Tag Archives: Michael Bird

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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Spotless sun about to set record

Above: The blank sun on Dec. 8, 2019. Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

(Source: SpaceWeather.com via Michael Bird)

ONE WEEK FROM A SPACE AGE RECORD: 2019 is about to set a Space Age record. So far this year, the sun has been blank (no sunspots) for 261 days, including the last 24 days in a row. If the streak continues for only 7 more days, 2019 will break the Space Age record for spotless suns.

The previous record-holder is the year 2008, when the sun was blank for 268 out of 365 days, making the Solar Minimum of 2008-2009 the deepest of the Space Age. Next weekend, barring a sudden profusion of sunspots, 2019 will move into first place.

Solar Minimum is a normal part of the 11-year sunspot cycle. The past two (2008-2009 and 2018-2019) have been long and deep, making them “century-class” Minima. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days.
What are the side-effects of Solar Minimum? On one hand, solar flares and geomagnetic storms subside, making it harder to catch Northern Lights at mid-latitudes. Space weather grows “quiet.” On the other hand, cosmic rays intensify. The sun’s weakening magnetic field allows more particles from deep space into the solar system, boosting radiation levels in Earth’s atmosphere. Indeed, this is happening right now with cosmic rays nearing a Space Age record.
Stay tuned for updates this week!

www.spaceweather.com

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ABC’s review of shortwave broadcasting released

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Michael Bird, who shares a link to RadioInfo that summarizes the recently-released “Review of Australian Broadcasting Services in the Asia Pacific” by the ABC. Micheal notes:

So what do we take from this report? No recommendations. The status quo continues although there were many respondents who would favour [shortwave radio’s] return:

“There are no formal recommendations for action, only a finding that the Government “clarify the objectives of its Asia Pacific broadcasts… in achieving Australia’s broader strategic policy objectives, as well as the target audiences for those broadcasts.”

Click here to read the full article at RadioInfo.

Click here to download the full report [PDF].

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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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One sunspot into Solar Cycle 25

(Source: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory via Spaceweather Archive)

(Source: Spaceweather Archive via Michael Bird)

Nov. 1, 2019: Breaking a string of 28 spotless days, a new sunspot (AR2750) is emerging in the sun’s southern hemisphere–and it’s a member of the next solar cycle. A picture of the sunspot is inset in this magnetic map of the sun’s surface from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

How do we know AR2750 belongs to the next solar cycle? Its magnetic polarity tells us so. Southern sunspots from old Solar Cycle 24 have a -/+ polarity. This sunspot is the opposite: +/-. According to Hale’s Law, sunspots switch polarities from one solar cycle to the next. AR2750 is therefore a member of Solar Cycle 25.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

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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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ABC staff warned that substantial cuts may be on the way

Photo via Mark Fahey

(Source: The Guardian via Michael Bird)

ABC staff have been warned a $14.6m budget cut will be implemented in the next financial year after the re-election of the Coalition.

The new managing director, David Anderson, told staff on Monday morning that a “budget challenge” was looming after his lobbying efforts in Canberra to reverse the cut fell on deaf ears.

The Labor party had promised to reverse the Coalition’s $83.7m “indexation pause” if elected and one of the ALP’s election promises was to give the ABC and the SBS an extra $60m between them.

Anderson has long indicated that more jobs were likely to go to “free up” as much money as possible for content.[…]

Click here to read the full article via The Guardian.

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