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SOTA Net?

A while ago the possibility of running a SOTA net was discussed here. Unfortunately it never came to anything as it was not possible to choose a frequency or mode that everyone could join in with. At the time I suggested using Skype. However a much better option (and one that can involve radio) might well be Echolink.

I have been experimenting with a personal Echolink node which covers a wide area. I use it to chat to some friends in the US and it has proved very successful. Over favourable paths it covers 20 miles or more. However, if you don’t want to set up your own node, there are many open RF nodes available that can easily be connected together to form an international net. The linking can even be done automatically at a preset time using software called “Echolink Producer”.

Even if you can’t access a node or internet linked repeater, Echolink can be accessed directly from a PC or even a smartphone/iPhone (free app). I realise that some people object to Echolink on philosophical grounds and will not wish to participate, but that does not stop the rest of us taking advantage.

To allow maximum participation an early evening net (Eu time) on a Saturday, might work well for Eu and NA?

Echolink is free and effective. To participate you need to prove that you have a valid amateur radio licence.

http://www.echolink.org/

Feel free to call me at G3CWI-L Node# 611072

73

Richard
G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:

To make a usable net, don’t we need an Echolink conference server?

How many simultaneous connections can your personal node support?

In reply to M1MAJ:

No we don’t necessarily need a server. A standard link can support 7(?) connections and those can (I guess) be other links with seven connections. I assume that if we get some interest we can arrange to have a conference server?

73

Richard
G3CWI

In reply to G3CWI:

Martyn

A glance at the status page here…

http://echolink.g4eid.co.uk/status/all_conferences.html

…shows that there are many unused conferences. As a start we could perhaps borrow one of them? I note that one is called “paradise” - sounds perfect!

73

Richard
G3CWI

PS on further investigation it appear that I can host up to 99 people if my internet connection is up to it. http://www.echolink.org/conf.htm

In reply to G3CWI:
Sounds like a good idea to me richard i for one would be willing to give it a go i just need to reinstall echolink best 73s Dave M3XIE

In reply to M3XIE-1:

Thanks Dave. There are a few who have expressed interest. Tom 'EYP suggests that I have a go at running it and see how it works out.

Anyone wishing to join in using a PC or Smartphone/iPhone will need to download and install the free Echolink software and get their licence validated. Those wishing to participate using RF will need to locate their nearest Echolink equipped repeater or link (6m/4m/2m/70cm/23cm) and find out how the connect this to my link. This is usually done very simply by dialling my link number (611072) using the DTMF dialer in almost all radios these days (it is usually a menu option even in radios with no keypad). It would be best to try all this out beforehand so that you understand how things work.

One of the nice things about using this approach is that it would be quite possible to join in the net from just about anywhere - including on a summit!

As a “proof of concept” test I will run a net this Saturday at 1900z . Feel free to log in to my node beforehand to check everything works.

73
Richard
G3CWI

Echolink G3CWI-L 611072

PS If anyone wants a hand with setting things up, contact me at g3cwi@tesco.net

Several people have logged to my node in this evening so it looks like I will not be all alone on Saturday for the SOTA net!

73

Richard
G3CWI

I hope to be on the net on Saturday, while camping in Essex (close to Manningtree, Suffolk border). I cannot find an IRLP repeaters down there on the lists, but do note a node in Clacton-on-Sea and another in Ipswich.

I am assured that most rigs have internal DTMF dialler memories, but I can’t find any evidence of them on my FT-897 or instruction manual. I haven’t checked on the FT-817 yet, but again, there seems no mention of them in the manual.

Can anyone confirm whether these exist or not on these rigs, or is it DTMF mike or bust?

Tom M1EYP

In reply to M1EYP:

DTMF mike is one way. Or use the other source of DTMF tones you carry around with you.

Andy
MM0FMF

In reply to M1EYP:

Your handy is the best bet. It will have a DTMF dialer - even if it does not have a keypad. I will check out the repeater list for you.

A further four or five people accessed my node today.

73

Richard
G3CWI

Feel free to call me at G3CWI-L Node# 611072

Eureka! (In reply to Andy)

In reply to M1EYP:

I once saw a TV clip where a trained parrot was emulating a DTMF sequence. Could that be an option? :wink:

73 Bernhard DL4CW

In reply to DL4CW:

I once saw a TV clip where a trained parrot was emulating a DTMF
sequence. Could that be an option? :wink:

Not if you are in a hurry!

In reply to M1EYP:

I’ve used my handy to generate DTMF tones to dial phone calls. Many payphones disable the keypad until you have put some money in the slot. This stops you picking up the handset and dialing a calling card service and forces you to pay the very high charges some private payphone companies charge. As long as the microphone on the phone handset is live you can use your handy to dial the ‘800’ number and then send your PIN etc.

You can also use your mobile phone to generate DTMF as well. There’s probably ‘an app for it’ for people using phones were design comes before function. (I’m looking at you Steve Jobs!)

Andy, MM0FMF
(developing webbed feet to cope with the rain currently falling)

In reply to MM0FMF:

For use on the radio I find that setting the DTMF dial speed to low and the gap to 100ms works most reliably. A delay of up to a second before the string goes out helps to ensure that everything on the RF side works properly before the string is passed.

My personal Echolink system is working very well with wide coverage. Drove for nearly an hour yesterday chatting to some friends in the US - FQ all the way. Mind you it needs a big blower…

73

Richard
G3CWI

Dear all

Four more have connected to my node today including Tom M1EYP/p camping in Essex. It’s quite interesting to chat to someone many miles away using a handportable at either end of the link (me on 2m Tom on 70cm).

Looks like the net is going to work from a technical perspective.

73

Richard
G3CWI

Echolink 611072 G3CWI-L

I’m glad to see this is working, Richard. I noticed that there is a QRP conference on Echolink that never seems to have anyone logged in whenever I check it and wondered if that would be a good thing to use.

Julian, G4ILO

In reply to G4ILO:

Hi Julian

The Echolink SOTA net system seems to be working very well. Roger MW0IDX was just chatting to Tom in his tent in Essex and I have been talking to James G7MLO camping in Somerset. I also had a chat with Carolyn G6WRW last night.

Up to 99 stations can connect to a link so there should not be a problem with capacity - even without a dedicated conference server. Not everyone doing SOTA uses QRP so in the same way that SOTA operators usually tend to avoid QRP frequencies, it may not be appropriate to “take over” a QRP conference (albeit that it is hardly used!).

The net on Saturday will be largely a “proof of concept” test. I had not imagined that many would be interested. However looking at the number of log-ins so far, there may be more on than I would have expected. I initially thought of accessing the net from a summit but I think a more direct hands-on approach will be appropriate.

73

Richard
G3CWI

G3CWI-L Echolink 611072