Amateur Radio Linking Explained
What is amateur radio linking and why is it so important, necessary, or just plain fun? Let's say you want to set up a repeater at Hamvention and talk to the group back home. How is that possible? More on that later, but first let's talk about methods of linking.
As long as radio has been around we have been trying to talk farther and farther from home. We use bands that bounce off the atmosphere and penetrate buildings. We even climb to the top of mountains to get more range. So it goes without saying that we are always pushing the limits of the range of communication. This is where linking comes into play, when you have exhausted the range required.
Radio linking at its simplest form is radio to radio simplex in a daisy chain. The more radios the larger the chain and greater coverage area. The idea is to get the message from one end to the other. Now we've all played the phone booth game where the first person wispers the message to a second. By the end of the chain the message has been altered or may not even mean the same as when it began. So linking in this format isn't very effective.
A better way is to use a repeater, like the BCR Repeaters, to link several radio users together. By this method many can talk over a larger area. Now what if you need more? Like to link to another band or another area. Another option is an RF link. This method is a great, inexpensive, way to combine two bands or connect a repeater withing RF range. All you need is a link radio, like the BCM-220, jumper cable, antenna and feed line. We have several customers using BCR Repeaters and link radios, like the BCM-220, BCM-144 or BCM-440, to RF link a pair of repeaters. It's often a good way to create a network for larger coverage area or mix bands to increase activity.
Is there another way? Why yes, RoIP. That stands for Radio over IP. You may have even used RoIP and didn't know it. Have you tried using D-STAR through a Reflector or DMR on a world wide talkgroup? How about Echolink, IRLP, etc? Then you have used RoIP. Let's say you have a BCR Repeater with the D-STAR kit we offer. Tie that to reflector 30C and talk all over N America. Maybe you have a DMR repeater tied to an MV-DMR or c-Bridge on DMR-MARC. How cool is it to talk to your old Army friend in Italy on DMR? These are all examples of RoIP.
Did you know there is yet another RoIP method? Let's say you have a group of BCR-220 repeaters between Seattle, WA and Portland, OR along I-5. They aren't quite close enough to RF link. Even if RF linking would work, you may need to be near a repeater to kill the link.
An even better way is to use the BridgeCom ARNS, Amateur Radio Linking System. It puts total control of the links in a convenient web based system. It is easy to manage anywhere you can access the web. The system can grow to include other systems or links.
What about our Hamvention repeater mentioned above? You can set up an ARNS RoIP link system, and have the Friday net from Hamvention! How cool would that be! Just set up the repeater system in the camper in Xenia and talk to the group back home.
Does the band matter? No, it will work on any analog band and even through a base mobile for many of the digital modes. You could effectively have a system that includes all the digital modes and all the analog bands. Think about the possibilities for an event, ARES/RACES, a disaster, or maybe a "Super Net." The size of the system and how it works is entirely up to you.
In summary there are many ways to link communications. From the very basic radio to radio, RF, and RoIP. Which way is best for you will vary depending on your needs and budget. When you need help making a decision call BridgeCom Systems, 816-532-8451. Please use us as your expert linking resouce. We have been linking communications for over 10 years and can help you design your system to fit your needs.
Regards and 73,