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My brother (in Ohio) just passed his Technician test. We both have UV-5R equivalent radios. I have my General (in Colorado). Without physical modifications to our radios, can we have a QSO? I've been looking into things like IRLP, but that looks like I'd have to lose my speaker.

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As has already been said, your radios won't be able to contact each other directly outside of extremely unusual propagation conditions. So I'm going to address how “things like IRLP” work, since I see some confusion.

The idea of IRLP, EchoLink, phone patches, and other such systems is that instead of just two radios:

schematic

simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

there is another radio, not yours in this case, which transfers the audio signal to an Internet or telephone connection. That other radio is usually a repeater. Thus, the way things work in this case is:

schematic

simulate this circuit

You do not need any special hardware. The case where you would is if you were trying to set up a linking node of your own — something which communicates on RF and the Internet.

All you need is:

  • you both to be in range of repeaters which have compatible linking system.
  • your HTs and their DTMF keypads, which are used to activate the link.

Unfortunately, I can't advise you on exactly how to use the link, as I haven't used such systems myself. I would suggest that you ask the regular users of the repeater how to use it (and when it's polite to, and so on, since you would be occupying it for a while).

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  • $\begingroup$ I like where this is going, thank you. How does the radio send the dtmf signals needed? $\endgroup$ – flickerfly Sep 28 '15 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @flickerfly DTMF is a specific combination of audio tones. It's modulated on the RF and decoded at the repeater. It's just a specific sound — if you didn't have a keypad in your radio you could have a separate DTMF encoder and hold it up to the microphone. Or whistle just right... $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Sep 28 '15 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, so I just push buttons while holding down the PTT and it makes the tones? $\endgroup$ – flickerfly Sep 28 '15 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ That's how it usually works, yes. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Sep 28 '15 at 15:21
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Use the satellite SO-50 when it passes over. You need nothing more than what you have now, although improved antennas would help tremendously.

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  • $\begingroup$ I hadn't thought about satellites! Great idea. $\endgroup$ – flickerfly Oct 4 '15 at 17:09
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There's no way to contact each other directly under normal conditions, as you probably realize.

Indirectly, you can use Internet-linked repeaters, such as with Echolink or IRLP. One of you needs to find a local repeater that can link to a repeater in the other's area. You would have to ask the repeater owners how to set that up. Your two radios are each talking with local repeaters that happen to be cross-linked through the Internet.

With Echolink, you can hook up computer-to-computer, with no radios at all. Sort of audio Skype for hams. I suppose you're not looking for that!

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  • $\begingroup$ Could you expand on how to do irlp or echolink with these radios? $\endgroup$ – flickerfly Sep 27 '15 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ If you've got a repeater in your area that is linked to another repeater in your brother's area, you just call your brother on your repeater, and he will hear you on his repeater. It's like it was all one repeater. The problem is getting the link to be established. You'd have to work with whoever runs the repeaters to get that set up. (Not a big deal if they're already set up for IRLP or Echolink.) You shouldn't have to do anything special with your radios. $\endgroup$ – Martin Ewing AA6E Sep 28 '15 at 4:25
  • $\begingroup$ I understand the point of irlp and echolink, what I don't understand is how the uv5r initiates connectivity between two repeaters. The stuff I've read seems to suggest that I must connect it to a computer through some sound card and special cabling, maybe including soldering to the radio's PCB board. This doesn't seem simple and is why I'm asking. What am I missing? $\endgroup$ – flickerfly Sep 28 '15 at 4:33
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    $\begingroup$ If the repeater supports it, IRLP can be activated using DTMF tones on the handheld. You would just 'dial' the remote repeater you wish to connect to. No computer required for IRLP. Echolink is software on your computer, you would need a sound card, and preferably a mic-headset. $\endgroup$ – captcha Sep 28 '15 at 6:31
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Not really, not with those radios. The UV-5R is a VHF/UHF radio, and at those frequencies, radio propagates primarily via line of sight. With the Earth being curved as it is, there's no way you could directly communicate.

If you wanted a radio contact between Colorado and Ohio, you'll want HF. HF supports skywave propagation, and so can travel worldwide in the right conditions. Colorado two Ohio should be a piece of cake on 20m most days.

You could find some repeaters, one in Colorado, and one in Ohio, which are linked via the internet. Check out the IRLP repeater directory. If you can each hit one of these repeaters, then usually there's some DTMF incantation you send to tell the repeater to link. Talk to the club that operates the repeater to get the details.

Of course, if you wanted to make a contact over 1210 miles of data network, with radios providing the last 5 miles, you could use a couple of these, with a lot less fuss:

it's a cell phone.
Rico Shen GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5 tw, via Wikimedia Commons

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  • $\begingroup$ The point is to encourage my brother in his new hobby. In order to do that I have to branch into areas I'm not familiar with yet. Telling me to look into what I already said I'd looked into without giving much in the way of how doesn't help me. $\endgroup$ – flickerfly Sep 28 '15 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ @flickerfly You might have just done better asking "How do I use IRLP?", if that's what you wanted to know. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Sep 28 '15 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't want to limit the answers to IRLP. There is also echolink and could easily be many other options I haven't yet heard about. I've often found when I select the solution to a problem before hearing the other solutions, I miss out on good answers. I also find I'm frustrated when my clients push specific solutions without asking first what other options exist. So yeah, I could have done that, but I don't agree that it is better. $\endgroup$ – flickerfly Sep 28 '15 at 16:16

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