The club has two systems that provide fun and useful services to east Dallas and lake area hams.
Echolink is a fascinating technology that provides links between Echolink-connected hams all over the world. A ham might be using a PC, smartphone or tablet running the Echolink application, or a radio talking through a repeater or a simplex node like ours.
Graphic courtesy echolink.org
You’ve probably heard Morse Code on 147.52 MHz; that’s the Echolink node IDing with the club callsign each hour in CW.
How can you use Echolink? Well, the easiest way to experience it is to monitor 147.52 MHz and see who drops in! If you hear a computerized voice announcing a call, that means someone has just connected. Wait for a moment and see if they call CQ, and, if not, give them a call. If you only caught a partial call, just say your call and perhaps “QRZ to the station on Echolink.” Hopefully, they’ll come back and you’ll have a memorable QSO. When you complete your contact, they will disconnect at their end. All you have to do is monitor White Rock Simplex!
A few pointers when communicating with a station via Echolink:
- Leave a pause before you transmit.
- The party coming in on Echolink is on VOX so their audio might clip. Also, their audio quality is dependent on their Internet bandwidth, so some QSOs will be better than others.
Ready for the next step? Install the free Echolink application on your smartphone, tablet PC or desktop computer or laptop. Feel free to connect to WA5WRL-L so you can see how it works (turn your radio down or you’ll hear an echo).
Then, feel free to use Echolink on your phone or laptop to come up on White Rock Simplex whenever you’re out of direct radio range.
The club Echolink node is hosted on a dedicated computer and transceiver at K5YR’s QTH in the Peninsula neighborhood just east of the lake
Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) iGate
APRS is a digital packet ham radio protocol that provides position and other information from ham equipped mobiles, fixed stations, weather stations, digital hotspots and other interesting “objects.” In the US, APRS activity is on 144.39 MHz FM.
APRS equipped stations send short, automatic data packet transmissions. Digital repeaters (digipeaters) extend the range of these transmissions by repeating any packets they hear. Internet gateway stations (iGates) then relay all the packets to the Internet. So, APRS activity throughout the world can be viewed in real-time on a Google map at www.aprs.fi. In addition, several APRS applications are available for iPhones and Android phones.
Our area is served by a receive only iGate hosted by K5YR from the Peninsula neighborhood just east of the lake. The iGate offers good local coverage, even from an APRS-equipped handheld. If you send an APRS packet from anywhere around the lake, chances are good that the iGate will receive it and forward it on to the APRS server. It will then appear on the aprs.fi map shortly thereafter.
If you click on the “Info” link from the WA5WRL-10 icon on the aprs.fi map, you’ll see all sorts of interesting information. Much of the data on that page is clickable and sortable. Give it a try!
Here’s a great help page explaining all the features of the aprs.fi map.