The iLINK concept
"The iLINK system, which first appeared around May 2001, was developed by Graeme Barnes, M0CSH, in Kent England"
The following information on the iLINK system was found on Andy's website. Andy is located in the U.K. and his callsign is GJ7JHF. Andys website is (http://www.geocities.com/gj7jhf/index.html). The reason I used this information is that Andy has one of the most comprehensive sites that I have found explaining the iLINK concept along with other types of amateur radio and internet applications. A very informative site worth taking a look at! Thank you Andy for allowing me to share this information with other radio operators!
iLINK is used to connect to other computers running iLINK, one-to-one, be they other amateurs sitting at another computer, or a computer connected via a circuit board to a radio link/repeater which allows anyone within radio range to talk back to you. On the PC you may do one of three things with the iLINK:
* Call (or answer) another PC iLINK station
* Call on a link/repeater station and hope for a reply
* Join a Conference Room net with a number of stations of any type
iLINK is not designed to allow you to dial up a frequency at another part of the world and just listen in on a QSO. It is up to you to announce your presence and join in. As you can see, this isn't exactly ideal for those who are a bit reticent, and it's not surprising that there isn't a "listen only" version of the program for SWL's. They know you're there! If you call an on-air link/repeater, be aware that your call is read out by a text-to-speech device. You may as well call CQ or announce that you are listening. Also be aware that an amateur running such a link or repeater is required by the NOV (Notice of Variation to their license) to monitor the link whenever it is operational. Potential abusers of the system should bear in mind that the iLINK works by registration and you could be barred. And of course everything you do on the internet is traceable by your IP address. Your ISP can tell who has/had which IP address at any time and your contract with your ISP binds you to behaving yourself on the internet!
Radio users enjoying iLINK on the air may
*Answer incoming calls
* Call any station using DTMF tones from their radio's keypad
Such radio users with DTMF can call specific stations by their ID number or by entering the right code can choose to be connected to any one active station at random....PC user, another link or a Conference Room.
Each iLINK station has its own unique number, yours is allocated when you register and remains the same from then on. Not only can PC users of iLINK call you, but on-air stations can use these numbers to dial you up with DTMF tones.
How to drive iLINK:
If you download iLINK for the first time, choose the self-installing version. This is a simple program (small, quick download) that is quite safe, no virus detected, and it won't break anything else on your computer! And after many hours of use I can assure you that it will not lock up your computer....a very friendly program!
It will install into a folder within your Start Menu so it's very easy to run.
Router problems? On routers, open ports 5198-5201 and that should do it. Windows XP has a router built in and may need some settings changed. For technical assistance beyond the scope of this page, you'll almost certainly get an answer at the Yahoo Groups forum ILINK-GEN. You will need to join by email or by website and register with Yahoo to obtain a Yahoo ID that will allow you view the group forum. Join at(http://www.yahoo.com) if you don't have a Yahoo ID. Additional information concerning the Linksys Router and Zone Alarm firewall program can be found on Andy's page(http://www.geocities.com/gj7jhf/ilinking.html)
The official user guide and download is currently at(http://www.aacnet.net) but like Andy I found that it is a little short on detail and that is why I chose to use this information from Andys website. Initially a little bewildering, it helps to consider that iLINK is only ever in one of three modes....Standby mode, Listening mode or Connection mode. i.e. either doing nothing, choosing a station to talk to, or actually communicating.
Once registered, subsequent runs of the software place you in the standby mode when the program is launched. There is nothing happening yet and you're not connected to any links-but behind the scenes the program has connected to the main server that coordinates the whole show. Other iLINK users will know you are standing by and they can call you. The small iLINK window contains a menu bar with options UTIL, BEGIN, END, MIN and INF. Standby mode is where you return when you've finished a link and it is the most convenient time to adjust any settings.
View your log of each connection and time. CLR button clears the list
Brings up a window of options, some probably best left alone
EDIT INFO. TXT FILE:
setup your own test file and other stations will see this when you connect to them. This should be less than 14 lines of less than 20 characters. A handy place for personal details such as your name, QTH, email address etc.
no help, just more options that are probably best left alone
a handy last resort!
to exit the program
to enter the Listening mode and select an active link from the window that will open.
To disconnect from an active connection
To minimize the window from the desktop to the taskbar
Displays the connection information window
When you're ready to choose a link or chat directly to another station, press BEGIN and you'll enter the listing mode. This is when a window titled REFRESH EVERY 2 MINUTES appears with a server name. A directory listing of active stations will appear showing CALLSIGN, LOCATION, LOCAL TIME and the unique node ID number for calling. Despite any messages about different servers, the list displayed is THE one and only list of current iLINK stations at that time.
drops you back into the standby mode. I'm not sure about BAR but according to Andy it is used to bar a user from the system.
On-air links and repeaters appear in the gray section at the top of the listing, with L for a simplex link and R for a repeater link. Next comes a section showing computer bound stations running iLINK (in blue) and a section that shows Conference Rooms where more than one station can participate in a net with on air stations able to call in to. You cannot call a busy station, their line will be a different color and show BUSY. When you decide to connect to a particular node, be it an on air link/repeater, PC node or Conference room, click on the relevant line and then press the big GO button.
Having pressed GO to connect, the Listing window will disappear and the system will now attempt to hook up to the node you selected. When you have ended your contact and you've said your good-byes, press END. The connection will usually work but if it doesn't connect you will be back in the standby mode.
When connected, you'll hear a connect tone, and you'll hear any traffic currently on the link and RECEIVE will be displayed. When no one is talking, you can enter the TRANSMIT mode by pressing the space bar or the enter key. Or you can use your mouse pointer and click on the RECEIVE button to change it to TRANSMIT. Now everyone can hear you until you change back to the RECEIVE mode in the same way. You will not be able to TRANSMIT while someone else is talking.
If you use the keyboard to transmit, make sure the iLINK window is the currently selected window, otherwise your keypress won't activate the program.
Audio levels are shown on a moving trace waveform display, for transmit and receive, try and make sure you're not "in the red" with clipped speech shown by flat-lining on the top of the waveform. That's it, press END when you're done and you are back in the standby mode. Press BEGIN again for a new list of active nodes.
A Few finer Points:
If anyone tries to connect to your station while you are connected to someone else, the system will let you know. You will have to wait until you return to the listing mode before you can find out who called you
A CONNECTION INFORMATION window appears when you are in the connection mode showing details on the right from text files sent from other stations, or when in conference mode a list of participating stations is shown with a <<=== next to the currently talking station. The CONNECTION INFORMATION window also sports a text based chat facility on the left. You can type in short messages and when you press the enter key, your message will appear on the other stations Details window after your callsign. Pressing the GET VERSION button shows you what version of the software they are using. TO CLIPBOARD copies text into the Windows clipboard so that it can be copied and pasted into a text document for safekeeping.
The DTMF beep sounds that you hear when connecting and disconnecting come from two WAV files in the iLINK folder on the start menu. These files can be modified or replaced by any other WAV files of your choice. Now if your mic is set up correctly, you're ready to dive in. Any further questions you may have will certainly be answered by the friendly stations you talk with Have fun!
Your own Gateway:
If you want to provide an iLINK facility for your own area, its actually quite simple to set up your own on air link. There will need to be a spare frequency in your area that can be approved for your use. You need to monitor all use so that you can disconnect any abuse but you don't have to keep the station on air all day and night. You'll need a different software program (The SysOp version of iLINK) and a board to interface to your radio and a NOV for you license. If your station covers the local area well and you are happy to be connected to the internet while keeping an ear on the proceedings, please do so and thanks very much.