Category Archives: Digital Modes

Update: German communications regulator to allow AM digital modes

FLdigi-VOARadiogram

As a follow-up to a previous post, many thanks to several SWLing Post readers who noted this news on the VOA Radiogram website:

The German communications regulator Bundesnetzagentur has changed its mind about allowing digital modes on shortwave broadcast transmitters in Germany. Apparently BNetzA thought that Channel 292 was transmitting the text and images in single sideband (SSB), which is how amateurs, military, etc, transmit the digital modes. Now that they know that the MFSK32 and other modes are sent as program audio on an analogue amplitude-modulation shortwave transmitter, their objections were withdrawn.  (It’s similar to A2A modulated CW.)

BNetzA prefers that the term MFSK32 not be used to describe these broadcasts, but we have to specify the mode so that you can set Fldigi or other decoding software to the correct mode. In any case, the weekly MFSK32 transmission will resume on The Mighty KBC, and DigiDX will return to Channel 292.

Meanwhile, VOA Radiogram this weekend will be all MFSK32 except for the transmission schedule in Olivia 64-2000 under the closing music.                       

First DRM European Workshop

Many thanks to SWLing Post readers, Cap and Bill, who both shared this press release from the DRM consortium:

(Source: DRM Consortium)

drmlogoFirst DRM European Workshop “Flexible and Complete Digital Radio for Europe”
asks European Stakeholders to Support and Manufacture DRM and DAB+ Receivers

Following from a very successful General Assembly, the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) Consortium, and the German DRM Platform held a most comprehensive European workshop hosted by Fraunhofer IIS in Erlangen, Germany from 6th to 7th April 2016.

This was a first such DRM event aimed at offering solutions to all broadcasters large or small. During their presentations and discussions participants stressed that DRM is the ITU endorsed and internationally adopted standard for the distribution of programmes internationally, nationally and up to local coverage level. DRM can also provide an economic and complementary solution to exactly those coverage scenarios that the established DAB/DAB+ networks in Band-III were never designed for.

Following their deliberations the participants urged all stakeholders of Digital Radio in Europe – including European organisations, regulators, broadcasters and the receiver and automotive industry – to embrace publicly the duality and complementarity of the open DRM and DAB standards as the complete Digital Radio solution for Europe (and worldwide). This means a digital future for all broadcasters, offering more programme choice to listeners, extra multimedia services with text and images, increased energy savings and spectrum efficiency. The participants ask ‘all European stakeholders to promote actively the manufacturing and distribution of multi-standard Digital Radio receivers, comprising at least the DRM and DAB standards.’

The first session, held in conjunction with the open part of the DRM General Assembly, took a brief look at the status of DRM adoption around the world, including the DRM roll-out in India, ready to become the largest digital radio market in the world with over 600 million people being reached by DRM broadcasts. Presentations given by experts from various European countries showed that the digitisation of radio progresses in Europe. At the end of the first day Fraunhofer IIS (Bernd Linz) demonstrated the latest development to provide traffic and travel services in DRM radios, soon to be installed in Asia. Afterwards Martin Speitel demonstrated the features of the Fraunhofer software package for car radios with DRM. With this solution, radio manufacturers can quickly build or enhance radio platforms on a proven modular system covering the full DRM and DAB standards including their full feature sets, thus shortening their development times and, in turn, reducing their costs.

On the 7th April benefits and opportunities of DRM were shown with practical applications. Ampegon (Matthias Stoll) showed how easy and cost-effective the transition from analogue AM to DRM can be. Marc Holthof of the German Navy gave an example of how to use DRM over shortwave for maritime broadcasting of information and entertainment to ship crews at sea. Csaba Szombathy, Technical University of Budapest, demonstrated his original monitoring programme of DRM transmissions. Then RFmondial (Jens Schroeder), demonstrated how to provide DRM services in the crowded FM band compatible with all the existing FM stations. Joachim Lehnert, German DRM Platform Chairman, showed that DRM is a suitable system for local/regional coverage in VHF Band III, fully compatible with DAB/DAB+ and DVB-T networks and in keeping with RRC-06. RFmondial (Detlef Pagel) also referred to the use of DRM in VHF Band III and stressed that DRM+ is the most suitable digital system for the local and regional single-station broadcasters, as a complement to multiplexes, while sharing all the listener related features with the DAB+ standard. Finally, Manfred Kühn, Mobile Broadcast Consult, demonstrated the flexible transmission of multiple DRM channels in a single DAB frequency block in VHF Band III.

This session was followed by a status report on the development of digital multi-standard radios, presented by Robert Bosch Car Multimedia, NXP, Fraunhofer IIS, PnP Networks and Panasonic. All the speakers finally emphasized the market and framework requirements for the production of multistandard radios for Europe.

Joachim Lehnert, Chairman of the German DRM Platform, concluded that the workshop was an important step to bringing national activities together and added; “With all the European DRM activities presented over the past two days and the encouraging messages from the receiver industry, I believe that the famous ‘chicken or egg’ problem can be solved from the receiver end by adding DRM as a complement to existing digital receivers. This will eventually help all radio broadcasters across Europe, whether national, local or community stations, and will ensure each has a digital home in the future.”

Click here to download the PDF of this press release.

German regulators prohibit digital modes on broadcast bands

DigiDX

(Source: Kim Elliott via Richard Langley)

VOA Radiogram, 2-3 April 2016: BNetzA sagt nein!

New this weekend is the elimination of the digital text modes from shortwave transmitters in Germany.

The German regulator Bundesnetzagentur has ruled that the digital modes are not allowed in the broadcast bands. Because of this, there will be no MFSK32 on The Mighty KBC this weekend, because it uses a transmitter in Nauen, Germany. And, for the time being, there will be no DigiDX MFSK broadcasts on Channel 292, 6070 kHz, and Radio 700, 3985 kHz.

Listeners in Germany might want to note these arguments for the digital modes on the shortwave broadcast bands:
1) It is broadcasting, not point-to-point communication.
2) It can be received on any shortwave radio, even inexpensive portables with no SSB capability. (Software is required to decode the text and images, but this can be included in future shortwave radios.)
3) DRM is legal on the shortwave broadcast bands, and DRM can transmit text and images.
4) Text and images via analog radio requires less spectrum (bandwidth) than DRM.
5) Text and images via analog radio are a useful new application for underutilized shortwave transmitters and frequencies.
6) Text and images via analog radio extend the range of a shortwave transmitter, resulting in accurate content in conditions where voice transmissions may be unintelligible.
7) Digital modes via shortwave can be a useful alternative when the Internet is not available due to disasters or to net censorship by dictators.

On the same note, SWLing Post contributor, Harald Kuhl, also comments with a news release from DigiDX:

“DigiDX transmissions via Channel 292 (6070kHz) and suspended until further notice. This is due to action by the German regulator Bundesnetzagentur against digital mode transmissions and is beyond our control. Broadcasts via WRMI will continue and we hope to find another outlet to use for transmissions to Europe.”

[later:]·

“Good news – Thanks to Jeff White we have another frequency for this Sunday’s broadcast which should be better for Europe. 15770kHz at 2130. Please can anyone in Europe, North America and elsewhere please send reception reports to reports@digidx.uk for this extra broadcast.”

Sources: DigiDX website & FB

Steve notes the end of The Mighty KBC on 6,095 kHz

MightyKBCTruck

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Steve Yothment, who writes:

[Below, you’ll find] my reception report for the digital decode of the Fldigi message by Dr. Kim Elliott on The Mighty KBC (6040 kHz) Saturday night:

noname

I took Kim Elliott’s suggestion and listened to The Mighty KBC on 6095 kHz on Sunday morning using the Utwente WebSDR which receives signals in Enschede, in the Netherlands.

The Mighty KBC finished their last broadcast on 6095 kHz at 11:00AM our time. I recorded their program, but the file is big. So, attached is the last 4 minutes of their program (click here to download), as received by the WebSDR:

It’s too bad that The Mighty KBC is shutting down!

Many thanks for both your decoded message and your recorded audio, Steve! I agree: it is too bad the KBC had to shut down their 6095 kHz broadcast.

Note that The Mighty KBC will continue on their AM frequency, DAB and streaming. Check out the KBC website for details.

DigiDX: a new digital broadcast via Channel 292

DigiDXMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Stephen Cooper, who shares the following news about the new DigiDX broadcast:

DigiDX is a 30 minute MFSK32 broadcast covering shortwave and DX news, radio related reviews, schedule information and listeners letters and after a success test broadcast to Europe, a broadcast for North America is planned for 0200 UTC Sunday.

Broadcasting from Channel 292 in Germany on 6070 kHz the time has been chosen to maximise chance of reception on the East Coast of North America and beyond.

The programme features the majority of the broadcast in MFSK32 but around 10 minutes of the broadcast is in the slower Olivia 64-2000 mode to test for resilience against bad propagation to North America and interference on 6070.

The tests to Europe on Channel 292 earlier this week showed good reception and near perfect decodes despite Radio China International and Vatican Radio being on the same frequency during some of the test.

To decode use FlDigi, MultiPSK or the Tivar Android app, just putting your radio next to the PC microphone or phone/tablet is enough to decode the broadcast. If you have decoded the VOA Radiogram before, DigiDX uses the same digital modes.

Please send reception reports and decodes of the text/images in the broadcast to reports@digidx.uk, an e-QSL will be sent by email and on the next broadcast an e-QSL card will be broadcast over the air in MFSK32 mode as well.

For European listeners the second edition of DigiDX with an include e-QSL card from the last episode will be broadcast on 6070Khz at 1100 UTC. For information on further broadcast times like DigiDX on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/digidx/) or follow on Twitter (https://twitter.com/Digi_Dx)

This is brilliant, Stephen! I’ll attempt to log DigiDX this weekend if conditions are fair!