Category Archives: Digital Modes

New Silicon Labs automotive radio tuners support DRM and built on “SDR-friendly technology”

Many thanks to a number of SWLing Post readers who shared this latest press release from Silicon Labs. This is certainly a major upgrade to the Silicon Labs line of tuners/DSP chips. Native Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) support will, no doubt, meet the needs of car manufactures in countries (like India) that have adopted DRM rather than HD radio and DAB/DAB+.  Of course, perhaps this might lead to an affordable DRM portable in the future:

Silicon Labs enhances Si479xx automotive tuner family with software-defined radio (SDR) technology.

(Source: Silicon Labs)

AUSTIN, Texas, July 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Silicon Labs (NASDAQ: SLAB), a leading provider of automotive radio solutions, has introduced new hybrid software-defined radio (SDR) tuners, expanding its portfolio to meet the growing need of automotive radio manufacturers to support all global digital radio standards with a common platform. The new Si479x7 devices are Silicon Labs’ first automotive radio tuners supporting the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) standard. The Si479x7 tuners are an extension of Silicon Labs’ popular family of Global Eagle and Dual Eagle AM/FM receivers and digital radio tuners, providing the same outstanding field performance, pin and package compatibility between single and dual tuners, and bill of materials (BOM) cost advantages.

In addition to introducing new DRM-capable tuners, Silicon Labs is enhancing its Si4790x/1x/2x/5x/6x automotive tuners with unique “SDR-friendly” technology, effectively transforming these devices into hybrid SDR tuners. Silicon Labs’ hybrid SDR technology includes advanced DSP-based automotive features such as Maximal Ratio Combining (MRC), Digital Automatic Gain Control (AGC), Digital Radio Fast Detect and Dynamic Zero-IF (ZIF) I/Q. These features enable automotive radio manufacturers to support global digital radio standards with a common radio hardware and software design. This added flexibility helps OEM and Tier 1 customers reduce design, qualification, sourcing and inventory costs while avoiding the complexity and inefficiency of supporting multiple automotive radio platforms.

“Silicon Labs’ automotive tuners with hybrid SDR capabilities deliver the highest integration and reception performance and the lowest BOM cost of any automotive SDR tuners in mass production today,” said Juan Revilla, General Manager of Broadcast Products at Silicon Labs. “Our tuners with advanced digital radio features enable radio manufacturers to develop a single platform to demodulate and decode worldwide digital radio standards, greatly simplifying car radio designs and reducing system cost. A single digital radio platform can be achieved either with an SDR-based design approach or by using a tuner-plus-coprocessor design.”

Silicon Labs’ automotive tuner portfolio includes highly integrated single and dual device options with best-in-class AM/FM receiver performance. The portfolio supports all broadcast radio bands including AM, FM, Long Wave, Short Wave, Weather Band, HD Radio, DAB (Band III) and DRM. The tuners are built on Silicon Labs’ industry-leading RF CMOS technology, delivering outstanding automotive receiver performance. The tuners’ proven mixed-signal, low-IF RF CMOS design provides excellent sensitivity in weak signal environments and superb selectivity and intermodulation immunity in strong signal environments.

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“One possible version of AM radio’s future”

(Source: LA Daily News)

Radio: Is that an AM digital signal I hear? No, but it could be.

by Richard Wagoner

One possible version of AM radio’s future was posted on a Facebook group called “I Love AM Radio.” It came from group member Steve West and was a recording of WWFD/Frederick, MD as received on a radio in Beacon Falls, CT. This is a driving distance of about 320 miles via I-95; as the crow flies it’s probably closer to 275. Still very impressive.

Of course, long-distance AM radio reception is not new … people have been listening to distant stations since radio broadcasting began in the 1920s. In my case, when I was young and before I even knew what phenomenon I was really experiencing, I remember picking up stations at night from great distances on my tube table radio, then wondering why I could not hear them during the day.

I also wondered why I picked up a buzz sometimes … turned out that was due to my Dad using a fluorescent light in his office down the hallway from my bedroom. But I digress.

What makes this recording intriguing is that WWFD doesn’t transmit analog audio like most stations. Instead, they are all digital, under special permission of the FCC. Only those with HD radios can hear them. West is demonstrating that long distance digital AM radio reception is indeed possible, and — perhaps (though it may be wishful thinking) — AM radio could be better than FM from a practical standpoint.

All-digital is a mode of the HD Radio system that uses the space formerly used for analog broadcasting and puts the digital signal there instead of sandwiching the digital around the analog as with the hybrid system currently in use on all other AM HD stations, which locally includes KNX (1070 AM), KSUR (“K-Surf” 1260 AM), KFWB (980 AM), and KBRT (740 AM).

The problem with the hybrid mode is that the digital portion of the signal extends out far enough from the main frequency of a station and thus can cause interference to other stations nearby. Hybrid mode thus limits the digital signal to a fraction of a station’s broadcast power.

All-digital, being centered on the frequency, allows a station to broadcast the digital signal at a station’s full power, permitting better coverage, less interference, and better sound quality.

At least that’s the theory. Right now more testing is needed, primarily to see what happens when more stations are using the system. The problem is the all-digital system is not yet authorized without special permission, and of course, many stations would be reluctant to try it, as doing so means losing every listener without an HD radio … most of the potential audience.

West’s recording is not perfect. The signal is like any digital signal — as on your computer or your digital television, the signal is either there … or it is not. Being received at such a great distance the reception is not perfect and cuts out, but as I said, it does show some great potential.[…]

Click here to read the full article at the Los Angeles Daily News.

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Russia to test DRM over FM

(Source: Radio World via Michael Bird)

Russia will begin testing the Digital Radio Mondiale digital radio standard in the FM Band in July in St. Petersburg.

Russian firms Digiton and Triada TV are working with Fraunhofer IIS, RFmondial, chipmaker NXP and others to carry out the pilot.

The organizers will install a DRM-capable transmitter mid-July and begin regular simulcast broadcasts (DRM for FM) immediately after site acceptance checks are complete. The transmitter will reportedly be on air for six months and have an analog transmitting power of 5 kW and a digital output power of 800 W.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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Bill recommends Slow Scan Radio

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

I have enjoyed listening to Scow Scan Radio SWL Program.

I used a WebSDR to receive it.

http://www.slowscanradio.com/

But it has been off the air for the past weeks due to some minor health issues. The program was interesting in that besides Slow Scan photos, he also did other digital modes using FLDigi.

Some of the test included multiple digital signals in the same waterfall.

When I went to website today to check to see if there were any updates on when it might return to the air, I discovered that he is doing a podcast: Daily Minutes Podcast. Following is podcast feed:

https://dmpodcast.net/feed/

This podcast is a combination of new items as well as some re-runs of earlier Show Scan Radio programs. They also are a combination of English & Dutch. The June 13 & 14 podcasts are about off-shore radio. Very interesting and enjoyable.

The Jun 12 & 14 podcasts include a re-run of an earlier Slow Scan Radio Show in the last thirty minutes of the podcast.

[The screen shot at the top of the page is a] sample of the start of the digital portion.

Very cool! Thank you for sharing this, Bill!

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FT4 digital mode now available in WSJT-X release candidate 5

Joe Taylor presenting FT4 at the Fair Lawn Amateur Radio Club

(Source: Southgate ARC)

The new amateur radio digital mode FT4 is now available for download as part of WSJT-X Release Candidate 5

You can download wsjtx-2.1.0-rc5-win64.exe (or for other O/S) from near the bottom of the page at
http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html

FT4 Protocol document
http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/FT4_Protocol.pdf

See the WSJT Group at
https://groups.io/g/WSJTX/

For more information about FT4, check out this previous post.

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