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GNU is Not Unix Wireless Networking Hardware

Open Source w/ Low Power FM Stations 25

deacon brown asks: "My employer has just acquired the license to operate a low power FM station in the area (on a tight budget, of course). Because of our location, I'm the only local tech guy, so they might need my help setting this thing up. I can't do it at the job, but I'd LOVE to make Open Source work for this radio station, so I can keep the costs as low as possible. Does anyone have experience setting up, or operating, Radio stations? How should I go about getting information together, to have a go at this? I know they're some areas where I'll need to buy some hardware to do a job (mixers, etc), but are there software solutions like (e.g. the Linux phone switch) for other parts?" While there have been a few helpful articles on this subject, I think they more dealt with the hardware side, rather than the software side of the equation. What operations and infrastructure can you see Open Source handling in a small radio station?
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Open Source w/ Low Power FM Stations

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  • Use emacs (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2004 @07:34PM (#8195808)
    Ctrl+R+FM launches the radiostation control plugin for emacs. Then your employer can easily play with programming by entering ./radio -s -L 56 -VSR /Loud \"Britney Spears.mp3\" GCC -Wall

    and stuff like that
  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @07:41PM (#8195863)
    Why do you need software of any kind at your home-brew radio station? A simple hardware mixer, a microphone, and 2 cheap console CD players will suffice. Hell, you could even pre-record your shows to giant low-bitrate MP3s, and with a MP3-capable CD players, have a 4 hour show on 1 CD.
    I guess you could use a PC to store the audio... but why??
    • Why? Really, why? Why is this story even here on Slashdot? Why not cover more important things like the fact that the Pentagon has scrapped Internet Voting today?
    • Perhaps a little offtopic but I have to ask if anyone here knows why this is:

      My DVD Player (JVC XV-S300) has RCA digital out for audio. No worries. Make great use of it. I threw in an MP3 CD the other day and there's no digital output. WTF?

      I threw in a regular audio CD and out came the tunes... MP3 CD ... no digital out. Now I can understand then not spitting out the digital audio for an audio CD, but an MP3 CD? I already ripped the goddamned music!


      • Digital outs expect the audio to be in a certian format. MP3s have just about an unlimited number of ways to encode them...there are different bit rates, CBR, VRB, joint, seperate, mono, etc. People want their DVD players they don't have the processing power to convert them to some type of common audio format (usually AC3 or PCM).
  • by Fascist ( 80604 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @07:50PM (#8195946) Journal []

    The Uninterrupted Broadcast Daemon. Check it out. It may suit your needs.
  • CALL WAITING STUFF (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward _id=247
    Call commander does some stuff with call screening and management system helpful if ur into talk radio or a request line or waiting for people to call in to be the 10th caller to win a trip to Kenya
  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @08:37PM (#8196498) Journal
    It would help to know what about it is presently automated via computers so that open source alternatives for the specific apps you have in mind can be explored. I put in 4 years at a medium sized college station (WUVT; Virginia Tech), and until the transmitter monitor broke down and got replaced with a custom IC board and software (because it was cheaper than buying a replacement) nothing at all about the broadcasting was automated. Without knowing what to replace with open source software, the question appears based more in loyalty than logic.
  • Places to start (Score:5, Informative)

    by rueger ( 210566 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @09:58PM (#8197233) Homepage
    Open source has made some inroads into broadcasting, but not many. For the most part anything in a radio station will run on Windows or a more proprietary system.

    The starting point is usually sound recording and editing. Unfortunately the available Open Source products are still a fair distance from matching the functionality of say Adobe Audition [] or Pro Tools []. Still though do check out Audacity [] for a simple editor which can handle many tasks.

    Beyond editing there have been a few people in Canada who have developed Linux based audio logging systems, and stations in many places who catalog music using Open Source software.

    Automation is still the land of proprietary software, although Scott Studios [] has been working on packages that run over Linux.

    A good source for information (assuming you're a community radio station) is the member e-mail list for the National Federation of Community Broadcasters [] or either of the radio-tech [] or pub-tech [] mailing lists for broadcast engineers.

    Finally, you might want to hook up with the Prometheus Radio Project [], the leaders in community LPFM. Ask for Pete Tridish.
  • prometheus radio (Score:4, Informative)

    by akb ( 39826 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @10:39PM (#8197520)
    Talk to Prometheus Radio []. They help LPFM's get setup, they've done several "barnraisings" now that help the new community stations in everything from software, to RF engineering, to how to do community news.

    A few volunteers associated with that project have developed some software called Flow STL [], which manages the link between the studio and the transmitter.

  • Perl! Perl! Perl! (Score:5, Informative)

    by InfiniterX ( 12749 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:50PM (#8197958) Homepage
    I'm engineer for a college radio station, and just happened to have given a speech to my local unix users group on running smalltime radio with open source software a few months ago...

    We're a 10 W station operating as a unit of a university. All of our servers run Linux, handling various things such as webcast encoding, playlist tracking (for FCC/royalty requirements), and our automated rotation.

    Our autorotation runs 24/7 on a Linux box and simply feeds a channel on our air console, so when no DJ's in the studio, they simply switch that on and walk away. The S/PDIF output on the autorotation box feeds into our spiffy new digital mixing console.

    The music rotation is run pretty much by a Perl script that simply runs in a loop, pulling songs off and enqueuing them into XMMS according to a genre-based schedule we've laid out. MP3::Info and XMMS::Remote on CPAN are your friends here. Plays are logged into MySQL.

    We wrote our own in-house PHP scripts to run a web-based playlist tracker, backed my MySQL. I integrated this with some Perl/PHP-based stuff to talk to our Icecast server to print out on the playlist tracker screen just how many listeners there are.

    We've got a Postnuke-based website, and so we've written a module to talk to the playlist tracker database to let people browse playlists online through the website. Pretty damned easy to implement.

    I use RRDTool to also generate running graphs, so the DJ in the studio can see how many people were listening over the past two hours.

    Icecast works great for audio, of course, and for running 128, 56, and 24 Kbps streams, Jamie Zawinski's got some scripts on that handle encoding all three of these and makes it really easy.

    We do have a few Windows workstations, and those are all managed through VNC.

    I'm hoping that once I've got some of our software more ready for prime-time, I'd like to release it to the community for other people trying to do what I'm doing.

    Hope this helps!
    • Well, you're obviously the engineer and not airstaff or programming because you didn't insert the calls or the frequency in every paragraph.
    • You should create software packages (tarball, please) for your great-sounding glue apps, and share them with the rest of us. Or, maybe make a website with the scripts or a how-to guide. I'd be interested to play with it for sure!
  • ...wrapper in Ruby [] right here []. Could be handy down the road...
  • I recently came across a page on software for running a radio station [] being developed for Linux.

    Looks like it has a fairly broad scope covering on-the-air broadcast management. It appears that it is already being used by several radio stations.

  • by booch ( 4157 )
    We actually had someone come talk to our UNIX Users Group [] about that very subject this past December. The speaker was Ben Oberkfell of KWUR []. He's also president of the Washington University ACM chapter []. He spoke about how they've set up automated DJing, play-lists, streaming, and just about everything else using Linux and some Open Source tools he built. It doesn't appear that we've posted the presentation on-line, but if you email him, I'm sure he'd be happy to send you the presentation and help you get yo
  • I was just reviewing the December 24 issue [] of Linux Weekly News [] and came across this write-up []. It looks to be pretty much what you're looking for. The blurb:

    Rivendell aims to be a complete radio broadcast automation solution, with facilities for the acquisition, management, scheduling and playout of audio content.

    See the Rivendell home page [] for more details.

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