I have been hearing a lot of ham radio operators talking about EchoLink so I decided to try it out yesterday. I downloaded the EchoLink app to my iPhone 7Plus and registered my FCC callsign with EchoLink. It took just a few minutes after uploading a copy of my amateur radio license to get verified then the app was ready to go.
I opened the app, logged in, and started looking around the app to see what it consisted of when I saw a list of stations and conferences all over the world on it.
I clicked on one listed from Sydney Australia and was connected to a bunch of hams from all over the world in a what is known as a Directed Net, which is a group of people talking where one person is designated as the Net Control Station (NCS) who basically acts like a traffic cop preventing everyone from talking all at once. Most large nets are directed nets, where all conversations go through the NCS. It makes things go much smoother.
I stayed on that conference for a while, speaking with hams from Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Then a fellow ham from here in Honolulu had me check out another conference with people from across the US that happens every Friday afternoon.
The NCS of that net was born in Hawaii but now lives in Tennessee so we talked about how brutally cold our winter nights have been lately getting down in the low 50's here.
One thing that most people do not consider when we talk about the cold nights in Hawaii is that most people do not own winter clothing here. I don't even have long-sleeved shirts any more. Most houses here are not insulated like that are in other parts of the country, and there is no such thing as a heater or furnace here.
When you have over a 30 degree drop from daytime to nighttime temperatures, that is a drastic change. And when you are not used to those temperature changes, it feels a lot colder than it actually is. Add on top of that a 15 to 20 mph breeze and it gets down right chilly.
EchoLink seems to be a useful way of communicating with ham operators in other parts of the world when the bands are lousy like they are right now. I checked out several HF bands yesterday on my radio and heard nothing at all but noise all through the bands. So having EchoLink as a fallback is a good option.
I will be setting up an EchoLink node connecting my computer to one of my radios in the future to be able to access other capabilities of it, but for now I will just play around with the iPhone app version of it.
Base Station Radios
In upcoming episodes we will take a look at Morse Code, Antennas, Handheld UHF/VHF Radios, Mobile UHF/VHF Radios and Emergency Communication (Emcomms).