Setting up an FM radio station can be a time consuming and very daunting task for those who have little experience in the field. Each station is different in its requirements and geographical specifications. Everything from coaxial cables to antennas and transmitters that need to be procured, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer number of things to consider and keep in mind.
Broadcast Gurus know that there is no one approach to all stations, but each station is different and needs a bespoke planning. The most important thing when setting up a new station or expanding network isn’t huge investment but rather careful planning to make sure you have the right equipment to meet your needs. Although the list of things to think about is long, you should start with these simple 8 things when planning your new station:
Step 1: set up your broadcasting license
Firstly, you need to establish what kind of an area you can cover, and the best place to start is with your broadcasting license.Regulatory bodies will normally dictate the Power and Frequency that you are allowed to use. We strongly recommend you always seek advice from your local regulator first. Once you have a license or know the range you will be allowed to cover, the next step is to decide the transmission power.
Step 2: decide on the transmission power
The range of an FM transmission is related to the transmitter RF power, the antenna gain and antenna height, and the curvature of the earth will be a significant factor. Using the data about your local geographical area, Broadcast Gurus will calculate the best transmission power for your station, to make sure the signal reaches as far as possible.
Step 3: choose your FM radio transmitter
The power output of a transmitter is measured in watts. However, a distinction must be made between the power of the transmitter itself and the power that actually leaves the antenna, which is known as the Effective Radiated Power (ERP). The design of the antenna affects the ERP. So-called “high-gain” antennas can result in considerably more watts of ERP than the output watts of the transmitter itself.
We supply a wide range of FM transmitters from various manufacturers and cater for the power and budget you have in mind. 25-50W will satisfy smaller community radio stations and college radio stations, while 1-5W will be suitable for drive-in cinemas. If you are not sure, then get in touch with our team who will guide you through your needs and configure suitable equipment for you.
Step 4: find out the power you need for your coverage area
FM radio signals travel in a straight line. This can sometimes be up to 40 miles if you are looking out from a mountain top. The basic rule is: From wherever you wish to mount the antennas, the signal will go as far as your eye can see. Even if optical visibility is 20 miles, 1W probably won’t get you more than a mile. If 50 Watt ERP is used, it’s very likely that 20 miles of range will be achieved. This is because 50 Watt ERP is ample power to propagate a strong signal 20 miles. The more power you have, the better the signal strength in the coverage area.
Step 5: Analyse your terrain for any disruptions
Mountainous and hilly areas all play their role in disrupting FM Radio. The signal cannot pass something which is higher than the antenna height, so a mountain or building which is higher than your antenna mast, will disrupt the signal from reaching the other side.
Step 6: Want your radio to cover a large area?
It is not possible to have hundreds of miles of range on the FM broadcast band (87.5MHz to 108MHz), even if the terrain is perfectly flat and you have your antenna on the top of the mountain and you’re using several kilowatts of power. It is occasionally possible due to special atmospheric conditions, such as inversion etc to have a wider coverage area. Such special conditions happen rarely and only last for a very short time so it is not possible to rely on them in any way.
In order to cover large areas, it is necessary to setup a grid of transmitters and link them via STL audio links, making sure they do not transmit at the same frequency as they could interfere. Re-broadcast receivers can also be used if the situation permits.
Therearerangeof re-broadcast products available on the market, but our recommendation for community and LPFM stations on a budget is the great new innovation from BW Broadcast. The only “single-box” translator on the market, RBRX Encore pulls in even the weakest signals and re-broadcasts with amazing clarity. Please let us know if you are interested in finding out more about these products.
Step 7: Find the best height, position, and adjustment for your antenna
FM still has limitations in hilly areas because even if the antenna is placed on top of a peak, there may be areas of signal shadow in the valleys. The only solution for using FM in hilly areas may be to install one or more relay transmitters to cover the areas in shadow. If you are not sure, then get in touch with BroadcastGurusconsultants who are here to help you with any questions with their independent advice.
The height, position and adjustment of the antenna play a primary role in achieving high quality and the furthest possible reach of an FM broadcast signal. The antenna that propagates the signal must, therefore, be as high as possible, and there should be few obstructions that will block the signal. The higher the antenna is, the further its signal will reach around the natural curvature of the earth.
Step 8: find the suitable coaxial cable for your transmitter
The exact type needed depends on the length of cable, the power level of the Transmitter and your budget. Low-power installations up to 600W can use the Eupen EC400 ¼” cable, for 1-2KW, use Eupen EC4-50HF ½” cable. For higher power, 7/8” cable and bigger are normally used, these also will require 7/8” Flange Connectors and bigger (depending on the power).
Keep your coaxial cable as short as possible, but still make sure the antenna is at least a few meters away from the transmitters and other audio equipment.
These are the main factors consider when you start setting up your new radio station. We realize that this might seem overwhelming and complicated, but Broadcast Gurus team is only a phone call away to give you the best advice to get you set up. Not only do they offer equipment packages that offer good value, but they can also help you with their consultation and equipment installation. Find out more here.
Meet one of our customers, Christmas Radio, which is a small charity radio station in the UK that raises money every Christmas for children in Latin America. Since 2008, the radio station has been live every Christmas to fundraise for its charity, Street Kids Direct. Both the charity and the radio station have been founded by Duncan Dyason, a youth worker who has a passion for reaching children and young people on the margins of society. The charity guarantees that 100% of all its donations go DIRECTLY to the projects they are supporting in Latin America.
The radio station is run entirely by a large team of volunteers, many of them children and young people. Their first studio was built in the outdoor music room of the Curson’s house in Amersham and when we went on air at 6am on the 1 December 2008. Today, the radio studios are much larger and include a green-room and office space for news presenters, call operators and other administrative volunteers.
Radio Christmas has been using the BW Broadcast transmitters, which they are very happy with: ”We took their advice when we had an issue with it, all because we had not connected it properly. The tech team was available in minutes to resolve the problem.
We really appreciate their support through a crucial time, and we would recommend BW Broadcast to anyone for not just great products but also for superb support, which is invaluable.”
Want the best deals this Friday, but don’t want to face the crowds? Broadcast Warehouse online Black Friday sale takes place this Friday, 25 November 2016 to bring you the best discounts on a high-quality broadcast equipment.
Make sure you won’t miss out on our exclusive bargains on various products, including:
- BW Broadcast Transmitters
- Alan Dick Antenna’s
- Henry Engineering Solution Boxes
- D&R Mixers
- Glensound Broadcaster Phones
Find out the products below, and their new prices. All prices include VAT and don’t include the shipping costs:
The answer is yes and no. Some versions of network audio have been around for a while, but using network audio has really become a sensible option in the radio broadcasting only in recent years. This is largely due to the rise of the Dante Network Audio system, which has answered many of the early concerns.
Dante is the network technology developed by Audinate in Australia. In a very short space of time, it has been widely adopted by major broadcasters around the world. There are now over 300 manufacturers making Dante compatible products, making network audio a real option for all.
But why do I need to send my audio over a network?
- It’s full bandwidth: there is no loss of quality sending audio over Dante audio networks. It’s just full bandwidth, uncompressed audio.
- It’s fast: as Dante originally started in the live music world, the delay was always critically important, more so than it is for broadcasters. Network delay is measured in microseconds, so there is unlikely to be any latency issues on typical systems.
- Multiple channels audio channels: Dante networks can consist of many hundreds of channels
- Many manufacturers mean network compatibility: there are over 300 manufacturers developing Dante compatible equipment which is all simply plug and play compatible.
- It includes a digital router: the real power of Dante comes from the free included digital router called Dante Controller. Dante controller runs on any network connected PC and auto-discovers all connected Dante devices. Each device is displayed as sources and destinations on a cross point display. Making or changing routes is simply clicking the crosspoint between a source and destination….and that’s it!
- High reliability with redundancy options: Dante is a very robust and tried and tested technology. Hardware units often feature primary and redundant network links on copper CAT 5 and fibre, and multiple power supplies for added security.
What type of units can I get?
There are two main types of units: front end user interfaces or input/output interfaces.
1. Front end user units
These are units that operators actually interact with. This could be a commentary box, an audio monitor, a 4W belt pack or even a microphone.
2. Input/Output Interfaces
These units contain the physical audio connections, either analogue or digital, to connect into or out of the audio network. They are available in very low-cost versions with 4 inputs and 4 outputs analogue via 3 pin XLRs from around £500 ex VAT, right up to high-density versions with multiple I/O in analogue and AES, and network remote controllable mic amps.
FM-Hi Shizuoka in Japan uses two Glensound DARK 88s as a radio station to transmitter link (STL). A direct redundant fibre link and GPO alarms on a loss of either primary or redundant link make them a great cost effective choice (see the image above).
Will Any Dante Unit Work With Any Other Dante Unit?
A key benefit of Dante is interoperability. Any Dante enabled product can send and receive audio channels from any other Dante audio network product. Among others, current key manufacturers include:
- Glensound – commentary and I/O interfaces
- Bel Digital Audio – audio and PPM monitoring
- Calrec – consoles and routers
- Stagetec – consoles and routers
- Shure – microphones
- Yamaha – consoles and routers
- RTS – Intercom
Is it expensive?
Absolutely not. Audinate’s business model for Dante has made it simple and quick for manufacturers to adopt the interface, which means this has kept prices low. This is one of the reasons that Dante has really expanded rapidly over recent years.
How do I find out more?
Visit the network audio pages of Broadcast Warehouse by clicking here. Alternatively email email@example.com or call +44 (0)208 253 0280.
Have you ever struggled with translator site problems; such as picking up weak signals; interference from neighbouring high power broadcasts or poor quality re-broadcast audio?
Worry no more – BW Broadcast have created the perfect product for you!!
Combining the technology of TWO award winning products, the RBRX1 Re-broadcast Receiver and the V2 transmitter, to offer the only single box translator solution on the market!
The TR600 V2 is perfect for use with a 250w translator license with mixed polarization.
THE RECEIVING AND BROADCASTING SIDE. For any of you who have used the BW Broadcast RBRX1, you’ll know it pulls in even the weakest signals and re-broadcast with amazing clarity, some engineers have referred to its abilities as ‘MAGIC’.
“We are shocked with the difference in performance and in reception with the RBRX1 compared to our previous receiver. I don’t know what little magic is going on in there to make the reception so much better, but I’m a fan.” Chief Radio Engineer, USA
THE TRANSMITTING SIDE. BW Broadcast V2 transmitters offer amazing features like ‘built-in’ audio processing, maintenance friendly ‘quick-change’ parts, and a remote control app that gives you the freedom to control your broadcast from wherever you are. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that you have purchased one of the most reliable transmitters on the market.
“The perfect transmitter – plug, play, tweak, forget. Outstanding reliability, remote access, choice of several processor patterns.” Radio Engineer, USA
- Save $$$ on a traditional 2 box set-up
- Faster and easier to set-up
- Cheaper to maintain
- Eliminates compatibility problems
RE-BROADCAST WITH AMAZING CLARITY. Thanks to its built-in ‘award winning’ DSP receiver the TR300 V2 and TR600 V2 pulls in even the weakest signals. The ultra low distortion modulator means the signal rebroadcasts with amazing clarity, even at the most difficult translator sites.
ITS VERSATILITY MAKES IT A USEFUL BIT OF KIT. These translators are truly versatile as they can be used as a standalone transmitters complete with analog, digital and MPX inputs. The built-in 4 band DSP audio processor and stereo generator will ensure you’ll have ‘competition crushing’ sound without having to buy additional equipment.
RELAX, KNOWING YOU’RE IN CONTROL. Intelligent email alarms, SNMP, Telnet, UDP and local SD card logging keep you updated with how the translator is doing, and will let you know if it needs your attention. The remote control app allows you to access and control your translator from wherever you are – you’ll be on top of any problem before it even happens! You can even set-up and monitor the translator from your smartphone using our remote control app.
HASSLE-FREE MAINTENANCE. Just like the BW Broadcast transmitters, these TR300/600 V2 translators benefit from quick change parts that reduce off-air time. Dual slide-in power supplies will keep you on air if one of the power supplies falls foul of a lightning strike or power surge. Power supplies can be changed on-site without needing any tools, they simple slide in and out from the back. The hotswap facility means you can even change power supplies without switching the translator off. These features are designed to keep you on air, taking the stress out of maintenance issues while making you look super efficient.
PEACE OF MIND. All BW Broadcast products are designed to be super reliable, designed by engineers with over 20 years experience in the radio broadcasting industry, manufactured in the UK, and rigorously tested using our Automated Testing System. They are easy to use – an intuitive menu system, navigated through the OLED front panel display, allows you to access any features or settings you need. There is even a handy help menu. We pride ourselves on our great customer service, with 24/7 Technical Support, free software upgrades for life and a 2 year warranty. You’ll have the peace of mind knowing you have a purchased a quality broadcast product that will serve you well.
For those of you needing more than 300W, there’s a 600 Watt version.
Contact us now and let us talk through the benefits of this great product.