Friday 26 August 2011

8 years ago - UK139-L

The other day while hunting around for a home made programming cable for my Alinco DJ-X3 I found this odd looking box hiding in the bottom of a drawer

It is an eQSO/Echolink PC interface which I built 8 years ago when I set up a PMR446 eQSO Internet Gateway. The Gateway which was designated UK139-L was short-lived mainly due to the fact no one ever used it and it required a dedicated computer running 24/7.

My recollection of that period is a little vague but licence free PMR446 two-way radios had been around since 1999 and around 2003 was when they officially replaced the Short-Range Business Radio (SRBR) service and had become more mainstream and a lot of hobbyists saw them as a replacement for CB radio. Shops like Argos had started selling them to the general public (many of the dog agility shows I attended used them for across site communication).

Obviously being a geek interested in radio I decided to get some and when I found out about the scheme to connect gateways using a VOIP system to allow people to talk all over the world I couldn't resist. With my usual enthusiasm I set about building one, testing it by driving around the local area and even created a website on the now defunct Geocities.

I will have a backup of the website somewhere, but as it turns out it was one of the pages archived by the project. I have downloaded it and mirrored it on my current website at UK139-L Newark-on-Trent Some of the internal links are broken (not sure what version was archived) but I will fix it in the near future.

It has been years since I last looked at PMR446 but it seems the original website that coordinated the whole eQSO pmr446 project has shut down and the official eQSO project appears to have reverted back to be just amateur radio based. However there appears to be an unofficial eQSO PMR network and an alternative in the form of the Free Radio Network

I will have to do more research and perhaps even resurrect the gateway when I get around to kitting out the shack.

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