This section describes how to use the basic functions of EchoLink. As you read this section, you may find it useful to refer to the section EchoLink Screen, which shows the layout of the EchoLink screen and the names of each of its parts.
If you have never used EchoLink before, the callsign you entered will need to be validated by the system before you will be able to access it. This process may take several minutes or several hours, since each call is individually validated by hand. During this time, the Station List area of the screen will be blank, or may display a message indicating that your callsign is being validated. Once validation is complete, you will see the list of stations appear in the Station List area, and you can proceed to use EchoLink.
For more information about guidelines for callsign validation, see the Support section of the EchoLink Web site.
To connect to another station, find the station's callsign in the Station List. Use the tabs at the bottom to select either Index View or Explorer View, depending on your preference. Once you've located the station you're looking for, double-click on the station's callsign to connect to it. After a few seconds, you should see the station's callsign and name appear near the bottom of the screen, and you should hear the "connected" signal. You are now in direct contact with the other station and you can begin conversing.
If, after about 30 seconds, you see the message "Cannot connect" instead of "Connected", it means that the attempt to connect to the other station failed. This can happen for several reasons. The other station may have already established a contact with someone else, or may have just logged off the system. Another possibility is that a network "firewall" problem is preventing your PC from receiving data from the remote station. If you suspect this might be the case, see Firewall Issues for more information. You may also be able to find solutions in the Support section of the EchoLink Web site.
Once you're connected, you can converse with the remote station as in an ordinary QSO. The space bar works as a locking "push-to-talk" switch. Tap the spacebar once to begin "transmitting", tap it again to stop (don't hold it down). A red TX indicator appears on the screen whenever EchoLink is "transmitting", that is, sending audio over the Internet to the connected station.
If you prefer, you can click the "lightning bolt" icon near the upper left corner of the screen, instead of using the spacebar. You can also change the software so that the spacebar is held down to transmit and released to receive, more like a push-to-talk switch. See Preferences for details.
You can switch to Transmit only when the other station is not already transmitting. When the other station is transmitting, the letters RX appear in the status bar at the bottom right, and the sound-level meter moves from left to right to show incoming sound. If you see that the other station is speaking, but you do not hear audio from your PC speakers, you may need to increase the volume on your sound device. Click the loudspeaker icon near the bottom right-hand corner of your Windows screen to adjust. Also, be sure the volume knob on your speakers is turned up.
While transmitting, speak into the microphone and watch the sound-level meter at the bottom-center of the EchoLink screen. The meter moves farther to the right as the sound gets louder. For best results, adjust your Windows Recording Volume settings so that the meter moves vigorously, but does not reach full-scale except on peaks.
If you see the red TX indicator while transmitting, but see no indication on the sound-level meter while speaking into the microphone, see Sound Card Issues for more information.
If the other station is also sitting in front of his PC (rather than communicating over a radio link), you can "chat" while connected by typing messages back and forth. Type a brief message in the box near the bottom-right corner of the screen and click Send. The message you sent, and any response you might receive, appear in the Chat window just above it. Note that you can send a Chat message even while the other station is transmitting.
Once your conversation is finished, click on the red "broken link" icon near the top of the screen to disconnect. You should hear the "Disconnected" signal, and see the message "Not connected" near the bottom of the screen.