Tag Archives: DRM

Radio Waves: DRM Part of BBC Story, Antennas and Smith Charts, Shortwave “Hot Debate,” Carrington Event, and “Deep Freeze”

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


DRM Is Part of the BBC World Service Story (Radio World)

The iconic broadcaster has been supportive of the standard for over 20 years

The author is chairman of the DRM Consortium. Her commentaries appear regularly at radioworld.com.

Our old friend James Careless studiously ignores DRM once more in his well-researched, but to our minds incomplete article “BBC World Service Turns 90” in the March 30 issue.

As an ex-BBC senior manager, I would like to complete the story now that the hectic NAB Show is over.

Having lived through and experienced at close quarters the decision to reduce the BBC shortwave about 20 years ago, I can confirm that the BBC World Service decision to cut back on its shortwave footprint — especially in North America, where reliable, easy-to-receive daily broadcasts ceased — has generated much listener unhappiness over the years.

In hindsight, the decision was probably right, especially in view of the many rebroadcasting deals with public FM and medium-wave stations in the U.S. (and later other parts of the world like Africa and Europe) that would carry news and programs of interest to the wide public.

But BBC World Service in its long history never underestimated the great advantages of shortwave: wide coverage, excellent audio in some important and populous key BBC markets (like Nigeria) and the anonymity of shortwave, an essential attribute in countries with undemocratic regimes.

BBC World Service still enjoys today about 40 million listeners worldwide nowadays. [Continue reading…]

The Magic of Antennas (Nuts & Volts)

If you really want to know what makes any wireless application work, it is the antenna. Most people working with wireless — radio to those of you who prefer that term — tend to take antennas for granted. It is just something you have to add on to a wireless application at the last minute. Well, boy, do I have news for you. Without a good antenna, radio just doesn’t work too well. In this age of store/online-bought shortwave receivers, scanners, and amateur radio transceivers, your main job in getting your money’s worth out of these high-ticket purchases is to invest a little bit more and put up a really good antenna. In this article, I want to summarize some of the most common types and make you aware of what an antenna really is and how it works.

TRANSDUCER TO THE ETHER
In every wireless application, there is a transmitter and a receiver. They communicate via free space or what is often called the ether. At the transmitter, a radio signal is developed and then amplified to a specific power level. Then it is connected to an antenna. The antenna is the physical “thing” that converts the voltage from the transmitter into a radio signal. The radio signal is launched from the antenna toward the receiver.

A radio signal is the combination of a magnetic field and an electric field. Recall that a magnetic field is generated any time a current flows in a conductor. It is that invisible force field that can attract metal objects and cause compass needles to move. An electric field is another type of invisible force field that appears between conductors across which a voltage is applied. You have experienced an electric field if you have ever built up a charge by shuffling your feet across a carpet then touching something metal … zaaapp. A charged capacitor encloses an electric field between its plates.

Anyway, a radio wave is just a combination of the electric and magnetic fields at a right angle to one another. We call this an electromagnetic wave. This is what the antenna produces. It translates the voltage of the signal to be transmitted into these fields. The pair of fields are launched into space by the antenna, at which time they propagate at the speed of light through space (300,000,000 meters per second or about 186,000 miles per second). The two fields hang together and in effect, support and regenerate one another along the way. [Continue reading…]

Smith Chart Fundamentals (Nuts & Volts)

The Smith Chart is one of the most useful tools in radio communications, but it is often misunderstood. The purpose of this article is to introduce you to the basics of the Smith Chart. After reading this, you will have a better understanding of impedance matching and VSWR — common parameters in a radio station.

THE INVENTOR
The Smith Chart was invented by Phillip Smith, who was born in Lexington, MA on April 29, 1905. Smith attended Tufts College and was an active amateur radio operator with the callsign 1ANB. In 1928, he joined Bell Labs, where he became involved in the design of antennas for commercial AM broadcasting. Although Smith did a great deal of work with antennas, his expertise and passion focused on transmission lines. He relished the problem of matching the transmission line to the antenna; a component he considered matched the line to space. Continue reading

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DRM Mystery: Benn shares the latest on Turms Tech Station WIPE

The following article by Benn Kobb was posted on Dec. 25 to Glenn Hauser’s World
of Radio list on groups.io. I repost it here with Benn’s permission:


Subject: As the World ‘Turms’

It would seem like 2021 would end with no FCC action on the three mysterious entities requesting licenses under the umbrella of International Broadcasting, but likely involved in sending private messages to trading clients in Europe and Asia.

In fact there has been action, of a sort.

Two of those applicants are still waiting to receive construction permits. The third — Turms Tech, part of Turms Holdings, a subsidiary of Emcor Securities of New York — already has a construction permit and says it has built a 10 kW DRM station in New Jersey.

Turms requested callsign WIPE. It is so listed with the FCC. Turms has no license to operate this station. Yet.

The FCC is apparently not clear about whether Turms intends to use WIPE for conventional broadcasting — you know, the only type of transmission permitted under the FCC rules for such HF stations.

Turms originally told the FCC that it will engage in “broadcast and data services” and “broadcast of financial, economic news and data through distribution of programs generally prepared on the basis of requests by clients.”

Clear as mud. If broadcasting business news on shortwave to DRM receivers is profitable, you’d think that WTWW, WRMI, WBCQ, WWRB etc. would have discovered that years ago.

And what’s that about “data”? The FCC rules are plain that HFBC stations are for broadcasting to the public. There is no exemption to that requirement whether the broadcast is audio for listening or data for decoding.

So to clarify the issues, on Dec. 3, 2021 five FCC staff members asked WIPE’s consulting engineer if he could answer a few questions.

He couldn’t, at the time. Quoting from a record of that online meeting: “The information being sought was clarification of certain general non-technical items that will be possibly proposed by the pending shortwave operation. These type of items or clarifications are not normally items that this [engineering] firm would be knowledgeable.”

Presumably after consulting with his client Turms, he later provided FCC with these answers:

– – –

Q: Clarification is requested regarding the audio and data content of the general service to be provided, if known?

A: Airtime will be sold to anyone interested in broadcasting his contents. Editorial line will focus on contemporary topics, no religious or political contents. More specifically the target we’re looking for is global news and financial information, CNBC style programs.

Q: Will encryption be used in the transmitted signal?

A: No encryption will be used, this is a general broadcast.

Q. Will there be a contract for reception of the signal required?

A. No contract will be required for the reception.

Q. Will a DRM receiver be required for either or both the audio or the data?

A. A DRM receiver will be required for both audio and data.

Q. Will the proposed transmitter site receive other international HF signals to be rebroadcast on the intended operation?

A. No.

– – –

The FCC’s question about contract is especially pertinent, as the FCC considers broadcasting to require no contract between transmitting and receiving parties. A private data operation would involve such a contract, usually for some kind of subscription or other fee for service.

So what should we believe? WIPE will not engage in private data communications, but will instead pursue a sketchy business plan?

On December 23, 2021, RF engineer Alex Pilosov submitted a detailed objection — his second — to the TURMS application. According to Pilosov, “the directors and officers of TURMS do not claim any broadcasting experience, but certainly have substantial business experience, and are aware of the business of trading and data transmission.

“What TURMS claims,” he told the FCC, “is that a company without any experience in broadcasting decides to construct the first International Broadcast station in 20 years dedicated to ‘financial news’ programming, and ‘data broadcast to the general public,’ foregoing any subscription revenues, but somehow able to recoup the setup costs by broadcast operations alone.

“The second possibility, apparent from digging into the facts and associated entities, is that TURMS instead lacked candor in its filings, and that its application for ‘International Broadcast’ is merely a pretext for private data transmission business.”

If and when WIPE goes on the air — on 9.65, 11.850, 13.720 and 15.450 MHz — DRM monitoring by the SWL community should help establish the facts about any possible encrypted or otherwise non-public, non-broadcast emissions from this station.

Benn Kobb

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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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Radio Waves: Skyworks Acquires Silicon Labs, DRM Response to RW Article, CNN finds Radio Biafra, and Free Online Foundation Course

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 Troy Riedel, Dan Robinson, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Skyworks completes acquisition of the infrastructure & automotive business of Silicon Labs (Skyworks)

IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jul. 26, 2021– Skyworks Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: SWKS), an innovator of high-performance analog semiconductors connecting people, places and things, today announced that it has completed its acquisition of the Infrastructure & Automotive business of Silicon Laboratories Inc. (Nasdaq: SLAB) in an all-cash asset transaction valued at $2.75 billion.

“On behalf of the entire Skyworks organization, I want to welcome the Infrastructure & Automotive team,” said Liam K. Griffin, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Skyworks. “In addition to a strong legacy of innovation and execution, the I&A business brings a highly diversified customer base that will enable our continued expansion into strategic end markets. Together, we will accelerate profitable growth in key industry segments, including electric and hybrid vehicles, industrial and motor control, power supply, 5G wireless infrastructure, optical data communications and data center.” Continue reading

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Short recording of BBC World Service in DRM

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mangosman, who shares the following off-air recording via the KiwiSDR network and notes:

Attached is a diagram showing the path and the receiver data, the end of a one hour daily broadcast is in the other file. They switched the transmitter back to AM before the end of the station promo.

I listened to the same broadcast on the previous day. It did not have any disturbances over that time. The quality was identical.

That’s a great decode of the BBC in DRM. Thanks for sharing! DRM is such an amazing mode when you get consistent and stable reception. Here in North America, that can be very difficult to achieve, but it’s fascinating when it does happen! Thanks for sharing!

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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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