My Ham Shack

My “ham shack” is not big at all. It’s literally more like me at my computer desk playing on a small radio. It’s not much, but hey, it’s mine! 😊

So what sort of hardware am I working with?

  • Elecraft KX2 transceiver
  • Baofeng UV-5R
  • Kenwood TH-F6
  • RTL-SDR
  • EchoLink (on PC and iOS)

At this time, I’m currently working with two handheld radios. My first radio was just a “cheapo” Baofeng. I know they aren’t considered great radios, but honestly, it’s the cheapest and thus the easiest way to start off in the hobby. It has no issues hitting the local repeaters and making contacts, especially when I pair it with a nicer antenna like the Signal Stick. This is the radio that I tend to take out with me when I’m mobile.

I inherited the Kenwood HT from my father after he became a Silent Key. The radio, while older, is still a great radio. While I still need to get a new tri-band antenna for this one, I really like the range of bands that this radio can utilize. And the step-up in quality compared to my Baofeng is also instantly noticeable. Being my nicer radio, this one tends to be used more at home. I had also inherited his RTL-SDR. I haven’t really gotten around to using it, it’s on my list of projects to do.

Having some amazing friends, one of them gave me their KX2 to use after I earned my Amateur Extra license. I truly can’t speak more highly of them. He basically earned top spot on my best friends list. I’ve been itching to get onto the HF bands and this baby will let me work everything from 10M to 80M. I’m humming with more happiness than a resonant frequency.

And the final thing in my shack is EchoLink. Think of it as voip-for-hams. It’s a great way to turn your computer or smartphone into your transceiver and connecting with other hams all over the world. I think it is a really neat digital means to get on the air. While analog radio is interesting, coming from an IT background I am really interested in learning more about these newer digital modes of radio.

German Ham License under SOFA

If you are a licensed American Ham, then you can use your ham license throughout Europe, and specifically Deutschland, under the CEPT agreement. This works out to be fine for most folks, as they are simply traveling through a country and not staying for extended periods (up to three months).

However, if you are an American who is working for the US Government (possibly as a civilian, a contractor, or you are simply just a dependent) in Deutschland, then you are probably in-country for an extended period (greater than three months). You probably also have SOFA status.

For those who don’t know what SOFA is, it is simply a “Status Of Forces Agreement” between the US and Germany. It allows US personnel the ability to enter/exit the host nation and exempts them from having to register with the local authorities. The US has these types of agreements with many different countries.

Super exciting, right? Well, the good of that is since you are now living in Deutschland and have your SOFA status, you can request for yourself an actual German amateur radio guest license. Now that is cool!!! To make the most of this privledge, you will probably want to work towards elevating your US Ham license to the Amateur Extra level, so you can be unrestricted on their airwaves.

Okay, okay, well I’ve blabbed on about this. So how do you apply for and get your license?

As of the end of January 2024, here’s what you need to do…

  1. Obtain your FCC Ham License.
    • Honestly, aim for your Extra class ticket. Even if it takes a little longer as you work towards it, in the end, it’ll be worth it. You will have a better experience when you have what Germany calls their class ‘A’ license and you are not having to memorize band plan allocations.
  2. Read and understand the German Amateur Radio Service Regulations.
    These regulations are conveniently available from the Bundesnetzagentur or the Deutscher Amateur Radio Club (DARC) website.
  3. Complete the reciprocal German amateur radio guest license application.
    • It is important to use both, your military mailing address (APO) and your local German mailing address on the application form. The German authorities will only send your new license to your German mailing address.
  4. Make sure that your application has all of the following supporting documents. Failure to include everything will cause delays.
    □ 1) signed original reciprocal German amateur radio license SOFA application.
    □ 2) photocopy of your valid FCC amateur radio license.
    □ 3) photocopy of the SOFA card placed inside your passport.
    □ 4) photocopy of your official military or Government orders or another official document that clearly shows that you are stationed or working in Germany.
    □ 5) photocopy of the front side of your military ID card. The date on your ID card is used to determine how long to initially issue your license.
  5. After you have completed all of the above you are ready to submit your packet. Send the completed application and all of your supporting documents via mail or email to:

    Bundesnetzagentur Außenstelle Dortmund
    Alter Hellweg 56
    D-44379 Dortmund
    Germany

    E-Mail: Dort10-Postfach@BNetzA.de
    Tel: +49 (0)231-9955-260
  6. The Bundesnetzagentur will notify you of any license fees due. If you wish to follow-up on the status of your application you can contact the Bundesnetzagentur via email or phone.
    • For SA, the current fee at the time of me writing this is €70,00.
    • The German license will typically be valid until the expiration date on your military ID.
    • You will need to resubmit your application and repay your fee to renew your German license.

I hope this helps any American Hams stationed in Germany to get their reciprocal guest license and stay on the air while in Germany. -73

Reference: https://www.arrl.org/sofa-agreement; https://www.darc.de/der-club/referate/ausland/english-version

CEPT Agreement

Do you have your US ham license? If you answered “yes” then you can operate in places all over Europe…

Okay, that was a dramatic oversimplification, but it is true. European countries allow American ham radio operators to operate within their borders through reciprocity.

The CEPT is the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations, and it consists of 46 member countries. The CEPT agreement is a way for people who like to use radios to talk to each other across different countries without having to get a new license every time they travel. A license is permission from the government to use a radio. Normally, each country has its own rules and tests for giving licenses to radio users. However, with the CEPT agreement, some countries decided to accept each other’s licenses and make it easier for radio users to visit and communicate with each other. The CEPT agreement also helps radio users to learn new skills, share information, and help in emergencies.

To operate a ham radio under CEPT, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You must have a valid amateur radio license from your home country that grants you CEPT privileges.
    • In the U.S., this means you must have an Advanced or Extra class license or a General class license with some limitations2.
  • You must carry and provide upon request your passport, your original FCC license document, and a copy of the FCC Public Notice DA 16-10483.
    • This notice serves as your CEPT license and contains information in English, French, and German.
  • You must follow the regulations and operating conditions of the host country, such as frequency bands, power limits, and station identification.
    • You must use the prefix of the host country followed by a slash and your home call sign, for example EA8/KH9ABC in Spain.

Displayable (Better Looking) Ham License

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a better, more displayable FCC license to show off? Something worth actually hanging on your wall?

The FCC no longer mails out physical license cards, so you are likely printing out a very plain looking license on your generic white printer paper just to have on hand in your shack. You know, just in case someday day the FCC comes knocking on the door to check your papers. Sure, you can do that, I’m not going to stop you. But the problem is that “official” card, well it is just plain ugly.

Luckily for us a ham named Michael offers a solution on his website (wt9v.net/license) that generates something that you might actually enjoy framing and putting up as wall decor in your ham shack. Check out the link above to learn more and create your own displayable license.

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Upgraded Ticket – Amateur Extra Class License

So shortly after getting my General ticket, I realized that it wasn’t going to be enough. I didn’t want to be subject to so many restrictions both in the US, and thru reciprocity, in Germany. So began my journey towards Amateur Extra. Unfortunately, this post isn’t going to be very different from my prior posts in regard to how I studied and the resources I used.

My main study tool was HamStudy.org. They have the entire exam bank of questions populated and their practice tests are fantastic, regardless of which exam you are sitting. I used them for all three of my exams. In fact, their sister-site is the website which most of the online VECs used to administer their online & remote testing. So, if you get comfortable with using the HamStudy resources, when you sit your exam, it will basically feel the same as doing all of the practice tests you’ve done in preparation.

The other resource I used, and have for all three of my exams, was FastTrackHam.com. I enjoy audio books, which is what this resource offers. So, if you can’t handle audio books, well then, this resource isn’t for you. For my Extra exam prep, I think that I must have listened to the book close to 10 times. I have time during my commute to listen to the audio books and soak in their wisdom. Or at least the author’s commentary as he reads though all the exam questions and tries to explain them. For as much content that is covered in the audio book, I feel like he does a great job of explaining why answers are either right or wrong, as well as suggesting helpful ways on how to remember the information where he can.

Hopefully these resources help you as much as they have helped me. Hope you earn your ticket soon and perhaps we’ll get to make a QSO.

Upgraded Ticket – General Class License

Soon after moving to the EU, I realized that my technician class license would not grant me much in the way of privileges here. The solution, I quickly determined, was to get off my butt and study in order to earn my General license. This solution would grant me more operating privileges in the US, but more specifically it would grant me a reciprocal license so I could at least get back on the air.

Fast forward to now… Well, I managed to successfully upgrade my license. *Congratulatory cheers all around!* I am now officially a General class operator. How did I study you ask? What sources did I use for study materials? Don’t worry just like I did for my technician license, I will tell you what I used and what worked for me. Spoiler alert: Because they worked for me on the Technician exam, I used some of the same resources I listed in that post.

The first resource I used was HamStudy.org. Their site is honestly the easy button for studying. If you’re like me, you probably found them and used them to practice for your technician exam. If you haven’t yet heard of them, well today is your lucky day! You can study the entire question bank for the exam, a group of questions if you’re struggling with a topic, or take an “actual” practice test. It will help you track the questions you have seen and your aptitude against those seen questions. As long as you aren’t in test mode, it’ll even provide you with information regarding the correct answer and why it is correct. To me, that is priceless. I kept studying and doing the practice exams until I was routinely reaching a score over 80%.

The second resource is also one I used while studying for my Technician class exam. It is Michael Burnette’s Fast Track Ham series, specifically his Audible.com audiobook for the current General exam. His books are an excellent resource for studying. He covers every question in the entire exam pool and goes over all of the correct and incorrect choices. While he does have a unique almost “Pavlov-ian” method of ringing a bell for the correct answers as he covers the questions, I have to say that it works. It has worked for me twice, for both exams I’ve sat so far, and for many other hams (including his wife) as well. I like his style of presentation and his scope of coverage on each question and topic. By the end of the book you almost feel as if you are long-time friends just sitting and conversing about the exam. He is full of helpful hints for determining the correct answer to questions. From ways to rule out the obvious, and sometimes not-so-obvious bad choices, to plenty of bad puns and metaphors. My favorite part about his book was that I could listen to it while I commute. With roughly 30 minutes of travel time each way every day, I was able to get through the entire book quickly and easily. The way I use his books is that I listen to the entire book end-to-end, and then I go back and listen to it a second time. On the second pass, I make sure I’m paying closer attention to the questions and answering them in my head if I know them. I will often repeat segments if I am having trouble answering them correctly, to listen and review the how/why behind getting the correct answer.

Using those two resources together I was able to pass my exam in about three weeks of studying and practice exams. If I can do it… So can you! Find some time like I did on your commute to work, or in the evening after the kid is in bed. You only need to spend a few minutes a day and you too can have your upgraded ticket in under a month.

Just for the record, I do plan on eventually upgrading my ticket again to the Extra class so I can have full access to all allowed bands. But that will be its own post once it happens. 🙂 For now, I’m just going to sit back and await the issuance of my reciprocal amateur radio license, so I can operate legally here.

Ham Radio Signal Reporting

In amateur radio, or “ham radio,” signal reporting is a way for operators to describe the quality and strength of a radio signal that they are receiving from another operator. Signal reporting is often used in ham radio to help assess the effectiveness of different antennas, radios, and operating techniques, and to provide feedback to other operators about the performance of their equipment and stations.

There are various ways to do signal reporting in ham radio, but here is a general outline of the process:

  1. Listen to the signal: Begin by listening to the signal that you are receiving from the other operator. Pay attention to the quality and clarity of the audio, as well as any interference or noise that you may hear.
  2. Assess the strength of the signal: Use a signal strength meter or other tool to measure the strength of the signal that you are receiving. This can give you a more objective measure of the signal’s performance and can help you to make more accurate signal reports.
  3. Use the RST/RSQ system: The RST/RSQ system is a standard system for signal reporting in ham radio, and it is used to describe the quality and strength of a signal. The RST/RSQ system consists of three elements: readability, strength, and tone or quality.
    • A detailed list of which modes use RST or RSQ can be found below.
    • To make a signal report using the RST system, you would describe the readability of the signal on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being unreadable and 5 being perfectly readable. Next, you would describe the strength of the signal on a scale from 1 to 9, with 1 being very weak and 9 being extremely strong. Finally, you would describe the tone of the signal, using terms such as “sharp,” “flat,” or “normal.”

Here is an example of a signal report using the RST system: “Your signal is a 579, with a readability of 5, strength of 7, and tone of 9.” This would indicate that the signal is of high quality and is extremely strong, with a clear and sharp tone.

It is important to remember that signal reporting is subjective and can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as the quality of the equipment, the operating conditions, and the skill of the operator. As a result, it is always a good idea to use multiple methods and tools to


Mode: SSB

  • System: Readability, Strength, and Quality (RSQ)
  • Report Definitions:
    • R is a value from 1 to 5. The value 5 means easy to understand, and 3 means difficult to understand; 1 and 2 are rarely used.
    • S is a value from 1 to 9. This number generally corresponds to the radio’s signal-strength-meter reading on voice peaks.
    • Q is a value from Q1 to Q5. This number indicates overall quality. Q5 indicates excellent readability; reports below Q3 are rare.

Mode: CW

  • System: Readability, Strength, and Tone (RST)
  • Report Definitions:
    • R is a value from 1 to 5; the values mean the same as for SSB.
    • S is a value from 1 to 9; the values mean the same as for SSB.
    • T is a value from 1 to 9. The value 9 is a pure tone, and 1 is raspy noise. The letter C is sometimes added to indicate a chirpy signal.

Mode: Digital (alternative)

  • System: Readability, Strength, and Quality (RSQ)
    • FT8, MSK144, JT65, etc. – the signal report built into the messages is the signal-to-noise ratio.
  • Report Definitions:
    • R is a value from 1 to 5. The values mean the same as for SSB.
    • S is a value from 1 to 9. The values mean the same as for SSB.
    • Q is a value from 1 to 9, reflecting the quality of your signal’s modulation.

Mode: FM

  • System: Level of quieting
    • The signal report is for the station calling, not the repeater’s output signal strength.
  • Report Definitions:
    • Full quieting means that all noise is suppressed. Scratchy means that noise is present, possibly enough to disrupt understanding. Flutter means rapid variations in strength as a vehicle is moving. Just making it means that the signal is only strong enough to activate the repeater and not good enough for contact.

Ham Radio Modes

There are many different modes that amateur radio operators, or “hams,” can use to communicate with each other. Here are a few examples of modern ham radio modes:

  1. Voice: This is the most common mode, and it involves using a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages. Ham radio operators can use voice mode to communicate with other hams around the world, or simply to chat with friends in their local area.
  2. Digital: Digital modes allow hams to transmit and receive text and other data using their radios. Popular digital modes include RTTY (radioteletype), PSK (phase-shift keying), and JT65 (a type of digital voice mode). Digital modes are often used for long-distance communication, and they can be more efficient and easier to use than voice mode.
  3. Satellite: Hams can use their radios to communicate via satellite using specialized equipment. This can allow them to communicate with other hams around the world, even if they are in remote or inaccessible locations.
  4. High-frequency (HF): HF bands are radio frequencies that are used for long-distance communication. Hams can use HF bands to communicate with other hams around the world, even if they are thousands of miles apart.
  5. Low-frequency (LF): LF bands are radio frequencies that are used for very long-distance communication, often across continents or even around the globe. Hams can use LF bands to communicate with other hams around the world, although these frequencies can be more challenging to work with due to atmospheric conditions and other factors.

There are many other ham radio modes and techniques, and hams are always exploring and developing new ways to use their radios. Whether you are just starting out in amateur radio or you are an experienced operator, there is always something new to learn and explore in this exciting hobby.

Over the past few decades, there has been a significant evolution in the use of digital modes in amateur radio, also known as ham radio.

Voice Mode

Voice mode has been an important part of amateur radio, also known as ham radio, since the earliest days of the hobby. In voice mode, ham radio operators use a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages with each other.

In the early days of ham radio, voice mode was the only way for hams to communicate with each other, and it remains a popular and important mode to this day. However, the evolution of technology has led to the development of many other modes, such as digital modes, which allow hams to transmit and receive text, data, and other types of information using their radios.

Despite the growth of other modes, voice mode remains an important part of amateur radio and is still widely used by hams around the world. Voice mode is often preferred for casual conversations and for making contact with other hams, particularly when working with less experienced operators or in emergency situations.

As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that voice mode will continue to play a vital role in amateur radio, and hams will continue to use it to communicate with each other in a variety of situations.

Digital Mode

In the early days of ham radio, most communication was done using voice mode, which involved using a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages. While voice mode is still very popular, the development of digital modes has allowed hams to transmit and receive text, data, and other types of information using their radios.

One of the main advantages of digital modes is that they are often more efficient and easier to use than voice mode, particularly for long-distance communication. Digital modes also allow hams to transmit and receive information using computer software, which can make it easier to share and organize messages and data.

Here are a few of the digital modes that have been gaining in popularity amongst radio operators.

  1. FT8: This is a digital mode developed by Joe Taylor, K1JT, that is designed for fast and efficient communication over long distances. FT8 has become very popular in recent years, and it is widely used by hams around the world.
  2. WSPR: This is a digital mode developed by Joe Taylor, K1JT, that is designed for low-power communication over long distances. WSPR is often used by hams to test propagation conditions and to make contact with other hams around the world.
  3. JT65: This is a digital voice mode developed by Joe Taylor, K1JT, that is designed for efficient communication over long distances. JT65 is widely used by hams around the world, and it is particularly popular for making contact with other hams in distant locations.
  4. D-STAR: This is a digital voice and data mode developed by the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) that is used by hams around the world. D-STAR is popular for its high-quality audio and other advanced features, and it is often used for local and regional communication.
  5. DMR: This is a digital voice and data mode that is used by hams around the world. DMR is popular for its high-quality audio and other advanced features, and it is often used for local and regional communication.

These modes are used by hams around the world to communicate with each other, and they have helped to make amateur radio a more accessible and convenient hobby for many people.

As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that digital modes will continue to play an important role in amateur radio, and hams will continue to develop and use new and innovative ways to communicate with each other.

Satellite Mode

Satellite communication has played an important role in the evolution of amateur radio, also known as ham radio.

In the early days of ham radio, most communication was done using voice mode, which involved using a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages. While voice mode is still very popular, the development of satellite communication has allowed hams to communicate with each other from virtually anywhere on the planet.

To use satellite mode, hams need specialized equipment and antennas that are capable of sending and receiving signals from satellites in orbit around the Earth. Many amateur radio satellites have been launched over the years, and they provide a convenient way for hams to communicate with each other, even if they are in remote or inaccessible locations.

In addition to providing long-distance communication, satellite mode has also helped to make amateur radio more accessible and convenient for many people. With the right equipment, hams can use satellite mode to communicate with each other from almost anywhere, even if they are traveling or on the go.

As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that satellite mode will continue to play an important role in amateur radio, and hams will continue to develop and use new and innovative ways to communicate with each other via satellite.

HF mode

High-frequency (HF) mode has played an important role in the evolution of amateur radio, also known as ham radio. HF bands are radio frequencies that are used for long-distance communication, and they are often preferred by hams for making contact with other operators around the world.

In the early days of ham radio, most communication was done using voice mode, which involved using a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages. While voice mode is still very popular, the development of digital modes has allowed hams to transmit and receive text, data, and other types of information using their radios.

HF mode has also benefited from advances in technology, and hams can now use a variety of digital modes and techniques to communicate over HF bands. These modes are often more efficient and easier to use than voice mode, particularly for long-distance communication, and they have helped to make amateur radio more accessible and convenient for many people.

As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that HF mode will continue to play an important role in amateur radio, and hams will continue to develop and use new and innovative ways to communicate with each other over long distances.

LF Mode

Low-frequency (LF) mode has played a role in the evolution of amateur radio, also known as ham radio, although it is not as widely used as some of the other modes. LF bands are radio frequencies that are used for very long-distance communication, often across continents or even around the globe.

In the early days of ham radio, most communication was done using voice mode, which involved using a microphone and radio to transmit and receive audio messages. While voice mode is still very popular, the development of digital modes has allowed hams to transmit and receive text, data, and other types of information using their radios.

LF mode has also benefited from advances in technology, and hams can now use a variety of digital modes and techniques to communicate over LF bands. These modes are often more efficient and easier to use than voice mode, particularly for very long-distance communication, and they have helped to make amateur radio more accessible and convenient for many people.

However, LF bands can be more challenging to work with due to atmospheric conditions and other factors, and they are not as widely used as some of the other ham radio modes. Despite this, LF mode is still an important part of amateur radio, and hams continue to explore and develop new ways to use it to communicate with each other over long distances.

UHF, VHF, HF and LF

In amateur radio, also known as ham radio, UHF (ultra-high-frequency), VHF (very-high-frequency), HF (high-frequency), and LF (low-frequency) refer to different radio frequency bands that are used for communication.

UHF bands are radio frequencies that range from 300 MHz to 3 GHz, and they are often used for local or regional communication. UHF bands are popular among hams because they can provide good coverage over short to medium distances, and they are often less crowded than some of the other frequency bands.

VHF bands are radio frequencies that range from 30-300 MHz, and they are often used for local or regional communication. VHF bands are popular among hams because they can provide good coverage over short to medium distances, and they are often less crowded than some of the other frequency bands.

HF bands are radio frequencies that range from 3-30 MHz, and they are used for long-distance communication, often across continents or even around the globe. HF bands are popular among hams because they can be used to communicate with other hams around the world, and they can often be used to bypass local interference or other obstacles.

LF bands are radio frequencies that range from 30-300 kHz, and they are used for very long-distance communication, often across continents or even around the globe. LF bands are less commonly used than HF bands in ham radio, as they can be more challenging to work with due to atmospheric conditions and other factors. However, they can be useful for certain types of communication, such as during emergencies or when other modes are not available.

In general, hams use a variety of frequency bands and modes to communicate with each other, and the choice of frequency band and mode will depend on the specific needs and goals of the communication. Some hams may prefer to use UHF or VHF bands for local communication, while others may use HF (high-frequency) or LF (low-frequency) bands for long-distance communication.

What is Ham Radio?

Ham radio, also known as amateur radio, is a hobby that involves using radios to communicate with other people over short or long distances, without the use of the internet or commercial phone networks.

Ham radio operators, or “hams,” use a variety of equipment and frequencies to communicate, including voice, text, digital modes, and even images. Some hams use portable or mobile radios to communicate while on the go, while others set up permanent stations in their homes or other locations.

To become a ham radio operator, you will need to obtain a license from your country’s regulatory authority. This typically involves passing a written exam to demonstrate your understanding of radio theory, regulations, and operating procedures.

Once you have your license, you can start using ham radio to communicate with other hams around the world. You can participate in local or international ham radio clubs and organizations, or simply use your radio to chat with other hams in your area. Many hams also enjoy using their radios to assist with emergency communication efforts, such as during natural disasters or other emergencies.

Ham radio has a long and interesting history in the United States. The first amateur radio stations were established in the late 19th century, and the hobby has continued to grow and evolve over the years.

One of the early pioneers of amateur radio in the United States was Hiram Percy Maxim, who founded the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) in 1914. The ARRL is now the largest organization for amateur radio operators in the United States, and it serves as a clearinghouse for information, resources, and support for hams across the country.

During World War II, amateur radio operators played a vital role in providing communication support for the military, and many hams continue to provide emergency communication services during natural disasters and other emergencies.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, advances in technology have made it easier for amateur radio operators to communicate using digital modes and other techniques, and the hobby has continued to thrive and evolve. Today, there are over 750,000 licensed amateur radio operators in the United States, and the hobby is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds. Ham radio can be a fun and rewarding hobby, and there are many resources available to help you get started, such as local ham radio clubs, online communities, and instructional videos.

EchoLink Proxy Guide

I have already talked about what EchoLink is in a previous post. In this post, I am more interested in covering all the steps required to stand up your own private proxy for accessing EchoLink while you are on the go. I’m going to do this by documenting the steps while I actually deploy my own proxy.

I’m using AWS’s LightSail to provision a very cheap Ubuntu 20.04 machine as my server. You can use any cloud provider (Azure, AWS, Oracle, DigitalOcean, etc…) or even something as simple as a raspberry pi at home with some port-forwarding on your router. I’m not going to show how to set that part up as there are so many places and ways to do so… Once you have your server ready and online please continue on.

First step… Update everything…

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Now let’s start installing the necessary package dependencies for EchoLink.

sudo apt install fail2ban openjdk-17-jre-headless screen unzip

Let us create a folder to download and install EchoLink into.

mkdir echolink
cd echolink
wget https://www.echolink.org/downloads/EchoLinkProxy_1_2_3.zip

Now we’ll unzip the EchoLink proxy software, then modify the permissions to run the file.

unzip EchoLinkProxy_1_2_3.zip
chmod 755 EchoLinkProxy.jar

Open a text editor and edit the “ELProxy.conf” file. You will need to update the “Password” value to a password of your choice.

Password=MyBlogIsAwesome

*If you want to make it into a public proxy, set the password to “PUBLIC” if you will be a publically accessible proxy.

NOTE: Make note of which port is set to be used in your config file… Is it port 5200 or port 8100?
You will need this value when you connect from the client on your computer or smartphone.

Let’s make the cron job that helps us restart the proxy anytime the system has been rebooted.
Replace <USER> with your username.

crontab -e

@reboot sleep 60 && /usr/bin/screen -S echolink -d -m /usr/bin/java -jar /home/<USER>/echolink/EchoLinkProxy.jar /home/<USER>/echolink/ELProxy.conf

Something worth noting is that the above cron task waits 60 seconds after rebooting before it initializes EchoLink. This allows the system to finish fully booting up and potentially avoids some weirdness. It’s really not a big deal… But it is worth knowing so that you don’t expect to be able to connect instantly after a reboot.

Time to create the firewall rules on the machine.

sudo ufw allow 5198:5199/udp
sudo ufw allow 5200/tcp
sudo ufw allow 8100/tcp

Now it’s time to set up Fail2Ban. Let us navigate to the folder below and create a file that we will edit in the next step.

cd /etc/fail2ban/filter.d/
touch echolink.conf

Open your editor of choice and paste this into the echolink.conf file

# fail2ban filter configuration for Echolink proxy
[Init]
maxlines = 2
[Definition]
failregex = ^.* Client connected: <HOST>\n.* Incorrect password challenge received
ignoreregex =

After we have the above-mentioned filter, we need to set up a “jail.” Let us navigate to the folder below and create a file that we will edit in the next step.

cd /etc/fail2ban/jail.d/
touch echolink.local

Open a text editor and copy the code below into it. Update “<USER>” to your username.
Note: Make sure that the port used here is the same as what is in your ELProxy.conf file.

[echolink]
enabled  = true
port     = 8100
filter   = echolink
logpath  = /home/<USER>/echolink/ELProxy.log
findtime = 14400
maxretry = 3
bantime  = 31536000
banaction = ufw

Now that we have everything set up… Reboot your machine. Then after waiting for it to come back up, try connecting to your Personal EchoLink Proxy from the client application on your computer or smartphone.