WR6JPL: Node Operating Guide
While this guide was originally written for the operation of the JPLARC IRLP node, the same rules also govern the node's use under EchoLink as well.
This document describes the operating guidelines that are specific to the WR6JPL IRLP node. They are in addition to and override the IRLP Operating Guidelines Page published by IRLP. Some of the text here has been copied directly from that site and modified to suit our operation.
Please periodically check these pages for updates.
The WR6JPL node is generally available 24/7.
You may occasionally find the node disabled or inaccessible. This may be due to a time-out (see Timers), node down for system maintenance or an Internet connection problem.
There are several timers involved in this system, they are:
Repeater Time-out Timer
Under normal operating circumstances, the Repeater Time-out Timers are set at 2 minutes for both the 224.080 and 445.200 repeaters. However, when the IRLP node is linked in, the time-out timer on the 224.080 port is changed to 1 hour while the time-out timer on the 445.200 port remains at 2 minutes.
What all this means is that when the IRLP node is on-line, you will never time-out the node while using the 445.200 repeater; however, you must be careful not to exceed the IRLP Time-out Timer limit when talking on 224.080 repeater.
The rational for this is that occasionally, the IRLP node can provide extended periods of play without a break (i.e. Some reflector traffic, nets and news audio file plays).
This timer is set to 4 minutes. The IRLP Time-out Timer is similar to a Repeater Time-out Timer. It is the maximum amount of key-down time for a single transmission. If you exceed the time allowed by the IRLP Time-out Timer, the link is terminated and the node is disabled until a Control Operator can restart the node.
IRLP Local Activity Timer
The value of this timer is dependent upon the type of link connection. When in a direct (one-to-one) link, the timer is set to 5 minutes. When in a reflector (one-to-many) link, the timer is set to 20 minutes. Therefore, when connecting to another node or reflector you may monitor an active QSO already in progress or wait for a station to come up on the air; however, this timer starts counting the time since the last key up on the local repeater and will drop the link at the end of the time-out period. Activity from the remote stations does not reset this timer. If the distant node has a shorter inactivity timer they may close the connection first. This means that you cannot link and just monitor without taking part in the QSO. Do not kerchunk the repeater to keep the link up, this would be a violation of our node rules! It is also discouraged by the IRLP.
There are certain situations where it is necessary to be on-link for an extended period of time (e.g. the weekly AMSAT net). The System Operators have the capability of overriding the activity time-out time so that the link will remain active until it is manually reset. Only System Operators are allowed to override this timer.
There are two types of IRLP and EchoLink connections, direct (one-to-one) and reflector/conference (one-to-many).
Direct - Is just like it sounds, where node "A" connects directly to node "B". With this type of link the two nodes are interconnected and no other IRLP connections are possible. While nodes "A" and "B" are connected, anyone attempting to connect with either node will be told by a recording that - "The node you are calling is currently connected to callsign."
Reflector/Conference - While Direct link is preferred for a person-to-person chat, the most common type of connection in use today is via a reflector or conference. This is a special node sitting on a high bandwidth Internet connection that takes whatever audio streams it receives and resends them out to all of the other nodes that are connected to the reflector/conference, thereby allowing all of the nodes involved in the connection to communicate with each other. At any given time there are usually 6 to 10 nodes around the world interconnected via a reflector/conference.
The first thing we must all remember is to leave a gap between transmissions. Having said that, this is a good time to list the three main rules when connected to a node or reflector/conference:
All this waiting is necessary because many of the nodes participating in IRLP and EchoLink are parts of large multi-linked repeater systems where there can be significant key-up delays as all of the repeaters in the system come up. Therefore, it could take 1 to 2 seconds before last repeater in the link comes on-line, thus chopping the first several syllables off of your transmission. Please adjust your operating habits accordingly.
Also, leaving a pause between transmissions ...
- allows users on other nodes a chance to check in.
- allows other nodes time to send DTMF commands to drop their node.
The most important thing to remember is to pause after pressing the PTT button as well as pausing between transmissions.
It is not necessary to bore the world with your shopping list requests or complaints about the plumber; therefore, Please disconnect the IRLP/EchoLink connection when having a local QSO.
Which brings up the question, "How do I know if the repeater is in an IRLP or EchoLink connection?"
Well, the answer is simple. Listen to the courtesy beep at the end of a transmission. If you hear a single beep, the repeater is not in an IRLP/EchoLink connection; however, if you hear a double-beep (cw letter "I"), this means the repeater is connected to another system via IRLP or EchoLink. Another thing about the courtesy beeps, if after a transmission you hear a high pitched beep, then the transmission was via our 445.200 repeater. If, on the other hand, you hear a lower tone beep, then the transmission was via the 224.080 repeater. Note, transmissions from IRLP come in via the 224.080 repeater. Another note about the courtesy beeps is that when an IRLP or EchoLink connetions is active, the time from the end of the transmission to the beep is 1.5 seconds, thus enforcing the pause rule. When IRLP and EchoLink are not copnnected, the time from the end of the transmission to the beep is .5 seconds.
The WR6JPL Node has a very simple command set. All IRLP commands are preceeded by the "*8" digits (except for the disconnect command which is "*73" and all EchoLink commands are preceeded by the "*A" digits. The "*73" disconnect command is common to both IRLP and EchoLink.
All commands, whether accepted by the repeater or by the node, will cause some sort of audible signal to be returned to the user. This may be in the form of beeps and boops or spoken words.
WR6JPL Node Commands DTMF Description *820 Speak Current Time *839 Play Weather Report *840 Radio self-test (parrot) *869 Recall last connects and connect attempts *8xxxx Connect to IRLP Node xxxx *Axxxxxx Connect to EchoLink Node xxxxxx (may be 4-6 digits) *73 Disconnect IRLP Link
When an IRLP/EchoLink iconnections is established, either via call placed by a local user or a call incoming from a remote node, the Node will send a DTMF sequence to the repeater, causing the following to occur:
- Courtesy beep change from a single beep to a double beep.
- Courtesy beep time changes from .5 seconds to 1.5 seconds.
- The input time-out timer on the 220 port changes from 2 minutes to 1 hour.
When a connection is disconnected, either locally or remotely, the Node will send a DTMF sequence to the repeater causing the following to occur:
- Courtesy beep change from a double beep to a single beep.
- Courtesy beep time changes from 1.5 seconds to .5 seconds.
- The input time-out time on the 220 port changes from 1 hour to 2 minutes.
It is important that you not make any transmissions after connecting to or disconnecting from a remote node until you hear the courtesy beep(s) as this may interfere with the node sending setup commands to the repeater controller.
Just as you would listen before transmitting on any repeater, you must listen for at least 10-15 seconds for remote activity before making any transmissions as there may already be an active connection or local QSO in progress.
Always identify before using any control codes.
- "This is <callsign>", then send DTMF
- wait for link up message then
- listen, listen, listen then announce yourself.
It's a good idea to announce your location as in "<callsign> Pasadena, California"
When traveling to other parts it should noted that all nodes require different commands than those found on the WR6JPL system. Many people decry this as closing a system which should be open, when in fact, it is just a necessary evil to make the Node coexist within the command structure of the repeater to which it is connected. This could be compared using CTCSS, not all repeaters that use CTCSS are closed, nor do they all use the same tones. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you contact the owner of the node you wish to use prior to your travels to obtain codes and/or procedures for their systems.
From time-to-time you may receive error messages when attempting to connect with a node or reflector. The most common ones are:
"The node you are calling is not responding, please try again later"
This is caused by a loss of Internet connectivity to one end of the call attempt.
"bee-boop Error- The call attempt has timed out, the connection has been lost"
This error occurs when a node is OFF-LINE. Some nodes such as in the UK use dial-up connections and then, only for short periods. Also there may be temporary net or node problems.
"The connection has been lost"
If the Internet connection drops, this error message will be heard.
"The node you are calling is currently connected to callsign."
If the node you a calling is already connected to another node or reflector, you will hear this message.
The node you are calling is not connected to another node or reflector; however, the repeater or frequency is in use locally or the IRLP node hardware is being used for some other function (e.g. Voice-mail, playing Newsline, etc.).
DO'S and DON'TS
In summary there are a few do's and don'ts:
DO pause between transmissions to let others in or to enter DTMF command.
DO identify before sending DTMF command tones.
DO hold your microphone PTT for about 1-2 seconds before talking to allow all systems time to rise.
DO pause and listen for 10 seconds or more when connecting before talking.
DO NOT ragchew on your local repeater while connected to a reflector.
DO NOT start or plan a Net on a reflector without pre-authorization from the reflector owner