To those that don’t know what IRLP and Echolink are, here’s a brief(ish) explanation. They are both ways to link repeaters but they have significant differences.
IRLP (Internet Radio Linking Project)
Remote IRLP nodes (generally repeaters) are accessed from your local node (generally a repeater) by entering a 4 digit DTMF code. Some nodes require a “prefix” often an asterisk ‘*’ or pound ‘#’ although some use ABC or D and some don’t use ANY prefix. Our local node requires TWO asterisks due to technical issues mostly.
Other connection options include “reflectors” which allow several nodes to be connected together – like a party line 🙂 Some reflectors have 50 or more connected repeaters and some only have two or three.
Echolink is a bit more flexible. Echolink nodes can be accessed through RF nodes (either a repeater or a simplex channel) like IRLP but also via a computer or smart device – cell phone or tablet. You can also start up your own Echolink node by downloading the software for free and using a link radio pointed to either a simplex channel or a repeater. Nodes can also be connected to “conferences” (like an IRLP reflector).
To use an RF node you enter a 5 or 6 digit DTMF code exactly like IRLP – often with a prefix as well. To access a node through a computer (or smart device), you’re given a list of available active nodes to choose from (this list is very big). The nice thing about using Echolink via a smart device/computer is you can access your local Echolink node from anywhere in the world where there is internet access!
Some repeaters have both IRLP AND Echolink available. To initiate an IRLP call, one enters a prefix and the node number and to initiate an Echolink call, one enters a different prefix before the node number. This is so the node computer can distinguish between the two.
- IRLP can be accessed by RF (radio) only.
- IRLP uses special hardware/software (proprietary)
- Echolink can be accessed through RF links or computers/smartphones using free software.
- Echolink uses free Windows® software for both user and sysop nodes.
- For the most part, IRLP nodes can only be accessed by other IRLP nodes and Echolink nodes can only be accessed by other Echolink nodes. There are some “gateway” reflectors/conferences that accept connections from both.
- Both systems use DTMF codes to link. IRLP generally uses “73” to unlink. Echolink nodes often use “73” although they often use something else.
Hope that helps 🙂