EchoLink® software allows licensed Amateur Radio stations to communicate with one another over the Internet, using voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology. The program allows worldwide connections to be made between stations, or from computer to station, greatly enhancing Amateur Radio's communications capabilities. There are more than 200,000 validated users worldwide — in 162 of the world's 193 nations — with about 4,000 online at any given time. Echolink
To be able to use this software, you need to send a valid amateur licence certificate to the Echolink team before they allow you to have access to the system. This system is designed for Amateur's only, hence the validation process. The echolink team recommend 24 hours for validation but I received my confirmation back within 3 hours, so they were very quick and efficient.
Once you have the software downloaded, you need to run the "Tools.....Firewall/Router Test" option in the software as this will confirm whether your software is working correctly. For the non-technical among you, broadband routers/modems, by default, have a high level of security and basically make sure (in a non-technical way) that all the doors and windows are shut so that hackers etc cannot access your home computer. That's great however, there are two specific doors that need to be opened for the Echolink software to work. The test mentioned above will examine your current broadband connection and tell you if these "doors" are opened or closed. Now for the technical bit - the two "doors" I mentioned are UDP port 5198 and UDP port 5199. These ports are required by the Echolink software to be opened to allow you to communicate with the Echolink system over the internet.
If you run the test and the report has "succeeded" beside both ports (see image below), then your ready to go! if the report comes back as failed, than you will need to check two things. First - make sure that Echolink software is allowed access through your firewall. If your using the default Windows firewall, make sure that in the "exceptions tab", Echolink has a tick mark beside it. The Echolink software will ask you as part of the installation to allow access through your firewall, but it is always a good thing to check that this has happened.
Second - If Echolink is in your exceptions list, the next thing that could be stopping you from connecting to the Echolink system is your broadband router. There are so many broadband routers on the market that we cannot go into specific configurations however, you will need to make sure that both UDP ports are "opened" on your broadband router. If your not sure how to do this, ring your broadband provider, the routers manufacturer or ask a friend who is technical and can do this for you.
Once the ports are open and you run the test, you should see the follow report (see image) The Service Pack and IP Address will be different on your own system.
I have found that Echolink can be a bit temperamental regarding the UDP ports, so before you go to use the software, always run the firewall/router test to make sure that the ports are open and working.
I would also recommend using a pair of headphones with an attached microphone (not the USB type) as this let's you hear everything clearly and frees up your hands for doing other things.
You can find out more about Echolink at www.echolink.org