Berlin group distributes tiny radio transmitters for Syria

In this photo taken Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, Philipp Hochleichter of the MICT (Media in Cooperation and Transmission) organization talks behind Pocket FM Radio Transmitters in Berlin, Germany. As part of the Syrian radio networking project, MICT has designed small modular FM transmitters. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

In this photo taken Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, Philipp Hochleichter of the MICT (Media in Cooperation and Transmission) organization talks behind Pocket FM Radio Transmitters in Berlin, Germany. As part of the Syrian radio networking project, MICT has designed small modular FM transmitters. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

(Source: Yahoo News via Dan Robinson)

BERLIN (AP) — On the top floor of an old brick building in the heart of Berlin, a group of journalists and tech enthusiasts are working to spur the Syrian media revolution.

Their weapon is an unassuming black case the size of a shoebox that allows opposition radio stations in Syria to transmit inside hostile territory.

Dubbed PocketFM, the device is basically a low-powered radio transmitter. Coupled with a satellite dish to receive new programs, a car battery for power and a one-meter (three-foot) antenna, it can broadcast FM radio within a 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius.

That’s enough to cover a town or a city district, said Philipp Hochleichter, who oversees development of the device for the Berlin-based nonprofit organization Media in Cooperation and Transition.

The group has been training journalists in conflict zones for more than a decade and often relies on FM radio to reach populations in far-flung areas that don’t have access to the Internet or smartphones. But when the group realized that shifting front lines and the brutal treatment of journalists meant operating large broadcast antenna could become too cumbersome or risky, it developed PocketFM.

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9 thoughts on “Berlin group distributes tiny radio transmitters for Syria

  1. Keith Perron

    FM makes more sense than using HF or MV. First is if you have an FM TX it’s easy to relocate if needed. Also just because radios have the SW bands, it does not mean people are listening.

    Also more and more young people are now using smart phone. Buying them on the black market is not as expensive as you may think.

    Reply
  2. Matt

    Seems like a bit of a silly idea to me. It would take less than an hour to DF these local FM transmitters and take them off air or change the program output.

    Surely a HF based station outside of the area would be a better way of delivering programming?

    Reply
    1. Bob

      HF radio would certainly be technically better at getting the signal out over a wider area with low power but the problem is a) Not many people own a radio with SW capability while just about everyone has some kind of FM radio and b) Even if people have radios capable of receiving shortwave signals, how many people know how to use them in 2015?

      And while it is certainly true that an FM signal can be DF’ed in an hour, how many people are skilled at DFing? When it comes to “old tech”, people are actually less technically skilled.

      Reply
      1. Roy Sandgren

        Many buys AM multi band recievers to tune into MW/SW stations more and more. There are several 100-dreds of versions and factories made a version in 3000 pcs batches. If no market of multiband radios in the world. Non production, but mass production is still going on. You can get a reciever fron 10 USD and up in a shop. Many poverty people can not affords any Iphone and simular but a multiband radio is very cheap compared with an Iphone

        Reply
      2. Matt

        It’s a nice idea but I’m just saying that I would rather distribute $3000 worth of SW sets to a single area than install a short range FM set with a sat downlink. Besides, I don’t think I have ever seen a cheap FM receiver that didn’t have at least MW/AM.

        I wonder how many of these FM stations are planned to be installed and how many will end up in the wrong hands and broadcast an alternative message?

        Reply

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