Tag Archives: Internet Radio

Guest Post: Richard builds a WiFi radio with the Raspberry Pi

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Schreiber (KE7KRF), who shares the following guest post:


Yet Another Internet Radio!

by Richard Schreiber (KE7KRF)

After deciding that an internet radio could be an important source of entertainment in our household, we formulated a few general guidelines:

  • We opted not to use an aggregator but would pick and choose stations we enjoyed and discover the URL’s ourselves. Also would be satisfied with a couple of dozen stations. Based on a recent decision to pare down the number of TV channels we were paying for, having access to hundreds of stations seemed impractical and unnecessary.
  • The price had to be affordable, thus eliminating many stand-alone, commercially available internet radios.
  • We already owned a quality portable speaker (Bose SoundLink Mini) so the internet radio didn’t need to duplicate that component.
  • Didn’t want to tie up nor be tethered to a laptop, tablet, or netbook. We predicted that would eventually lead to less and less use of the radio.

After some research, coupled with the fact I already had some experience with Raspberry Pi computers, that small device appeared to be our best choice. I had recently purchased the newer 2 B model, which has plenty of computing power, and had installed Ubuntu Linaro as the OS. (As an aside, this OS has not to my knowledge been upgraded for the latest Raspberry Pi 3). There are several other operating systems that will work just as well including the official Raspbian OS available through the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

I installed the MPD music player daemon and its client MPC, which is used to add to and delete station URL’s from the playlist, control volume, etc. An important find was the iPhone app called MPod which provides remote wireless access to the features of MPC. At the moment it is a free app for the iPhone (in my case the iPod Touch).

For portability, my Raspberry Pi is being used “headless”, meaning it is not connected to a monitor, keyboard or mouse. If maintenance is required you can use PuTTY, a SSH and telnet client, wirelessly from a Windows (or MAC?) PC, using a command-line interface. Mainly this is needed to shut down the Raspberry Pi properly before turning off the power, but it boots completely on its own when powered up. The MPod app will then load the playlist of stations and let you start playing the radio without direct access to the Raspberry Pi.

The sound output of my Raspberry Pi is connected to the auxiliary port of our Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speaker. But instead of trying to implement Bluetooth on the Raspberry Pi, I took the easy way out and use a direct connection. The sound reproduction from this setup is very good, though audiophiles might be somewhat more critical.

The above represents a minimal investment if you already have a good speaker on hand. It does require some on-line research and learning at least enough to install the OS and software. The good news is that there are many websites and forums providing step-by-step instructions and helpful hobbyists willing to explain some of the more cryptic aspects. A few of the websites that I found to be helpful:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-Raspberry-Pi-Internet

http://cagewebdev.com/raspberry-pi-playing-internet-radio

https://learn.adafruit.com/raspberry-pi-radio-player-with-touchscreen

A couple of these also explain how to add a display to your Raspberry Pi internet radio.

Our Raspberry Pi radio is on each evening and has been trouble free. It is worth mentioning that this is a very portable setup, and can even be powered by a battery pack (the kind used for recharging tablets and cell phones) for a few hours. Of course you need to be near a wifi hotspot.


Thank you, Richard! What a great way to use the inexpensive Raspberry Pi. I have a spare Pi2 and an amplified speaker here at the house. Though I don’t need another WiFi radio, it would be fun putting this little system together. 

Radio Garden: An addictive way to scan online radio stations

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors David and Monti who share a link to Radio Garden, a new web-based interface for exploring online radio stations across the globe.

[…]Radio Garden, which launched today, is a similar concept—a way to know humanity through its sounds, through its music. It’s an interactive map that lets you tune into any one of thousands of radio stations all over the world in real time. Exploring the site is both immersive and a bit disorienting—it offers the sense of lurking near Earth as an outsider. In an instant, you can click to any dot on the map and hear what’s playing on the radio there, from Miami to Lahore to Berlin to Sulaymaniyah and beyond.

The project, created for the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision by the interactive design firms Studio Puckey and Moniker, was built using an open-source WebGL globe that draws from thousands of radio stations—terrestrial and online-only streams—overlaid with Bing satellite imagery.

The result is the best kind of internet rabbit hole: Engrossing, perspective shifting, provocative, and delightful. […]

Read the full article at The Atlantic.

Click here to use Radio Garden.

Bob recommends Radio Tray

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bob Chandler (VE3SRE), who leaves the following reply to our WiFi Radio Primer:

radiotrayI have been streaming online radio using a PC for a number of years using a really simple programme for the GNU/Linux operating system called “Radio Tray“.   Radio Tray is a tiny programme written in Python that uses the Gstreamer “back end”.

This programme is so small, that you can turn that old 1990’s vintage Pentium II laptop that’ gathering dust in a broom closet into an internet radio.   Just choose a very “lightweight” distribution of GNU/Linux.

For instance, on an old “original” Asus EeePC netbook, with a 900 MHz. Celeron processor, 512 MB RAM and a little 4 GB solid state hard drive, I installed the “Debian” distribution but used the lightweight “JWM” window manager for the GUI.   JWM isn’t pretty, but it works great!

You can get “Radio Tray” using the package management system of just about any GNU/Linux distribution.   I know for sure it’s in the “repos” for Ubuntu, Debian, Arch and Fedora along with all of the derivatives.    Unfortunately, it’s not available for Windows and MacOS.   But, the GNU/Linux OS is “free as in freedom and free as in free beer” as they say!

All of your radio station “bookmarks” are stored in a simple “bookmarks.xml” file that makes it a breeze to copy your bookmarks from computer to computer.    Over the years I’ve accumulated a thousand or more (I’ve lost count) internetradio stations in Radio Tray.

Radio Tray is capable of handling just about any streaming format.

My online “dx challenge” is finding the “real” stream URL of the station that’s often buried inside of browser based “Flash” players.    But, since these days most radio stations outsource their audio streaming to one of about half a dozen streaming audio providers, once you’ve figured out the provider’s URL pattern for one station, you’ve figured them all out.

I’m able to figure out the “real” stream URL about 90% of the time.   Some are easy, while some require a bit of detective work.

That also means that I don’t depend on streaming aggregators, since stream URL’s are changing all the time and sometimes it takes the aggregator a while to do an update.   I can just update a station that I’m interested in myself.

Here’s the website for “Radio Tray

http://radiotray.sourceforge.net/

I also wrote a blurb about radio tray on my own (very much neglected) website a couple of years ago.

http://ve3sre.com/wordpress/radiotraysoftware/

Thanks, Bob! I was not familiar with this app–seems like a simple addition to any PC.

Internet Radio: Mark wants to know about your listening habits!

comoaudiosolo-internetradio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Fahey, who shares the following reply to our Como Audio Solo review:

I am a heavy user of internet radios and have a few scatted around the home, the one most frequently used is the Grace in the kitchen. What stations do people listen to?

I listen to lots of different things while cooking, what I do is tune to a station local to whatever I am preparing. So that means a lot of Asian stations; Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Japan, China, Laos etc! A few months ago spending time in Southern California put me in the mood for Mexican food, so there has been a lot of Mexican radio playing in the kitchen lately. On the special occasions when cooking Grits for breakfast I usually listen to 103.3 AshevilleFM.

[Note to Mark: I’d like to think I have something to do with the fact you’re one of the only guys cooking grits in Australia! -Thomas]

The Logitech in the bedroom is usually tuned into European stations late a night as I drift off, and as I wake up and dress I’m usually listening to Japanese community radio stations.

In the main living area mostly USA alternative and indi rock, NPR or college radio is on.

I am a very serious flight-simmer and love exploring around the world this virtual way. I’m very serious about this so preflight and route planning takes up to an hour, so in the hours before a flight I quite typically listen to a station in the city my Cessna-404 twin turbo happens to be at that particular time.

I’m kind of interested – what are you guys listening to on internet radios?

PS. Oh and the Como Solo looks great – Im ordering one!

Your query is timely, Mark, as someone recently asked me the same question.

The Sangean WFR-28 WiFi Radio

The Sangean WFR-28 WiFi Radio

I primarily use Internet radio to listen to music and local news outlets.

In terms of music, I love almost everything, but especially Jazz, Classic Rock, Big Band, Brazilian music, French, Mambo, Zydeco, Electronica, and, frankly, anything a little eclectic and musically interesting.

Some of my favorite music stations are: The UK 1940s Radio Station, RFI Musique, FIP, Radio Bossa Nova, KBON, Espace Musique (various outlets), CBC Ambient Lounge, Kanal Jazz, Radio Swiss Jazz, WNMB, RadioNostalgia, Celtic Music Radio 1530, WNCW, Radio 6 and Fréquence 2 to name a few.

In terms of news and talk, I listen to: CBC Radio 1 (Toronto, Montreal, St. Johns, Charlottetown), WFAE, WCQS, Alaska Public Media, Vermont Public Radio, France Inter, Radio Canada, ABC Radio Australia, ABC Northern Tasmania, Radio New Zealand National, BBC World Service, 7RPH, Federal News Radio, ABC Radio Perth and many, many more.

I especially love finding some random, local radio station and eavesdropping on their community news!

I have well over 100 stations/favorites organized in various folders on my WiFi radios.

Honestly, this 2016 election season in the States has so heavily dominated domestic news, I’ve focused almost exclusively on stations outside of the US to seek a little refuge.

Of course, I’m also a heavy shortwave listener. While using a WiFi radio lacks the “fun factor” and skill of SWLing, it certainly serves up a world of diversity and is the perfect compliment to shortwave listening.

elecraft-kx3-radioaustralia

Radio Australia serving up a blowtorch signal into North America this morning–a steady S9+20db on my Elecraft KX3.

As I type this post this morning, for example, I’ve been listening to the CBC and France Inter on my WiFi radio (the audio actually emanates from my vintage Scott Marine SLR-M via an SStran AM transmitter). I’ve been muting the WiFi radio from time to time to listen to the ABC top of the hour news and music programming on Radio Australia with my Elecraft KX3 (above).

Now…back to Mark’s question…

What do you, dear Post reader, listen to on your WiFi radio, mobile device or computer? Please comment!

The Como Audio Solo and Duetto radios on Kickstarter

ComoAudio-Solo

The Como Audio Solo

Alas, I find that I’m frequently blamed by SWLing Post readers who cite this blog as the reason they spend so much money on radios.

But for the record, I’d like you to know that such spending is actually a two-way street!  A couple of days ago, Post contributor Robert Gulley sent me a link to a cool Kickstarter campaign for two new multi-format digital radios: the Solo and the Duet by Como Audio.

Having just completed an in-depth review of several WiFi radios for The Spectrum Monitor magazine, the good-looking Solo in its wood casing really caught my attention! (the Duet, meanwhile, is a two-speaker version of the same rig).  At first glance, the Solo appears to be  compatible with a much wider range of digital formats than many of its competitors, so naturally I’m eager to determine if this is so. Here’s a list:

  • Internet radio accessing 20,000+ stations
  • Spotify
  • Bluetooth with aptX
  • NFC Android Bluetooth connection
  • DLNA WIFI
  • Music player allowing easy navigation and playback through a USB or network-shared library of music files, including AAC+, MP3, WMA, WAV, and FLAC
  • 4 High-Res inputs: 2 analog, 1 Optical, and 1 USB.
  • Google Cast-ready
  • Amazon Dot-ready

It even has a “high-performance” FM tuner and is DAB+ compatible, especially great if you live in Europe.

It also sounds like they’ve spent time designing a proper acoustic chamber/chassis and are fueling a 3″ woofer and 3/4″ dome tweeter with a 2 X 30 watt RMS amplifier. This radio should pack some audio punch.

The Como Audio Duetto

The Como Audio Duetto

The only obvious thing I see missing on the Como Audio WiFi radios is an internal battery.

Still, after watching the video and reviewing the specs, I backed the campaign to receive a walnut Kickstarter Edition Solo. If all goes well––and I never actually expect a campaign to produce and ship a product in the amount of time they expect––they may be shipping the radios as early as October.

The campaign has already met it’s goal of $50,000 and is now stretching for $100,000 with more incentives.

So, I didn’t really need another WiFi radio, but thanks to Robert’s email––yep, I bought one! Now the only question remains:  can you actually make impulse purchases on Kickstarter? I think I just proved that you can.