.
Of course there is nothing like getting a real QSL card via the bureau or direct. If sending cards direct your remember that your local postage is not valid outside of your country so include a US dollar bill or an IRC to cover return postage.
Enjoy IRLP and pass the word.
Jim, KK1W (thanks to Paul VE3SY, for writing the bulk of this piece)