VK3RTL VoIP Repeater

Home of the world's first EchoIRLP node and Australia's first WIRES-II node.

This page has received hits since September 8 2001

This page describes my own EchoIRLP repeater and the IRLP and EchoLink nodes which preceeded it. Originally setup as testing and development nodes, the IRLP and EchoLink nodes underwent some major changes during 2003, and in 2004, they were replaced by a repeater running EchoIRLP and WIRES-II.  EchoIRLP is a system capable of connecting to IRLP and EchoLink in the one box.  

VK3RTL also streams audio continuously to the Internet.  To listen in, point your favourite streaming MP3 player at http://liveaudio.irlp.net:8002 and listen to EchoIRLP in action.

The original purpose of the original IRLP and EchoLink nodes remains.  These are:

Because some of these activities can be disruptive to normal repeaters or nodes, and may also meet with disapproval from repeater owners or users (e.g. SSTV), I decided to build a node which could meet those needs, as well as gain the ability to host live demonstrations of IRLP in areas where there is no existing IRLP node (as long as there is an Internet connection available). This will give interested parties a better idea of what IRLP is all about, and what it could offer them.  VK3RTL supports any mode which can be carried by a conventional repeater.

Within its first week of operation, the VK3JED IRLP node participated in the first SSTV over IRLP tests in Australia with great success.  More recently, the system was used as a key element in the US VoIP Hurricane reporting nets.

Technical Specifications.

Currently, the specifications of VK3RTL are as follows:

This is the configuration of the EchoIRLP node PC as at October 2004.

WIRES-II runs on a separate system as follows:
The 2 radios and systems are interconnected using a diode logic matrix, which ensures that all 4 devices can intercommunicate via their PTT and COS signals.  The transmitter PTT is conditioned using an NHRC-2 controller, which also adds a courtesy tone and ID to the audio for the local transmitter only.  The audio path starts from the receiver and into a 4 channel audio mixer, loops through the EchoIRLP system (which passes all audio through it) and to the NHRC-2 and then the transmitter.  The WIRES-II system takes the audio just prior to the NHRC-2 as its input, and feeds its output into the input mixer (playback passthrough disabled to avoid the obvious feedback loop!).  A local microphone also feeds the mixer, which allows the repeater transmitter and VoIP links to be activated from the local console with no radio.  The above system results in clean audio (no IDs) and raw timing signals for all the VoIP links, which allows the highest possible performance for all linked systems, while utilising a low cost base model controller for the local repeater.

Using VK3RTL

VK3RTL is fairly straightforward to use, and has been configured to make it as easy as possible for users of IRLP, EchoLink and WIRES-II standalone systems to adjust to.  Most commands are kept as standard as possible, and duplicate commands are made available to assist users used to one of the three supported VoIP systems.  Also, note that IRLP and EchoLink are mutually exclusive, but it is possible to link either EchoLink or IRLP to WIRES-II using the system.

Using VK3RTL is much like using any other VoIP node.  The commands on the VK3RTL system are as follows:

Connect to IRLP node - nnnn (4 digit IRLP node number)

Connect to EchoLink node - *nnnnnn (star then the  EchoLink node number)

Connect to WIRES-II node - #nnnnD (nnnn is the 4 digit WIRES-II node number)

Disconnect - 73 or # or ## or #9999D or #99999

Node status - 0 or 0# or 08 (EchoLink and IRLP only, there is no status function for WIRES-II).

Time of day - 1#

There are also other customised commands for weather reports and other features.


Status update:

October 2004 - WIRES-II integrated into VK3RTL.  Users can now enjoy 3 of the 4 major amateur VoIP systems on the one repeater.

September 2004 - Major upgrades carried out.  The upgrades include a new transmitter, receiver and cavities.  System coverage has been significantly improved.

June 2004 - WIRES-II installed and placed on test on 53.125 MHz simplex.  Plans are to integrate WIRES-II into VK3RTL eventually.

March 2004 - VK3RTL goes to air!  VK3RTL first became operational on March 13, 2004.  Since then, the system has been tweaked and upgraded.  Further upgrades will take place during 2004 and 2005.

February 2004 - System upgraded to Red Hat 9 on a new PC.  Streaming audio installed on new system.  Node moved from 439.075 MHz to 438.600 MHz simplex.  EchoIRLP upgraded to latest development version, which was also released to the public soon after.

December 2003 - VK3RTL licence obtained.

September 2003 - EchoIRLP system is stable and quite functional.  System is able to connect to any node in either IRLP or EchoLink.  Network integrity is preserved through the use of the IRLP software for all audio handling, as well as a system of lockouts, which inform connecting users when the node is unavailable on their network.  Several system tests have been conducted with almost 100% success.  Some minor audio stability issues related to the underlying drivers and the use of the GSM codec have been worked on.  Still awaiting repeater frequencies.  EchoIRLP concept starting to attract interest among potential node owners, who can see the benefits of having two linking systems in the one box.  EchoLink becomes permanent fixture for MDRC weekly net.  EchoIRLP system moved to 439.075 MHz and EchoLink node decommissioned due to overcrowding on 2m and the success of EchoIRLP.

August 2003 - System to be converted to a full blown repeater.  The new repeater will fill in a lot of gaps in IRLP coverage in the inner western and NW suburbs.  In addition, it will ensure the system is available for 24x7 use by locals.  Frequency assignments applied for on 70cm and 23cm.  System relocated to new QTH and frequently switching between 2m (for operation) and 70cm (for development and the weekly SKYWARN net).  EchoLink and IRLP nodes team up to provide a multi system link for VK6HH's presentation to the MDRC on the Travellers Net.  EchoLink node becomes permanent part of WANSARC weekly net.

July 2003 - Full EchoIRLP development commenced, after a beta version of "thebridge" capable of interacting with the IRLP environment became available.  Initial version of EchoIRLP with full EchoLink connectivity released as alpha code in late July.  System was fairly functional, though a number of bugs needed to be fixed.  First attempt at cross linking between IRLP and EchoLink using the systems successful for the last SKYWARN net for July.

Early 2003 - IRLP - EchoLink connectivity work started.  Initial work on connecting to specially configured EchoLink "shared conferences" which allow specially configured IRLP nodes to connect.  Initial scripts written by VK3JED, and later enhanced by WA2DCI.  The WA2DCI scripts formed the foundation for later work.

March 2002 - The system can be switched to 70 cm, with the acquisition of an AWA RT-85 ex commercial UHF radio. The radio still needs a little more work to remove some residual code left over from its former role. This sometimes triggers and causes the radio to behave strangely. otherwise the system works well on 70cm. A new interface box will be built to allow 2m, 70cm and a second PC to be a part of the node simultaneously.

March 2002 - A clone of the node has been built on a laptop PC. This clone system will be used for public demonstrations of IRLP in areas out of reach of the permanent IRLP nodes.

June 2002 - The VK3JED-L EchoLink node is brought online.

August 2002 - The IRLP node is being used to develop and test some major enhancements to the core IRLP scripts.  

August 2002 - The EchoLink node is testing both Windows and Linux EchoLink software.

September 2002 - A new set of IRLP core scripts has been developed and tested.  The new scripts offer advanced codec selection and other features.

October 2002 - The new core scripts were migrated to 4 digit addressing and more features added.

October - November 2002 - The IRLP and EchoLink nodes used to assist in the testing of software developed to allow the IRLP and EchoLink networks to intercommunicate. 

More Information.

The following links contain more information on VoIP.

IRLP (Internet Radio Linking Project). The home of IRLP

VK2RBM IRLP Node, one of Australias first!

Echolink Software