Category Archives: Digital Modes

Radio Nacional da Amazonia prepares for DRM broadcasts

Photo: DRM Consortium

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post contributors who share the following news from the DRM Consortium:

Brazil prepares for domestic DRM transmissions to Amazonia (DRM Consortium)

DRM broadcasts from a locally produced transmitter will be originated for the first time in Latin America, as Brazil will officially start digital (DRM) shortwave transmissions through The National Radio of the Amazon towards the vast area of the northern Amazon region, mainly inhabited by indigenous populations.

In another first, Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC), the public broadcaster, placed the order for the high-powered transmitter with a local manufacturer, the BT Transmitters company from Porto Alegre. BT Transmitters signed a contract with EBC for the production of a 100 kW transmitter in the DRM digital system.

The equipment will be used on the 11,780 kHz frequency in the 25-meter band, which is one of the shortwave channels used by Rádio Nacional da Amazônia since 1977.

The purchase for R$3.5 million is the result of an auction held in August 2020, in which other equipment for EBC’s public radio broadcasts is planned to be acquired.

At the end of last year, Nacional da Amazônia carried out tests with the DRM technology using a transmitter of 2.5 kW with the digital power of just 1 kW.  EBC demonstrated then, for the first time in the country, the use of multi-programming and the transmission of interactive multimedia applications.

Despite this low power of the transmitter supplied by BT Transmitters, recordings were reported from different regions of the country and even from North America and Europe (Radiolab – Começam transmissões de rádio digital DRM em onda curta no Brasil).

The results of the tests were published last month by the DRM Consortium.

The DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) standard provides power savings of up to 80% in electricity consumption, a sound quality equal or superior to FM, as well as allowing images and other data to be sent to the radio receiver.

DRM is a worldwide consortium, and more information can be found at www.drm.org.

This story was also noted in Radio World:

DRM Shortwave Will Serve Amazon Region (Radio World)

National Radio of the Amazon orders a 100 kW BT transmitter

National Radio of the Amazon plans to use DRM shortwave transmissions to serve indigenous populations in the northern Amazon region, according to the Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium.

Public broadcaster Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC) ordered a 100 kW BT transmitter to broadcast in DRM at 11,780 kHz in the 25-meter band, a shortwave channel used by Rádio Nacional da Amazônia.

The purchase, valued at about $650,000 USD, was the result of an auction held a year ago for purchase of equipment for EBC public radio broadcasts.

This is believed to be the first domestic DRM installation on a locally produced transmitter in Latin America.

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BBC Radio Stations Broadcasting Re-Tune Instructions

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Hemphill (WD9EQD), who writes:

Hi Thomas,

The BBC in their transition to digital radio has started closing some of their AM radio stations.

See following link:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/reception/work-warning/news/mw-closures-2021

The AM stations being closed are broadcasting “Re-Tune” instructions on their frequencies.

Not sure how long they will be doing this. The “Re-Tune” messages are interesting.

I have used the G4DYA KiwiSDR web receiver to listen and record some of the “Re-Tune” messages.

Most are just straight forward instructions, but Radio Hereford-Worcester on 738 has recorded individual

messages by several of their on-air personalities. The messages just loop continuously.

Attached are MP3 files for 738 Radio Hereford-Worcester, 1035 Radio Sheffield, 1341 Radio Ulster and 1503 Radio Stoke.

73

Bill Hemphill, WD9EQD

Recordings

738 Radio Hereford-Worcester

1035 Radio Sheffield

1341 Radio Ulster

1503 Radio Stoke

Thank you so much for taking the time to make these recordings and for sharing them with us here!

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STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App for Android now released

Photo by Adrien on Unsplash

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Srebnick, who shares the following press release from Starwaves:

STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App for Android now available!

Good news for all SDR friends: STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App for Android is now available for public use! Listen to DRM – Digital Radio Mondiale live radio broadcasts on your Android smartphone or tablet by simply connecting an SDR RF dongle via USB.

The app is available on Google Play Store and Amazon App Store.

The STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio allows you to conveniently enjoy any DRM live radio broadcast on your Android smartphone or tablet. No Internet connection required. All you need is an SDR RF dongle or receiver connected to your device via USB.

DRM or Digital Radio Mondiale is the global digital radio standard used for all digital international transmissions as well as for national and local services in many countries. To learn more about DRM and its features visit https://www.drm.org.

Please see our DRM SoftRadio Knowledge Base for further details!

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Radio Waves: Josh reviews the Belka-DX, Sinclair Fraunhofer DRM Partnership, Clear Net Frequencies Requested, and

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors TomL, Alan, Bruce Atchison, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Belka DX Shortwave Receiver – Closest Thing To A Spy Radio? (HRCC via YouTube)

Sinclair Launches ATSC 3.0 Test Site; Partners With Fraunhofer On Mondiale Service Integration (ATSC)

HUNT VALLEY, Md.—Mark Aitken, senior vice president of advanced technology at the Sinclair Broadcast Group, flipped the switch on a 100w transmitter to begin broadcasting ATSC 3.0 from atop the station group’s corporate headquarters here with the express purpose of testing reception on small devices like its MarkONE 3.0-enabled smartphone and, in particular, integration of Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) in its broadcast app.

The launch comes on the same day Sinclair and German technology research institute Fraunhofer IIS jointly announced they are working together to bring audio services using the DRM standard to ATSC 3.0. (Earlier this year, Sinclair rolled out 3.0 simulcasts of its Seattle radio stations with its DRM-based broadcast app.)

“We are actually building the DRM radio service into the [3.0] broadcast app environment,” says Aitken. “That means those [DRM] services will be carried in band and transported just like HEVC [high efficiency video coding] and [Dolby] AC-4.”[]

Clear Frequencies Requested for Net Providing 24/7 Coverage of St Vincent Volcanic Eruption (RAC Newsletter)

For immediate release:
April 20, 2021 –

The Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net (CEWN) has been providing round-the-clock coverage during the La Soufriere volcanic eruption on the island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Several neighbouring islands are also being affected by the disaster.

When responding to disasters and emergencies such as this, the CEWN utilizes 3.815 MHz LSB and 7.188 MHz LSB. CEWN is requesting that Radio Amateurs not involved in the volcano response to keep these frequencies clear.

Geomagnetic storm warning (Spaceweather.com via Southgate ARC)

A CME is heading for Earth and it could spark a geomagnetic storm when it arrives on April 25th.

NOAA forecasters say moderately strong G2-class storms are possible, which means auroras could dip into northern-tier US states from Maine to Washington.

Full story and updates @ Spaceweather.com.

 


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Radio Waves: Dirty Transmitters, World Amateur Radio Day, Electronic Echoes, DRM via Android, and 10 More BBC AM Services Close

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Grayhat, David Iurescia, Bill Hemphill, Harald Kuhl, and Troy Riedel for the following tips:


Transmitter Noise / Dirty Transmitters: Receiver Performance has hit a Brick Wall (DJ0IP)

For the past 15 years, Ham Radio’s Mega-Focus on Receiver Dynamic Range (DR3) has resulted in the community ignoring other factors that are just as important to receiver performance.

Even though our receivers have made a quantum leap in performance in important parameters such as DR3, RMDR, etc., On-The-Air Reception has gotten worse.

Unless used at a multi-transmitter site, today’s typical user won’t detect a difference in the receiver performance between a radio with 90 dB DR3 and a radio with 110 dB DR3. That’s because Receiver Performance is not the limiting factor.[]

World Amateur Radio Day 18 April 2021 (IARU REGION 2 Newsletter)

World Amateur Radio Day (WARD) is an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments and contributions of amateur radio to the communications technology revolution which has dramatically impacted the daily life of virtually everyone on the planet. Many of these technologies and techniques started as experiments, not by governments or commercial enterprises, but by radio amateurs.

WARD 2021 commemorates the 96th anniversary of the International Amateur Radio Union’s founding in 1925, where amateurs first met in Paris to band together to give voice to these early experimenters to national governments and international bodies representing all radio amateurs.

The almost universal adoption of mobile technology created ever increasing demand on a finite resource, the radio spectrum. Access to useable spectrum is the fundamental base on which amateur radio was built and continues to be developed. As a result, amateur radio is very different than decades ago. Embracing new technologies and techniques has greatly expanded what amateur radio is and opened further possibilities as to what it could be. The proliferation of technology also means that the ongoing experimentation and innovation in electronics, radio frequency technique and radio wave propagation is no longer only the traditional realm of the radio amateur but also includes university research satellites, the “maker” community, and other non-commercial experimenters: citizen scientists.

Looking ahead, this ongoing evolution of the telecommunications ecosystem makes it clear that the national Member Societies of the IARU and IARU itself must also continuously change and adapt. A century later, the future possibilities are as exciting as ever.

Celebrate World Amateur Radio Day. The pandemic and more localized natural disasters continue to demonstrate the value of ordinary citizens as technically skilled contributors to society. The original social network is robust. Expose someone new to amateur radio (properly distanced), get on the air and contact the many special event stations, on HF, VHF, or satellite.

Electronic Echoes (KPC Radio)

From SWLing Post contributor Bill Hemphill:

“I have run across an interesting set of audio interviews that were done by Aaron Castillo of kpcradio.com. This is an internet based radio station of Pierce College in California.

Aaron did a series of audio interviews in the fall of 2020 called Electronic Echoes. See following link:

https://kpcradio.com/author/aaron-castillo/

 

STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio App upgrades mobile devices to receive undistorted DRM Digital Radio anytime and anywhere (Fraunhofer Press Release)

Horgen/Switzerland, Erlangen/Germany: Starwaves, a developer and distributor of receiver technologies centered around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale), joined forces with Fraunhofer IIS, a leading supplier in the field of broadcast encoder and receiver components for DRM, to develop an Android app that allows DRM reception on mobile devices. Starwaves enables Android phones and tablets to receive entertainment, text information, and emergency warnings via DRM Digital Radio – without costly data plans, independent from cell phone network availability, and based on innovative Fraunhofer technology.

Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is the digital successor standard to the classic AM and FM radio services. In many parts of the world, terrestrial digital radio broadcasts are already an important and trusted source of entertainment and information. They do not require monthly payments and work reliably even if there are no cell networks available. Radio reception with mobile phones and tablets combines the mobility and flexibility of these devices with the benefits of free-to-air radio services.

Starwaves has been active in the field of DRM radio receivers for many years. The “STARWAVES DRM SoftRadio” app was developed in close cooperation with Fraunhofer IIS. Its goal is to ensure easy access to innovative DRM radio services for everybody. It is available from now in the Google and Amazon Android app stores. The app provides listeners with access to all the essential features of the DRM digital radio standard, across all transmission bands from DRM on long wave to FM band and VHF band-III.

Fraunhofer IIS is a significant co-developer of core digital radio technologies. This includes the innovative xHE-AAC audio codec, which provides high audio quality at lowest data rates, as well as the Journaline application, which gives radio listeners access to news, the latest sports updates, local weather forecasts, travel tips, and even radio schooling services without requiring internet access.

The app also supports many more DRM features such as the Emergency Warning Functionality (EWF), image slideshows, station logos, and service descriptions including Unicode support for worldwide application. To provide all these services, the app only requires a standard off-the-shelf SDR RF dongle that is attached to the device’s USB port.

“We are proud to launch the world’s first low-cost full-featured DRM digital radio reception solution for mobile devices, developed in close partnership with Fraunhofer IIS. Now everybody can easily upgrade their existing mobile phone and tablet to enjoy DRM digital radio with its undistorted audio quality and advanced features including Journaline,” says Johannes von Weyssenhoff, founder of Starwaves.

I order to meet the needs of everyday radio listeners and to clearly separate this app from the engineering-driven approaches of the past, usability was a primary development objective from day one. With only a few clicks on the clutter-free interface, users select their preferred radio service, navigate through the clearly structured menus, and gain instant access to the various advanced information services that DRM provides. By supporting multiple user interface languages, the app ensures optimized usability in many countries around the globe.

About STARWAVES

Found in 2005 in Bad Münder, Lower Saxony/Germany, Starwaves had set its focus on the development and distribution of receiver technologies around the digital broadcast standard DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale). As far back as 2003 after both organizations, the DRM Consortium and the WorldDAB Forum, had expressed their appeal to the industry at IFA in Berlin to develop and produce multi-standard receivers compatible with both their systems, Starwaves developed its model ”STARWAVES Prelude”, the world’s first DRM-DAB receiver and presented it at CeBIT 2004 in Hanover. In 2006 Starwaves was again in the headlines with the ”Carbox”: It was the world’s first automotive DRM-DAB receiver which then was produced in volumes and enjoyed by lots of listeners worldwide – including many DXers thanks to its excellent analogue Short-Wave capabilities as well.

Since 2008 Starwaves moved its focus to Africa where it developed and tested an innovative approach of broadcasting community television in the L-Band with DVB-T2 in cooperation with ICASA – another world premiere. After DRM was chosen the national standard in India in 2012 Starwaves relocated its headquarters to Switzerland and started developing a new generation of DRM receivers.

Starwaves also initiated Africa’s first DRM trial in the FM Band in Johannesburg/South Africa and completed it with local and international partners. The trial report contains valuable discoveries regarding the feasibility of DRM for community radio which guided the South African government to adopt DRM in the FM Band for community radio and secured the report becoming an internationally recognized piece of standard literature, recently endorsed by ITU. Today, Starwaves offers various DRM receivers and broadcast solutions for consumers and the professional broadcasting industry.

For more information, contact sales@starwaves.com or visit www.starwaves.com/de/starwaves-drm-softradio

Ten more stations turn off Medium Wave services (Radio Today)

Ten more local BBC radio stations are turning off their Medium Wave transmitters for good this year.

BBC Essex, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Hereford & Worcester, BBC Radio Stoke, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle will be FM and digital only in May and June 2021.

In addition, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Gloucestershire will reduce AM coverage.

The BBC’s intention to close MW transmitters was first announced ten years ago in 2011.[]


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Radio Waves: Guardians of Early Recordings, VOA Firewall, New DRM-Based HF Station, and Breakfast on BBC Essex Features Amateur Radio

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Kim Elliott, Benn Kobb, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Meet the guardians of the world’s earliest musical recordings (LA Times)

The voice seeps in as if from another dimension, hissy and distant, like an AM radio broadcaster transmitting through late-night static.

“‘The Ambassador March’ by Brown’s Orche-streee for the Los Angeles Phonograph Company of Los Angeles, California,” a man announces with a gentlemanly accent. After a moment’s scratchy pause, a violinist opens with a melody, and a small orchestra jumps in. Led by a Long Beach-based bandleader named E.R. Brown, the song dances along for two minutes.

The fidelity is primitive by today’s high-definition audio standards, a quaint toss-away. But “The Ambassador March” and the Coke-can-sized wax cylinder upon which it was etched into permanence in the late 1800s open a portal to another era.

That wax cylinder and others like it — rescued from rural estate sales and dusty attics — have survived earthquakes, heat waves, mold and indifference. They feature Mexican folk songs; military band marches; minstrelsy songs of the kind that preceded American blues, folk and country music; and the voices of former Lincoln cabinet members, Southern senators, popes, preachers and comedians. Their survival is emblematic of a revolution that allowed sound to be freed from its origins. Once untethered, the world would be forever changed.[]

US international broadcasting: Rebuilding the firewall in the new administration (The Hill)

by Kim Andrew Elliott

President-elect Joe Biden, who as a senator had a key interest in U.S. international broadcasting, is looking at its future.

He named Richard Stengel, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, to head the transition team for the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). Under USAGM are the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Inc., Radio Free Asia Inc., Office of Cuba Broadcast (Radio/TV Martí to Cuba) and Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc. (the Arabic-language Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa).

With government officials under President Trump instructed not to cooperate with Biden’s teams, the transition for the time being will have to be done from afar. The Trump-appointed USAGM CEO Michael Pack, whose leadership has fomented several controversies since he was installed in June, might decide to be a benign, if uncooperative, caretaker until the new management comes in. Or he could impose personnel changes and alterations in content that could diminish the credibility of the USAGM entities, a situation that could take years to repair.

During his campaign, Biden promised to fire Pack. Pack might try to serve out the three-year term stipulated in the legislation that replaced the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) with a politically appointed CEO (Pack being the first). If such an attempt ends up in court, a June Supreme Court decision overruling the fixed term of the director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, a victory for the Trump administration, could, ironically, be the undoing of any plans by Pack to stay on at USAGM.

Pack has already left his mark by rescinding the firewall “rule” published in June by the outgoing BBG. The rule, however, was not an act of Congress or a presidential directive. It was simply language placed in the Federal Register “to codify and memorialize definitions and practices associated with the firewall.” On such shallow roots, this tree was easy to fall. In October, Pack issued a repeal, which waved away the firewall rule as readily as it was instituted.[]

A New HF Station that’s Similar, but Different (DRMNA.info)

On October 21, 2020, DPA Mac LLC filed a FCC license application for a new, DRM-based International Broadcast Station to be located in Maple Park, IL. The principal is San Francisco entrepreneur Seth Kenvin and its technical consultant is Tamir Ostfeld of Raft Technologies, an Israeli developer of low-latency HF systems for so-called algorithmic trading.

No station devoted to algorithmic trading has ever been authorized for regular commercial operation in the U.S., as there is no formal radio service or spectrum allocation for that purpose. Several such stations have been licensed in the Experimental Radio Service (ERS), which is ostensibly for scientific studies only.

If the FCC licenses DPA Mac, it will be the first such station to make the transition from the ERS to regular, non-experimental licensing. This station would be the successor to experimental station WI2XXG. Other than the license document, the FCC has withheld most of WI2XXG’s records from public disclosure since it was first licensed in 2017.

DPA Mac is similar to other DRM stations on which we previously reported: WIPE in Alpine, NJ, which is built and is waiting on its FCC license; and WPBC, proposed for Batavia, IL. With regard to their use for non-broadcast, private data transmissions, those stations made general and non-descriptive representations to the FCC. On the other hand, DPA Mac’s license application is fairly transparent. The station aims to transmit “investment data from points within the United States to locations outside the United States carried over a channel immediately adjacent to the HF broadcasts…a low-power, low-latency digital data transmission service provided to private investors, including small- and medium-sized firms.” [Continue reading…]

Amateur radio on BBC Radio Essex

On Tuesday, November 24, CB and amateur radio featured in Sonia Watson’s popular Breakfast show on BBC Radio Essex

Among those interviewed was the Chair of Essex Ham, Pete M0PSX, who talked about the resurgence of interest in amateur radio.

Listen to the interview at 1:38:20 in this recording
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08xv7dv

You can find out more about amateur radio and the free Essex Ham Foundation Online training course at
https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

You can follow Essex Ham on Twitter at
https://twitter.com/EssexHam

 


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FCC’s AM digital order did not include DRM

This news item expands on our previous post.

(Source: Radio World)

No Luck for DRM in the AM Digital Order

Digital Radio Mondiale was hoping that the Federal Communications Commission would consider allowing its technology as an all-digital option for AM stations in the United States, along with HD Radio. But the FCC disappointed it.

[…]“Many commenters agree that all-digital AM broadcasting should be allowed but object to HD Radio as the sole authorized transmission technology,” it wrote.

“Specifically, commenters urge us to consider the Digital Radio Mondiale all-digital transmission technology on the grounds that it: (1) offers equal or better sound quality to HD Radio at lower bitrates; (2) can transmit metadata as well as emergency alerts, multicast subchannels, and a data channel; (3) is energy- and spectrum-efficient; (4) uses a superior audio codec; (5) is not susceptible to interference; (6) is not owned or controlled by a single company; and (7) has been used successfully in other countries and is the approved technology for shortwave broadcasting in the United States.”

But the FCC said the request was “beyond the scope of this proceeding.”

It said it needed to move expeditiously on this all-digital proposal; and that if parties believe that it should re-evaluate HD Radio and consider alternative technologies, “we would need to evaluate a fully developed proposal including data such as laboratory and field testing, similar to the petition for rulemaking that formed the basis of this proceeding.”[]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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