Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society

Node 4424 (VHF) is operational

RATS has implemented Internet Radio Linking Protocol onthe W4RAT VHF repeater!  Now, you can talk to repeaters all over the world any time you can access the 146.88 repeater.  Open to all Amateur Radio Operators with a Technician or higher class license, you can now expand your ham radio horizons with this service. RATS encourages all hams that can access the repeaters to give this mode a try!

IRLP is a method of using Voice Over IP to connect repeaters seamlessly throughout the world.  You can connect point-to-point, or use reflectors to connect multiple repeaters together for nets or other uses.

Using IRLP is easy.  You need a radio with a DTMF (TouchTone┬«) pad, and a node number to connect to.  Node numbers can be found by going to the IRLP Project page on the web at http://irlp.net, then clicking on the “NODE INFO” link in the left menu, then on the “Connected Nodes and Reflector status” or the “List of nodes and Frequencies” links in the center of that page.  Once you’ve found a node to connect to, the procedure is as follows.

To place an outgoing call over IRLP

  1.  Listen to ensure the repeater is not in use.

  2.  Identify with your call sign and state what you're doing:  "This is AB1CDE accessing IRLP."

  3.  Using your radio's DTMF keypad, while transmitting, send # followed by the 4-digit node number, or the reflector and channel number.  For example, to connect to Williamsburg, send #4943.  Release the PTT and allow a few moments for the repeaters to link up.

  4.  Listen once again to ensure the distant repeater is not in use (you could be "butting in" on someone's QSO)

  5.  Place your call.  Press the PTT, then pause.  Transmit about two seconds of dead air, then begin speaking.  "AC2DEF this is AB1CDE over IRLP."  Release the PTT, then allow some time for the other party to respond.  Repeat as necessary.

While you are connected

  • The person who brings up the link is responsible for ensuring its proper operation, and for dropping the link when it is no longer needed.  At the first indication of any improper operation at either end of the link, such as music, sound effects, jamming, profanity, or other inappropriate conduct, you must immediately drop the link by entering #73.

  • Remember to pause between transmissions.  A delay of 2-3 seconds is common over IRLP, and all parties should try to observe at least a 3-second pause between transmissions to allow remote stations to jump in over the link.

  • Remember to pause before speaking.  The additional pause at the beginning of each transmission is to allow time for the various parts of the IRLP system to "link up."  It's less critical nowadays with modern hardware and fast Internet connections becoming more common, but until you know how a particular node or reflector performs, it's a good technique to ensure the first part of your transmission isn't cut off each time.

When you are finished

  1.  Identify with your call sign and state what you're doing:  "This is AB1CDE dropping the link."

  2.  Using your radio's DTMF keypad, while transmitting, enter #73.  Release the PTT and allow a few moments for the call to disconnect.  You will hear a confirmation announcement when the link drops.  If you don't hear this within 10 seconds, you will need to try again.

  3.  Make any additional local or IRLP calls, or identify and clear the repeater.

The IRLP system is set to time out after a period of inactivity at either end.  If you have a special need for a lengthy, uninterrupted connection to a distant IRLP system, you will need to coordinate this with both the RATS Technical Committee and the owner of the distant system.  We are happy to make the necessary configuration change on our end with the approval of the distant system owner.  (Similarly, they may need to adjust their end.)

Remember that when connected to remote nodes, be mindful of local commute times and other peak repeater usage periods that may differ from our local time zone.  Experience has shown that hams in other parts of the world aren’t too interested in local politics, so it's best to stick to more neutral topics.

The Technical Committee can answer any questions you may have about IRLP usage. Please e-mail the RATS Technical Committee, we’ll try our best to help!

Our thanks to Ron McMurdy WA0OJS and Ralph Stoffel N3KZS, for their invaluable assistance in getting this new service for hams on the air. The installation was completed on September 15, 2006, and the RATS IRLP team trained with Ron and Ralph on Saturday, Sept. 16th. 

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Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society, Inc. (RATS) is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization. PO Box 70613, Henrico VA, 23255

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