Category Archives: DRM

Cambridge Consultants design a prototype $10 DRM receiver

DRM broadcast (left) as seen via a KiwiSDR spectrum display.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Michael Bird, who shares the following news via Cambridge Consultants:

Digital launched, ever so long ago, with TV and radio. So what’s the big story? It’s that the last piece of the digital jigsaw is finally in place: a system called Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), designed to deliver FM-radio-like quality using the medium wave and short wave bands.

We’re familiar with AM on medium wave and accustomed to the horrible buzz, splat, fade away and back again. But it does have a great advantage in that it will reach for hundreds of miles from a single transmitter. That’s a lot easier than FM or DAB, which both need transmitters every 30 or 40 miles. No fewer than 443 DAB transmitter sites are needed to cover the UK alone.

So take a modern digital scheme, apply some clever (and low cost) computing power, and you can get good sound for hundreds of miles. You get to choose radio stations by name instead of kilohertz, and you can even receive text and pictures. Emergency warning and information features are also built into DRM.

Great technology. But will it fly? Is it available for everyone?

The new news is that India, through its national broadcaster All India Radio, has invested in and rolled out a national DRM service, live today. Just 35 transmitters cover that large country. New cars in India have DRM radios in them now. Other countries like South Africa, Malaysia and Brazil are likely to follow India’s lead.

But something’s missing. The radios that can receive DRM are still prohibitively expensive, especially for those markets that would benefit most. So vast swathes of the world remain unconnected to the services that DRM can provide. Where’s the cheap portable that you can pick up from a supermarket to listen to the news or sport?

Cambridge Consultants has just held its annual Innovation Day, where we throw open our doors to industry leaders and reveal future technology. One of our highlights was the prototype of a DRM design that will cost ten dollars or less to produce, addressing that vital need for information by the 60-ish per cent of our global population that doesn’t have internet or TV. It’s low power, so can run from solar or wind-up.

This design will be ready in 2020, available for any radio manufacturer to licence and incorporate into its own products. We’re doing our bit to make affordable radios for every corner of the globe!

Click here to read this post at the Cambridge Consultants website.

Michael also shares this piece from Radio World regarding this project.

I must admit: there have been so many proposed low-cost DRM receiver designs that never came to fruition, it’s easy to be skeptical. I assume the $10/9 Euro design will be for the receiver chip only–not the full portable radio, of course. They plan to bring this to fruition in 2020, so we’ll soon know if they succeed.

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Ongoing DRM tests in Hungary: Could DRM be decoded via a KiwiSDR–?

Budapest, Hungary (Photo by @DNovac)

Several readers have written recently asking about the DRM tests we mentioned in a previous post. These tests are being sponsored by the Budapest University of Technology from June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020–thus, they’ve been on the air for several months already. 

The programming, which was produced by Radio Maria, is being played in a loop–repeated over and over again. The signal is a modest 100 watts and is being transmitted via a 5/8 wavelength vertical on 26,060 kHz.

This is a low-power DRM broadcast using a very modest antenna, so I suppose it goes without saying that expectations should be in check. It’s a very long-shot for those of us living outside of Europe, of course. With that said, there are a number of KiwiSDR sites nearby Budapest:

You could certainly see the distinctive DRM signal on a KiwiSDR waterfall display, but I’m not sure how you’d decode it.

KiwiSDRs do have an IQ mode, however. I am very curious if anyone has ever used a KiwiSDR to decode DRM, perhaps, using Dream? Could the KiwiSDR IQ be fed into DREAM with a virtual audio cable?

Please comment–have you ever decoded DRM via a KiwiSDR site?


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Hungary conducts low-power DRM tests

Budapest, Hungary (Photo by @DNovac)

(Source: Radio World via Michael Bird)

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Digital Radio Mondiale transmissions began from Budapest, Hungary, last June. Although two Hungarian broadcasters previously tested DRM on medium wave, the transmissions are the country’s first DRM trials on shortwave.

The Department of Broadcast Info-Communications and Electronic Theory at the Budapest University of Technology is conducting these latest trials. Csaba Szombathy, head of the broadcasting laboratory, is also head of the project, which will last for at least 12 months.

While the 11-meter 26,060 kHz frequency is well known for use in local broadcasting, it’s rarely implemented for international broadcasting. […] Researchers have also performed tests in this frequency to measure coverage and determine optimal mode and bandwidth on various occasions in Mexico and Brazil. The new Hungarian trials will add to this research.

Szombathy initially operated the transmitter with just 10 W of power into a 5/8-inch vertical monopole. Radio Maria, a Catholic station, is providing a 25-hour program loop, while a Dream DRM software-based encoder broadcasts the signal using AAC encoding. In spite of the low power, the program was reportedly received in the Netherlands.

In early September, Szombathy moved the antenna and transmitter to a slightly different location to improve coverage. He increased the power to 100 W.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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DRM: a solution to the “medium-wave problem”–?

(Source: Radio World)

Is medium wave in decline? Some people think so.

In the 1950s radio was declared mortally wounded by TV. But then FM with its new music rescued it, becoming one of the most successful technologies and platforms ever. Radio survived and thrived but AM should have died at the hands of the nimbler, younger and more attractive FM.

Only it did not and the medium reinvented itself by using presenter-led programming, commercial music and sport. In the United States it took until the end of 1990s for the FM and AM audiences to be equal and to this day the big AM stations are going strong, bringing in the ad dollars.

REASONS

Still, it’s undeniable that the whiff of decline has enveloped AM in the past two decades. The reasons are well-known: Analog medium wave doesn’t always deliver the best sound, it can suffer from interference, it can behave annoyingly different by day and night and even by season. Medium wave mainly appeals to a maturing population (a global phenomenon, considered shameful by some!) using aging receivers (this is bad!).

[…]

THE SOLUTION

Recently cricket fans were able to enjoy an open-air demonstration of three different DRM programs on one frequency ahead of an important match in Bangalore. The fans also received data (stock exchange values) available on radio screens. This demonstrated that digital DRM is a game changer for medium wave.

In DRM the crackling audio disappears as sound is as good of that on FM. The electricity consumption and costs decrease, the spectrum is trebled and reception, even in cars (as available in over 1.5 million cars in India currently) is excellent, too.

If it is so good then why isn’t DRM medium wave conquering the world faster? Maybe it’s about confidence in a new platform. Broadcasters and governments need to market DRM digital radio once signals are on air in their countries.

As for receiver availability and their costs, let us remember how many receivers were on sale in the 1970s when FM was taking over the world. Nowadays, many listeners consume radio in their cars rather than sit in front of a retro looking wooden box. Digital receivers (DRM alone or DRM/DAB+) are a reality and a bigger push for digital would help with volumes sold thus bringing down the prices.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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Gospell product lineup for IBC 2019 includes the GR-22 portable DRM radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:

SWLing Post readers might be interested in learning about Gospell’s newly-announced DRM receivers and active antenna products. The GR-22 “pocket-sized” “full-wave” receiver that’s supposed to be available for purchase by June 2020 seems especially interesting.

(Source: Gospell Press Release)

Gospell to announce the DRM monitoring system and imminent release of portable DRM receiver, and more

Chengdu, China – Gospell, a leading supplier of pay TV system and equipment, satellite TV receiving products and microwave products, announces its product lineup for IBC 2019. The company will debut several new products featuring DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) for both consumer and industry market, including:

    • GR-22 – Portable DRM/AM/FM Receiver
    • GR-227 – DRM Car Adapter
    • GR-301 – DRM/AM/FM Monitoring Receiver
    • GR-310 – Audio Broadcast Monitoring Platform
    • GR-AT3 – High Performance Active HF Antenna

GR-22 is a sleek and classy portable radio from Gospell, the contemporary stylistics of exterior design fits in your personal style, crystal clear DRM digital radio and AM/FM brings practicality and comfort to your daily enjoyment. Despite its pocket-size, it’s a nifty full wave band receiver packed up in a tiny body that enables you to explore a wide variety of radio stations. It is also future-proofed for the next generation DRM-E technology. You have access to all the presets, station names, program details and even Journaline news on the easy to ready large LCD in a simple and intuitive way. Sleep timer set your radio to automatically switch off or wake up at your convenience. Listen to your favorite radio programs anywhere you like with 4 x AA batteries or connect it to mains. GR-22 is a multi-functional radio that is flexible to your listen habits. GR-22 will be available for purchase on Q2 2020.

GR-227 is a car digital radio adapter that utilizes most advanced interference and noise cancellation technology to receive digital radio in car while achieving the best audio quality and serve it to the car audio system over aux cable or by transmitting over an unused FM frequency. The receiver is fully compatible with DRM standard that is being deployed over the world, with its latest audio codec xHE-AAC. Based on software defined radio technology, GR-227 is ready for the emerging DRM-E standard that extends the DRM broadcast to FM band.

GR-301 is a high performance monitoring receiver that supports DRM, AM and FM. GR-301 supports the collection of key parameters of audio broadcasting, including SNR, MER, CRC, PSD, RF level, audio availability and service information. The collection and uploading of parameters meets DRM RSCI standards. The GR-301 can work independently or be deployed with other receivers to become a node in the service evaluation network. The GR-301 supports the xHE-AAC audio codec and is capable of handling the latest DRM-E standard through software upgrades.

GR-310 is a management platform designed for audio broadcast monitoring and receiver control purposes, it manages the geographically distributed GR-301 receivers. The platform can formulate receiving schedules, configure the receivers to perform receiving tasks, perform real-time browsing of the reception status, store historical data, and visualize the statistic data in a intuitive way. In addition to monitoring and analyzing data, the GR-310 platform also supports real-time audio monitoring and configuration of alarm conditions, alarms will be triggered when rules are met.

GR-AT3 is a high-performance active monopole antenna with reception frequency ranges from 0.3 to 50MHz. It is designed to work in harsh environments with respect to strong man-made noise and stern natural conditions. It is compact and easy to install, supplied accessories enable rapid installation. The antenna is comprised of a wide band amplifier in an IP67 waterproof aluminum body together with an active element made of a stainless-steel. The solid construction ensures durability and maintenance-free operation.

“We’re constantly working to ensure we’re bring the latest technology in our product”, says Haochun Liu, assistant to general manager, “These products underscore the Gospell’s commitment to providing easy access to high quality information at affordable prices. Both consumer and industry can benefit from it.”

Gospell will be exhibiting at IBC 2019 in the Amsterdam International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) Hall 3 C67, September 13-17. To schedule a meeting at IBC 2019 or access a sample of the featured IBC showcase, email haojq@gospell.com

About Gospell

Established in 2001, Gospell Digital Technology Co Ltd (GOSPELL). is a hi-tech enterprise with R&D, manufacturing, business consultancy and planning, trade, delivery, project implementation and after sales service, acting as a complete DTV and triple-play solution provider for Digital TV/OTT related projects. Headquartered in GOSPELL INDUSTRIAL PARK at Chenzhou, Hunan Province for CPE related production manufacturing, GOSPELL also has its office in Shenzhen for business/marketing management and administration, in Chengdu for R&D and headend/transmitter system production/debugging and Customer Service Center, and in 12 cities in China as well as international offices in India, Africa and Mexico.

Thank you for sharing this, Ed. Looking through the press release, I don’t see any DRM radios where they note shortwave reception, however, the GR-22 is being called a “full wave band receiver.” Perhaps “full wave” is their way of indicating shortwave reception?

It looks like the GR-22, and all of the products listed above, are squarely targeting the new DRM market in India.

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“North Korea Resumes DRM Broadcasts”

(Source: Radio World via Michael Bird)

North Korea has returned to digital radio broadcasting after an absence of nearly two years.

The latest Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) shortwave transmissions began mid August. The country has had periodic DRM broadcasts for many years.

It appears unclear at this time however whether the current series of transmissions will soon end or be the start of a regular service.

Thus far, all of the latest test transmissions have taken place on 3560 kHz, which is actually allocated for amateur radio use.

According to radio enthusiasts in the region, the signal has been clear and very audible.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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Starwaves seeks path to “affordable, distributable” DRM receivers

Starwaves Decoder (Source: DRM Newsletter)

(Source: Radio World via Marty)

[…]For years, NASB members have wanted to replace (or at least augment) the poor audio quality of analog SW with the crystal-clear sound of digital SW radio, specifically the Digital Radio Mondiale standard developed in Europe that is now being used in China and India.

[…]There are some DRM radios in use now, which is why some NASB members are offering limited DRM broadcasts alongside their regular analog SW transmissions.

“But the current generation of DRM SW receivers cost about $100 each, whereas you can buy a cheap analog SW radio for as little as $10,” said Dr. Jerry Plummer, a professor at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., and frequency coordinator for U.S. SW station WWCR. “Given that the audiences being targeted by NASB members are largely in the third world, the lack of inexpensive DRM receivers keeps them listening tDRMo analog shortwave.”

[…]Given the NASB’s interest in low-cost DRM receivers, it was no coincidence that Johannes Von Weyssenhoff was invited to speak at the annual meeting. Von Weyssenhoff said his StarWaves manufacturing firm (www.starwaves.de) has the technology, capability and existing prototypes to build DRM radios for $29 each, but only if the sale order is large enough to deliver economies of scale. (He also estimated $18 DRM modules could be built for installation in other radio models.)

“Twenty-nine dollars is doable at volumes staring at 30,000 receivers,” Von Weyssenhoff told Radio World. “Even smaller quantities would be possible at this price for very simple radios — for example, without graphics displays — but these would be special projects that had to be discussed individually. But even more advanced radios with Bluetooth or premium designs will be possible to offer at a reasonable price,” he said — as long as the sales orders was in the tens of thousands or more.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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