What is the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP)?

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The IRLP is a closed source project intended to link various amateur stations around the world via VoIP – essentially combining technologies to build a more robust and powerful network.

Here, each gateway will consist of a dedicated computer that will run custom software connected simultaneously to the internet and to the radio. This is referred to as an IRLP node. As long as a HAM radio operator is within range of a node then, they will be able to broadcast their message with greater power and clarity using this protocol

What’s more, is that via a DTMF tone generator, they will then be able to initiate a node-to-node connection with any other viable node in the world. Each node has a 4 digit node number which ranges from 1000 to 8999. A searchable database of all worldwide nodes is also available, which includes status.

Thus, IRLP connections can come in two different flavors – either node to node, or noted to reflector. Any station that wants to communicate with more than three nodes will do so by connecting to an IRLP reflector, which is a type of conferencing system. These will typically have ten channels, where 0 is the main channel.

History and Usage

IRLP was first invented by David Cameron (not the British prime minister), who attended the University of British Columbia and attended the Amateur Radio Society. He installed his first three IRLP nodes in 1997 using Windows.

Since then, the project has caught on and captured the imagination of many ‘hams’ (amateur radio operators).

Because all end users will communicate via the radio – instead of using a computer – IRLP uses the slogan ‘keeping the radio in amateur radio’.

Because of course, with the predominance of the web as a form of communication – and with its ability to send and receive digital radio – there is the threat of the internet effectively replacing traditional forms of radio – especially as mast coverage improves.

Closing Thoughts

Through IRLP, it is possible to reach the same huge audience that the internet is able to reach, but without in anyway compromising on the values of ham radio. You can still use your normal two-way radio, hobbyists can still pick your signal up using their own homebrew handheld two-way radio, or police scanner, but you’ll be able to create your content and send your message out knowing that a much larger audience is able to enjoy it.

There are many other examples of modern digital technology and older shortwave radio tech colliding. For example, you may not realize this, but there is a good chance that your phone contains an FM receiver (a lot of Samsung phones do for instance). With the right apps, it’s possible to turn your headphones into a digital receiver, and thereby enjoy all kinds of interesting and exciting projects.

It just goes to show that radio tech will never be obsolete – it will simply grow, evolve, and adapt with the times as they change!

Image Source: http://www.irlp.net/

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