Information about KBØLCR's IRLP Node

Internet Radio Linking Project

Amateur operators in the Watertown Area have access to the IRLP system of linked radios and repeaters. IRLP allows you to talk to stations ("nodes") all over the world using a UHF transceiver, and you only need a Technician Class Amateur License to do it!


Automated Net Schedule

Watertown's IRLP node is now configured to automatically connect to several reflectors. Everyone is encouraged to participate in these nets. When the node has automatically connected to a node, you do not need to do anything special to use it whatsoever, just talk!

Day(s) Connect Disconnect Node Information
Mon, Wed, Fri 6:00 AM 10:00 AM 9732 Crossroads Reflector • Regional reflector, usually also connected to Aberdeen, Fargo, Ellendale, Mina, etc.
Tue & Thu 6:00 AM 8:55 AM
Tue 9:00 AM 10:30 AM 9251 Worldwide Friendship Net
Thu 9:00 AM 10:30 AM 9668 Say Good Morning with Radio Net
Fri 7:00 PM 8:30 PM 9668 Friday Night International IRLP Open Forum Net
Sat & Sun 1:00 AM 3:00 AM 9100 Insomniac Net

All times are CDT / CST. Other nets are also available by clicking here. Any suggestions for other nets will be gladly added to the schedule. Contact Me with your suggestions.

How to use IRLP

First things first: Don't be overwhelmed!! Using the IRLP node is simple (and fun).

NOTE: Please do not connect to a node if you don't plan on identifying yourself. This includes "testing" to see if you can connect to a node. If you do not identify yourself while connected to the node it is the same as "ker-chunking" a repeater, which is technically illegal.

Local Nodes
Node Callsign Location Frequency Tone
South Dakota
3108 WAØMFZ Rapid City 147.5700 146.2
3263 KBØLCR Watertown 443.7250 146.2
3266 KDØS Pierre 146.5650 146.2
7346 KCØTJN Sioux Falls 444.2000 82.5
7046 NØAHL Aberdeen 147.0300 146.2
7449 NØJPE Fairview 146.5600 67.0
7817 KCØWNG Miller 440.6500 241.8
7976 WØFUI Hot Springs 146.4750 146.2

Incoming Calls

In addition to making outbound calls, our node is open to receive inbound calls. Feel free to answer incoming callers just as you would answer someone local making a call on the repeater. You DO NOT need to dial anything to talk to an incoming caller. If you hear someone connect to the repeater and make a random call that you would like to answer, you simply key up your transmitter and talk!

Also please note that my callsign is listed as the node operator, so some of the incoming calls may be calling for me specifically. If I do not answer them (and I probably won't because I'm usually very busy), feel free to "step in" and chat with them.

Legal Stuff

When using IRLP to communicate with remote nodes, you must observe the same rules and courtesy that you normally do on ham radio. There are also a few other considerations to be made, to ensure that you are not operating inappropriately or illegally. Most importantly, understand that when you connect to a remote node, you are taking remote control of a radio somewhere else in the world, and you must obey all the rules that apply locally and remotely. One very common mistake that operators make is forgetting to identify themselves on the remote node before they disconnect. As you know, you must give your callsign at least every 10 minutes during a QSO and at the end of the QSO. If you disconnect from the remote node before giving your callsign one last time or do not give your callsign at all during the link, you are breaking the law. This also includes connecting to remote nodes "just to test". You absolutely must give your callsign before the link is disconnected.

Background Information

One of the newest innovations in amateur radio involves linking repeaters to other repeaters via the internet. The idea of linking repeaters is by no means new. Many repeaters are linked to other repeaters using landline, microwave, UHF, and whatever else the amateur radio community can dream up. The 146.670MHz Garden City repeater is linked to the South Dakota Link system via 70 cm.

The idea of linking repeaters via the internet is very similar to the many other methods. The only real difference is the medium used to perform the link. The internet has grown to such a huge entity that it would only make sense to use it to link distant repeaters. It is much less expensive than dedicated landline links, and more reliable than long distance RF links. Plus, the links that are made via the internet are virtual, so they don't necessarily need to be permanent. This lets you "dial up" links rather than having repeaters "hot linked" to one another.

Several groups and companies have developed their own versions of linking repeaters via the internet. Although most of them differ in their methods, they are all based on a technology called VoIP, or Voice over IP (IP is the Internet Protocol that everything on the internet uses to communicate). Using a standard computer sound card, any audio stream can be converted to digial format, then fed into a VoIP program to be transmitted across the internet. Sounds complicated, but it works well!

Most amateur radio operators today have heard of EchoLink. This is probably the most popular method of linking repeaters using VoIP. There is some debate however whether or not EchoLink is truly Ham radio. The reason for this is that participants don't actually need a radio at all to communicate with other users. All you really need to use EchoLink is a computer with a microphone and speakers, and an internet connection. And, although the EchoLink system requires that you enter a valid callsign to begin using their system, it wouldn't be very hard for a non-licensed individual to pick a random callsign, download the software, and begin using EchoLink to talk with other licensed radio operators. Despite this, EchoLink is still an excellent means of implementing VoIP for the amateur radio community.

IRLP is an acronym for Internet Radio Linking Project, and was started by a group of hams in Canada. The system backbone uses the robust Linux Operating System along with many layers of security. IRLP has become very popular because of its ease of use and quality of audio in the links. It is often hard to tell if you are talking to a local station or a link station.

For more technical information about IRLP, please see their webpage.

Enjoy and 73 to all,
-Kevin Harrington (KBØLCR)

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