First QSO on Echolink

About a week or so ago WI5HER finally convinced me to check in via Echolink to the 9 o’clock net on his local repeater. I’d been waiting for my paper certificate from Industry Canada, and it finally arrived. So I took a photo of that, uploaded it to the Echolink site (only works on iOS the Echolink app, not on Mac OS that I’ve seen) and within 24 hours I was verified there.

Anyway, hearing a net check-in at another non-local repeater was something very different from what I hear on the (French language) local repeater, which I still haven’t made contact with… I know the repeater can hear me, because it gives me a roger beep after I take my finger off the PTT but I’ve never had anybody answer me. Anyway, in relation to that checking in via Echolink in another place was pretty much as easy as pie, though I was really nervous about the “protocol” because there is a certain etiquette or format which repeater net check-ins tend to follow.

Basically, from what I can tell, net check-ins go something like, the control (the person hosting the group check-in) asks for calls according to certain groups of users. If you fit that group, you can transmit your call sign in the gap that follows (try not to overlap others). On first go-round, I just said verbally “normal” letters VA2SFX, but the control said he didn’t recognize the call sign, so asked me to repeat. And since I’m also not a local callsign for that region, it only makes sense. So I repeated it as VICTOR ALPHA TWO SIERRA FOXTROT XRAY and he got that. (Thank you NATO Phonetic Alphabet).

So, on this repeater — I can’t speak for others, when someone logs onto the repeater via Echolink, they can hear it. Maybe it announces my call-sign? I’m really not sure. So, after I correctly self-identified, he let me go right away as I was the only one in the group. You basically have to wait until you’re called, after you announce your station. Anyway, boiled down to a format, I said like basically the following:

[State your first name] [State your location or region]
Brief message introducing yourself.
[Repeat call-sign (phonetically or not)]["Back to the net"]

Saying Back to the net you “release control” back to the net control. Otherwise, if you don’t, I guess you open the chance for the control to respond or ask you a question or something, which I didn’t do. I was “too nervous.”

I have to admit that it’s an odd initial fear in getting on the air, figuring out how it all works, not trying to sound like an idiot, or do the wrong thing, etc. Certainly helps that first time to be able to speak the same language as the net.