by [code name] NOVEMBER-01
The Black Echo Radio Project from RFR intrigued me from the onset; as I had been working on a very similar project unbeknown to JJS almost simultaneously. The idea of a low-power community radio station seemed like a great idea, especially if one could disseminate alternative news or counter propaganda in times of local, national and world-wide duress (not to mention the great RFR programming).
I had purchased a low-cost (re: cheap) but legal limit (part15) FM transmitter from ebay to allow me to monitor my local PD/FD scanner wherever I was inside the house (I had grown tired of leaving it on the opposite end of the house). The concept worked pretty well, so I began to experiment with external antennae and alternate feeds.
My first alternate feed was a small mp3 player on random/repeat. Needless to say, that got old very quickly! I then began to load some of my favorite podcast and teaching to the player. This offered some additional desire to listen, but it too grew stale as the repeat function worked almost too well. About this time JJS brought us his idea for Black Echo Radio. Not too long after I began hearing the ‘same ol same ol’, the signal disappeared. I assumed the kids had unplugged the unit. Upon checking all connections, it became apparent the unit was dead. I packed everything up and put it away. I did look for and find an alternate transmitter in a built-up Ramsey kit, again from ebay. I ordered the Ramsey and put it in the box with the rest of the retired radio gear. I had become bored with the idea and material I had to re-broadcast so I put the project to bed.
About that same time, I decided to order me a Free To Air Satellite System otherwise known as FTA. From Wikipedia: Free-to-air (FTA) describes television (TV) and radio services broadcast in clear (unencrypted) form, allowing any person with the appropriate receiving equipment to receive the signal and view or listen to the content without requiring a subscription, other ongoing cost or one-off fee (e.g. Pay-per-view).
I had heard about FTA while listening to a Shortwave broadcast a few years back. I was interested but never bought any gear. I’m not really into television, and refuse to pay for any televised programming. FTA seemed to make sense, and having some alternate TV programming to PBS sounded like a winner. Finally, I was able to save up for a non-essential purchase and ordered the FTA starter kit from SatAV (a reputable ebay dealer) consisting of a 90cm Dish, an LNB and a HD Receiver ($199 shipped). https://www.satelliteav.com/p/shop/?ws_pid=1611&ws_cat=413 (side note. I called the vendor and ordered directly to receive the same pricing and free shipping w/o buying from ebay.)
So what does FTA Satellite TV have to do with Black Echo Radio? Well, for me, it offers a great deal of alternate programming for my little FM Transmitter project (Black Echo). How’s that? Well you may have noticed the above wiki definition mentioning Radio. That’s right; there are unencrypted radio station feeds that can be listened to through the satellite receiver. All sorts of International Music and News along with Christian teaching/preaching, music and more can be found. Many of the programs you hear on the more popular SWL stations are actually fed from the same satellite I point to, Galaxy19 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy_19 .
With a satellite full of ‘radio’ stations to play, I brought the FM gear back out of storage and connected the audio output of the satellite receiver to the Input of the Ramsey transmitter and now have a little FM station playing all sorts of alternate programming. I’ve built a simple vertical dipole to increase the signal around the property and can listen on every FM radio I own.
There are lots more to the idea, but I hope this may give you something to ponder while looking to serve your local community.
To answer the first question that I’m sure will be asked:
No, you cannot use your old/current Pay-TV (Dish or Directv) dish or receiver to receive the programming I mentioned above. Surprisingly though,the very old Primestar dishes can be used with a compatible LNB/receiver and are quite sought after for FTA service.
Learn more about the Radio Free Redoubt BLACK ECHO STATION rebroadcast project.