EchoLink Linking Project Discussion

UPDATE:  The EchoLink Portal is on TS1.  We are leaning toward tight control on EchoLink as we do not allow -L's or -R's to connect.  But TT can now control the portal using the stock EchoLink commands which will allow conferences, -R's and -L's.  Please limit the Touch Tones.

Randy, WB0VHB, tossed out the idea of connecting an EchoLink station to his TRBO control radio (4300) and restricting or whitelisting access to select EchoLink users only.  The audio quality would be very high and this would greatly expand our "coverage area".  So what follows is his idea in more detail but written by WUI, who will inject his own implementation ideas also.  Buyer Beware!

IDEA:  Randy's idea is to use a 4300 as a control radio to link into the his repeater.  He envisions using TS2 which is not IPSC on his repeater although for the sake of discussion here, I'll assume that he might consider TS2 on IPSC or ultimately, TS1 for the benefit of the wider network. (NOTE: As of 2-26, VHB/R is IPSC enabled on TS1&2)

BENEFITS:  The immediate benefits no matter TS or IPSC is a 2-way half-duplex voice connection into the TRBO system which approaches the audio quality of an all digital system.  Better yet, it enables another portal into the TRBO system which allows the use of computers, iPhones (new app available) and even other analog systems that have EchoLink access (if desired).  This would expand the repeater (or network) coverage essentially, to the entire planet.  We have that already in IPSC but it requires 8300's and client radios to be as ubiquitous as computers and iPhones, and that just ain't the same..

EQUIPMENT:  So the plan would require dedicating a client radio (4300 as the lowest tier radio), and an  EchoLink station (PC or laptop).  A V3TO interface box would be excellent for the interface and expansion allowing for touch tone control over some aspects of the local station or repeater pssibly.

ACCESS:  Access to the "TRBO-Link" would be enabled or restricted by a whitelist.  Typically it may enable only EchoLink users (no -L's or -R's) and then possibly only TRBO-6 members who are Echo-Link users.  If repeaters or links, (even if sponsored by TRBO-6 members) were allowed access, it could inject normal analog system noise and that might be objectionable.  To compensate for this additional noise or traffic, we could put the TRBO-Link on it's own TS2 Talkgroup, IPSC enabled or not to limit bothersome noise on the TRBO side.  TRBO-6 Member access to TRBO-Link the other way could also be controlled. 

MAXIMUM IMPLEMENTATION:  At the other end of the scale, TRBO-Link could sit full time on Comm 1 and be used just as if another radio on the TRBO6 network.  EchoLink users would able to use the TRBO-6 Intercom for the widest exposure.  The controls for implementing this interface are good and allow us to maintain a balance of security / talkgroup activity vs that of the excellent potential for EchoLink to provide for more enhanced coverage areas when unable to use TRBO client radios (out of range of the local repeater or it's network).  This would also reduce the need or desire to implement streaming audio onto the Internet.  A measured approach, initially restrictive, relaxing over time as we determine how best to fold this portal onto a repeater or the TRBO-6 network.

TALKGROUP:  That's the idea in a nutshell.  I've set aside a talkgroup for this project; "EchoLink" is ID: 03005465.  5465 was chosen as it spells "link" on a TT pad.  This is published now so folks can put it into their radios in due course.  If TRBO-Link never blossoms, then there is another User's TG similar to Roundtable, already in some radios for optional or expansion use.  The current Codeplug already has the EchoLink Talkgroup.

SUGGESTIONS:  If anyone wishes to weigh in on the idea, always, I welcome the input.  Email us.

This page will likely be updated after additional input, thought or project movement, so check back from time to time.

-- Mike, WB6WUI, north central Washington state.

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Revised: 09/19/2014 05:43