I made my first contact on the air out of the general 2 meter range for our area a few days ago with someone in Yorkshire England. Although Echolink contacts are not really considered to be DX contacts, it was my first overseas contact, which was run through the local echolink repeater, 146.425 simplex. We had a very nice long QSO on several different topics and I got my first taste of operating on both Echolink and long distance. It was a thrill to make a contact beyond the range of the 2 meter radio range and I now look even more forward to upgrading to the General Class License.
Echolink is a software program that uses VoIP (Voice Over IP), a protocol that many are familiar with on the Internet when using a yahoo messenger or AIM instant messaging, but this software is for ham radio operators only, and makes contacts through user to user, user to radio, or radio to radio depending on how it is setup and who is connected. What is different about it from the familiar instant messaging, besides being a contact from ham radio operators, is its a voice to voice contact and allows other hams to connect from all over the world through node numbers.
The first contact made was actually through the local repeater from my QTH to the UK. The second was computer to computer from a ham in Idaho who connected just to help another ham learn how to use the program. He was a great help and I learned quite a bit from him on the ins and outs of using Echolink. Coming up I will post a list of the quick connects (DTMF tones) for Echolink to the local repeaters that might be in the area, or when you are mobile. Thanks to both M3NGZ and N7JIL for all their help. 73, KI4WLR