Today, I set up the Windows application for EchoLink, which uses VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol to establish communications between people and repeaters, repeaters to other repeaters, and people directly to other people. While the mobile Android app and the iOS app seem to “just work”, the Windows application requires some work to get going.
In order to get this application set up, an amateur radio operator must register their callsign with EchoLink. I had to look up my callsign on the FCC website with the tool on the EchoLink website, and upload a copy of my license. Once registered, you get a password for EchoLink, which you enter in the System Setup dialog (available in the Tools menu, later). Since I’m only using it to run my computer as my base rig, I chose Single-User mode. If I had a radio transceiver to connect to the PC to broadcast through remotely, I’d choose Sysp mode.
Once the application was installed and configured, I was unable to connect to their servers. To do so, a NAT or Network Address Translation, commonly known as a port forward, had to be set up for the UDP ports. Like VoIP phones, it uses the TCP protocol to handshake a connection to the servers, and a UDP streaming protocol for voice traffic.
I logged into my router, and Security, configured any traffic to UDP ports 5198-5199 to route to my PC on my home network, at its IP address of 192.168.1.139. On another page in the router, I had set it so that my PC would always pull this IP address from DHCP: Connectivity > DHCP Reservations.
Once the router was set up, I was able to connect to the EchoLink service and browse through the various regions under the Locations tree, or Node Types. I recommend opening the Node Types tree, and getting acquainted with the icons used for each node type. This comes in handy when seeing the nodes listed in a region or your Favorites list. Adding favorites is easy, right click a person, group, repeater or linked node and select Add To Favorites.
I connected to and added several local repeaters to my favorites, and made contact with my new friend Paul, who had taken the exam at Hamfest with me. He has the next sequential callsign, and went on to get his General class license.
Later, I joined the DODROPIN node to participate in the annual Worldwide Amateur Radio Day net. See my blog post for more details on what this was about, and my adventure. This EchoLink node is also used for a net by my favorite ham radio podcast, Ham Nation.