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Author Topic: Repeater Linking  (Read 37046 times)

Posts: 13

« on: July 18, 2013, 01:56:05 PM »

I'm currently building a 33cm repeater to put up in the Raleigh, NC area. Someone asked if I would have it linked to any other repeaters. My question is 1) What ways are there to link repeaters and 2) what prevents people from linking repeaters in other states full time (if approved of course). I just thought it would be awesome to have a link to another repeater in another state.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 02:29:07 PM by W4ZWA » Logged

Posts: 0

« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2013, 11:52:53 AM »

The easiest way to link repeaters is to use an RF link. For example we have two 220MHz repeaters here in central VA one is on 224.600 and the other is on 224.580. These are linked using our 440 band, and pretty soon we will be adding a 900MHz repeater to the link also using 440 to link into the system. What you do is make sure that your repeater controllers have a remote base or link port. This allows you to put another radio at each site. We use 440 radios, and then we have some small yagi antennas that are pointed at each other from each of the sites and that is how the link is made. With the controller you can disconnect the link or anytime you wish to separate the repeaters buy just pushing a few DTMF tones. We use the CAT 200 controllers here. The other way to link repeaters which is more modern if you would is by using VoiP or voice over IP as it's known. Using this method requires that you have internet access at each site and the link is made by using a controller that can send the voice to each repeater over the internet. Almost like using IRLP.  I have not experimented with this method but I know when and if we do a major upgrade this is the way that we will go for linking.

This is a very, very brief explanation of how linking works, if you need more help email me and I will be happy to assist.


de Jaime-KA3NXN   ka3nxn(at)arrl(dot)net

Posts: 21764

« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2013, 03:21:08 PM »

Linking can be within the amateur bands but of course that can make it subject to tampering/jamming etc.

Linking can also be accomplished via telephone lines or the internet, which is probably a bit more secure but has its own set of issues. Smiley

Locally we have a few "linked repeater systems."  One that's been around a long time is the PAPA System.  Although all the sites are within southern California, they're so spread out that if the system was on the east coast, it would cover a few states.

Another large, old system with multi-state coverage is the Cactus Intertie System:

Another set of linked repeaters 'round these parts is the CARS system on six meters:

Linking repeaters has been done for decades and decades and isn't a new idea, although when sites have internet access it can be cheaper and easier today than it's ever been. Wink

Posts: 884

« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2013, 04:51:08 PM »

Our club uses a combination of wireless linking and an IRLP reflector to tie 4 sites together. Some of the members have also built their own IRLP stations at home and connect to the reflector so they can run super-low power when around the house, which is a nice feature especially if you happen to live in a bad spot and have trouble hitting a machine.

<begin rant> Smiley
However, I'm not in favor of Internet linking. We have lots of spectrum above 70CM that most hams never even think about. That spectrum will get more and more valuable over time and if we don't make use of it, someone else will. Google for one has shown they are more than happy to petition for license free "white space" radios that will work just well enough to reach a tower run by a commercial enterprise (like... Google?) to make money without having to resolve any issues that may come up with other users. It won't take long for them to realize there's a whole bunch of open territory in our ham bands, much of which is already set up for unlicensed use on a secondary basis.
<end rant>

I'd like to see a migration to broadband digital radio linking, with an eye toward a "dumb pipe" network between sites that could be used for linking analog repeaters, passing APRS traffic, digital repeaters, or whatever else we can throw at it within the confines of acceptable amateur traffic. But of course that takes money and engineering, two things we never seem to have.

Posts: 13

« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2013, 10:30:45 AM »

Thanks for the replies! 

Posts: 60

« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2013, 09:41:12 PM »

The easiest way to link repeaters is to use Echo Link. You can link a bunch of repeaters around the country or around the world and not waist RF frequency's. It is also the least
Expensive way to go.
             Stan K6RMR

Posts: 378


« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2013, 03:57:00 AM »

Using EchoLink, in my opinion, is not the best way. Unless you want to hear DTMF codes coming over the link. No, IRLP is made for linking and uses the same hardware. In fact if one buys the IRLP link controller from IRLP it includes all of the cabling for IRLP and EchoIRLP. But one cannot run both at the same time partly because of the tone issue. EchoLink should be reserved for computer call-in's and hams that want to talk to relatives and friends in other states.

For the record I prefer RF links in earthquake prone California. As soon as a major quake hits the phone lines will go down and disruption of the Internet is likely. RF linking avoids this. Since we're an Ecomm repeater servicing ECS, ARES, RACES, SAR and others this is a key concern of ours. We will only use Internet linking if we don't have an RF path. We were going to use Allstar and may still just as an added feature.

Just my 2 cents.

The easiest way to link repeaters is to use Echo Link. You can link a bunch of repeaters around the country or around the world and not waist RF frequency's. It is also the least
Expensive way to go.
             Stan K6RMR

Posts: 20

« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2013, 07:35:00 AM »

In St. Lucie Co., FL, (W4SLC) we are using 'on channel' Control Stations with a Cat 400 and RLS 1000 switch.  No additional frequencies needed.
Vhf and Uhf.  DTMF Control to CAT 400 on Uhf, Vhf on RLS 1000.  Seems to work well when properly set up (levels set precisely by service monitor, not ear) and is controllable.  Our system is open normally, closed during emergency declaration.  Shelter comms on Vhf and admin ops (CERT) on Uhf.

Posts: 80

« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2014, 09:09:39 AM »

Just to throw out some food for thought, are you sure that you really want to link your machine?  A trend I have observed from time to time is where someone will put up a 220, 900, 1.2 gig, or like uncommon repeater, and then link it to 2 meters and/or 440.  There are pros and cons to this practice which you, the owner, need to decide which weighs more heavily.

If you put up a repeater on one of the uncommon bands as noted above, with a little luck, it will attract a few hams with a pioneer spirit of sorts who will have the cash and in some cases, the technical talent, to invest in getting a rig on the air to partake of the new pathway to communications you have made available to them.  In the case of 220 in particular, it is hoped that as the friends of those hams become aware of the fun and enjoyment they are having on that "new" band in the area and will themselves invest in radios so they can join in on the fun and fellowship of that band.  One reason we have so little 220 Mhz gear available is that it is not available all over the world like 2m, 440, and like bands are.  Since manufacturers other than Alinco, and Yaesu are not making quality gear for 220, people don't buy much of it and it remains an under-utilized band, despite the excellent propagation characteristics it has for local comms.  Under-utilization and lack of equipment form a vicious cycle that keeps the bands under-utilized and at risk of being taken away from us by the FCC.  Anyway, having an un-linked 220 machine (or 900 Mhz or whatever) will likely inspire curiosity and cause hams to invest in equipment for that band so they can experience it.  The trick is getting a core few to take that step first.  If the machine is linked to 2m or 440, which they already have, they will experience nothing much new for buying a new radio, so there is close to zero incentive for them to invest in a 220 (or 900 or whatever) radio when they can hear and talk to everyone who is on that uncommon band repeater via the 2m or 440 link.

The only pro I can think of for linking a repeater on an uncommon band would be that it creates an artificial illusion of utilization which might help to keep us from losing the bands, based on an active repeater being heard on that band.

We have some linked systems which do serve a purpose, and have potential in the event of a disaster.   It is neat to be able to get on a linked system and reach a friend in another part of the state (provided there is no net in progress or the system is not being hogged by a couple of ratchet jaws).   In some parts of the country, technically oriented hams have not been happy with companies making ham gear available for 900 MHz because for the most part, to get on 900 you had to at least be able to obtain and re-program commercial gear to operate there.  They see it as opening the flood gates for a lot of non-technical people on those bands which they were quite content to operate away from.  If their 2 meter machines have become as infested with "droolers" as some in this area have, I can appreciate their feelings on that matter.

IMHO, a stand-alone repeater which is well maintained and engineered on 220 or 900 will probably draw more people to it if it has its own unique culture and operators than one that is just linked to create an artificial sense of utilization.   


Ray  KV4BL
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