Ham Radio: Repeaters to the world with IRLP

The Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) allows you to create temporary links between IRLP repeaters around the world. Repeater operators connect the necessary hardware between their repeater and the Internet and obtain a unique IRLP code for their repeater. It was started in Vancouver, Canada and the first node number 1000 is still active.

You can set up and drop an IRLP connection between repeaters by sending DTMF (dual-tone multi-frequency) signals. DTMF is the fancy technical name for the  tones generated by a touch tone telephone.  Most UHF/VHF radios and handhelds have tone generating capability from their keypad. One of our radio user guide pages on DTMF has an example of how this works. There are also smartphone apps that will play the tone into your radio’s microphone.

Finding IRLP repeaters and checking status

The  best place to look for repeaters is on the IRLP repeater search page.

  1. Start by finding a repeater close to you, searching by country and province, and then down to city. Check it’s status to ensure it is available.
YRARC Repeater IRLP Status from IRLP.net

Note the Node ID and call sign, and the status of IDLE.

Remember that only one IRLP connection is active at a time from a repeater. If the IRLP connection is active, you will see a node number instead of IDLE.

IMPORTANT: Not all repeaters on a set of linked repeaters are IRLP repeaters! As an example, YRARC’s repeater page shows multiple linked repeaters, but only VE3YRC is configured for IRLP. That’s why it’s the only one that shows up on the IRLP search page.

2. Find a repeater to connect to.

Same search as above. Look for an IDLE repeater and note the call sign and node number.

A simple IRLP link session.

All the same protocol and etiquette of a simple repeater session apply – and more. Remember that you are now linking all the traffic from the two repeater sites. Everything on one side will be repeated on the other, and that includes any linked repeaters at each site.

The following example is for a session:

  • From: repeater VE3YRC, IRLP node 2920 in Aurora, Ontario
    • Make sure you set up the repeater on your radio with the appropriate frequency, offset and CTCSS tone.
  • To: repeater VE7RHS, IRLP node 1000 in Vancouver, BC
  1. Listen to see if anyone is else is talking. There may be a net or other conversations already happening.
  2. Start with
    • “VA3NUB listening”
    • Better: “VA3NUB listening on 123.456″. Because you could be on one of a set of linked repeaters.
    • Best: user the repeater call sign and frequency
      • “VA3NUB listening on YRARC 123.456”
  3. If nothing back, wait 10 seconds and repeat step 2
  4. If someone answers, acknowledge it and request permission to run the link. If nobody answers, jump to step 5.
    • If you didn’t hear their call sign, ask them to repeat
      • “This is VA3NUB. Can you repeat your call sign?”
        • The other person will usually acknowledge your call sign and repeate his.
    • When you hear their call sign, acknowledge it – and
      • VA3HAM, this is VA3NUB. My name is George. I want to test an IRLP link. Do you mind if I do this for a few minutes?
  5. Announce what you are doing
    • “This is VA3NUB testing IRLP connection to VE7RHS node 1000 in Vancouver, Canada:”
  6. Enter the DTMF tones for the connection – in this example, 1000.
  7. Listen for an acknowledgement from the remote connection. Most IRLP repeaters will automatically play an announcement when connected or disconnected.
  8. You can also check the IRLP repeater search page for the connection status. Check it both on your local repeater connection and the remote repeater. You may need to wait a minute or two and refresh the page.
  9. Announce the connection
    • “This is VA3NUB listening. Testing IRLP connection from node 2920 in Ontario Canada to VE3RHS node 1000 in Vancouver, Canada.”
    • If nobody answers, wait 10 seconds and repeat
    • If someone answers, carry on a conversation.
    • If your conversation carries on for more than 30 minutes, remember to repeat your call sign.
      • “This is VA3NUB on IRLP connection from IRLP node 2920 in Ontario Canada to VE3RHS node 1000 in Vancouver Canada
  10. Closing up the connection
    • Announce it.
      • “This is VA3NUB closing IRLP connection to VE3RHS node 1000. Clear.”
    • Close the connection by entering DTMF tones 73
    • Listen for the connection closing announcement. If you don’t hear it:
      • Check the web site for status and repeat the 73 if necessary.
      • If you don’t have access to the web site, enter the 73 a second time as a precaution.
    • If you are done:
      • “VA3NUB  clear”. Or “VA3NUB out”


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