This web site is to inform all Radio Amateurs of the LaCombe Louisiana EchoLink Repeater System.
Frequencies are 146.64 MHz –.600, and Simulcast on 443.20 MHz +5 Mhz .
EchoLink Node Call sign is N5UK/R--Node Number is # 463183.
Access is PL Tone required, input a 114.8 hz tone!
This is an independent and open repeater system to all licensed radio amateurs!
Both repeaters encode on 114.8Hz Tone only when an input signal is received
Set your radio to 114.8 Hz PL Decode and you will only hear the stations talking and no annoying ID, or out of state band openings!
EchoLink Access Codes for the 146.64
You will hear a doorbell sound when a Echolink node conects!
Remember to ID first,
Connect- Connects to a station on the Internet, based on its node number. TT code, Node Number
Disconnect, Disconnects the station that is currently connected. If more than one station is connected, disconnects only the most-recently-connected station. TT code #
Disconnect All, Disconnects all stations. TT code, ##
Reconnect, Re-connects to the station that most recently disconnected. TT code, 09
Status Announce, Announces the Callsign of each station currently connected. TT code, 08
Random Node, Selects an available node (of any type) at random, and tries to connect to it. TT code, 00
Random Link, Selects an available link or repeater (-L or -R) at random, and tries to connect to it. TT code, 01
Random Conf, Selects a conference server at random, and tries to connect to it. TT code, 02
Random User, Selects an available single-user station at random, and tries to connect to it. TT code, 03
Connect by Call, Connects to a station on the Internet, based on its call sign. TT code, C+call
RandomFavNode, Selects an available node (of any type) at random from the Favorites List, and tries to connect to it. TT code, 001
RandomFavLink, Selects an available link or repeater (-L or -R) at random from the Favorites List, and tries to connect to it. TT code, 011
RandomFavConf, Selects a conference server at random from the Favorites List, and tries to connect to it. TT code TT code, 021
RandomFavUser, Selects an available single-user station at random, and tries to connect to it. TT code, 031
Play Info, Plays a brief ID message. TT code, *
Query by Call, Looks up a station by its call sign, and reads back its node number and status. TT code, C
Query by Node, Looks up a station by its node number, and reads back its callsign and status. TT code, 06+num
Listen-Only On, Inhibits transmission from RF to the Internet. TT code, 0511
Listen-Only Off, Restores normal transmission from RF to the Internet. TT code, 0510
The 146.64 now has up to date Weather Information
Weather Announcement Codes,
Remember to ID first,
(Note there is up to a 10 second delay until it speaks after sending Touch Tones, if a station is connected to Echolink weather cannot be accessed!)
Local Weather Announcement, TT Code, “**1”
Local Time and Temperature Announcement, TT Code, “55*”.
Local Weather Forecast Announcement, TT Code, “**2”
Local Weather Warnings Announcement, TT Code, “**3”.
Local Weather Long Warning Announcement, TT Code, “**5”. Other Useful Touch Tone Codes for Voice Annunciated User information,
Time Announcement, TT Code, "123"
All Announcements , TT Code, "**".
The Weather Ladies Touch Tone Codes List, TT Code, "*1".
LaCombe Rpt. Web Site URL Voice Announcement, TT Code, "*2".
146.64 Echolink Node Number, TT Code, "*3". The "RAIN" Report can be connected at any time, TT Code, "BB".
Speed Dial Codes used for quick connect to Favorite Echolink Nodes or Conferences.
"IRELAND" Conference, TT Code- "100". "DODROPIN" Conference TT Code- "120". "SCARS" Conference TT Code- "150". "NEW-ENGLAND", Conference TT Code- "170". "TECHTALK", Conference TT Code- "200". "WORLD” Conference, TT Code- "220".
“IRESC” Global Emergency Conference, TT Code “250”.
“HANDIHAM” Conference, TT Code “270”. “USA” USA Bridge Conference, TT Code “300” "AMSTAT", Conference TT Code- "350". “W5KEV/R” Repeater in Knoxville, TT Code- “1000”
"SCARS" Has a Net on Tuesday nite at 8 O'Clock CST, and "Dodropin" Has a Net on Saturday night at 8 O'clock, and Sunday night at 6:30 CST. The .64 repeater may be set to auto-connect to these nets each week!
Note: I have found that a lot of local users don’t use the repeater because they are not sure if the repeater is connected to another Echolink node or Conference. The way to check that is to ID then hit Touch Tone code 08. It will speak it’s connect status. You can disconnect the Echolink connection by hitting the pound sign, then when your conversation is over to reconnect to the back to where is was hit Touch Tone code 09.
System Summary and History
The repeater is located 260’ on a very stout former BellSouth tower in LaCombe, La. owned by N5UK, whose call sign the repeater bears. The machine is located about 30 miles north of New Orleans and has mobile coverage throughout the city, and north to about Poplarville Ms.!
This repeater was built by me WB5ZRL in the summer of 2008, it took me about four months to construct, and was a frustrating experience for me! No doubt getting older makes everything a harder task. But it’s now been on the air since December 2008 with only one minor service call. Back in the 1980’s and up to 1992 I owned many repeaters in the New Orleans area. In those days buying a controller for any part of my repeaters was unheard of. I would design and build my own control logic on wire wrap boards. Ay, “The good ole day’s” This sometime took months of dedication. But some of the stuff I designed even then the computer controller manufactures haven’t caught on to yet! In fact the .64 almost landed up with some of my old logic boards on it for control. But technology must march on!
The inspiration to build the system was brought to me by son when he explained Echolink to me and a light went off in my head as this is the answer to bring life to what would have been another dead repeater. Yes the repeaters down here don’t have a lot of activity on them. Comparing to what my 146.97 repeater in New Orleans used to have (In it’s prime) about 8 hours a day of transmitter up time. The thought of putting up another dead repeater was about as appealing to me as an ingrown toenail! But this is a way to invite everyone worldwide to use it, “un-limitless activity”!
Even though “In this area” EchoLink is still met with some apprehension! I have heard some of most ridiculous excuses from fellow ham comrades why this technology is not good! It’s hard to teach “Old ham dog’s news tricks” sometimes. But if you can dial a telephone you can use EchoLink!
Normally about 9 or 10 O’clock at night I will bring a Multi-user conference and let it go until the inactivity timer brings it down; some nights because of the European traffic it does not time out at all. The inactivity timer is set for 60 minutes! This is tough on the transmitter(s), but Motorola builds some durable equipment! The big complaint always down here is usually there is no one on the VHF bands to talk to late at night, so this gives the late night people some where to talk other than HF. I am amazed at the spirit of cooperation between the many foreign lands, as people in countries that were enemies just last century talk like “Ole Friends” on the system!!
My hats off to the fine people at Echolink.org for a good working VOIP system that is offered for no charge. Maybe it’s true the best things in life are free! Check it out for yourself. I am still convinced that this is better than listing to S9+ noise levels on 80 and 40 meters! The other night I heard a German operator riding a bike in the hills talking to another fellow in Australia over the system. Let’s see you do that on HF? Until the HF Propagation picks up again this can fill the DX gap! This is probably the best new technology that has happened in many years for any repeater system. If your repeater does not have this, you may want to seriously consider adding it! Also There is EchoLink for the iPhone it is an edition of the EchoLink software that runs on an IPhone or iPod touch. If you own one of these devices and are a validated EchoLink user, you can access the EchoLink system.
This repeater system is open for usage during any and all emergencies. And in fact that would priority over any regular usage. I was in hurricane Katrina and had no power or communications at my home for 3 weeks! This is what brought me and a lot of others back to amateur radio. Now because there High-Tech multi-million dollar communications equipment failed during Katrina, the local Emergency EOC’s. in the southern parishes are welcoming ham participation for future disasters with open arms! Unfortunately the .64 repeaters DSL line will probably not stay up after another disaster like Katrina, but the tower will be there take a look! Here is a list of emergency HF frequencies, and a web site for a VOIP Hurricane Net.
Mobile Coverage Area Map
Repeater System Technical Aspects!
The VHF equipment is a 50 Watt Motorola MSR2000 Repeater, and a 25 Watt Repco repeater for the UHF portion! Communication Specialists PL Tone boards, ARR V144VDA VHF Preamp, db Products Duplexer, APC UPS, and a homemade 110vAC “Filtered Power Module”,
Also an Arcom RC-210 single board computer controller modified for 4 ports!
The EchoLink computer is a 1 Gig. Gateway running Windows XP. And the Computer to EchoLink interface used is a heavily modified “ULI Interface”!
The repeater encodes a PL Tone 114.8hz. when an input signal is received. I set up all my repeaters like this as it is most handy. If you set your receive radio to decode 114.8 Hz then you won’t be annoyed by the Id’er, or band openings which we see a lot of down here along the gulf coast! You will only hear the station talking!
Below is a block diagram of the system. The purpose of the web site is not to explain every technical piece or difficulty that the system had during construction, as there where many I can assure you. I could do a 10 page web site to take it that far! Mostly there where computer software and controller issues! There are 12 Manuals total for the entire system (One I had to produce one) for both software and hardware! If you are building a MSR 2000 repeater like this one E-mail me and I will share my schematic diagrams with you!
System Block Diagram
Sorry this a little fuzzy it came out that way after importing the file. E-mail me for a .pdf file if you want a clearer copy!
These are the basic systems listed!
Remote communications with the Echolink computer
Signal strength in percent read back.
Equipment room temperature read back.
Time & Date read back.
Echolink Computer can be turned ON- Off or Reset, with annunciation.
ULI Interface can be turned ON or Off or Reset, with annunciation.
DSL modem can be turned ON or Off or Reset, with annunciation.
Keying in on the 2 meter side causes a “High to Low” roger beep sequence, while keying in on the UHF side (Port 2 ) causes a “Low to High” sequence. Keying in from port 3 (EchoLink and or a Remote base), causes just a single beep, and no 2 tone sequence. This has proven to be very useful to figure out where the signal originates from!
Audio files can be recorded into the RC-210 DVR these can be uploaded directly to the hard drive, then recorded in through the audio path from the computer sound card to the controller.
EchoLink, and a possible future 10 Meter remote base are OR’ed together on Port 3 to form a Port 4 also Up to date weather annunciations accessible by user TT Pad.
Software Programs Used!
The basic software programs used to make the EchoLink / Control computer are these. Maybe this will help someone in there software search, as I spent a lot of time downloading and testing software for usability!
1. “Comodo” Firewall Software
2. "Remote linking Software", (You can download Ultra VNC)
3. “TrueIP” Software (Haztek)
4. “SecureIt Pro” Software (Quantrix)
5. “EchoLink” Software (Jonathan K1RFD)
6. “Echoproducer Small” V3.4.6 Software (Peter EI4JR)
7. “Weather Exchange” (Ambient Weather)
8. “ULI Setup” Program V0.4, and “ULI Test”
9. “Arcom RCP” Programming software.
10 “Cepstral – Callie" --Windows Voice. This is a alternative voice for windows XP.
1 through 7 are free for the downloading on the web, “I like freebies”! The ULI Software comes with the converter, and the Arcom software you would have to purchase.
Comodo Firewall, is a very high end freebie that can take some time to configure. The computer I use is running XP. Comodo does not slow down the computer at all, as best I can tell. Many off the shelf commercial virus / firewall programs will make older computers run very slow!
Remote linking Software, download Ultra VNC, or you can purchase PcAnywhere- ($200 Retail). A word to the wise if you don’t set up remote linking to your computer you will regret it! You will need to do house keeping chores all the time. There are lots software variables that need attention continually, and changes to the system internal! Running to the repeater site each time is not going to make you a happy chap! Note: The EchoLink program has a remote linking feature in the Echolink software package, but you will rather want a program that will allow you to look all the running programs on your computer to fully maintenance your system!
TrueIP, by Haztek. This is another needed program for remote computer linking, it will send your updated IP Address to there server each time the IP address changes. You access it with a password on there web site. This is only necessary if you have a dynamic IP address of course! Your remote linking software needs to know your IP address. Note: TrueIP needed two other programs to run, Microsoft .Net framework, (Filename : dotnetfx2.0) and Microsoft Windows Installer 3.0 (Filename : instmsi3.0). These are downloadable from the web. Newer machines may not need these programs!
SecureIt Pro, This is used to password lockdown the computer when your away from it or when you link into the system, it’s the first screen you will see! The concern is always someone tinkering with your computer settings, or surfing the Internet at the repeater site. This is the first line of defense!
EchoLink Program, This is what’s makes it all happen. It must be downloaded on an individual basis from the echolink web site, and your station must be validated, to receive a node number! Here it is at http://www.echolink.org/. Setup info walk-through page here. EchoProducerSmall, This is a very nice Add-on program for Echolink created by Peter EI4JR found here! When used in conjunction with the Echolink program it adds a lot of functions to the system. I am presently only using the weather part of the software. But with this software and Echolink you can make a fully functional repeater without buying a repeater controller! This program will work with Windows 2000, but it needs the Windows XP speech engine to speak! It will even read back a Web page or the news!
Weather Exchange, Ambient Weather program should be on everyone’s computer found here. This is an up to date local weather report that EchoProducer uses to receive the weather data files. The user selects the refresh time interval, and the local weather station to take reports from! You can set up alarm conditions also!
ULI Setup, and ULI Test, This comes with the converter it’s for programming your parameters into the internal pic chip. And “ULI Test” does just that, this program will give some test functions of the ULI Interface box. It will indicate if communications are good, and if the Interface is receiving Touch Tones.
Note: I had to configure the ULI software to Com 1 only. The software would not come up on the screen if Com 1 is not used!
Arcom RCP, This is needed to program the controller. Because of the complexity of the controller I don’t see how anyone could program it without this software! If you are new to any computer controller be aware there is a learning curve to figure out all the functionality! Cepstral – "Callie", After searching the web for a better voice for Windows XP as the windows default voices are unusable! I settled upon a company called “Cepstral” found here. They will allow you to download their products to decide which one suits you best! The sexy female voice I settled on is “Callie”.
This is the automated voice my system now uses for all Echolink and EchoProducer announcements. This voice is sampled at 22 kHz whereas the Echolink voice is at 8 kHz. Very few synthesized voices are sampled that fast, it does help with the quality Turning down the voice speed a few notches makes her sound even more sexy. Did anybody think I would use a mans voice, don't you rather watch a female weather lady on TV? I have to admit that while mobiling around the womens voice does not stand out as good the mans, when competing with road noise! It will cost you $30 to register her, but she will stay with you forever!!! This may be a "HAL 9000 System", but "Callie" still sounds better then he did!
Side Note: I found good free test programs for troubleshooting, Portmon v3.0, and Terminal V1.9B (Both are good for serial port monitoring and diagnostics). Network Traffic Monitor Software here at, http://www.delphi.about.com/. And something else that may be of interest, a software program and PC board combination that switches 8 relays from the computers parallel port. Found here at Carl’s Electronics, this could be used to do control functions at the tower site via the remote linking software. They have a version that works with your serial port also.
I found that the Motorola MSR 2000 receiver to be a very sensitive, and a good reliable design. Because the duplexer we use is a notch only design, after the initial installation of the repeater a lot of intermod was getting into the receiver and forced me to keep it on PL Tone access. I located an old Motorola Motrac 5 helical resonator front end and modified it for the ham band. This eliminated all of the interference with only about -1.5 db insertion loss. Beyond that the Motorola equipment is working flawless! As long as the power amp cooling fan runs it should last a long time. When I engage a multi-user conference the transmitter is up about 40 % of the time! You can’t beet the BIG “M” for reliable equipment, that’s why we used call it “Smokinrola”!
Thanks to N5Uk, Gil Stock for the Tower site, DSL Line & Modem, MSR2000 and Duplexer. To K5FBG, Francis Grosz (Alias: The Doc), for the purchase of the Arcom, ARR preamp and other equipment expenses. To K5IQ, Bob Dunn for the Repco UHF repeater. For my son AJ4HO, David J. Maniscalco for heli-arc welding the Db-224 antenna back to life, and for being on the other end of the EchoLink line for months of testing! And to Repeater Builder.com for lots of downloadable useful information!
This was a community pitch-in project that was meant to be!
Other Local Repeaters,
Stennis Space Center, Ms. 147.21 + PL 136.5 Hz. (Has emergency power)
Slidell, La. (Club) 147.27 + PL 114.8 Hz
N.O., La. (UNO) 146.96 - No PL Tone
N.O., La. 146.82 - PL 114.8 Hz (EchoLink)
Covington, La. 146.715 - No PL Tone
Date created 7/11/09, Date updated 8/15/10
73, and happy repeater building!
GENERAL DISCLAIMER - - This site and its entire contents is for informational purposes only!
Please note that all Trademarks and Tradenames are the property of their respective owners.
EchoLink® is a registered trademark of Synergenics, LLC. Repeater Builder®, Windows®, Gateway®, and Motorola® are all registered trademarks!