Tag Archives: Internet Radio

Radio Waves: DIY Internet Radio With Real Buttons, Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test, Tokyo Rose, Shortwave Collective, and RAC Portable Operations Challenge

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 Paul, Dennis Dura, and David Goren for the following tips:


Internet radio with real buttons using Stream Deck (Bjørn Erling Fløtten)

How I used a Stream Deck Mini from Elgato in order to give my mother-in-law a super easy Internet radio experience.

By Bjørn Erling Fløtten, Trondheim, Norway. April 2021.

See also comments on Hacker News

Background

My mother-in-law is from Poland. When she stays in Norway in order to help us with babysitting she misses Polish radio. In principle this is easily accessible through the Internet now from all kind of devices.

BUT, my mother-in-law is not PC-literate, nor does she use a so called ‘smart’-phone. With my long experience in teaching people far younger than her simple mouse and keyboard techniques, I knew that operating Windows and finding Internet radio stations on her own would just be too cumbersome. I therefore had to create a super simple setup for her, and my hacker mind started to think.

(I did of course consider special purpose Internet radios. They should in theory be quite simple to operate, but they all have som kind of quirks that I did not like. And besides, constructing something of your own is of course always more satisfying.)

I want Real Buttons!

What I really wanted was big buttons with tactile feedback. I had earlier experienced with some Behringer products (sound mixing board) in order to demonstrate mathematical functions. The idea then was to use turning knobs and sliders in order to see how changing parameters changed the outcome of the function, especially graphs in 2D and 3D.

I thought this would be useful also for an Internet radio, but then I remembered having read about the Optimus Maximus keyboard (keyboard with programmable led icons on each key), and I thought such a product would be even better. This search led to Elgato and their Stream Deck Mini. This has 6 buttons, just enough for a radio. I might have preferred the bigger version with 15 buttons but their products are ridiculously expensive, so I had to be content with just 6 buttons.

In addition to the Stream Deck Mini my son donated his old school laptop with Windows 10 installed. It was a cheap ThinkPad L-series which, although 3 years old and somewhat battered from daily use to and from school, was quite capable of streaming some audio from the Internet. My son created a guest account in Windows 10 with auto login. He set ‘Fn lock’ as default, meaning that keys F1, F2 and F3 was volume off, down, up without having to press Fn. We also found a pair of speakers lying around in the house.

No programming necessary *

(* But understanding of HTML, URLs and Windows command line arguments is a requisite.)

Initially I thought I would make a Windows application for controlling which radio streams to play. But it turned out that Elgato’s accompanying software was quite capable by itself.

I assigned five of the six available buttons to launch the standard web browser (Google Chrome in this case) with a corresponding streaming URL (radio channel).

Continue reading the full article by clicking here.

Annual Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test set for May 7 – 8 (Southgate ARC)

The US Department of Defense will host this year’s Armed Forces Day (AFD) Cross-Band Test, Friday and Saturday, May 7 – 8, in recognition of Armed Forces Day on May 15. The event is open to all radio amateurs.

For more than 50 years, military and amateur stations have taken part in this exercise, designed to include amateur radio and government radio operators alike.

The AFD Cross-Band Test is a unique opportunity to test two-way communications between military and amateur radio stations, as authorized under FCC Part 97 rules. These tests provide opportunities and challenges for radio operators to demonstrate individual technical skills in a tightly controlled exercise in which military stations will transmit on selected military frequencies and will announce the specific amateur radio frequencies being monitored.

The schedule of military/government stations taking part in the Armed Forces Day Cross-Band Test and information on the AFD message is available on the MARS website.

Complete the request form to obtain a QSL card. ARRL

“Tokyo Rose” – WW2 Traitor or Victim? (YouTube)

Shortwave Collective – FENCETENNA (YouTube)

RAC Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award (Southgate ARC)

The RAC Challenge Award: An Overview
Radio Amateurs of Canada is pleased to present a new Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award for RAC members.

The objective of the new “RAC Challenge Award” is to recognize and encourage portable operations by RAC members from locations throughout Canada.

The new program will begin on Canada Day, July 1, 2021 and we hope it will become an annual event for RAC members.

Note: the following information is tentative as the new Awards program is still being organized so please stay tuned to this webpage for future updates.

Portable Operations
Portable operations are those in which Amateurs take their equipment, antennas and power supply to a location away from their home station to operate. This includes mobile stations, backpackers, DXpeditions and participation in events such as those described below:

Parks On The Air (POTA), a worldwide program of park activations – https://parksontheair.com/
Quebec Parks On The Air (QcPOTA) April 1 to December 31
Field Day: June 26-27
There are several other programs that celebrate portable operations including Summits on the Air (SOTA), Islands on the Air (IOTA) and the International Lighthouses and Lightships Weekend.

Features of the “RAC Challenge”
The new “RAC Challenge” will recognize all portable operations in which RAC members participate and will have similar features as a contest. Amateur Radio contests in VHF, UHF and the Microwave bands all have categories for “Rovers” – who move from grid square to grid square and “Backpackers” – who seek out hilltops from which to operate with highly portable equipment and antennas.

For many satellite operators, making contact with as many grid squares as possible is a mark of success. Some of those operators go on satellite DXpeditions to activate rare grids or operate from the intersections of grids to offer multiple grids with a single contact. In addition to being fun, these activities provide an opportunity for Amateurs to experience what is required to set up and operate under challenging conditions – valuable experience for emergency preparedness.

For more on the RAC Challenge Award, please see:

RAC Canadian Portable Operations Challenge Award


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Rob’s tips for uncovering radio station stream URLs

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rob Gray, who shares the following tips:


Extracting Audio Stream Information from Reciva

Here is a proposed procedure for extracting audio streams from Reciva, while the website still exists.

[Please note that in these examples, the Brave web browser is being used in a Windows environment. The procedure is nearly identical for Chrome. Other web browsers and operating systems may vary slightly.]

Image 1 (Click to enlarge)

After logging in and searching for your desired station(s) (as shown in Image 1 above using NPR as an example search), click the speaker icon of the station of interest (see Image 2 below). 

That brings up another browser window (center-right window in Image 3 below).  Pressing “F12” brings up another window of DevTools (Developer Tools).

Under “DevTools”, select “Console” (you may find it under the >>) as shown in the image above.  The URL is shown in the “Console” window (image 04), and should be http://xxxxxx, and not the secure https://xxxxxx.

Extracting Audio Stream Information from station websites

Digging out streams from station websites can be a little trickier.  Using an example of the webpage for the NPR station KCLU, once loaded, press “F12” to bring up the developer tools as shown on the right-hand side of Image 4 below.

Then Press “F5” to reload the page, and the Play button to start the audio stream.

In the Developer Tools window, select “Network”, as shown in the Image 5 above.

While the stream is playing, look for the longest bar, which indicates activity.  Sorting the files in this window by size or time (if descending order, be at the top of the list, if descending order at the bottom of the list) can make searching for the “bar” easier, or just look for it in the list as shown in the Image 6 above.  Look for the file associated with the “bar” under “Name”, right-click on that file, Copy, and left-click “Copy link address” as shown in the Image 7 below.

That is usually your stream, or something close to it.  In this example, this is the link address copied:

https://kclustream.callutheran.edu:8090/kclump3?uuid=5blcmxjpp

That’s a little messy, and you can experiment with shortening it.  In this case, the link can be shortened to: https://kclustream.callutheran.edu:8090/kclump3 [removing the question mark and all characters following it] and the stream still plays in a web browser on the computer–while I’ve not tested it, it would probably play in your internet radio. You’ll just have to experiment.

However, in this case (and most certainly not all), shortening the link to https://kclustream.callutheran.edu:8090/  brings up another page with all sorts of data, and clicking the M3U file on that page downloads a file.  Opening that file with Notepad reveals this link (  https://kclustream.callutheran.edu:8090/kcluaac  ), which also plays the stream, and in my guess, is probably the real stream URL. 

Different web pages will reveal different ‘formats’ of URLs–one simply has to experiment to get something to work.  The procedure is essentially the same with other pages, though there is often variation so a certain amount of experimentation is sometimes needed to tease out the stream URLs.  There isn’t really any one set of instructions that will work for everything (that I’ve found anyway!).

The examples shown used Google Chrome, and the Brave browser works exactly the same.  The operating system used was Windows.  Firefox seems similar (F12) and other browsers probably also work similar, though the appearance might be a bit different.

A few things that might add clarification with ‘odd’ streams:

In the developer tools window under Name, sometimes those items (files) are labelled as just a semicolon, or are labelled something like ‘stream.’

Sometimes the stream URL is httpS://…., with those, try dropping the “s” and the http://…. often works.

I often tried any proposed streams out on my desktop computer first, however there were some that wouldn’t play on the desktop that did on the Reciva radio, and vise-versa.  But generally, if it didn’t work on the computer, it didn’t work on the internet radio.

Sometimes the URLs point to a link with a .pls extension.  In a browser, those links tend to initiate a download (at least on my setup, and was the case with the M3U file in the KCLU example).  You can download the file, then open with a text editor (Notepad for example) and read the link there.

For some, the URL won’t work. For those, I would get them to work by adding a semicolon (;) to the end of what you think might be the link.  I’ve had a few work with that trick!

While digging out steams is tedious–especially if you have a lot of them–there’s a potentially very rewarding payoff!  When you create the .pls files (as described in other Reciva postings in this blog), you can easily copy those to many other devices (Android phone/tablet, iPod/iPhone, other computers, Kodi, etc.) and use them there.  I’ve only started on this project, but I used an old (very old) iPod touch, entered the stream URL into Safari, placed the iPod in a docking station (a dime/dozen at second-hand stores) and basically created an internet radio facsimile.  As the iPod is too old for the App Store, entering the URL’s and bookmarking them should provide convenience.  The .pls files work well in my Android devices with VLC player, and even with Kodi (on a Raspberry Pi). They also work on my TV by placing the files in the “Video” section, read from external media (can probably use the boot SD card for memory storage as well, the files are very small).


Thank you for sharing this, Rob!

I recall our friend, Tracy Wood, discussing in some detail how to find radio streams a few years ago at the Winter SWL Fest. He was on a mission to find rare local and regional South American stations that aren’t easily available outside the area.

I have used the approach you mentioned above and it is effective.

Readers: if you have other tips, please feel free to share them in the comments section.

Of course, we should note again that the Reciva website will be taken down at the end of April 2021. We suspect some or all Reciva radios may eventually fail in the absence of receiving a token over the Internet. While we haven’t received a confirmation, my industry sources seem to think this is a real possibility. Let’s hope not.

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New CC WiFi-3: C.Crane offers discount to CC WiFi customers after demise of Reciva aggregator

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ron, who notes the following announcement on C.Crane’s website:

We were happy to be one of first companies to offer ad-free Internet radio because it allowed anyone to listen to the world without a fee. Fifteen years ago, Ben, the founder of Reciva, had a small staff to create the software and volunteers around the world to help manage the station streams. We are sorry, but Reciva’s software will soon not work anymore. The software would need to be recreated from scratch. Even If this was done, it would not be possible for the existing radios to be compatible with this new type of software. This is the same way Apple and Microsoft might release a new operating system that is not compatible with older hardware.

We are working on a new radio called the CC WiFi-3. We will be testing the first pilot run of the new CC WiFi-3 in January with the first delivery by April if all goes reasonably well. There are still no ads or graphics to annoy you and nobody tracks your habits for advertising offers. It looks almost the same as the previous CC WiFi but has been upgraded in several ways:

  1. It uses a new 3rd party stream provider called Skytune.
  2. You can add your own streams (URLs) yourself so you are somewhat protected if the service fails for any reason.
  3. It is a little easier to use and it has a good built-in equalizer available.
  4. This radio comes with a 2 year limited warranty.

Anyone can add a valid stream to Skytune. This makes the platform very different from smart speakers that do track your habits and make recurring income. There is no recurring income for C. Crane just like with Reciva and the CC WiFi. The only income is the initial hardware purchase which includes the use of Skytune’s technology embedded on a chip.

If you feel comfortable going forward please read our offer.

This is a one-time offer from C. Crane. This offer will end June 1, 2021.

  1. If you have purchased a CC WiFi and it is under the 1 year limited warranty, contact us for the available options.
  2. If you have purchased a CC WiFi and it is no longer under warranty, the CC WiFi-3 is available for half price – $60.00 USD plus shipping. You must fill out the form (click here) and include a picture of your serial number(s). Instructions are included on the form for how to locate your serial number. If you need help with this, please contact us. You will be contacted once we receive our shipment to get payment information and to confirm your address.

The CC WiFi-3 comes with the risk of losing connection to Skytune’s server if they were to shut down in the future. As we have previously documented in our catalog and on the web: C. Crane has no control over content or the stream provider for Internet radios and cannot be responsible for Internet radio programs or availability.

We think the CC WiFi-3 is a remarkable radio for listening to a clear signal from your favorite station and for discovering new stations. You can go to Skytune.com, click on the “Radio” header to be sure they carry your favorite station or host.

Note: Saving your own list of streaming stations for use takes some computer knowledge. Many of your big streamers block or change the URL daily so you cannot save it. As usual, you have C. Crane’s US Based customer service to help you with any questions about the operation of the CC WiFi-3.

A number of us have been frustrated discovering that the Reciva aggregator, which is the backbone for so many WiFi radios, will shut down by the end of April 2021. While I’m sure many of us are now leery of investing in a new WiFi radio, I love how 1.) C.Crane is offering a 50% discount to existing customers and 2.) are being up-front about the risks of WiFi radios relying on aggregator services.

I’ve been using the Skytune service on my Ocean Digital radio and have been very pleased. I’m pleased to hear the new CC WiFi-3 has an option to manually load Internet radio streams if needed.

Thanks, Ron, for sharing this tip!

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TuneIn ruling may lead to a more restrictive future for UK smart speaker and Internet radio users

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

I live in the UK and, like many of your readers and contributors, one of the aspects of the radio hobby I enjoy is ‘content DXing’. As of yesterday [September 9, 2020], all of the US-based classical music stations and even some European news outlets are no longer available through TuneIn.

This appears to be because of a court ruling which identifies TuneIn as a ‘broadcaster & communicator’ rather than – as TuneIn itself claims – an indexer of available stations.

I’m assuming Direct Streams from each station are still available but I can’t help but worry that station aggregators might also be in the firing line at some stage.

Thank you for sharing this, David.

Implications Beyond TuneIn?

At first blush, one might think this ruling only applies to TuneIn users, but it certainly sets the stage for further law suits since TuneIn isn’t the only “audio guide service” accessible in the UK.

Check out this article David shared from November 2019 when the ruling originally took place:

In 2017, Sony and Warner sued US-based radio service TuneIn, claiming the company infringed its copyrights in the UK. A judgment handed down today by the High Court states that while TuneIn does not offer content itself, the provision of hyperlinks to content not officially licensed in the UK constitutes a communication to the public and is therefore infringement.

TuneIn is one of the most prominent and recognizable providers of radio content in the world.

Available for free or on a premium basis, the service offers access to well over 100,000 radio stations and millions of podcasts. It doesn’t provide this content itself but acts as an indexer (“audio guide service”, according to TuneIn) for those looking to access third-party streams.

In 2017 it emerged that Sony Music UK and Warner Music UK had sued the US-based company in the UK, claiming that since many of the TuneIn-indexed stations are unlicensed to play music in the region, linking to them amounts to infringement of the labels’ copyrights.

Today, the High Court of England Wales handed down its decision and it doesn’t look good for TuneIn. The judgment begins by stating the opposing positions of the labels and TuneIn, which are particularly familiar in these types of disputes concerning hyperlinking.

“The claimants say that a finding for the defendant will fatally undermine copyright. The defendant says that a finding for the claimants will break the internet,” Justice Birss writes.

The labels argued that TuneIn needs a license, an assertion “strongly disputed” by TuneIn. The company argued that it does not “store any music, and merely provides users of TuneIn Radio with hyperlinks to works which have already been made freely available on the internet without any geographic or other restriction.”

In other words, TuneIn presents itself as not unlike Google search but instead of indexing websites, it indexes and links to radio streams. However, Justice Birss declared the service to be “much more than that”, in part due to its curation and search features.

“I find therefore that the activity of TuneIn does amount to an act of communication of the relevant works; and also that that act of communication is to a ‘public’, in the sense of being to an indeterminate and fairly large number of persons,” he writes.[]

Indeed, this is essentially what all station aggregators do: they index, curate, and make streaming audio content readily available via Internet media devices like WiFi Radios.

While most WiFi radio station aggregators don’t have the app and web browser-based following and popularity of TuneIn, they do offer the “curation and search features” which lead Justice Birss to side with Sony and Warner.

UK Sonos Users Affected

David also points out complaints from Sonos users in the UK who have been directly affected by the TuneIn ruling. One Sonos owner commented:

Dear Sonos: can you see the enormity of the damage that’s been inflicted to your product? A major feature of the product has been devalued – at least for UK customers. Internet radio is 90% of what I use Sonos for; 80% of my listening is non-UK. Stopped working overnight. And you seem to be just as surprised as I am. How come you didn’t see this coming? You send me an email whenever you have something new to sell. Why didn’t you send me an email to warn me that this predictable event was going to hit me? You don’t seem to have a mitigation plan. You don’t have a how-to-workaround or this-is-what-we-are-doing-to-fix-it article in an prominent place on your web site.

Note that it’s not only TuneIn that’s now broken but also Sonos Radio. “Sonos Radio is an Internet radio service, exclusively available on Sonos. It features 60,000 radio stations from around the world”, it says on the tin. No it doesn’t anymore. They are still all there but they don’t work when you click on them.

From Sonos’s vantage point, TuneIn may be a separate entity. But that’s irrelevant from my point of view. I want the functionality that the product promises.

OK there may be some workarounds. I’m sure I’ll find them. But the fact remains that a major feature of the product no longer “just works”. It can still be “made to work”, but that takes a certain level of cyber-literacy.

I’m willing to bet UK users of other streaming media devices and smart speakers–especially devices from companies who aren’t in the business of directly streaming copyrighted music–will eventually have a smaller selection of international content.

Is there a work around?

Surely. But it could require heavy use of a VPN or similar service to trick TuneIn, Sonos, or other Internet devices into believing they’re physically located outside the UK. This may only be a temporary fix, however. Both Netflix and Amazon Video streaming services, for example, began effectively blocking most of the major VPNs a few years ago.

Have you been affected?

To be clear: I’m no expert in streaming media law, so what I’ve presented here are the basics and user reports. These are my own opinions and assumptions about where this ruling could lead.

If you live in the UK and have been directly affected by this ruling, we’d appreciate your comments.

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Radio Globe: A handy way to explore the world of Internet radio

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares a link to this fascinating project on the excellent Hackday site:

[…]RadioGlobe lets the user tune in over 2000 stations from around the world by spinning a real globe. It works by using two absolute rotary encoders that each have a whopping 1024 positions available. One encoder is stuck into the South Pole, and it reads the lines of longitude as the user spins the globe.

The other encoder is on the left side of the globe, and reads whatever latitude is focused in the reticle. Both encoder are connected to a Raspberry Pi 4, though if you want to replicate this open-source project using the incredibly detailed instructions, he says a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ will work, too.[…]

Just check out this video of Radio Globe in action!

I love it. It’s like a physical version of the amazing Radio Garden website and app.

Hackaday notes that if you want detailed information about this project, the designer made a series of vlog posts about the build. Click here to check it out on his website. Click here to read through build details on Instructables.

Thank you for the tip, Dennis!

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Pizzoloruss’s CityRadio: An Internet radio with a nostalgic & simple interface

Source: Wallpaper.com

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, who shares a link to this radio project by Emanuele Pizzolorusso who wishes to combine a modern Internet radio with old-school city-labeled memory buttons. From Wallpaper.com:

CityRadio, designed by Emanuele Pizzolorusso for Italian design brand Palomar, allows you to access local radio around the world, with a simple – and satisfying – click of a physical button. It’s a contemporary re-imagination of radio’s early history, where city names where displayed to identify frequencies. As travel looks to remain restricted for the time being, get your multicultural fix through the airwaves.

Of course, you can go online and access local radio anywhere fairly easily, but for Pizzolorusso, there’s a certain romanticism to, and interconnection with, the act of listening physical object. ‘In my childhood home there was an old portable radio, one of those appliances that had the names of several European cities on the tuning dials – a feature from the time when one could still listen to stations from foreign countries,’ explains the Italian designer, who is based in Helskinki. ‘The list of those places, which to me as a child appeared so mysterious and exotic, stimulated my imagination and gave that ordinary forgotten object a deep sense of magic.’

Press magnetic keys to access 18 different cities around the world – from Barcelona to Beijing, Nairobi to New York.[…]

Click here to continue reading the full article.

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Petition calls for BBC to allow streaming on 3rd party sites/apps

 

 

(Source: Southgate ARC)

A petition calling on the BBC to reinstate its internet radio stations to third-party apps has attracted nearly 2,000 signatures.

The petition is asking the broadcaster to reverse its decision to remove BBC stations from TuneIn, a popular app for listening to live internet radio.

The BBC removed its streams from the service at the end of September.

In a blogpost at the time, the BBC said that it was making the move because services like TuneIn do not allow it to collect data on its streams.

Kieran Clifton, the BBC’s director of distribution and business development, said: “We want our programmes, products and services to be the best they can be. And a major way we ensure that is by using meaningful data. Data is more and more important – as it helps us to make more types of programmes we know people like, and equally importantly, identify gaps in our commissioning to ensure we’re making something for all audiences. We also use the data collected about what you watch, listen to or read online to offer personalised programme recommendations – and make our services even more tailored to you.

“When we make our programmes available via third parties, we ask that those platforms either allow you to sign into your BBC account – or provide us with meaningful data directly. Unfortunately, TuneIn doesn’t do either of these, so we couldn’t reach a data sharing agreement with them.”

According to the petition, however, the move means that many listeners with digital radio devices can no longer listen to BBC stations.

The petition’s creator, Julian Prokaza, said: “The changes mean that a great many new internet devices are now effectively obsolete for people who used them mainly to listen to BBC radio.

“The changes also do not abide by the BBC remit of ‘making sure you can watch and listen to our programmes in ways that are both easy and convenient for you.’

“The BBC should restore its TuneIn streams immediately and maintain them at least until fully functional replacement services for affected devices are available.”

Source:
https://www.prolificlondon
.co.uk/marketing-tech-news/other-media-news/2019/10/bbc-internet-radio-petition-gathers-pace

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