Tag Archives: FCC

Radio Waves: Radio Bulgaria, Asur Community Radio, Digital Sign Compliance, and a Sound Card Scope

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’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Marty, David Iurescia (LW4DAF), and Phillip Novak for the following tips:


Radio Bulgaria to resume its audio broadcast (Bulgarian National Radio)

“Radio Bulgaria needs to resume its sound presence and we are to work together with the team, in order to build a firm concept in this direction.” This was what BNR Director General Andon Baltakov said in his first interview with Radio Bulgaria.

On the eve of Radio Bulgaria’s 84th anniversary, which is celebrated on February 16, 2020, Mr. Baltakov said that broadcasts of the National Radio aimed for foreign countries would be modernized, but would preserve their philosophy – being Bulgaria’s window to the world and vice versa. You can read the whole interview here. []

Radio aids revival of dying tribal language (The Hindu)

Tucked away in the hills of Jharkhand’s Latehar district, Asur, a particularly vulnerable tribal group, may not have access to good road or means of transportation to the outside world, but that has not deterred them from saving their language. Using mobile radio, the Asur community has been spreading the popularity of the language within their geographical limits.

As the voice Dahan-Dahan Turrarr .. Dang T inatang Turrarr.. Noa Hake Asur Akhada Radio Enegabu Degeabu Siringabu Urrarr (Come, sing, dance and talk.. This is Asur Centre Radio) is played out through loud speakers, the bustle at the weekly market at Kotia seizes briefly, as people turn their attention to the sound system that transmits songs and news transmitted in their native language.

Attention of the Asur tribals assembled at the market is immediately diverted to the sound system that transmits songs, news and information about government schemes — all in their native dialect.

[…]“The initiative has got a huge response from people. Now, villagers are requesting us to organise events at their places and they are also interested in preparing radio programmes,” said Ms. Tete.

“When we started working on languages, we focused on five tribal and four regional languages. Then we realised that the bigger groups can take care of their own languages, but smaller communities need help,” said Ms .Tete.

[…]Youth from the community are also being encouraged to write poems in their language and older ones narrate their experience in their own language.[]

FCC Digital Sign Compliance (International Sign Association)

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to cite businesses because digital signs are interfering with the wireless spectrum, creating problems with commercial and public wireless devices. This may occur because the signs are operating at Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI) levels not allowed under U.S. federal law and in violation of FCC regulations.

Click here for frequently asked questions to better understand these issues.[…]

How To: Surface Mount Soldering (Nuts & Volts)

Some people tend to shy away from using surface-mount components in their projects. It seems to be too difficult or needs an array of specialized equipment. In the past, I found myself in this same mindset — wary of using these types of parts. That all changed when I got involved with an open source motor controller project (OSMC).

It used a mix of surface-mount and through-hole components. I took the plunge and built up a pair of OSMC H-bridge boards and the MOB (Modular OSMC Brain) controller board which I used in the Battlebot Crash Test Junior.

At the time, there was little information available on how to mount these parts using an ordinary soldering station and tools that most hobbyists would have on hand. Not wanting to invest in a whole new set of tools (hot air stations, etc.), I experimented a bit and used common sense techniques to get the job done. A point I’d like to stress is the myth about requiring anything exotic to work with most surface-mount parts. I don’t own or use any special soldering equipment for this. All of the soldering that I’ve done on surface-mount boards is built with an old Weller WTCPT station and TC201 soldering iron. It has the fine tip that came standard on it. If you happen to have access to specialized tools, go ahead and use them but you still may find these tips helpful. It has been my experience that depending upon your techniques, you can get by just fine in most instances without specialized tools.[]

Turn Your Computer’s Sound Card Into A Scope (Nuts & Volts)

I’ve been using an oscilloscope for almost 50 years. It’s my go-to measurement instrument in every electronics project I work on, helping me debug and fine-tune hardware and software projects.

In this article, I’ll show how you can get started with a simple-to-use scope you probably already have. Best of all, it’s free! When you graduate from this simple scope, you can purchase a more powerful scope using the exact same user interface.

Full disclosure: I love scopes so much, 10 years ago, I joined Teledyne LeCroy — the third largest scope manufacturer in the world behind Tektronix and Keysight. However, I use the Digilent Analog Discovery 2 Scope (described in this article) in all my hobby activities and in the workshops I teach at Tinkermill — our hackerspace in Longmont, CO.

I think the free scope control software, Waveforms, is the simplest to use, most feature-rich pro-level software of any of the available options. Using a sound card as the hardware interface with Waveforms puts a simple — yet powerful — scope in your hands for free.[]


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Radio stations may miss out on C-Band repack reimbursement

Photo by Joshua Anderson Slate

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who shares his insight regarding the 5G band grab. Paul writes:

The ramifications of the FCC selling big chunks of spectrum with existing users in the name of 5G goes on:

(Source: Radio World)

Radio World has learned it’s possible that thousands of radio stations in the United States failed to register their C-Band earth station terminals with the FCC prior to its 2018 deadline and presumably will be ineligible for reimbursement funds set aside by the FCC to cover the cost of a C-Band repack.

The alarm is being sounded by a person on the infrastructure side of the industry familiar with Chairman Ajit Pai’s draft Report and Order to make the lower 280 megahertz of the C-Band (3.7–3.98 GHz) available for flexible use, including 5G, through a public auction.

Radio and TV broadcasters utilize 3.7 to 4.2 GHz for satellite C-Band downlinks. However, the draft order released last week indicates incumbent satellite services are expected to be repacked from the 500 MHz to the upper 200 megahertz of the band (4.0–4.2 GHz).[]

Thanks for the tip, Paul. It looks like a lot of spectrum shuffling is happening in the name of 5G. It also appears US radio stations who failed to register their earth station terminals could be financing a C-band repack on their own.

Admittedly, early on, I was hoping 5G would be the broadband answer for those of us living in rural/remote areas. At least, this was how the service was touted back then. The more I read and look at the physics behind the technology, I suspect coverage won’t even match that of existing 4G services.

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FCC approves kickoff of 5G 3.5 GHz band grab

Photo by Joshua Anderson Slate

(Source: FCC via Paul Evans)

For Immediate Release

FCC AUTHORIZES FULL COMMERCIAL DEPLOYMENT IN
3.5 GHZ BAND, ADVANCING AMERICAN 5G LEADERSHIP

WASHINGTON, January 27, 2020—Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today announced that the agency has certified four Spectrum Access System (SAS) Administrators, paving the way for full commercial operations in the 3.5 GHz band. Last year, the FCC approved these SAS Administrators for initial commercial deployments. Today’s action allows for full commercial use of this critical mid-band spectrum for broadband connectivity and 5G.

“The FCC has made it a priority to free up mid-band spectrum for advanced wireless services like 5G. And today, I’m pleased to announce the latest step to achieve that priority: the approval of four systems that will enable the 3.5 GHz band to be put to use for the benefit of American consumers and businesses,” said Chairman Pai. “As with all of our efforts to execute on the 5G FAST plan, we’re pushing to get next-generation wireless services deployed in the 3.5 GHz band as quickly and efficiently as possible. I would like to thank Commissioner Mike O’Rielly for his leadership throughout this proceeding as well as the FCC staff and those in the private sector who have worked so hard to achieve this milestone.”

To view today’s public notice certifying CommScope, Federated Wireless, Google, and Sony as Spectrum Access System administrators in the 3.55-3.7 GHz band, please visit https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-110A1.pdf.

###

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AM Revitalization: DRM Consortium asks FCC to adopt DRM

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alan, who shares this editorial from Radio World that features edited comments filed with the FCC by the DRM Consortium.

The following unedited letter was taken directly from the FCC comments database:

(Source: FCC Filing [PDF])

In your document (FCC19-123) you rightly highlight the great advantage of AM broadcasts, primarily the ability to cover large areas and number of listeners, while the band itself is losing popularity because of a variety of issues to do with propagation, interference, environmental changes. At the same time, digital audio broadcasting is no longer the new platform it was in 2002. At that time FCC mandated a proprietary system (IBOC, “HD radio”) as the only system to be used in the USA with the possibility of applying DRM for HF.

Since then DRM (the ITU recommended, only digital audio broadcasting for all bands, open standard, has been tested and used all over the world on all bands, short wave, medium wave and FM).

So while you are recommending now pure digital HD, based on the NAB tests and WWFD not completely convincing trial, we would urge the FCC to consider opening the straightjacket of 2002 and allow DRM to be used as a sure, tested, efficient way of digitizing the AM band.

There are several reasons for this:

DRM digital radio delivers in the AM bands significant benefits:

    • Audio quality that is on par or better than FM. DRM of all recognized digital
      standards is the only one using the ultra-efficient and compressed xHE-AAC audio
      codec that delivers at even very low bit-rates exceptional audio quality for speech
      but music, as well. (https://www.drm.org/listen-compare/)
    • Record Data: DRM has been tested in medium wave all over the world in both
      simulcast and pure digital. A list of the main tests (some of which have become ITU
      adopted documents) are included in Annex 4 of the DRM Handbook:
      https://www.drm.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/DRM-Handbook.pdf
      At the moment, 35 MW transmitters are on air in simulcast or pure DRM in India.
      http://prasarbharati.gov.in/R&D/
    • Auxiliary Data. DRM is the newest, most complete, open standard for digitizing radio in
      all frequency bands, and is recommended by ITU. DRM has been devised as a direct
      heir to analog AM (SW, MW). It uses 9/10, 18/20 kHz bandwidth and has a useful content
      bit rate of up to 72kbps. It carries up to 3 programs on one frequency and one data channel, while data can be carried on each of the audio channels as well. One of the great advantages of DRM is that alongside excellent audio, the receiver screens will display visual information of any kind required (albums’ titles, singers’ photos, maps, visuals of any sort, data of any kind). The Journaline application allows for extra information from the internet or the RSS feeds of the broadcaster to be captured and displayed. Currently broadcasters like the BBC, All India Radio, KTWR in Guam are using this extra facility that clearly differentiates digital form analog as a superior option.
    • Power/energy efficiency. Using SW or MW in DRM can reduce the power used up
      to 80%). As per calculations made by Ampegon, a medium wave transmitter can
      cover an area of 235000 sq km with a 100kW transmitter. The DRM EPR of such a
      transmitter is about 50kW and the coverage area is the same, while instead of one
      analog programme up to three digital channels and one data channel can be
      broadcast, all in excellent audio quality.
    • Spectrum efficiency (more programmes can be broadcast on one single frequency
      used for one programme in analog) as explained above.
    • DRM, unlike analog, offers enhanced and stable audio quality that is FM-like
      (mono or stereo). DRM also offers multiservice data enabled by applications like
      Journaline (the enhanced text services, more information captured as RSS feeds or
      form other internet source), slideshows, multilingual text (practically being able to
      show any characters of any language not just Latin script), and the Emergency
      Warning Functionality (EWF) in case of disasters.
    • Interference. This has not been noted as the DRM signal will always be lower than
      the analog one. AIR has not noted any interference in its operation of DRM
      transmitters. The mask values required for an optimal functioning of DRM
      transmitters is clearly stipulated in the ITU documents and as long as the network
      planning is correct, and the mask is respected there should not be any issue of
      interference in digital-analog or digital-digital DRM transmissions.
    • Receivers. Currently there are several receiver models and SDR options for the
      reception of DRM in AM. India has almost 2 million new cars fitted with DRM
      receivers, at no cost to the buyers, that are capable of and are receiving DRM
      mediumwave signals. The audio quality is excellent and a sure benefit to the users.
    • DRM is in direct succession to the analog AM (and FM) services, not owned or
      controlled by any single company and immediately available with full know-how and
      technology access by the transmitter and receiver industry.
    • As HD in mediumwave is a bit of a necessary step but still a leap in the dark, it
      would make sense from the practical aspects and even receiver solution availability
      to allow DRM as the best, clearly proven solution of digitizing the AM band (in
      preference or alongside HD) in the US.

In short, the salient advantages of DRM are:

    1. The audio quality offered by DRM is equally excellent on all the transmission bands:
      MW, SW or VHF
    2. Robust signal unaffected by noise, fading or other forms and interference in all bands
    3. Clear and powerful sound quality with facility for stereo and 5.1 surround
    4. More audio content and choice: Up to two and even three audio programmes and one
      data channel on one frequency
    5. Extra multimedia content: Digital radio listeners can get multimedia content
      including audio, text, images and in future even small-scale video, such as:

      • Text messages in multiple languages
      • Journaline – advanced text-based information service supporting all classes of
        receivers, providing anytime-news for quick look-up on the receiver’s screen;
        interactivity and geo-awareness allowing targeted advertising
      • Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), showing what’s up now and next; search
        for programmes and schedule recordings
      • Slideshow Programme accompanying images and animation
      • Traffic information
    6. Automatically switch for disaster & emergency warnings in case of impending
      disasters in large areas, automatically presenting the audio message, while providing
      detailed information on the screen in all relevant languages simultaneously. Great
      potential to become the surest and widest means of alerting the population to
      emergencies.

Therefore, we urge FCC to take a wide view and consider all options including DRM, if AM is worth futureproofing in the USA.

[This filing also included a number of “Useful Press Links]

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PIRATE Act passes Senate

(Source: Radio World via Marty)

“Opponents of illegal broadcasting scored a major and long-anticipated victory today: The Senate (finally) unanimously passed the PIRATE Act Wednesday.

Short for “Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement,” only one hurdle remains for S.R. 1228: President Trump’s desk.

The legislation also represents a coup for FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who has championed the anti-piracy enforcement actions recently.

In response to the act’s Senate passage, National Association of Broadcasters President/CEO Gordon Smith said, ‘This legislation provides stronger resources to help the FCC combat illegal pirate radio operations, which not only interfere with licensed radio stations but also public safety communications and air traffic control systems. We look forward to the President signing the PIRATE Act into law.’”[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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John works with FCC to track down WX radar interference

Photo source: John (AE5X)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, John Harper (AE5X), who notes that he recently worked with an FCC crew to find the source of noise that was affecting a weather radar site. In the process, John got to check out, first hand, RF Hawk and some of the equipment the FCC uses to locate interference (including pirate radio stations).

Click here to read John’s full post.

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Radio World: Time to “sound off to the FCC about using all-digital on the AM band”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares the following note posted by Paul McClane at Radio World:

For those who want to sound off to the FCC about using all-digital on the AM band — either “fer it” or “agin it” —- the comment deadlines now are set.

Comments are due March 9, reply comments are due April 6.

As RW has reported, the FCC recently released a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish rules governing all-digital broadcasting by AM radio stations in the United States.

Read the NPRM here. The NPRM number is 19-123.

Click here to read at Radio World.

As we mentioned yesterday, this proposal is certainly in the final stages at this point.

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