Super-Quick IRLP Tutorial

IRLP (Internet Radio Linking Protocol) allows you to use your radio to talk to hams all over the world by sending your audio over the Internet. You can think of it as an "Internet phone patch" -- just like a traditional phone patch allows you to make a phone call with your ham radio, IRLP allows you to make an "Internet phone call" to other hams. If you're out in the Black Rock Desert, you can use IRLP to call out to the outside world. And if you're in the outside world, you can use IRLP to call to your ham buddies in the Black Rock Desert.

Every IRLP radio (called a "node") has a unique four-digit node number -- kind of like a telephone number. The Black Rock UHF repeater is IRLP node 7249 and the VHF simplex radio is node 3075. A node that some Black Rock Amateur Radio Association members in the Bay Area listen to is node 3683 -- it happens to be in San Francisco and transmits on 223.42 MHz.

To use IRLP you need a radio that has a touch-tone (DTMF) keypad.

To call out from the Black Rock Desert, set your radio to one of our two IRLP nodes (440.175 MHz or 146.7 MHz, both PL 100.0 Hz). After monitoring for a few moments to make sure the channel is not in use already, key up, pause, give your call sign, and use your touch-tone keypad to transmit the four-digit node number of the node you want to connect to, and unkey your mic. If all goes well you should hear a voice greeting in a few seconds stating that you are now connected to the remote node. At this point anything that you transmit will be sent over the Internet to that remote node and retransmitted on the air at that location. You'll hear any ham at that location who responds. To disconnect, transmit touch-tone "73".

To call in to the Black Rock Desert from the outside world, first an IRLP node near you. You can do this by searching for IRLP nodes by Zip code .

Tune your radio appropriately for the node you've decided to use. Listen first to make sure the channel isn't in use already. Then key up, pause, state your call sign and the node number you're connecting to, and touch-tone in "7249" (UHF) or "3075" (VHF). If all goes well you should hear a message saying you're connected ("KD6KAC, Gerlach, Nevada, link on." At this point, anything you transmit will be transmitted out over the Black Rock Desert airwaves! Again, "73" will disconnect.

Tip: if you're in the Black Rock Desert and want to see how well your signal is reaching our UHF or VHF IRLP nodes, try connecting to node number 9990. This is the IRLP "echo reflector" which will simply echo back to you whatever signals it receives, delayed by 10 seconds. It is very useful for checking to see how well you're reaching the repeater. As always, "73" disconnects.

For more information see the IRLP home page.