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IRLP reflectors

What is a reflector?

A reflector can be seen as a digital repeater of sorts. It takes one digital bit stream in, and repeats that bitstream to all other connected sites making a digital "party line". Reflectors are very fun to drop into to catch up on what’s going on around the world. You never know who you will fine on any given reflector.
 
There are two connection modes for an IRLP connection.  Direct one-to-one or, one-to-many via a Reflector.

Direct connect is just like it sounds where node "A" connects direct with node "B".  With this type of link the two nodes are interconnected and no other IRLP connections are possible.  While nodes "A" and "B" are connected, anyone attempting to connect with either node will be told by a  recording that - "The node you are calling is currently connected to callsign" however all local traffic on each node frequency will be heard on the other nodes as well.

While Direct Connect is preferred for a city to city chat, the most common type of  connection in use today is via the Indianapolis Reflector ( Ref 9200 ).  A reflector is a Linux computer that is not connected to any radio but rather sits on lots of internet bandwidth capable of allowing many repeaters to be inter-connected together by streaming the received audio back to all other connected stations.  At any given time there are usually 10 to 20 nodes around the world interconnected via this Reflector.   You can always check which stations are connected to the reflector by visiting http://status.irlp.net and looking for nodes connected to individual nodes or reflectors.

REFLECTOR USE

With reflector use the first thing we must all remember is to leave a gap between transmissions.  Having said that this is a good time to list the three main rules when connected to a reflector:

Pause

Pause

Pause

Due to the slight increase in delays created by multiple Tone Squelch radios in the links between the repeater and IRLP link radio, a slight change in our normal operating procedures is required with IRLP. 

By leaving a pause between transmissions it ..... 

allows users on other nodes a chance to check in.

allows other nodes time to send touch-tone commands to drop their node.

The most important guideline to remember is leaving a pause after pressing the PTT button as well as between transmissions. 

Avoid local traffic while connected to the reflector. 

By its nature, the reflector has a large footprint and a wide audience, therefore if local users would like to have a discussion, they should disconnect from the reflector. If we hear a local conversation (all participants coming from the same node) that continues, I, or one of the other reflector control ops will likely ask them to disconnect. If attempts to break into the conversation are unsuccessful, the node may be blocked from the reflector (more on blocking later).

Along the same line, if two stations become engaged in an extended dialog involving only themselves, then I would recommend they both move off the reflector and make a direct node to node connection, freeing up the reflector for others. If more than two nodes are involved, then moving to one of the lesser used reflectors might be an alternative, especially if one of the stations can check the web site for an available reflector. In the future, moving to one of the available sub-channels will become an option.

Calling CQ DX :-) 

It IS acceptable to call CQ, in fact, if you really want to make a contact, it is preferable to say "This is K9DC calling CQ, is anyone available for a contact?" as opposed to "K9DC Listening" ...silence for 2 minutes, followed by a disconnect. However 3 x 3 x 47 CQs are unnecessary and should be left for CW/SSB frequencies where tuning around is the observed practice. Odds are we heard it the first time.

It IS acceptable to talk about the weather, or anything else that is geographically significant. But like anything else, within reason. A station in Indiana that says to a Colorado op, "Hey I heard that you have a mountain out there" will probably cause eyes to roll worldwide.

In general though, long winded, channel consuming conversations should be avoided. Remember there are usually a dozen or two connected systems, with perhaps hundreds of users that might like a chance to use the system.

A few other Reflector operational guidelines:

Listen first. When connecting to the main channel on a Reflector, odds are that you are dropping into an existing conversation. Wait for at least 15 seconds to make sure you are not interrupting an existing QSO before calling.

Pause between transmissions. Many nodes are connected using simplex links, therefore the only time it is possible for them to disconnect is between transmissions. Be sure to pause AT LEAST 5 seconds between transmissions.

Key your transmitter and wait before speaking. There are propagation delays across the Internet, as well as delays caused by sub audible tone decoders and other devices that cause a delay before the audio path is cut through. If you speak immediately upon PTT, the beginning of your transmission will not be heard.

ERROR MESSAGES

From time-to-time you may receive error messages when attempting to connect with a node or reflector.  The most common ones are:

"The node you are calling is not responding, please try again later"

 This is caused by a loss of internet connectivity to one end of the call attempt.

"BEEP Error- The call attempt has timed out, the connection has been lost"

This error occurs when a node is OFF-LINE.  Some nodes such as in the
UK use dial-up connections and then, only for short periods.  Also there may be temporary net or node problems.

"The Connection Has Been Lost"

If the internet connection drops, this error message will be heard.  I found this out when I accidentally kicked out my network cable while working around the node computer.
 
DO'S and DON'TS

 
DO pause for 10 seconds or when entering the reflector before talking.
 
DO pause between transmissions to let others in or to allow others to enter DTMF commands.
 
DO identify before sending DTMF command tones.
 
DO hold your microphone PTT for about 1 second before talking to allow all systems time to rise.
 
DO NOT rag-chew on your local node frequency while connected to the reflector.
 
DO NOT start or plan a Net without pre-authorization from the reflector owner

 

IRLP Node Control Operators for #3276

We hope you enjoy the local Bellingham IRLP and we invite everyone to use the system. It was installed for your pleasure as a member of the MBARC. If you have any questions please contact one of the node control operators and we will assist you in any way we can.

Jon Landers, KD7PSG Phone: 647-3607      e-mail:   appliedlogic@comcast.net

Greg Rehm, KD7RCG Phone: 738-4914      e-mail:   greg@turnpoint.net

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