Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Pavel Kraus, who shares the following guest post:
Raspberry and internet radio
by Pavel Kraus
Raspberry and Volumio
I recently read an article about a Raspberry microcomputer here and I would like to introduce you to an idea that is easy to implement, not too expensive and does not require special computer knowledge due to the number of detailed instructions on the Internet. With Raspberry and the Volumio free software audiophile system, it is possible to design devices that allow you to play music files from connected or network storage or listen to Internet radio, etc. You can also play music from Spotify using the available plugins.
The system can be controlled by touch from the built-in display, from a mobile phone or tablet or by remote control. There are a huge number of internet radios, you can search them by genre or by country. For example, radio stations in the United States are categorized by state, in each state by city, and we can select individual stations in that city.
There is also the option to download this software and install it on a microSD card. Detailed documentation is available at https://volumio.github.io/docs/, so I will not describe it in detail here, the installation itself is not complicated. I used the following components to make this device: Continue reading →
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:
It uses a new 3rd party stream provider called Skytune.
You can add your own streams (URLs) yourself so you are somewhat protected if the service fails for any reason.
It is a little easier to use and it has a good built-in equalizer available.
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.
If you have purchased a CC WiFi and it is under the 1 year limited warranty, contact us for the available options.
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.
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 Troy Riedel, Dennis Dura, Mike Hansgen, and Eckhard Hensel for the following tips:
Exciting new technologies promise to make radio more accessible and engaging than it has ever been. This includes app-based platforms that enable broadcasters to engage with listeners like never before, software that lets producers edit sound as easily as a text document, and a ‘radio station in a bucket’ that turns a mobile phone onto a broadcast hub.
That’s according to radio futurologist James Cridland, who believes that while innovations like these point to a bright future for the over 100-year-old medium, it’ll take more than adopting cool new tech to succeed in the increasingly splintered and diverse arena that radio is evolving into.
“Radio is more than just AM and shortwave, more than big, old fashioned transmitters. Radio is a shared experience with a human connection,” he said during a recent webinar on the future of radio hosted by Fabrik, a South African-developed software platform for broadcasters and community groups.
“That shared experience is something that [streaming music service] Spotify can’t offer. It’s something that somebody’s CD player can’t offer,” he said, adding that this also applied to radio stations who just play non-stop music. “There’s no human connection there. There’s no real shared experience.”[…]
Pittsburgh radio station KDKA will celebrate 100 years of radio broadcasting in November, and Pennsylvania radio amateurs will honor that milestone in a multi-station special event. KDKA dates its broadcasting history to the airing of the Harding-Cox presidential results on November 2, 1920, and the station has been on the air ever since. The special event, which will involve the operation of four stations, will run through the entire month of November.
“More than 100 years ago, many experimenters started delving into a new technology known as wireless, or radio,” said Bob Bastone, WC3O, Radio Officer for the Skyview Radio Society in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Bastone explained that many of those early pioneers were radio amateurs. “One hundred plus years later, many amateur radio operators are still contributing to wireless technology, while also serving their communities and enhancing international goodwill. Congratulations to KDKA Radio, also known in the early years as amateur radio stations 8XK, 8ZZ, and W8XK.”
Special event stations K3K, K3D, K3A, and W8XK will set up and operate at several locations in Pennsylvania during November. Stations will determine their own modes and schedules. Visit the W8XK profile on QRZ.com for information on certificates and QSLs.
What became KDKA initially began broadcasting in 1916 as amateur radio station 8XK, licensed by the Federal Radio Commission (FRC), the predecessor to the FCC. At the time, amateurs were not prohibited from broadcasting. The small station was operated by Dr. Frank Conrad, who was Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company assistant chief engineer. The transmitter ran 75 W, and the broadcasts gained some popularity in Pittsburgh.
During World War I, amateur radio operation was suspended due to national security concerns. After the war, 8XK was reorganized as a commercial AM radio station, KDKA. The first transmissions of KDKA originated in a makeshift studio on the roof of Westinghouse K Building in East Pittsburgh.
Ham radio clubs participating in the centennial special event include the North Hills Amateur Radio Club in Pittsburgh — which is planning to operate from KDKA’s 1930s’ transmitter site, where an original tower pier still stands. A 1920s’ transmitter site, in Forest Hills, will serve as another operating location. In addition to the North Hills ARC and Skyview Radio Society, other clubs taking part include the Panther Amateur Radio Club, Steel City Amateur Radio Club, the Wireless Association of South Hills, the Butler County Amateur Radio Public Service Group, and the Washington Amateur Communications Radio Club.
Individual radio amateurs will operate from their own stations, and a small group of hams is planning a portable operation from South Park in suburban Pittsburgh.
Stations will invite the public to visit, while observing the required social distancing protocols.
“We amateur radio operators look forward to contacting thousands of other hams around the world to celebrate this huge milestone in the commercial broadcasting industry,” said Bastone. Contact him for more information. — Thanks to ARRL Public Information Officer and Allegheny County ARES Emergency Coordinator Bob Mente, NU3Q, for providing the information for this story.[…]
Radio programming from around the world is available on the internet or through apps.
Americans may not be able to travel the world because of the pandemic, but thousands of foreign radio stations are easily accessible online to bring the world to you.
For Dorothy Parvaz, a radio editor in Washington, D.C., foreign radio was her first introduction to the world beyond Tehran, where she lived until 12. “Listening to radio signals coming in from other countries was just like seeing the world in a way we couldn’t on TV, ” she said. “If I wanted to find music, I went to the apartment downstairs, where one of the kids always got a good signal somehow. We heard Pink Floyd for the first time together.”
Sangean ATS-909X2 once again available for preorder
Many thanks to Eckhard Hensel who notes that the ATS-909X2 is once again on the Sangean EU retailer site for pre-order. The price is €329.00 and they expect the product to ship in the first quarter of 2021.
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.
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.[…]
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.
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.
A few weeks ago, I was contacted out of the blue by a company I’d never heard of: Ocean Digital. They asked if I would be interested in reviewing one of their radios.
I almost deleted their message out of habit because (no kidding) I get at least one or two messages like this from retailers and manufacturers per week–often more. I checked out their website and could quickly see that they specialize in a variety of digital WiFi radios with Bluetooth, FM, and DAB. A quick search on Amazon and I could see a number of Ocean Digital models. I replied back and the company representative mentioned that it was one of my trusted friends and SWLing Post contributor who recommended that they reach out to me. So I read through their catalog of radios and selected their most affordable model: the WR-26. Ocean Digital sent a sample WR-26 at no cost to me.
I picked the WR-26 because, in terms of features, it packs a lot for a $75-80 US radio. I also love the portable size and built-in rechargeable battery.
WIth that said, it’s also a very simple radio. There was no need to reference the owner’s manual for basic operation.
Look & Feel
The WR-26 is compact, lightweight and sports an internal rechargeable battery pack with a Micro USB connection.
It has a front-facing internal speaker, and on top a small backlit display and eight function buttons:
Left/Right arrows (for selecting and backing out of menu items)
Up/Down arrows (for tuning, and stepping through selections)
OK button for making selections
On the back of the radio, there’s a telescoping antenna, Micro USB charging port, and a headphones jack.
Overall, I really like the clean and simple design. If I could change one thing, I would move the telescoping antenna to the top of the radio and make it recessed to better protect it when packed in a travel bag, for example. But in the end, this is a very minor criticism.
The WR-26’s built-in speaker provides well-balanced audio. In fact, readers who own late-model compact shortwave portables (like the XHDATA D-808) will recognize the audio characteristics of this small internal speaker that I assume uses an acoustic chamber to provide a better bass response. I’m always pleased to find compact radios that implement this type of speaker.
One interesting note: when you tune to an audio source–a stream or FM station for example–the volume fades in slowly after making the selection.
The WR-26 has a built-in FM tuner that functions quite well. It received all of my local radio stations and even a few further afield. The first time you turn on the FM radio, it will ask if you want to scan the band. If you initiate a scan, it will search for signals and auto store found stations in memory locations that you can shuffle through with the up/down arrows.
The WR-26 also displays RDS information on the screen–very nice!
To manually tune the WR-26, press and hold the ‘OK’ button until ‘Tuning’ appears on the bottom right corner of the display. Then use the left /right arrow buttons to adjust the frequency. Press and hold the OK when done to exit manual tuning.
I did not test DAB reception. I’m located in North America where there are no DAB stations on the air to test this functionality.
Not much to say about Bluetooth other than it works. You can wirelessly connect your smart phone, tablet, or PC to the WR-26 and use it as an external speaker. If you’ve ever used a bluetooth device, you’ll find pairing a straight-forward, easy process.
Ocean Digital radios use an Internet radio station aggregator (click here to learn about aggregators) called Skytune. I don’t know if Skytune manages their own database of Internet radio stations, or if they rely on a larger, more established aggregator in the background. I suspect the latter.
To use WiFi radio, you must first connect to your local WiFi network. I connected to my smart phone’s personal hotspot without any problems. If you have a long WiFi password, you’ll need a little patience to enter it the first time. Entering the password requires scrolling through a long list of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.
Like most WiFi radios, you can tune the station of your choice by selecting the WiFi radio function, then searching stations by location/region, popularity, genre, etc. Once you’ve selected a station, the radio connects and if you wish to save it to your favorites list, simple press and hold the heart button.
On devices like this, I always worry about WiFi radio functionality failing if the station aggregator disappears. In the case of the WR-26, you can actually program your favorite radio stations manually. You simply find the radio’s IP address on your network (the manual describes how to find this in the Configuration menu selection) then enter the radio’s IP address in a browser on a computer or device that is connected to the same WiFi network.
I took the screenshot above by connecting my laptop to my phone’s personal hotspot and directing it to the radio’s IP address.
I like this functionality because it means I can even connect to streaming sources not found in the Skytune directory like more obscure internet stations, LiveATC and scanner feeds.
I’ve reviewed a lot of WiFi radios and I find the WR-26 to be rather easy to use. So far, I’ve found all of the stations I normally listen to via their aggregator.
All-in-all, I really like the WR-26. For the price, it’s a very capable little WiFi radio and a good value.
What I really love is the portability of the WR-26. After charging the battery with a standard USB charger, you can listen to FM, DAB, Bluetooth or WiFi radio for hours. The audio is respectable and volume can be increased to be almost room-filling.
The WR-26 is small enough that you could actually pack it and take it on travels. If your phone has a personal hotspot, you’ll be able to use all of the WiFi radio functionality on the road. Since I’ve no experience with Ocean Digital devices, I always question product longevity so we’ll have to see how that plays out. It’s comforting, though, knowing that a trusted friend in the radio industry made the recommendation–he’s never lead me astray!
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!
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.[…]