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tombrdfrd66
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Relaying FM

Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:41 pm

Here's one of those 2 a.m. ideas that's probably best forgotten, but I thought I'd ask the experts first.

I run a little not-for-profit, community wireless network bringing broadband internet to a remote rural area of New Zealand where the only alternative is satellite. It's far from anywhere and very mountainous. AM radio reception is patchy and FM non-existent, which is a pity as Radio NZ's Concert channel is FM only.

However from one of our mountaintop access points there's an almost interrupted LoS to one of the FM transmitters 70km away - there is a single ridge in the way - but 99.9% of the distance is open air and most of the middle section over open water so the earth's curvature shouldn't be a problem given that both end points are over 400m asl.

So is there any way of putting an FM antenna on the AP's post and relaying the signal (via tcp/ip?) through the Mikrotik boxes across the network for our subscribers and I to utilise in some form?

Yes, Radio NZ's audio channels are broadcast live (or by download) on the net, but a Mahler Symphony takes up a lot of a fella's monthly broadband data cap. They are also available as FTA digital satellite channels, which isn't much good when the missus wants to watch Coro. St. On the other hand our intranet use is unlimited and free.

I can't even begin to imagine how it could be done, tho' I do have a gizmo at home which will take the audio and video outputs from a Sky decoder or DVD recorder and transmits them to a receiver in another room which plugs into a TV, which is kinda what I want. I know that uses 2.4GHz as it plays merry hell with my broadband - I usually turn the radio card off - and I have to have the receiving unit shielded from a local AP.

I've nothing at the AP presently bar the Mikrotik AP (an RB532 with a daughter-board with a spare slot) and plenty of power as it's solar and wind driven.

Any thoughts?
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rmichael
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Re: Relaying FM

Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:16 pm

Sounds like a great idea, however, have you taken lic into account? I don't know how similar the laws are but in USA you would need a lic to rebroadcast the station.
 
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jp
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Re: Relaying FM

Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:32 pm

Not sure about NZ, but radio stations in the US regularly rebroadcast into areas using different licensed frequencies. You must be licensed of course to do that, and it would probably require radio station permissions or oversight to avoid copyright issues of reproducing/rebroadcasting copyright material. Small transmitters are available for pirate or licensed low-power FM use.

As far as streaming, you can put a windows XP box online with winamp with a radio hooked up to the line-in. This will let you stream from a different location via browser or winamp.
 
tombrdfrd66
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Re: Relaying FM

Wed Sep 01, 2010 1:04 am

Not sure about NZ, but radio stations in the US regularly rebroadcast into areas using different licensed frequencies. You must be licensed of course to do that, and it would probably require radio station permissions or oversight to avoid copyright issues of reproducing/rebroadcasting copyright material. Small transmitters are available for pirate or licensed low-power FM use.

As far as streaming, you can put a windows XP box online with winamp with a radio hooked up to the line-in. This will let you stream from a different location via browser or winamp.
Our approach has been that what the authorities don't know doesn't worry them. Anyway the alternative to this scheme in our neck-of-the-woods is no reception at all. All we'd be doing is making something available to us which is available for free to 80% or more of the population who live in zoos - sorry, cities.

Your streaming idea sounds like the answer, save that having to have a Windows box up at the AP wouldn't be my first choice. I'm guessing you can get a PCI card which will take the raw FM signal and convert it into 'radio', as you can for Digital Satellite TV, but it would be a big power draw and mountaintops are not very PC-friendly places. If it could be done with a laptop running Linux it becomes more reasonable, but that probably rules out the PCI card approach.

Still, food for thought. Thanks.
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changeip
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Re: Relaying FM

Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:07 am

spend the $300 on a barix box to encode to mp3 streams
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Belyivulk
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Re: Relaying FM

Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:42 am

Its good to see a fellow NZ'er on here :) from the sounds, it seems like you're in the sound island?

At anyrate - two things - in NZ you are allowed to rebroadcast anything thats free to air without a license - a few conditions apply but a quick google around will give you a fair bit of info.

In terms of rebroadcasting, there are frequencies for FM that are unlicensed in NZ - but you may run foul of the law here. Rebroadcasting over a digital medium would be best in this sense and i recommend encloding to MP3 and broadcasting using MT's multicast package :)

thats MTCW :)
 
tombrdfrd66
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Re: Relaying FM

Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:17 pm

The Barix box looks interesting, but at the price I'd have a hard job selling it to the trustees. We don't have a lot for bells and whistles and we're presently trying to find $NZ10,000 for another relay. That's a lot of cake-stalls.

Hi Belyivulk. Yup, Top of the South where it never rains but it pours.

Thanks for that tho' I'll admit I wouldn't lose sleep over the legalities. If push came to shove I can play the innocent yokel with the best of them, and anyway I just looove it when some bureaucrat decides he needs to chew the fat with me. By the time he's bumped and banged his nice shiny car over our roads for two hours he can't wait to get back to his nice cosy office for tea and secretary.

Rebroadcasting on the airwaves isn't our objective. Our is a community network intended to fill a need for reliable communication with the outside world so internet and VoIP are our primary objectives. If I could make Concert and/or National Radio available over the network it would meet another, less pressing, need.
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Belyivulk
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Re: Relaying FM

Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:34 pm

Ha! I'm top of the North (2 hours from Auckland) where it claims to be the winterless north - yeah right.

Well making the radio available - get a Hauupage (spelling) TV tuner off trademe, use VLC to encode / stream the station you want using the radio tuner, put that up on one of your servers (or a pc running linux on your network) and your guys can tune in :) if you make the stream small enough you wont need to worry about multicast for a long while yet.
 
logix
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Re: Relaying FM

Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:13 pm

Hi tombrdfrd66,

What about using a "Dreambox DM500s" to receive the radio channel from the FTA sat broadcast. I have a few boxes kicking about that we use for broadcast site fail-over receivers. From memory the boxes have the ability to provide a VLC stream of live content.

The DM500 has an ethernet socket in the back, so you just need to hook it to your LAN, and provide your mates the IP address of the box, and launch a VLC player to listen to the stream.

You can even change channels etc via its built in web browser.

What Sat is the broadcast on? might even be able to get it here in Tassie!

Cheers!

Andy
 
tombrdfrd66
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Re: Relaying FM

Thu Sep 09, 2010 1:42 pm

Hi Logix

The Dreambox sounds good in that it would have by-passed the need for any separate server but quick Google seems to indicate they're no longer available in NZ - the manufacturer stopped making them a couple of years ago, it seems. They were also a bit pricey as STB's go, tho' with networking built in that's not surprising I suppose.

I think Freeview is broadcast on Optus D1, but in tried and true fashion was thoroughly cocked up by someone - Freeview is on a different polarity to Sky so you can't use a Sky dish/balun to get Freeview. Though I think Sky re-broadcast it on their spectrum to make up for it. Or something.
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