(1) So what is eQSO?
· eQSO is a suite of computer programs designed by Amateur Radio enthusiasts for linking Amateur Radio Operators (using RF gateways) and PC Users, both licensed Radio Amateurs and unlicensed listeners (called SWL’s or “Short Wave Listeners”), via the Internet. A 28K dial-up connection will be satisfactory. Resource demands are very low. The software will work on the slowest computers!
(2) Is eQSO just another “Chat Room” program that anyone can use – like MSN?
· No. eQSO was designed by radio, computer and communication enthusiasts and is intended for people with a serious interest in radio and/or computers and communications. But this does not mean users are limited to talking about radios though!
· But if you are looking for a simple Chat Room program that you can be silly on, or to deliberately annoy other users, or to play music for example, then look somewhere else. Otherwise you will be permanently removed from the system in less time than it took you to install the program! eQSO is monitored 24/7 by administrators.
(3) Who can use the eQSO programs?
- The basic “PC Client” program, which allows people to talk to other users, using their PC, can be used by anyone with an interest in amateur communications – i.e. by licensed Amateur Radio operators and SWL’s, providing that the rules are followed.
- There are restrictions (built in to the software) to prevent non-licensed users “transmitting” in rooms which host RF stations.
- The “RF Gateway” program, which allows RF users to connect to the Internet, and the “Server” program which allows users to operate their own server on the eQSO system, are only available to bona-fide licensed Radio Amateurs.
- ALL users must register with eQSO.
- A registration form can be found on the eQSO website.
(4a) How does the Registration process work?
· Quite simple: eQSO validates your callsign (licensed Hams) or your identity (SWL’s).
· eQSO then sends you a password and key code to activate the software.
· The system is largely automated, but “real people” at eQSO ADMIN oversee the process.
· Your details are checked against all available databases to validate your identity.
· If the information you supply is insufficient to prove who you are, eQSO will ask for further details.
· Any discrepancies between the details you supply and those found on databases will lead to you being asked to supply further details.
· These can be e-mailed (as scanned .jpg images) or FAXed to the registration administrator. (Digital photographs are OK, but, as with all documents sent to assist validation, they must be READABLE and clearly identify you.)
· ADMIN endeavours to validate callsigns within 24 hours. Often it is much quicker, but please remember eQSO is a voluntary organisation and relies on the availability of ADMINs to do the work – usually after they have done a day’s work!
· If your application requires us to ask for further details, obviously it may take a little longer.
· Sending duplicate / multiple applications WILL NOT speed up the process. It will result in ALL your applications being deleted. Wait 48 hours before following-up on an application.
· If you are asked for further details, you must respond within 48 hours, or your original application will have been deleted.
· NOTE. The purpose of registration is purely a method to HELP protect radio amateurs from having their callsigns abused on the system. eQSO DOES NOT divulge your license details to any 3rd party. They are used only by a select number of administrators to validate your identity, then DELETED when the process is complete. eQSO does not even store your name or password! So if you lose your activation details, don’t ask us – we do not store them! All we keep is a list of user callsigns so that we know who has registered, and e-mail addresses so that users can be contacted with important system information and software updates. Users can even unsubscribe from the e-mail list.
(4b) How do I activate the software?
Please follow these instructions exactly, and in order, for trouble free software activation.
· Once your keycode and password arrive, keep the e-mail in a safe place. After activation, the code will be stored safely in your settings – even if you uninstall and upgrade again at a later date, but they will be lost if you do a “clean” reinstall or your hard drive dies! Save to floppy rather than print, so you can copy and paste at a later date (if necessary).
· Install and open the software. The software has a Register button. Find it, but DON’T TOUCH IT YET!
· The only reliable way to enter your details in the software is “copy and paste”. Copying them manually (typing) will almost certainly lead to errors. (See Q 4c if you need help with this)
· First, copy and paste your callsign from your registration e-mail into the Callsign box in the eQSO software window. RF gateways only – add the “-L” or “-R” immediately after your callsign (no spaces or extra characters) by typing them in.
· The comment box is for entering optional personal information. If you wish, you may delete the greeting and enter your details here. It can also be used later for text messaging.
· NOW click the Register button. This opens a small registration window (dialog box). Copy and paste your details from your registration e-mail into the correct boxes. Check them carefully. Now click the new Register button. The registration window will close automatically. Registration is now complete.
· If you get the error message “Invalid password”, you have probably made a mistake somewhere. Try again, following the instructions carefully. Make sure you have completely uninstalled any earlier versions of eQSO, as this has been known to cause problems. Also, check on the eQSO FORUM for ideas. As a last resort, return your key e-mail to ADMIN for testing – although it is extremely unlikely that there is a problem with the keys. As ADMIN is very busy, testing may take some time – and they will not be happy if they find nothing wrong with them!
(4c) How do I “copy and paste” ?
· COPYING. Left click (i.e. click the left button on your mouse) immediately to the left of the first character you wish to copy. Your cursor should now be at that location.
· Again left click your mouse where the cursor is flashing – but this time HOLD DOWN the button while carefully dragging the mouse to the right. This will highlight characters. Continue dragging until all the characters you wish to copy are highlighted. Be careful! Do not highlight any spaces either side of the part you wish to copy. Let go of the left button and check that all the part you wish to copy is highlighted. If you have highlighted too much text (or perhaps missed the last character for example) simply left click again to undo the highlighting, and start again.
· Right click the highlighted text. This opens a dialog box. Select (left click) the copy option.
· PASTING. Now place your cursor (left click) exactly where you want the first character of the copied text to appear. Then right click the mouse. The dialog box will open again. This time select the paste option. The copied text will now be pasted at the position you selected.
(4d) Must I also register my gateway (or server)?
If you have already registered a PC, you do not need to register again to run a gateway. Simply add the “-L” after your callsign and use your existing activation keys.
UK ONLY – if you wish to use an MB7 unattended gateway callsign, you must register it. Admin will request sight of a copy of the NOV in ALL such applications.
If you wish to run a server you MUST register separately. Go to the download page on the eQSO website.
(5) Is eQSO really free to use? Surely someone has to pay the bills!
· It is completely free.
· The considerable cost of setting up and maintaining the system (e.g. domain registration and renewal costs, website and server hosting, software purchases etc. etc.) has until recently, been met entirely by a small number of enthusiastic individuals providing the eQSO service out of their own pockets. However, as costs increased, eQSO decided to accept donations.
· If you enjoy the eQSO system, you are encouraged to donate towards the running costs. No donation is too small!
(6) Is eQSO the same as Echolink?
· Not even similar!
· Yes, they are both Voice over Internet (VoIP) programs, but they operate quite differently.
· Echolink is more of a “person to person” program, whereas eQSO is a server based “open” system.
· There are no “nodes” or “connecting” on eQSO.
· Some people comment that eQSO (when connected to a busy room) is more like operating radio than Echolink is.
· But it is just a matter of preference. Some people prefer one and some the other – and many use both systems.
· eQSO allows SWL’s to use their program (with restrictions). Echolink does not.
· One more thing, unlike Echolink, the eQSO PC client does not require open ports in firewalls.
(7) So how does eQSO actually work?
· eQSO is a server based system.
· Computer to Computer users are connected directly via the Internet, through one of the eQSO servers run by radio amateurs.
· They are NOT connected by radio links (RF) in any way.
· In fact ALL users are connected via the Internet, through one of the eQSO servers.
· RF users connect to their local RF Internet Gateway, which then connects them via the Internet to an eQSO server.
· So even if you talk to the person next door using eQSO, your data goes via an eQSO server – possibly on the other side of the world!
· Click the “See who’s on the System” button on the eQSO program, to see the list of servers.
· It is quite simple to set up your own conference server using a regular PC. [Read more in SERVER FAQ’s].
(8) Why can SWL’s use eQSO?
· eQSO understands that to keep amateur radio alive, we need to make our hobby more accessible to interested people.
· eQSO warmly welcomes SWL’s to be our guests in many of our servers! We hope it will increase their interest in communications and that they will consider becoming Radio Amateurs.
· In fact, we know it does! Many former eQSO SWL’s are now fully licensed and enjoy the fully functioning eQSO software.
· NOTE. To comply with international radio regulations, eQSO restricts SWL operation to talking only to other PC users
· However, the eQSO servers DO NOT have unlimited capacity, and to prevent a situation arising where licensed amateurs cannot log into eQSO because it is full of unlicensed guests, most servers restrict the total number of SWL’s that can log in at any one time.
· NOTE. – Some servers severely limit SWL use. A few prohibit use by SWL’s.
(9) Can all users (including SWL’s) listen in any public room on the system?
(10) What is a “public” room?
· A public room is one that does not require a password to enter.
· Some servers do require a password. This means the rooms in “password servers” are private.
· Some “password servers” give an e-mail address in the server details for you to request the password.
(11) Can SWL’s talk in any room?
· No. SWL’s cannot talk in ANY room that contains a radio link. They are automatically muted in those rooms. For example, 101E always contains Gateways (RF links) so SWL’s can never talk in that room.
(12) Why can’t SWL’s talk in all the rooms?
· If there is a RF link in a room, it means that the link station is transmitting everything that is said in that room via amateur radio.
· International radio regulations state that people wishing to talk on amateur radio frequencies MUST have a license to do so.
· All frequencies used by eQSO RF links are subject to those regulations. Sorry, but it is the law.
(13) Are there “Non-RF” rooms where SWL’s will not be muted?
· No, but you could create one. For example, “NO RF ROOM”.
· However, bear in mind that although licensed Amateurs would not normally deliberately move an RF station into that room (which would automatically stop SWL’s talking), it could happen.
· But remember, Amateurs do have priority and that SWL’s are their guests.
(14) Which version of eQSO can I use?
· If you are a computer user and just want to talk and listen using your computer, then get the PC client version.
· Always use the latest free download from the eQSO website.
· If someone gives you a floppy with the program on, it could well be an old version and either not work properly or not work at all.
· Old versions will contain out-of-date help files and may have dead links.
· Always check the eQSO website for version updates.
(15) Does eQSO work with all versions of Windows O/S?
· Although I am told eQSO will still work on Win95, it is not supported.
· All later versions (Win98/98SE/ME/2000/XP) are supported.
(16) Does eQSO PC client work on platforms other than Windows?
· The PC client was designed to run on Windows.
· There are no plans for a Linux version of the PC client.
· The PC client will run on a Linux platform using “Wine” (Windows Emulator software).
(17) Can I install eQSO on more than one computer?
· As many as you want!
· However you can only run one at a time.
· DO NOT use the same call sign more than once.
· Multiple log-ins waste server bandwidth and will be removed from the system.
(18) How do I completely remove, or do a “clean install” of eQSO?
· Simply uninstalling the eQSO program DOES NOT remove your settings.
· This is to allow users to upgrade without having to re-enter their settings etc.
· But there may be occasions when you want a clean install.
· Your settings are saved in ‘Windows” – not “Program Files”
· Go to [My computer], [Drive x] where “x” is your operating system drive, [Windows].
· PC Users: delete “client_pcm0zpd.ini”
· RF Gateways: delete “dtmfclient_m0zpd”
· This will “clean out” the eQSO program settings.
(19) Can I advertise (etc.) on eQSO?
· While eQSO has no objection to users making other users aware of their opinions, information sources, products and services as part of a normal QSO, advertising (etc.) of any description is not allowed.
· Stations posting advertisements, religious or political statements (or links to), or commercial URL’s in their comment line will be removed from the system.
(20) Will using eQSO let viruses and worms into my computer?
· Definitely not. If your computer was safe before you installed the eQSO program, it will be safe afterwards.
(21) I use Zone Alarm. Is that a problem?
· Not at all. Zone Alarm will simply ask for permission to access the Internet when you start the eQSO program.
· It is quite safe to click “Remember this next time” and “Yes”.
(22) Will eQSO work behind a firewall?
· eQSO is firewall friendly. It is not normally a problem.
· Unlike Echolink, you DO NOT have to open any ports to operate the eQSO PC client software
(23) Can I log in to the system more than once?
Each log-in uses valuable (and limited) bandwidth on the server.
When one user logs in several times, it just fills up the server, so that regular users cannot even log in once!
PC users are limited to only one log-in on eQSO main servers.
The guidelines are different for Link/Repeater operators. (See Gateway FAQ’s / General / #6)