If you havent checked out The Briefings Room
yet, try it now!
(feedback from users running any of the above is appreciated)
What is EchoLink?
About EchoLink Hints
WHO CREATED ECHOLINK
GOOD OPERATING PRACTICES
CONNECTION ATTEMPT TIMEOUT
BUSY MODE (the Hand)
LOST YOUR PASSWORD
Additional EchoLink RESOURCES
What are PodCast? and HAM's who Podcast
HAM VOIP RESOURCES
Other Non Ham VOIP Clients
Text Chat with a Browser only!
Free DNS Services
REMOTE Desktop VIEWING Software
SDR or Software Defined Radio
Preventing Internet Hanky Panky
FREE Google Phone Service
Latest info on PopNote!
FreeWare worth Investigating!
Send a PRIVATE E-Message
Welcome and thank you for visiting. For non Ham curious
visitors, Echolink is a means by which Licensed Ham
Radio operators can use the Internet to expand their
typical radio only capability. Echolink is a
free software program
that runs on a computer and utilizes special
servers to connect, relay and facilitate connections.
If you find this Blog useful, or wish to critique it, your
Comments" are welcome.
If you are an experienced Echolink user, I hope you learn a new trick
during your visit here, and if you know of a trick or have a useful tip that's
not mentioned here, please tell me
about it so it can be added here. Credit will be acknowledged!
Im also pleased to report that this "Echolink Hints and Tips"
article was selected by the ARRL to be published in the
first edition of their new "Amateur Radio Public Service
Handbook". The ISBN# is 978-0-87259-484-5
Why EchoLink Hints?
After using EchoLink for some time I noticed a lot of
users, both new and old, who might benefit from some of
these Hints and Tips. Here is most everything you need
to know about using EchoLink for basic peer to peer
or round table (conference) chatting.
If you find this Blog useful, or wish to critique it, your
Comments are welcome.
WHO CREATED ECHOLINK
EchoLink was created by Jonathan Taylor, chief engineer
of the Synergenics Corporation, also known as K1RFD to
his Ham friends. Jonathan gave EchoLink as a gift to
the Ham Radio community. He also created
EchoStation, a repeater-control program for Windows,
for which he charges a small reasonable fee.
GOOD OPERATING PRACTICES
Before continuing with this article, I suggest you read
Arguments for Proving Identity.
New to EchoLink? Although most Hams are eager and
willing to help those new to EchoLink, it might save
some time and frustration if you first connect to the
EchoLink TEST Server (found under the "Station" sub
menu "Connect to Test Server"). Reason? Here you can
transmit then listen to what you just sent (called your
echo). This allows you to hear exactly what others will
hear and tweak your audio levels if required. This
insures readability BEFORE you attempt to communicate
with others. Some Hams monitor for new connections and
immediately connect to those with high Node numbers
offering assistance, but it is best not to depend on
Although you can reasonably assume that anyone shown as
"active" wants to chat, you should think of EchoLink as
if it were a typical ham band. How often have you heard
a station calling CQ but failed to get a QSO going? If
you are scanning the active user list for a QSO and you
succeed in getting a CONNECT, please do NOT wait for
the other Ham to start the QSO after you make the
connection. It is considered proper form to talk first
with an invitation to engage in a QSO. Would you knock
on a door and then after it opens just stand there
If you are running EchoLink, but temporarily leave your
terminal un monitored (like when taking a landline
call), I suggest you put EchoLink in "Busy" mode by
clicking the white hand in the tool bar. There also
seems to be a great deal of impatience when users get a
Connect but get no reply within 10 seconds or so. Might
I also suggest one full minute before you blast off? I
know there are many occasions when I am AFK for a very
short time, not warranting going into Busy mode, as I am
typically just refilling my coffee cup or dealing with
If your intention is to connect to another Ham or Link
or Repeater station with the desire to only read the
mail, that's fine and even encouraged. Many new Hams
starting out with EchoLink do not have microphones
connected or operating properly. No matter what your
reason for connecting, it is still considered courteous
to at least announce your presence and intention, if
not by voice, then by a text message. This way, no one
will be left guessing as to the purpose of your visit.
Regarding station ID requirements, peer to peer (or
direct connects) on EchoLink do not require signing
with calls. Connects to Station Links and Repeaters do.
However, as a matter of habit and courtesy, most hams
on EchoLink always sign; if not everytime, then every
If you are a busy guy like me, you probably want to do
other things on your PC while chatting on EchoLink.
Here is an operational tip that will allow you to
confirm EchoLink's transmit or receive status in a
flash. This can be useful when you "think" you toggled
back to receive yet are still in Transmit mode.
Reposition the EchoLink window so that its Status Bar
is just above the Windows Taskbar at the bottom of your
Desktop. Now, take your Browser, E-Mail clients etc and
reposition them so their Status Bar rest just above the
Status bar of EchoLinks. Now EchoLink's status bar will
always be visible on your Desktop, above your Taskbar,
indicating transmit activity by the RED [TX] Transmit flag
on the right side of EchoLinks Status Bar or Green
[RX] when in receive mode.
In addition, you can avoid having to return focus to
EchoLink (i.e. putting EchoLink back on TOP of your
Desktop) in order to regain control of the transmit
toggle. How? Easy, you can configure EchoLink to use
the "Enter" key on the numeric keypad (my choice) to
provide a "System Wide" PTT functionality. Meaning it
matters not whatever program has Focus (is on top) as
focus will no longer an issue. Go there vi the Tools
menu, then the Preferences sub menu, then click the
Connection Tab at the top, followed by clicking the PTT
button). When making this change, remember it is
important to put a check the "System Wide" box in the
setup menu. You can also configure a few other keys for
wide area PPT but I find the keypad's Enter key to be
the most convenient for how I operate.
A frequent error message when attempting to connect to another uses is
"Cannot Connect to (Users IP) - No Route Available". This means the user
you tried to connect up with has blocked ports. Typically these are
new users (check their node number - if over 500,000 they are
relatively new). If you are interested in being a good Samaritan you
can go to QRZ.COM, enter their call letters and
check to see if they publish an e-mail contact address and then write
The solutions to curing port blocks vary a great deal with your
particular setup (i.e. type of modem/router and software firewalls
used). Because of the large number of combination possibilities I can
only offer a good "generic" solution here. Many newer DSL Modems (the
Westel's in particular) have a rudimentary internal firewall that
blocks all inbound traffic except on the major ports used by the Web
and E-Mail clients. You should DMZ or set the Modem to "Port Follow-through"
mode. Next, DMZ the router (block nothing) on the LAN IP of the
PC Echolink is running on. Finally STOP Blocking (if using XP SP2+
internal firewall) when the Blocking Security alert pops up. CAVEAT: If you DMZ
the Router on the Node (PC) that EchoLink is running on, its important you run a software firewall. Enabling Windows XP SP2+
built in firewall is your best bet. If anyone is intent on using their
routers NAT as a hardware firewall and going thru the process of port
forwarding, there is an excellent web site with many setup menus for
almost all manufacturers hardware at
The setup menus to change modem or router configurations are reached
using your Web Browser and using the IP address of the devices
internal web server. 192.168.1.1 and 192.168.1.254 are commonly used
addresses; check your hardware manual if those don't work.
EchoLink requires that your modem, router or firewall allow (DMZ) or forward
inbound and outbound UDP traffic to ports 5198 and 5199, and outbound
TCP traffic to port 5200. If not DMZ you must configure your router to
"forward" UDP ports 5198 and 5199 to the node or PC on which EchoLink
is running. Typically few firewalls block outbound traffic, but it
does not hurt to check yours.
For a another "how to" article on curing firewall blocks that can
be applied to EchoLink, try
Solving Firewall Blocks
A "human face" means EchoLink is running in either
standard (peer to peer) or conference mode. A pair of
"chain links" represents a Link station, that is,
someone (usually at home) with a transceiver on a
simplex frequency, that is connected to their home
computer running EchoLink. A "set of gears" represents
a Repeater that is connected to a PC running EchoLink.
A "PC with two faces" is a Reflector; that is, a PC
connected to the Internet on a High bandwidth
connection that is primarily intended to connect up
Links and Repeaters as well as many single users. A big
advantage to using a Conference is not dumping your
friends who connected to you when you close your
connection. A popular software package for running a
Reflector or Conference is
Your Node number is assigned to you when you become an
authorized EchoLink user. These numbers are assigned
in ascending order and as of this writing, are topping
over 500,000. Obviously then, users with the highest
nodes are the newbies. However, just as the FCC will
issue vanity call for a Fee, the EchoLink author will
sell you a LOW node number to feed your vanity as well.
Some users take great pride in advertising how long
they have been using EchoLink. Unfortunately, with low
node numbers for sale, having a low node number has
lost its importance; unless keying in 4 numbers is more
efficient than 6. There are two ways you can connect to
another EchoLink user. If you are on a PC running
EchoLink, you may use the other stations call letters
OR node number. If you are Mobil and trying to connect
to an EchoLink user vi an EchoLink Repeater or Link
Station, you click the Node numbers of the other
EchoLink user into your DTMF pad, and if they have
EchoLink running, you will be connected; that is, if
they are either in Conference mode or not Busy.
You already know that by default, the spacebar acts as
a Rx/Tx Toggle and not to hold it continuously unless
you reset it for "push to talk - release to listen"
under Tools Connections/PTT. But are you aware that the
spacebar's operational function depends on not losing
"Focus" (a Microsoft term meaning the window that is
"active" or ontop all others showing on your desktop).
You shift Focus anytime you place the cursor and click
in any other dialog box or window! Restoring focus to
Echolink only requires you left click the mouse inside
the tan window where the horizontal audio level
Menu: Tools/Preferences/Connections/PPT Control
Adding a profile is a great way to both introduce
yourself as well as keep a QSO moving along. Why
EchoLink effectively "hides" the profile "Edit" button
is a mystery. But, go to Tools - Preferences -
Connections Tab and walla! there it sits at the bottom
right of that menu tab. NOTICE: If you want to see how
your profile looks to others, just connect to YOURSELF
(yes, you can do that!).
Are you tired of the default two minute xmit or recv
timeouts? Not a problem. Although important in repeater
and link operations to avoid locking up a system if you
get distracted, its totally not necessary for peer to
peer communications. Go to Tools - Setup - Timing and
place a ZERO in the appropriate boxes (zero means NO
timeouts or disable). A few people use the timeout bell
to warn themselves when they have talked too long.
CONNECTION ATTEMPT TIMEOUT
It is my experience that if you fail to get a
connection to your intended contact within 6 or 7
seconds, you wont. Or, if you eventually do, the
latency or delays on the net wont allow for 5+9
communication anyway. So I suggest setting the delay
to time out of the attempt at 7 seconds rather than the
default of 30. Go to:
Menu: Tools/Setup/Timing/connection timing
BUSY MODE (the Hand)
Busy mode allows you to be seen on the various active
Echolink users listing but prevents any user from
having the ability to contact you directly. If you are
in Busy mode and you are also connected to a Reflector
(a special multi chat server), this can prevent sharing
your bandwidth by blocking other users from connecting
directly to you. When you set BUSY mode on, your font
text color turns blue rather than the normal black. The
Busy status affords you a certain amount of privacy,
but does not stop you from connecting to others who are
not either in busy mode or otherwise blocking.
By default conferencing is off. The effect is that
once you connect to another user, no one else can get
through to you (unless your contact has conferencing
enabled on their EchoLink and someone connects through
their side). Call this a privacy mode if you will.
However, a great tradition in Ham radio is the Round
Table or Rag Chew. Unfortunately if you are on a dialup
to your ISP, you wont have the bandwidth for solid
round tables or conferencing. But if you have a DSL or
digital cable connection, conferencing can add a lot
more fun to the entire EchoLink experience!
Menu: Tools/Preferences/Connections/ check "Allow Conferencing"
If you are station (A) and connect to station (B)
(who is operating in conference mode) and a 3rd station
(C) connects through station (B) and joins your QSO,
then station (B) elects to leave (or disconnect) you will
lose both stations (B & C). This can sometimes be
frustrating and the only solution when running round
table rag chews is for the so called "control station"
to remain connected until all parties disconnect.
Another option is to use one of the many REFLECTORS
(called CONFERENCES) available on EchoLink.
A frequently overlooked feature, the text chat window,
can be used anytime after a connection is established;
its real usefulness is akin to a Break-In when you wish
to comment before having the Mike passed back to you.
An audible alarm (ON by default) will inform you when a
text message has arrived. You many even assign your own
home brew wave file for this purpose. By general
agreement, typing three plus symbols [+++] is a request
for an "immediate" break in.
EchoLink (by default) records every contact you make
(in a standard text file) as well as any connection
attempts that you are not around to answer. If you are
as active on EchoLink as I am, with a corresponding bad
memory, these logs and their Search function make
recalling contacts a snap.
Many users find EchoLink runs perfect right out of the
box. However, if you ever decide to make changes to
your audio levels etc and want to hear how you sound to
others, donít forget the Test (or echo) Server under
the "Station" Menu. This test server will echo back
anything you transmit allowing you to check and tweak
your volume and microphone levels.
When a user is in your Alarms and they join or leave
EchoLink, you will get a notifying pop up window and a
system sound. Tip: From either the Index or Folder
view, right click to pop up a menu for easily adding a
user to either your Alarm or Favorites.
SECURITY (under Tools/Preference/Security Tab
Because Hams are people and occasionally some people
have temporary or otherwise mental or emotional
problems, this feature exist. Personality conflicts are
not unusual among Hams. From my years on EchoLink the
more common troubles exist when two Hams don't share
the others world view, and as a result, get on each
others nerves and no longer wish to communicate. Right
or wrong, this Security feature allows any user to
block another user from making contact. In addition,
users can block, say, non English speaking countries
from contacting you if English is your only language.
My technique to avoid the occasional personality
conflict is to listen and respect the opinion of
others. In my years on EchoLink I have never had the
need to block anyone.
RECOVER FORGOTTEN PASSWORD
Lost your EchoLink password or changed your e-mail
address? This sometimes happens. Go here to
RESET YOUR PASSWORD
on EchoLink. Worse case, you may have to be re validated again;
that is, prove you are a legally licensed Ham Radio operator.
PORT BLOCKS and PROXY SERVER Cures
Firewall issues are discussed elseware in this
article; however, another problem some users are
experiencing is ISP's who block incoming connections to
your modem. This is especially troublesome with WiFi or
wireless connections in Hotels, Coffee Shops and
Airport Lobbies. The EchoLink "symptom" is you can
connect to Joe on Echolink, but Joe can never connect
directly to you. If your not the paranoid type and
don't mind unknown 3rd parties seeing all your packet
traffic, there is a work around for this problem. Its
the use of an EchoLink Proxy server or signal go
between. The problem: you can connect to a peer
out on the Net but they cannot make direct connect to
you. The cure: you connect to a 3rd party Proxy
Server who in turn receives connections for you and
relays them to your connection. In many ways a Proxy
operates like a typical Ham Radio Repeater.
You can find a list of available EchoLink Proxy servers
here. The two biggest negatives are Proxy
availability when you need one, and security. My
personal view of using Proxy servers, for security
reasons, is that of a very last resort option resource.
Additional EchoLink Resources
The SOUTHCARS EchoLink Conference.
Among many items covered, SouthCars answers why
Hams should take advantage of VOIP; or, should we avoid
it like the plague because "it's not radio"?
The Nifty EZ-Guide to Echolink.
(Note, this item is a printed book available for sale if your so inclined)
EchoLink on WiKiPedia.
EchoLink User Group on Yahoo.
An Experimental Echolink GUI Interface EQ100.
YouTube Video on using EQ100.
AmateurLogic.TV on using Echolink Episode 7 and
An Echolink client for Macintosh EchoMac.
An Echolink App for Android Smart Phones.
List of free Proxy Servers offered by W8FSM.
Article from KI4GGH: Why I enjoy Echolink so much.
MY COMMENTS ON HAM RADIO VI THE INTERNET
Everyone is entitled to their opinions but they are not
entitled to create facts. With that said, my opinion of
Ham Radio is that today it is more about communicating with
my brother Hams than the hardware used to do it, or the
mode or the medium.
VOIP clients like Echolink, HamSphere etc. makes no pretences that
they are ham radio in the classical sense. However an argument
could be logically made that packet data on the
Internet is, in fact, mostly transmitted by some RF means;
satellite, microwave etc.
One predominant fear among older brass pounders is that
the Internet will eventually bring an end to the
traditional and independent use of RF to communicate. Sadly
many of these older Hams have just not kept up with
technology, and now express this frustration like
"the Fox reaching for the Grapes" in Aesop's Fable.
The idea most old timers express is that if Ham's don't
use their band allocations, they will surely lose them.
Personally I don't see Ham Radio ever going away. It is
still too critical in cases involving all out emergency
communications. However there is no question in my mind
that the commercial radio interest want more and more
of our protected frequencies as technology expands and
the pressure for more wireless means to control it
There is even suggestions among commercial forces that
the age of emergency communications is now better suited
to professional relay communication systems and feel
that Hams should no longer be involved.
Since the powers that be are planning the elimination
of telephone lines going into our homes, I suppose
radical change is not too far fetched as nothing good
last forever. The future always brings changes. The
Raccoon is the most successful critter living in our
neighborhoods because of how quickly he adapts to
change. There is a lesson there somewhere.
Over the past year I have received many kudos on the
software reviews I cover in this Blog. Since there
appears to be some solid ongoing interest, I plan to
continue and expand coverage into anything that is
becoming trendy in Ham Radio. Such is the case with
PodCasting. In that vein, many Hams are now
broadcasting over the Internet, (something they cannot
legally do over the Ham radio bands) to disseminate Ham
News and technical information. Podcast and Webcast are
receivable vi Computers, and or Data Devices, that are
connected to the Internet. True Podcast technically
require special RSS grabber software or Browser
plugins, but many use Flash which is built into
WEB Browser like Chrome etc.
Podcast are a series of digital media files, (.WAV .MP3
.MP4 etc) consisting of either audio or video, that are
released episodically and disseminated through
syndicated (RSS) media feeds over the Internet. True
Podcast allow listeners and viewers to subscribe, and
get automatic updates. This information is seldom
streamed live but mostly available as download-able
files on demand. When such programs are streamed live
(sent in real time) they can also be loosely described
I will mention several Ham Podcast plus my review of
their efforts. It is said imitation is the sincerest
form of flattery. Since I started my humble efforts
here to get good useful software information out to
other Hams vi this Blog, I'm happy to see more and more
new and old Blogers and Podcaster repeating similar
information. This section will be updated as required
so check it often.
is an ongoing monthly effort (eight years now) of several
Mississippi Hams, and one in Australia. Together they produce
a slick, professional looking Internet TV broadcast covering and
promoting Ham Radio. While informative and entertaining, especially
watching the unique personalities of the hosts interact, the
show lacks viewer ability to easily cherry pick segments of interest
within the long one hour telecast. Coupled with that, the recent
introduction of commercials makes the hour program occasionally
laborious and tedious.
Here is a nice abbreviated listing of all the ALTV's shows
you can view and or download.
HAM NATION This
operation is West Coast based, with professional
production quality and streamed live from the
impressive studios of TWIT.TV. Several major principles
(and contributor) to Ham Nation make money from Ham
Radio through their well known private business
enterprises, however there is minimal self promotion
during the broadcast and the show has some major
sponsors like Icom. The show brings in many outside Ham
guest to speak and or be interviewed. Guest are always
active in various Ham related activities. They
generally have an open chat room running during
broadcast and occasionally answer chat questions while
on the air. RSS or subscriptions are available
for this PodCast.
SolderSmoke Podcast Archive started in 2006 and is a
co operative effort of many contributors all dealing
with the subject of Wireless Electronic Communications.
The Podcast are solely audio based but all the announcers
have very clear, easy to understand diction. They
cover a mountain of information thats sure to please
anyone interested in radio. RSS or subscriptions are available
for this PodCast. I give it THREE STARS.
THE HQA LIVE SHOW
One of the more recent entries into Ham Broadcasting
over the Internet is the HQA LIVESHOW. What sets this
Ham production apart from the rest is it is truly a one
man, no pretences, out of the basement production. The
Host appears to have an impressive work background in
personal computers, if not a very long history
involving Ham Radio. This knowledge and ability is
evident in the quality of his web site that supports
his PodCast. The Liveshow is streamed over a free
no cost server. But therein lies Liveshow's
one Achilles Heel. The stream is annoyingly interrupted
for a period of time every X minutes to do commercials,
wherein some of Liveshow's streaming content is
actually lost (yes, you can go back later and watch
the canned, or un-interrupted show). The Host makes an
effort to answer viewer questions in real time with his
simultaneous chat room but frequently its a major
distraction and breaks the smooth flow of the PodCast.
NOTE: Find out how to possibly
beat the advertising on
W5KUB web site.
PodCast News from the UK
This is basically a father son Ham PodCast devoted entirely
to news in the Ham Radio world. This operation streams audio
only, and boast more than just Ham news, but the personal opinions
of the announcers regarding any relevant news affecting Ham
Radio. The audio is crisp and clear. They ask for donations
to support their program but not in an obligatory fashion.
To my knowledge there is no RSS or subscription service
The Practical Amateur Radio Podcast.
This Podcast has been serving the Ham Radio community for several
years. The Host is relatively new to ham radio but does not
show it by the swath of ham radio material he covers. The Host
has a beautiful succinct and clear voice making it almost a pleasure
just to listen to him. This is essentially another one man
operation, currently broadcasting only audio from his website,
but also offering some canned video productions on YouTube. The
Host seems very dedicated to providing useful information
to new Ham operators. RSS or subscriptions are available
for this PodCast.
Special Info: Some Podcasters are using free Stream servers
that inject paid advertising that trumps the broadcast while
the adds run. I'm told there is a way to get
around those interruptions. Find out how on Tom Medlin's
W5KUB web site.
If your PodCast is not mentioned here please let me
know so I can help spread the word. If you are a
Viewer, Listener or a Fan, please tell me
HERE what you like
or dislike about these Podcast. Your feedback will help
the Producers of these Streams know if their content
is moving in the right direction.
Want to try PodCasting yourself?
With NCH STREAMING SOFTWARE
you can become an Internet Radio and TV Broadcaster.
You would need a broadband Internet connection, and an ISP that would not
block port 80 (preferentially), although you can transmit on other ports
by having your custom port number appended to your URL as illustrated below.
Note the placement of the semicolon between the URL and the port number - HAM.K5HUM.COM:83
NOTE: NCH Video Streaming Software is shareware, usually with a 14 day trial period
and limited to five simultaneous viewers.
If you wish to use a commercial (paid) server to host your PodCast
media files, you can investigate the LibSyn Corporation.
For production purposes you can cue up your background music, media files
etc using a commercial cue loader like SoundByte
For a great freeware Audio recorder and format converter, there is
PSK31 on your Computer
(a clever way to receive PSK31 WITHOUT an HF Receiver)
PSK is a hi tech form of old RTTY or Radio
Teletype. Here is a clever way to receive and decode
PSK WITHOUT having to have your own Ham Receiver. You can do
this by making use of W4AX's free SDR web site and
installing a piece of freeware for Windows called DigiPan.
Your Web Browser must have both Java and Java Script
installed for the W4AX site to work!
The bands and frequencies where PSK can be found are:
160 meters (*), 1.807 USA 1.838 EU
80 meters (*), 3.580
75 meters (*) (but no PSK)
40 meters (*), 7.070 USA 7.040 EU 7.028 Japan
30 meters, 10.138 10.142
20 meters (*), 14.070
17 meters, 18.100
15 meters, 21.070
12 meters, 24.92
10 meters, 28.12
6 meters, 50.290 USA 50.250 EU
The Astrix(*) indicates the only bands W4AX's SDR site tunes to.
You must set the SDR band and frequency to one of these.
Download this Decoder program: DigiPan 2.0r,
install it, then go to W4AX's website: W4AX SDR Receiver
and set it for USB if not the default.
This setup works great and is fun to play with. I'm assuming your PC has a properly working sound
card. Should you happen to have a HF Receiver nearby, you can also tune it to the PSK frequencies,
turn USB mode on, place your PC "Mic" near the HF's speaker, then tweak your mixer levels as
required and walla! Of course an audio cable between the HF Receivers audio output and
your PC sound card's Aux input would be a bit more professional hihi.
CQ100 on QsoNet
(a subscription based system - for licensed Hams only)
An exclusive Ham Radio VOIP Service using a virtual Desktop HF
Tranceiver GUI is CQ100 .
A big plus for the less technically oriented Hams is
not having to bother with forwarding ports. CQ100
escaped this problem by operating a special server
that users first connects to (when the program first runs) to get your IP as well
as those currently on their system, and then acts as a relay. The
downside to this technique is that if that server goes down, your
CQ100 program goes down too.
CQ100 offers a free 90 day evaluation period before you
must pay the $32 (now $39) annual subscription fee. This service
is only available to licensed Hams. Although the
service is fairly stable and the GUI interface is
interesting and works, Im not sure if these assets can
keep a subscriber base after the trial period. Based
on the total subscriptions since CQ100 came on the
scene, and those currently remaining, it seems few Hams
are inclined to continue paying for the virtual aspects
of a service when other basic VOIP operations are
available elseware for free, i.e. EchoLink and E-Qso,
and lately, Googles free Gmail Plus Video and voice
service. The voice quality of CQ100 is good, a 10 on my
10 scale. QsoNet is the brainchild of Doug McCormack,
(free "For Licensed Hams Only" ROOM style Voice Chats)
If your interest is communicating in non English
languages, E-Qso is populated mostly by non English
speaking Hams from countries around the world. eQso is
similar to EchoLink in conference mode, with the
exception that users can easily create their own voice
Another plus (for those interested) is running your own
E-QSO Server with their free available software. The
only negative is that I have heard E-QSO is slow to
respond to request for permission. The only downside I
have observed is that E-Qso's audio code tends to
monopolize the PC sound card even if its full duplex.
For more details and register and get the software,
visit: E-QSO Web
Site E-Qso is operated by Paul Davies, M0ZPD.
ADDITIONAL HAM VOIP RESOURCES
Link and Repeater Locator Software: EchoMap
Reflector (Conference) Software: TheBridge
How to Ham on the Net
SlowScan TV over the Net with: InterAce.
The Internet Radio Linking Project: iRLP.
G3ZHI's Bookmarks1 and
DETAILS AND REVIEWS of "other" (non Ham specific) VOIP Software:
(a subscription based system - open to anyone willing to pay)
Another VOIP service (similar to CQ100) is HamSphere . It too
uses a virtual Desktop HF Transceiver. However in this
case the goal of the author of HamSphere is to give his
creation the illusion of working real Ham Bands by
simulating QRN, QRM and pileups. The service also
allows anyone (i.e. non Hams) to use it. This makes the
very name "HAMsphere" somewhat disingenuous. Like with
CQ100, there is minimal concern over having to forward
ports. The voice quality is an 8 on my 10 scale.
The jury is still out on how well this simulation idea
will be accepted by the users; my guess is most wont
enjoy being subjected to noise. At the time of this
review, there was no band separation between competing
groups, a factor that has historically caused operating
conflicts. Another downside to HamSphere is its
dependency on Java. I have received several reports
that HamSphere runs interference with other Java based
clients like Stock Trackers.
Its been several years since HamSphere came into
existence, and my subjective observations indicate that
HamSphere is losing more original subscribers than
gaining new subscriptions. Perhaps because mixing non
Hams (CB'ers) with Licensed Hams is a problematic
formula. Like eQSO, the majority of users are non
english speaking. Only time will tell if this formula
survives. However, Kelly Lindman (5B4AIT), the creator of
HamSphere, is quick to address bugs and problems.
12/17/12 Update: A new five day trial extension was
just provided to cheapskate Ham's like me. In fairness
I use these trials, when offered, to re evaluate my
review of HamSphere. Unfortunately nothing I
previously observed has changed. The activity I
observed was dismal and mostly on the 40 meter virtual
band and then only 3 stations. The service continues to
be mostly panned by US Hams, with the dominate users
being non americans. The quality of Ham Sphere 3, the
latest software build, continues to improve and I can
find no fault with it. Kudos to Kelly (the developer)
on that score!
(a free as well as subscription based system - open to all)
TalkForce offers 20 FREE public channels as well as
a subscription service for for those who want private and
or encrypted channels. TalkForce is open to all users.
This client offers a simple GUI interface and like others
mentioned above, its easy to setup because it requires no
port forwarding as connections are made by a TCP "outbound"
contact with the TalkForce directory (or DNS) server. This service
is open to anyone with a need for VOIP communications, and
is frequented mostly by European Hams, CB'er and SWL'ers alike. The voice
quality is a 7+ on my 10 scale.
TalkForce here. TalkForce was created and is operated by KGB
Systems LLC, an industrial software automation design company in Canada.
You might find "Warren", one of its principles occasionally online.
TalkForce Downsides: Some random crisp poping noise
that appears to be originating on the server side. Some
users report occasional lockups when using the Config
menu and or complete crashes, especially when closing
the program. Side note: I cannot get the TalkForce web
site to work correctly using FireFox, but it works
fine using Internet Explorer.
(a formerly free Voice, Text, Video Chat client - open to anyone -
has been DISCONTINUED)
(a free P2P VOIP with conference capability - open to anyone)
PicoPhone is for the advanced user who understand how
to port forward and take advantage of free DNS services
such as those mentioned below. PicoPhone, in conference
mode, is limited by the users available downstream and
PicoPhone depends on NO company support servers for
establishing connections, leaving it entirely up to
the users to obtain IP addresses. Therefore as long
as the Internet functions, PicoPhone will function.
Another upside to PicoPhone is its ability to use
sub domain (or FQDNs) in lieu of numerical IP's
to make connections. PicoPhone also has several
other text based features for chat and messages,
although the majority of users are more interested in voice
communications. PicoPhone is the creation of Marko Vitez.
More details can
be found on the authors website at
The program itself can be downloaded here
Free DNS Services:
Highly recommended: DynDns. Why?
because it works with most popular routers (like the LinkSys WRT54G) for automatic IP updating.
Reliable: The NoIP DNS update service.
Commercial DNS Services: The TZO Corp.
A free DNS PC Updater sometimes called an IP Tickler:
Yet to be Used by me or Reviewed
VOIP Net 4Hams, free (aka EchoLink, Linux based) AllStarLinks
Net2Phone, free+$ PC to PC voice (non conferencing)
VphoNet, free+$ PC to PC voice (non conferencing)
PalTalk, free+$ Chat, VOIP + Video conferencing.
AIM, (old AOL) free Chat, VOIP + Video conferencing
Yahoo Messenger, free Chat, VOIP + Video conferencing
Windows Live Messenger, free? Chat, VOIP + Video conferencing
Internet Relay Chat (IRC) free Room Style Text Chatting.
ICQ (free?) Instant Text Messaging IM style Text Chat.
ManyCams Video Cam sharing and editing utility.
CamFrogs Free Video Chat Rooms
IvideoChat Video chat with only your web browser!
REMOTE VIEWING SOFTWARE
For those interested in remote controlling a PC at distant
locations there is TeamViewer.
This product is free for personal use but requires a license if used
in a business environment. TeamViewer offers the ability to control
the desktop of a remote PC, transfer files and even voice chat during
the process. TeamViewer has improved tremendously since it first
appeared and is now an indispensable tool especially for PC technicians.
Team Viewer comes in two flavors. The All-In-One: TeamViewer
and the instant customer
QuickSupport version that requires no
formal installation at the remote; just download and run. In addition there are several
other commercial version that offer remote control and or viewing vi
Web Browsers at off site locations as well as "Presentation" capabilities.
TeamViewer requires no port forwarding as it gets its IP/DNS services from
company operated servers located at TeamView.
TEAMSPEAK VOIP SERVER (and Client) SOFTWARE
TeamSpeak enables full-featured voice integration for
online games, virtual worlds, educational programs,
military simulators, or any application where up to
thousands of users require crystal clear, simultaneous
voice communication. TeamSpeak software (both the Client
and Server) is free for
personal use. License fees must be paid for business
use and for renting remote servers (if desired) to host
your operation. Go to the TeamSpeak Web Site for all
the details. One advantage to TeamSpeak is that there
are version (32 and 64bit) for all platforms. Running a TeamSpeak
local Server on your PC requires adequate bandwidth and the users ability to forward
ports as outlined in the TeamSpeak tutorials.
TeamSpeak 3 is Beta software but has more features and
advantages than TeamSpeak 2. A NON-PROFIT LICENSE can
be obtained for TEAMSPEAK 3 SERVERS if you qualify.
This license will increase TeamSpeak 3 Server's capacity to
allow a maximum of 10 virtual servers and 512 slots.
Non-profit entities include but are not limited to
organizations such as online gaming clans, guilds, or
friends and family who utilize TeamSpeak software in a
manner in which profit or gain of any kind is NOT
How to Prevent Internet Hanky Panky
You can STOP some Intrusions with Peer Blocker!
Let me elaborate. If your PC is connected to the
Internet, this means your computer could be open to
being scanned or probed by anyone with the technical know-how on
the Internet. Any attempt at a connection to your
computer will contain the originators (or source's
Internet Postal) or IP address encoded in their
incoming probe (request) called a packet datagram.
You can use this IP to stop them!
Windows Firewall will "allow" attempts to connect to you
over programs you "approve" (by connecting over the programs
assigned ports); and block all non approved programs
and all other ports. However, lets talk more about a
program that you approved to have Windows Firewall stop
blocking. An example would be a home based Web Server.
Now, what if a person connecting to your server is
causing you headaches? Can you block or stop just that
one individual? Yes, you can.
To block, you need to know the IP address OR the range
of IP's assigned by the intruders ISP when then
connect. If the offender has a Static IP, it's less
complicated. Sadly, when you block a range of IP's you
also stop any legitimate user in that range. So, the
first issue is determining the IP of the aggravating
SOB. Better server programs make the connecting IPs
available for viewing in a real time listing. Otherwise
you need a way to determine the IP yourself.
One way to determine the IPs that are connecting to your PC
is with a free Network utility called
TCP/IP View. This utility is fairly intuitive to
use, just run it. No install is needed. It immediately
displays the IP endpoint of all network connections.
Once you know the IP, the next challenge is to BLOCK
it, and only it, without degrading the performance of
your stack or Internet connection. I am going to
recommend a free utility that I personally have had a
great deal of success with called PeerBlock.
Download and install it. Peer
Block comes with large native list of IPs to block, but you can
customize it to only use a simple list of your design.
A simple list can be created within the utility where
you can add one or more IPs.
The list created this way has single line entries typically with
the range of IP's to block. If its a single or static IP, the range
starts and ends with the same IP. Example:
If the offender has a dynamic ip of say 22.214.171.124
and you wish to block all IPs from that blade use
to block the range from 1 to 255. You could go farther and block the
entire sub domain, but thats up to you.
There may be other IP Blockers out there, and if so,
I would appreciate you e-mailing me,
and letting me know.
Free US Google TELEPHONE service!
GOOGLE Phone Service is
free for long distance anywhere in the US or Canada. A
Google Gmail account is a pre-requisite. The telephone
calls are made from a dial-pad displayed on your Gmail
web page. The remote telephone is then dialed; your
home phone is not involved. The voice quality is
excellent. Go here to sign up:
Google Phone Setup. You select a
phone number for your account as well as various
options. Your Google number will forward to any land or
mobil number you configure within the US.
Optional PC to PC Video/Voice and real time text
chatting is available using the Chrome Browser.
You will need a special FREE plugin for your Browser.
the Plugin. This plugin also works in Firefox
and Internet Explorer.
NOTE: Google also supplies a stand alone (no Browser required)
executable programs that in addition to Voice and Text
Chat, allow users to exchange files.
Download Google Talk.
CAVEAT: Google Talk (Beta)
is not fully compatible with Gmail's Chrome Talk
which requires the free Chrome Browser plugin.
MAGICTALK, a division of MagicJack offers very
inexpensive unlimited calls to anywhere in the US or
Canada for only $1.70 per month. You might luckout and
still get a free 30 day trial. This is totally PC and
Internet based, yet rings the destination phone number
dialed thru the MagicTalk software. The voice quality
is excellent and unlike Skype, MagicTalk does not use your
computer resources for other customers when you are
idle. The software is free and available for download
OoVoo, Voice and Video Conferencing over the Internet,
but with a nice TWIST!
While this service is almost identical to Skype, it
offers a very unique feature. That is the ability of
the person you wish to video chat "with" having only a
Browser. Meaning they do not need to have the OoVoo
Here is how that works. You e-mail your friend (right
from your OoVoo installation) with an invitation to
video chat and a special Link or URL. Your friend
receives the e-mail, then clicks on the embeded Link
(URL), which causes their Browser to open, load a java
applet and behave as if it were a video chat program.
OoVoo accompolishes this by allowing your copy of OoVoo
software to basically act as a streaming video web
server and client.
Of course your friend must have a video camera,
microphone, and more importantly, a current Browser
with all the latest plugins for java, flash etc. For
more information and to Download, visit
OoVoo. You can
test your Browser's ability to Video Chat by clicking
Video Chat with me now!
If I happen to have OoVoo running you will connect. If
not and you still wish to try it, e-mail me to setup
a schedule. Note: I have used MS's IE8 and FireFox without
LogiTech Vid, Voice and Video Conferencing
over the Internet.
What makes LogiTech Vid shine above most other similar
video chatting programs is how clean, intuitive and
downright easy it is to use. Other big pluses are great
audio quality that's literally free of feedback and almost
flicker-less high resolution video.
Downside: Although this program will install ok utilizing any manufactures Video Camera,
this testing period is limited to 30 days, after which time LogiTech expects you
to purchase and install one of their cameras.
Download the LogiTech Vid
SDR or Software Defined Radio
The combination of computer circuitry and Ham Radio
equipment is nothing really new. Computer control is
emerging everywhere. The family car is now almost
totally controlled by digital devices. SDR was sooner
or later bound to emerge.
There are now black boxes like
that use personal computers to provide the operating
interface, and Icom transceivers like the Icom
IC-9100 that can be remotely
controlled over an Internet connection.
There are also WEB controlled receivers that can be operated remotely using
only your Browser. Check out the
SDR-Radio site for more details. Or visit
W4AX's SDR Radio located in Atlanta! Finally, I was
just informed about another company that has introduced
that apparently has Aps for the likes of Iphones etc.
to control Ham rigs etc remotely.
The least expensive Microphones (typically $5 to $10)
are also the type of mikes that work best with most all
PC sound cards. They are of the Condenser types,
sometimes called Electric. Please do not confuse these
with piezoelectric or crystal types which (among other
problems) severely overdrive most Sound Cards. Dynamic
Mikes are another no no as most Sound Cards work with
+5 volts DC bias on the pin jack, and all dynamic (coil
type) mikes have low internal resistive paths to
My own creation, PopNote
You can download a copy of my own freeware PEER To PEER
(totally private - no need for 3rd party servers)
Instant popup Message client-server, called PopNote.
You are invited to check out the latest version either on
PopNote Site 1 or
PopNote Site 2.
I monitor PopNote 24/7 for testing and chatting.
My contact method of preference is Google's free G-mail Video and Voice Services,
where the user only needs an ordinary Web Browser like *Chrome, Internet Explorer or FireFox.
My Gmail address is "email@example.com". For SMS my number is (504) 302-3360.
Please invite me today :) Try Gmail Video/Voice now!
*Based on monumental advances in Googles Chrome Browser since it first appeared, I now
recommend Chrome above all other Browsers for Windows machines. The current build
of Chrome as of 09/24/12 is: 22.dot dot dot
Support for my PopNote Instant Message Client has moved to a Forum on
Yahoo as well as a
new Google PopNote Group.
About the Author's IT background: Programming: ASM, ASIC, BASIC, GWBASIC,
Turbo Basic, Pascal, Power Basic, RQBasic, HotBasic, DBase3
Clipper, HTML, PHP, PERL, C+, Python, Java. Web Master and
Web Site designer and Sysop. Networking in all Windows
environments. Author of numerious freeware and shareware
programs for personal computers.
My Engineering Licenses: I was formerly a license
holder of a 1st Class Commercial Radio Telephone
License and a 2nd Class Commercial Radio Telegraph
license, both carrying Radar Endorsements. In those
days you had to appear at the FCC's Offices to take the
exams. Since the FCC deregulated commercial
broadcasters from employing licensed engineers, a
General Radio Telephone License was issued and now
supersedes the older certificates. I was the 15th
individual in Louisiana to pass the NEA exams to become
a Certified Electronic Technician and also tested to
become a Louisiana State Radio and Television License
holder. When passing my Commercial Telegraph License
I also simultaneously qualified to obtain the Extra
Class Ham Radio license. I have been licensed continously since
1956, with the same station call, K5HUM
My Aviation Certifications: I am
the holder of an ATP or Airline Transport
Pilots Certificate and I am a retired FAA Designated
Pilot Examiner. I also hold a Certificated Airplane
Instructors license (Gold Seal), with Instrument and
Multi Engine ratings. I was also an FAA appointed Written
Test Examiner. In addition I hold a current Certificated
Ground School license, with an Advanced and Instrument
endorsement. I also served several years as an FAA
Accident Prevention Counselor giving speeches and
conducting seminars. --
Chatting with your Browser!
With the surge in cellular texting, basic on line Chat
technology is growing. Here are links to four chat
operations that only require a Browser (Chrome, Firefox
or IE8 all seem to work ok), in other words, no special
software to install. The upside is you can use any
computer anywhere. I tried them all and they all work.
The first two are unique in that you automatically
and randomly get connected with people anywhere
in the world. Turning your Cam on gets quicker
Both Text & Cams: Chat Random.com.
Both Text & Cams: Char Roulette .
These two below are text chat only but allow
you to create your own chat room.
Text only: EveryWhereChat.
Text only: FreeNode Chat.
(note: you can change roomname in above Freenode URL to your choice of a custom room name)
Looking for help setting up any poplar VOIP Services?
Contact me for a schedule using any of the following services:
as well as through Google Talk, Google Chat, or Google Video
and Google Hangouts most times of the day.
The Briefing Room
Due to the rapid growth of this feature it is
being relocated to its own web page. Click
The Briefing Room
to go there now and remember to Bookmark it.