A variety of "voice over IP," or VOIP, systems are currently available for amateur radio use. Most VOIP systems can be accessed either via RF links which connect repeaters or simplex frequencies to the VOIP system over the internet. This allows users of one amateur repeater to talk to other hams on a distant frequency or simplex frequency. In general, a link radio is used to funnel analog audio from the RF frequency to a PC soundcard, which digitizes the audio. The VOIP system system then routes the digitized audio to the internet where it is sent to either another gateway node or to a server/reflector which redistributes the audio.

One of first such VOIP systems is the Internet Repeater LInking Project, or IRLP. IRLP is a LInux-based system created by a group of dedicated Candadian amateurs to provide a linking system which is fully compliant with the radio regulations of Canada as well as Great Britain and Australia. The IRLP system is currently growing at about 50 new gateways per month and is projected to have over 1,000 nodes worldwide by January, 2003.

A VOIP system based on Microsoft Windows software was launched in May, 2001, by Graeme, MØCSH. The VOIP system, called I-link, allows ham radio users to link repeaters across the world from either a computer connected to the internet or from a radio using DTMF tones. In 2002, K1RFD created an enhanced, more user friendly version of the repeater linking software called Echolink. The Echolink software provides many new features when compared to I-link, and now has its own servers. Over 40,000 Echolink user and gateway identification numbers have been issued to date.

Steve, WØSTV, has set up a Echolink gateway node on the RARC 146.625/146.025 repeater located in downtown Rochester on the Mayo Clinic building. The W0STV-R Echolink gateway station consists of a computer connected to the internet and a interface board connected to a 2 meter radio. The gateway computer is able to connect audio from the internet to the repeater input and the repeater output audio to the internet.

The following is a brief description of how to access the Echolink gateway node on the 146.625/146.025 repeater. For specific questions on operation on the WØSTV-R gateway node, contact Steve, WØSTV.

Accessing Echolink Node From Your Radio

The Echolink node on the 146.625/246/025 repeater can be accessed from a 2 meter radio tuned to the repeater frequency. The station identification code for the WØSTV-R node is 420993. (To find the identification codes for other stations, see the site The site provides the ability to locate Echolink nodes using a clickable map.

The Echolink gateway will respond to the following commands using DTMF tones from the radio. The following is a list of the basic commands and functions necessary to use a Echolink node. For a complete list of all commands, see Echolink Help.

Command Description DTMF Code
Connect Connects to a station on the internet, based on its node number. The node numbers can be 4, 5 or 6 digits. nnnnnn
Random Node Selects an available node (of any type) at random, tries to connect to it. 00
Random Link Selects an available link or repeater (-L or -R) at random and tries to connect to it. 01
Random Conf Selects a conference server at random and tried to connect to it.. 02
Random User Selects an available single-user station at random and tries to connect to it. . 03
Status Announces the callsign of each station currently connected. 08
Reconnect Reconnects to the station that was most recently disconnected. 09
Disconnect Disconnects the station that is currently connected. If more than one station is connected, disconnects only the most-recently-connected station. #
Play Information Plays a brief ID message. *

To establish a Echolink connection, perform the following steps:

  1. It is recommended that you first identify your station on the repeater and that you are attempting Echolink operation.
  2. Optionally, you can determine if the Echolink gateway is operational by keying a "*" DTMF tone. The gateway node will respond with status information.
  3. Key the four or five digit station code for the station or repeater that you wish to link to.
  4. After a few seconds delay, the Echolink node will respond with a "Connected" message if the link was successful. If the link was not successful, key a "#" to disconnect the gateway node.
  5. Following a successful connection, announce your presence on the linked repeater by calling CQ, etc.
  6. During a QSO using linked repeaters, let the 146.625/146.025 repeater tail completely drop before transmitting to avoid any timeout problems.
  7. At the end of the QSO, disconnect the link by keying a "#" DTMF tone. The Echolink gateway will respond with confirmation that the link has been disconnected.

Accessing Echolink From Your Computer

Perform the following the access a Echolink station or repeater from your computer.

  1. Download and install the iLink user program from the Echolink web site..
  2. Verify that you have a microphone properly connected to your computer and the the microphone input volume level is properly adjusted.
  3. Connect to the internet and run the Echolink user program.
  4. Select a station or repeater to link to from the displayed Echolink station link.
  5. Once connected, use the Enter key or spacebar to toggle between transmit and receive.

Web Links

Last update: February 18, 2013