This is the third part of my series on engineering an FM install at a community radio station. This section will be looking mostly at metadata to be encoded in your FM transmission using the Radio Data System (RDS).
There’s a lot of metadata you can put out in your transmissions, even in the land of analog radio. While your total information carrying capacity is only around 1,200 bits per second, it’s still enough to provide listeners with loads of useful information, especially if you’re clever about what you encode. Continue reading Engineering FM – Part 3
This is the second in my series of posts looking at the engineering side of running a community radio station broadcasting on FM. For part one, look here.
This post will be focusing on telemetry, focusing on doing telemetry over IP and integrating bidirectional telemetry for radio metadata.
In our TX system we’ve got a fair few elements – a codec, a silence detector, a redundant playback device (a CF card MP3 player on our budget), a processor, a RDS encoder, a transmitter and a redundant power supply, plus an off-the-shelf (well, out-of-the-skip, actually) 1U rackmount computer. All of this is locked in a rack in a building we have limited physical access to outside working hours (normally – exceptions can be made in emergencies), and it’s not exactly in a convenient place to check by just wandering past it. Additionally, there are periods where the station’s staff are much reduced (over holidays). All in all this means we have to be able to monitor all of the equipment remotely somehow. It’s also convenient for us to be able to control things remotely, and for some things like the RDS encoder we need to be able to control it remotely nearly 24/7. Continue reading Engineering FM – Part 2
This post is the first in a series of posts I’m going to do covering some of the engineering aspects of setting up a Community FM Radio station in the UK, and the lessons I and others learned while setting up the system.
First a bit of background. The station I helped set up, Insanity Radio, will be launching its FM transmissions in the coming weeks, and is a station run and operated entirely by students at Royal Holloway, University of London. The station started back in the 90s broadcasting on FM using a low-power rented transmitter, licensed under Restricted Service Licenses (RSLs) which only allowed for a week or two of broadcasting at a time. The station eventually moved to full-time AM operation, under a Low Power AM license. Back in 2006, a previous manager applied for a license for Community Radio, to permit FM broadcasting on a permanent basis, and in 2009 that license was awarded to Insanity by Ofcom, the UK’s radio regulatory body.
Our license was awarded for a 25 watt EIRP mast to be installed on campus. So in 2009/2010 we got the ball rolling with planning. Continue reading Engineering FM – Part 1