Local RF: Simplex 145.545 PL: 88.5
in operation since 2003
Purchasing 2 Yaesu 8900R quad band rigs, one for the vehicle and one for the base station I was ready to assemble my new Echolink station. I added a wireless laptop PC to the base station to interface with the wireless router on the floor below. Connecting the new 8900R to the laptop PC through the Mountain Radio "nomic" radio to PC interface was very straightforward. I run the 8900R on 20 watts using 2 meter simplex. The antenna is a quad band Comet UHV-4 mobile antenna in the attic above the radio room. The UHV-4 sits on a tripod base with 16 tuned #8 copper radials in a 360 degree arc around the tripod. There are 4 tuned radials for each band: 10 - 6 - 2 - 440. As I work only about 6 miles from my house and the range of my LINK is approx. 10 to 15 miles I am within the "full quieting" range on my entire daily commute. Above is a picture of the current Echolink 8900R setup. Since the dedicated Echolink 8900R has the nomic interface plugged into its mic jack, the second 8900R rig on the right side allows for FM contacts with its own mic jack connected to a microphone rather than an interface unit. The extra 8900R rig on the right has its own dual band VHF/UHF antenna in the attic and often operates as a "crossband" repeater for my HT around the house. This "crossband" abiltiy allows me to work/monitor 146.52 simplex or distant repeaters using my HT while outside the hamshack. A Yaesu 8800R sits on my desk in downtown Frederick monitoring the shack Echolink station. I am able to respond to connections on the home station from my office PC directly ( as time allows ). I can also control my shack Echolink from my office PC with a direct "backdoor" connection provided by the Echolink programming.
To read the FCC text requiring full control of your Echolink station ( known as an auxilliary station in FCC jargon ):
The section regarding the above text begins at the bottom of page 12 and continues into page 14 of the PDF document.
Additionally, regarding the "control point" of Echolink "linking" systems, PART 97.109 reads:
(a) Each amateur station must have at least one control point.
(c) When a station is being remotely controlled, the control operator must be at the control point. Any station may be remotely controlled.
The FCC's concept clearly allows "off site" control of any ECHOLINK "simplex" node by HT or MOBILE station. This is best facilitated by the use of DUAL BAND rigs on both ends of the equation ( Echolink node base station and mobile/HT ). For instance, my N3RO-L node uses two 8900R quad band rigs. The LEFT side is the Echolink node frequency ( either 2 meters or 6 meters ), while the RIGHT side is always the "auxiliary" station channel on 440 mhz where I can control the LEFT side node frequency, shutting down or turning on the Echolink station as desired. In such a dual band situation, the "auxiliary" station is within the same transceiver "box" as the main node station - the concept of auxiliary station control still applies however.
This is made very clear in an ARRL article published in QST magazine in 2003. Bear in mind when reading this article however, that it is out-of-date with regards to the FCC now allowing "control" tones/signals on two meters as of October 2006. One note of caution however, although the FCC allows "control tones" to be sent on 2 meters, it is not allowable to "control" your Echolink node on the SAME FREQUENCY as your node operates on. If your node is in transmit mode there would be no way to shut it off by sending control tones on the same frequency, thus the dual band rig offers the perfect solution . . . another receiver monitoring another frequency on another band allowing control tones to be "heard" by your station despite the Echolink station being in transmit mode. The Yaesu 8900 provides this function perfectly.
For further reading click on the link below for the full FCC part 97 rules and regulations.