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Getting started

So what equipment do I need?

Basic PC Node
If you're reading this, you probably don't need anything to get a basic connection up and running.
A PC which has some sort of speaker system and a microphone is all that is needed to get connected to an ROIP server. Your audio would sound FAR better if you used a headset microphone, and these can be bought quite cheap on Ebay.
Link to headset's on Ebay













Basic PC node


If you're reading this, you probably don't need anything to get a basic connection up and running.
A PC which has some sort of speaker system and a microphone is all that is needed to get connected to an ROIP server. Your audio would sound FAR better if you used a headset microphone, and these can be bought quite cheap on Ebay.
Link to headset's on Ebay


Radio node


You will need:
  1. External interface (connects radio to PC)
  2. Node radio (a radio which is connected to a PC)
  3. Mobile radio (this is the radio that you will talk / listen through)


External interface (Signalink USB)

Signalink's are OK if you want to throw a system together with little or no hacking, they plug into your PC USB socket and come with a selection of different radio cables. Frankly, I wasn't impressed with the audio quality using a Signalink, and they DO have a well documented noise floor issue. This can make it difficult to get VOX thresholds set correctly inside the program that you run on the PC.
I must point out, that I have NOT used a Signalink with any of the amateur data modes like RTTY etc. Many amateurs DO use them for data, and seem perfectly happy with the results..



 
 
Link to Signalink on Waters & Stanton website





How does it work?
You plug the Signalink into your PC with a USB cable. The Signalink then "appears" on your PC as an external soundcard.
Your node radio then has its microphone, speaker, PTT and ground connected to the Signalink.
Point your software (Teamspeak / Skype etc) towards the external soundcard (the Signalink). Lets say you use Skype... Call someone and their audio will exit through the Signalink, which will detect the audio and connect your node radio PTT to ground and pass the audio to your node radio microphone input line. Your node radio will transmit that audio to your handheld / mobile radio.
Similarly, if your transmit with your handheld / mobile radio, your node radio will receive your audio and pass that audio to the Signalink microphone input line, which in turn, would be passed on to Skype.
Tigertronics (the manufacturer) can supply a cable to connect to almost any amateur radio transceiver at no extra cost with each Signalink. They also offer an un-terminated cable for connection to commercial types  such as Tetra and DMR. You would have attach the proprietary connector at the radio end of the cable yourself.



External interface (Home made)

It It is possible to build your own interface, and the picture to the left shows the type of interface that I make for myself and others. To make something similar for an analogue radio, the concept is quite simple. For digital radio's on the other hand, there are quite a few "gotcha's" to catch you out.. ESPECIALLY with Tetra terminals.


Video of one of my home made interfaces






Node Radio

The node radio is the radio that you will connect to your PC. It will transmit audio from your software to your mobile / handheld radio, and you will transmit audio from your mobile / handheld radio back to the node radio.

It helps if the node radio can be powered from a mains supply so that you aren't having to keep an eye on battery levels too much. Also, try not to leave a handheld connected to any kind of charger, as chargers usually don't have the output capacity to "run" the radio whilst it transmits. This usually results in a buzzing sound being transmitted.

The "best" type of radio to use is a mobile radio of some kind (depending on the application). They normally have a direct 13.8V DC input for power, a loudspeaker socket, microphone socket and a co-axial antenna socket. This all depends on the radio standard (446, Tetra, DMR etc) that you decide to use and obviously your budget.

 photo DSCF2890.jpg




< Simoco SRM1000. A popular choice for use as a node radio.








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