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Applications of EchoLink and IRLP in Emergency Communications. Presented by: Dennis Dura – K2DCD, Assistant Director of VoIP Hurricane Net Operations Assisted by: Richard Long – KF6BKA, Net Control for the VoIP Hurricane Net Written by: Rob Macedo – KD1CY,

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applications of echolink and irlp in emergency communications

Applications of EchoLink and IRLP in Emergency Communications

Presented by: Dennis Dura – K2DCD, Assistant Director of VoIP Hurricane Net Operations

Assisted by: Richard Long – KF6BKA, Net Control for the VoIP Hurricane Net

Written by: Rob Macedo – KD1CY,

Director of Operations for the VoIP Hurricane Net

  • High-level Technical Overview of EchoLink and IRLP as a technology and its benefits for Emergency Communications
  • Overview of the VoIP Hurricane Net and how this technology is used for Emergency Communications
  • 2005/2006 Years in Review
    • Highlights of the 2005 Season
    • Highlights of the 2006 Season
    • Lessons Learned from the 2005 and 2006 Seasons
  • 2006 Review---The VoIP Hurricane Net Improvement Project
  • EchoLink is a very popular VoIP linking option
  • Developed by Jonathan Taylor, K1RFD
  • Based on the original iLINK softwareby Graeme Barnes, M0CSH

Pictured:Jonathan, K1RFD founder of the EchoLink software

echolink general info
EchoLink General Info
  • Allows amateurs to communicate using VoIP via Windows based software
  • Users can operate viaone of three methods:
    • Personal Computer
    • Simplex RF Link
    • Linked Repeater
  • IRLP is an acronym forInternet Radio Linking Project
  • Developed by Dave Cameron, VE7LTD from Vancouver, Canada

Pictured:Dave, VE7LTD founder of IRLP with Dave, K9DC owner of the Indiana Reflector 9200

irlp background
IRLP Background
  • Started in November of 1997 as an attempt to use the internet to link radio systems across Canada
  • The first full time link that was established ran from Vancouver, BC to Saint John, NB
  • IRLP’s motto is “Keeping the Radio in Amateur Radio” by only allowing RF links
irlp and echolink differences
IRLP and EchoLink Differences
  • IRLP is an RF only system.
  • EchoLink permits direct PC access.
  • IRLP uses PGP for authentication.
  • IRLP nodes owners have to contact installation team to receive their PGP keys.
  • EchoLink uses validation against online databases, with some applicants being hand validated.
  • EchoLink uses encrypted password login.
echoirlp the integrated dual node
EchoIRLP - The Integrated Dual Node
  • Uses one machine and interface to allow connectivity to both systems.
  • Lockouts between IRLP and EchoLink to prevent unintentional cross links.
  • Uses tbd as a local gateway between IRLP controlling the hardware and the EchoLink network.
the voip hurricane net example of putting it all together


base radio

IRLP Repeater. linked system or simplex node

Echolink PC User

VoIP Hurricane Net on EchoLink *WX-TALK* Conference Node: 7203 and IRLP reflector 9219 Integrated Conference system

Net Control Operator-Using Echolink as PC user or Link/IRLP Anywhere in the world


Repeater, linked repeater system or Simplex Link


base radio

The VoIP Hurricane Net Example of Putting It All Together
the digital echolink irlp link
The Digital EchoLink/IRLP Link
  • EchoLink conference capable of making an outbound Speak Freely connection.
digital link characteristics
Digital Link Characteristics
  • Audio is not decoded and recoded as it passes the gateway.
  • Less audio degradation.
  • Lower latency.
  • Extremely difficult to tell whether originating station is on IRLP or EchoLink.
  • IRLP stations must use GSM CODEC for digital link to work.
  • Traffic passes directly between IRLP and EchoLink.
the integrated conference
The Integrated Conference
  • Modified IRLP reflector – Developed March-April 2005.
  • Copy of sfreflect is replaced by tbd.
  • One system – very reliable.
  • All stations appear in EchoLink station list. IRLP nodes are labelled “stnXXXX”.
  • Conference to be administered using both EchoLink and IRLP admin tools.
  • Allows IRLP nodes to be muted – not normally supported.
current systems utilizing the integrated conference
Current Systems Utilizing the Integrated Conference
  • The Raleigh IRLP Reflector/*WX-TALK* system, the New England IRLP/EchoLink Reflector system and the Australia VKEMCOMM IRLP/EchoLink systems switched over to the integrated conference system in July 2005.
  • Transfer from the analog gateway to the digital integrated conference was completed through the efforts of Tony Langdon-VK3JED.
  • The EchoLink conference server resides at the reflector location on the same system.
  • Has Echo-IRLP nodes connect using the IRLP side only.
  • Enhancements were made to automatically kick systems with conferencing enabled to prevent unintentional interference.
    • Waivers can be exempted for systems that have a need to keep conferencing enabled.
echolink node setup recommendations for use on integrated conference systems
EchoLink Node Setup Recommendations for Use on Integrated Conference Systems
  • Many folks have concerns about EchoLink nodes due to interference with courtesy tones, hang times, and repeater ID’s.
    • This is not a limitation in EchoLink technology.
    • EchoLink node owners and developers of the system, at first, did not see the need to follow the stricter rules of IRLP in not letting these things pass through the system.
    • As multiple EchoLink nodes that passed through courtesy tones, hang times, and repeater ID’s were linked together in a conference, it caused major issues.
    • These issues can be avoided by simply following the rules established on IRLP nodes by setting an EchoLink node up to not pass through Courtesy tones, repeater ID’s etc.
echolink node setup recommendations for use on integrated conference systems20
EchoLink Node Setup Recommendations for Use on Integrated Conference Systems
  • The VoIP Hurricane Net Management team recommends the following for EchoLink nodes:
    • Have the repeater or link transmit a PL tone so that the link radio will only open when a station is transmitting.
    • This will cut out repeater ID’s, courtesy tones, squelch tails and hang times.
  • This can be done relatively easily and is inexpensive.
  • Allows for better and smoother use of pure EchoLink nodes on the system.
  • If one or two repeaters have this issue, it can be tolerated but if multiple linked repeaters pass repeater ID’s and courtesy tones, it can cause major issues on the linked system.
  • The VoIP Hurricane Net Management Team would be happy to help EchoLink node owners overcome these issues so their node would be a greater help when connected to an integrated conference system.
how this technology is utilized for emergency communication applications
How this Technology Is Utilized for Emergency Communication Applications
  • Technology is utilized in Emergency Communication Applications today.
  • Examples:
    • The New England Reflector is utilized for New England regional SKYWARN and Emergency Communication work along with HF and VHF/UHF.
      • Information and past events on how its been utilized can be obtained at:
    • The VoIP Hurricane Net, Info can be obtained at:
  • Lets take a more in depth look at how the VoIP Hurricane Net utilizes this technology.
voip hurricane net mission
VoIP Hurricane Net Mission
  • The VoIP Hurricane Net mission is as follows:
    • Provide real-time or near real-time measured weather data and damage reports to WX4NHC, the Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
    • Provide a means of interoperability for Emergency Operation Centers (EOC), Red Cross/Salvation Army agencies/shelters and National Weather Service (NWS) forecast offices to communicate between each other and send appropriate data up to WX4NHC as required.
    • Liaison to other net operations that may be on EchoLink and IRLP and pass that information to WX4NHC as required.
    • Disseminate National Hurricane Center advisories and updates as needed for stations in the affected area.
  • The VoIP Hurricane Net meets on the *WX-TALK* Node: 7203, IRLP Reflector 9219 system.
    • The backup system is IRLP reflector 9508 with EchoLink Conference server *VKEMCOMM* Node: 270177. This system is also used for listen-only capability for net activations.
    • The *WX-TALK* Node:7203 conference server can be aliased to the backup system when required.
voip hurricane net activation policy
VoIP Hurricane Net Activation Policy
  • The VoIP Hurricane Net has the following activation policy:
    • The VoIP Hurricane Net will activate upon activation of WX4NHC provided there are EchoLink stations/nodes and IRLP nodes in the affected area of the hurricane.
    • The VoIP Hurricane Net will self-activate if the net manager and/or director of operations see a threat from a hurricane over an area and there are EchoLink station/nodes and IRLP nodes in the affected area.
    • The VoIP Hurricane Net will self-activate if support is requested by a NGO (Non-Governmental Organization), government organization or Amateur radio group affected by a hurricane.
      • That support could be net controls to support the requesting group’s local operations for a hurricane or other disaster related incident or an actual net activation on the *WX-TALK*/IRLP reflector 9219 or backup IRLP 9508/*VKEMCOMM* system.
weekly voip hurricane preparation net
Weekly VoIP Hurricane Preparation Net
  • There is a weekly VoIP Hurricane Preparation Net on Sundays at 0000 UTC (Saturday Evening across most of North America)
  • The net provides a forum to ask technical questions, give presentations and for net controls to practice basic net control skills.
  • Nets for actual activations can run quite differently but basic net control protocols can be practiced through the weekly net.
  • Web site is
2005 year in review
2005 Year In Review
  • Experienced several hurricane events where critical reports from Amateur Radio Operators and SKYWARN Spotters at EOCs, shelters, hospitals, police and fire departments made a huge difference.
    • Hurricane Emily’s Impact on the Caribbean
      • The VoIP Hurricane Net self-activated and provided critical reports from Grenada, the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago as Emily intensified rapidly passing over Grenada and the Grenadines.
    • Hurricane Rita
      • Efforts of a contact in Key West, Florida to provide critical data from that region with that data delivered via Amateur Radio.
      • Efforts from WM6V-Flo from Livingston Memorial Hospital, another Amateur Operator at the Lufkin, Texas Fire Department and Kevin Anderson-KD5WX from the Nacogdoches, TX EOC.
    • Hurricane Wilma and Katrina’s landfall in South Florida
      • Efforts of the Oakland Park, Boca Raton, Florida EOC’s and Lu Vencl-KA4EPS providing data to the Hurricane Net.
    • Hurricane Katrina
      • Made contact with the NWS Slidell, Louisiana office through the IRLP contact in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and had several key reports from Southern Mississippi and Southern Alabama.
2005 lessons learned
2005 Lessons Learned
  • Lack of critical reports from the affected area.
    • While we had EOCs, NWS offices, and other official stations on the air from the affected area, reports were few and far between.
    • While one or two quality reports sometimes makes a huge difference, it is difficult to sustain the effort for a low number of reports.
  • Need to add and improve Net Controls for the net.
    • Need additional and well trained net controls.
  • Need to improve the web site and make it more easily maintainable and improve the reporting form on the web site for NHC forecasters.
  • Other areas needed improvement as well and are outlined in the improvement project plan.
2006 year in review and lessons learned
2006 Year in Review and Lessons Learned
  • Much less activity as far as hurricanes than in 2004 and 2005.
  • Only 4 notable net activations. (Arlene, Ernesto (2 net activations), and Florence.)
  • Had contact with a couple of EOCs during Tropical Storm Arlene but the system never became a hurricane.
  • Most active nets were for Ernesto affecting the Carolinas and Florence affecting Bermuda.
    • Had contact with Bermuda through help from the WX4NHC Coordinators Julio Ripoll-WD4R and John McHugh-K4AG.
    • Had contact with NWS Wilmington, NC as well as spotters in Southeast North Carolina and Northeast South Carolina.
  • Received a reasonable level of reporting for Ernesto as well as Florence through these contacts but room for improvement for reporting is still there.
  • Net control support was better due to training for net controls and their conscientious support.
  • Standardized Listen-only capability for non-affected areas.
work completed on voip hurricane net improvement project in 2006
Work Completed on VoIP Hurricane Net Improvement Project in 2006
  • Completed slide set and conducted Net Control training through the efforts of Matt Hoppes-KB3MSE.
  • Net Control recruiting effort was done in 2006 and is ongoing today.
  • Revamped the web site.
  • Revamped the reporting webform.
  • Standardized EchoLink and IRLP listen-only capability as well as backup VoIP systems.
  • Defined technical VoIP configuration specifications/tips and have that information listed on the VoIPWXNet web site.
  • Worked to obtain more contacts along the US and Caribbean coastal areas of hurricanes through the PR efforts of Public Information Coordinator Lloyd Colston-KC5FM.
  • VoIP Hurricane Net weekly improvements completed including periodic net presentations during the net and better net control support.
work to be completed on the voip hurricane net improvement project
Net Control Training for 2007

Availability of Proxies and Temporary EchoLink/IRLP nodes via Simplex or under utilized repeaters for access

Contacts in Bermuda, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, Northern South America

Contacts in the East Coast, Gulf Coast of the US

Hurricane-Type NWS SKYWARN Training Session for Contacts within 50 miles of the coast

Weather Station Support for Improved Surface Observations

Backup Power and Backup Internet Capability for EchoLink/IRLP and Echo-IRLP nodes and EchoLink PC users

Net Control and Spanish Translator Recruitment

Work to Be Completed on the VoIP Hurricane Net Improvement Project
more information
More Information
  • Technology Resources for EchoLink and IRLP:
    • IRLP Web Site:
    • IRLP node Status Web Site:
    • EchoLink Web Site:
  • For more information on the VoIP Hurricane Net, again, visit us on the web at
    • Join the VoIP-WXNet email list using links provided via the web site.
  • The New England Reflector system also serves as an example of how this technology is utilized and information can be found at