Thursday, June 5, 2014

Zara Radio for Dummies

Some one new just getting into the Part 15 hobby mentioned on one of the forums that he's going to start by using Winamp for automation.... So I decided to attempt to provide a basic tutorial to show him that Zara Radio is a much better option.. So here goes nothin..
Zara Radio is really very simple to learn and use, and it consist of several useful and professional features which can be utilized to improve the operation and quality of your radio station.
Zara Radio (v1.6.2) can be run on any version of Windows from XP to 7. (not sure about 8)
Forget about just using a Winamp Playlist, your cutting yourself and your listening audience short.

  • Supportd wav, mp3, ogg and wma.
  • Complete Event System
  • 90 Instant Jingles
  • Automatic Gain Control
  •  Password Protection Capable
  • It logs every broadcasted file
  • Crossfade between tracks
  • Time, Temperature and Humidity
  • End of song detector
  • DTMF tone detector
  • Five players (1 main + 4 aux)
  • It's FREE!
  • And much more...

Here's a quick, simple,  and visual Zara Radio tutorial ...

1. - Download and set up Zara Radio
Download ZaraRadio v1.6.2 Free Edition from http://www.zarastudio.es/download.php. While you're there you might as well download the manual too as it covers many more capabilities which you may wish to explore later, as they are not even addressed in this down and dirty tutorial,  But for now, the following will quickly, and easily get your broadcast underway. .
Install the program and run.... The follow the guidelines as shown to set it up..

Just set everything up as shown in the following images to help you quickly get the feel  and configure the options and some basic features..


Now click the small clock over Events window (as shown circled above) Then click "New" button.
Follow instructions shown below...


Click OK

To have ZaraRadio announce the temperature and humidity, then click "New" again and follow the same procedure.

If you would like to have a newscast or other stream automatically play at specific times, the procedure is very similar..


 In the above example the news will play for five minutes every day at 5:30PM..
Select "Internet Stream"
Type in or paste in the stream address
(I use http://www.voanews.com/mp3/voa/english/nnow/NNOW_HEADLINES.mp3
For more information see this post)
Set "Start Time" at 5:30PM
Select "Immeadiate"
Select "Once a day"
Select "All" days of the week
Click "Ok"

                               ...........................

YOUR ALMOST DONE!...
 You need voice files and a weather retrieval program. Here are the free downloads:

3. - Download Voices for Time, Temperature, and Humidity Announcements
Zara Radio can automatically broadcast the current time, temperature, and humidity for you. You just tell it how often and/or when.
The following Time, Temperature, and Humidity voices are free. These are professionally produced files..
Time:
Time- Demented Elf Productions.zip  --Download and unzip these files to: C:\Program Files\ZaraSoft\ZaraRadio\Time\
Temperature:
Temperature- Demented Elf Productions.zip --Download and unzip these files to:  C:\Program Files\ZaraSoft\ZaraRadio\Temperature\
Humidity:
Humidity- Demented Elf Productions.zip   --Download and unzip these files to: C:\Program Files\ZaraSoft\ZaraRadio\Humidity\

UPDATE!: The above voice files links have gone defunct! Fortunately here's an updated link to download the identical weather voice files http://www.highcountrylights.com/remository/Audio-Files/


4. - Download and configure Weather Watcher
For your radio station automatically retrieve and announce current temperature and humidity for your location, then you must have Weather Watcher software installed.
All versions of Weather Watcher prior to version 6.1 are free, however, the free versions can only access WeatherBug.com weather stations, which may or may not cover your specific location. Whereas the paid version also includes WeatherUnderground.com data, thus further expanding your choice of specific weather stations
Download Weather Watcher v6.0.6 (free version)
UPDATE 12/25/2014: v6.06 no longer parses the data to Zara, But version 5's still do.. 
You can download the free earlier version 5.6.6 at  
http://mram.50webs.com/index_files/page4.htm or at http://windows.softwareweb.com/weather-watcher-5.6.6-9E9HE.html
Or the newest paid version ..
Download Weather Watcher Live (paid version $19 a year)

Upon installing Weather Watcher it will ask if you wish to configure options.. if it doesn't then just click on the options tab, then set up appropriately as shown in the following examples... (these screenshots are from the free version)

General Tab:

Stations Tab:



Auto Update Tab:



Export Tab:



If you just set up everything as shown in all the above, then everything should perform correctly for both Zara and weather watcher.
There are some other options you might want to look at from zararadios "Tools"/"Options".. I just got tired and didn't feel like explaining that right now, but you'll be fine with out it for now.
I'll probably re-write this later, in better detail, but the above info should get you going!  
You Later...


Also check put some methods of expanding ZaraRadio's capabilities with the use of scripts:
https://github.com/qrplife/zara-helpers


And another method which is a bit more complicated..
http://part15lab.blogspot.com/2016/02/brilliant-and-unique-use-of-zararadio.html

10 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for this information! Good stuff! I'm in the Toronto area. I got WeatherWatcher set up and everything looks good. I see the correct humidity on Zara. However WeatherWatcher is showing the current temperature is 20-C (which is correct), but Zara is showing the temperature is -6C. I've tried to manually update several times but it stays the same. Any ideas? al_atl@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go into the Zara settings, and check that the "TTH Options" has the location c:\program files\zarasoft\zararadio\weatherdata.html" as the file path.

      Then go into the weatherwatcher "options" under the "export" tab and make sure the "export file location' is the same as it is in Zara, and that "Enable Exporter" is checkmarked,..

      In other words, ensure that both the Zara and Weatherwatcher programs points to the same file path.. "c:\program files\zarasoft\zararadio\weatherdata.html"

      Also in Weatherwatcher, make sure you have the correct weather station for your area under the "station" tab, and that it's set to every 10 or 15 minutes under the "auto update" tab.

      If that doesn't correct it, then use your windows file manger and browse to:c:\program files\zarasoft\zararadio\ and delete the file
      called "weatherdata.html", and then close everything and reboot your computer.

      The next time weatherwatcher runs it should recreate the "weatherdata.html" file and Zara should pick it up.

      Hope that helps

      Rich

      Delete
    2. I figured it out. 20F = -6C. I had WeatherWatcher displaying both Fahrenheit and Celsius, so it was trying to convert a temperature that was already in Celsius. I changed that and everything is now working perfectly. Thanks so much!

      Zara is a great little program. It is amazing to me what a "free" program can do. I started my broadcast career back in the '70s at a little AM/FM combo. The AM was live and top-40, the FM was automated Easy Listening, what some call "elevator music." The automation system was 4 or 5 racks. One entire rack was the "brain." The others were things like cart carousels, cart machines, reel-to-reel machines. I'm sure it cost tens of thousands of dollars, yet this "free" program can do more and is much easier to work with. And the computer I am running it on was "free." I rescued it from the recycle bin at work, installed a hard drive and RAM, loaded up the OS and programs. Not bad, eh?!

      Delete
  2. I am amazed at what Zara can do! But I do have one issue. After running for about 3 or 4 days the RAM maxes out and the program freezes. I'm running an HP7900, CoreDuo processor, 4GB RAM, Windows 7. I keep Task Manager running so I can watch the RAM. Otherwise, the computer is running Zara, Weather Watcher and Breakaway (audio processing). I've tried this on several different HP7900 computers and they all behave the same way. What I usually do is when the RAM gets up to around 70-75%, I start a song in Media Player, close Zara, then re-start and the RAM use usually drops significantly. But even doing that, I've never been able to run more than around 30-35 days before a complete reboot is required. On a fresh reboot, RAM usually is 28-30%. Is there something about this particular computer that causes this problem? I see reports of people using much older and less powerful machines running Zara for a year or longer with no reboot. I just happened to get several of these computers for very cheap so that's what I have to work with for now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very peculiar, but I tend to doubt that Zara is the culprit.. I've even ran Zara nonstop for several months at a time on very old Pentium 1 machines with out a problem. Really don't know what to tell you, but I suggest you post about the situation on the part15.us forums, as there are many Zara Radio users there.

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  4. I am having trouble getting weather watcher to accept my local weather station, my city or my zip code. It apparently does not recognize any of them . It responds by saying "server not found".
    Any thoughts?

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  5. There are two things I suggest trying.. (You don't mention if your using the older free version of WW or the full version..)
    My first thought is to install the full version of weather watcher as it is obviously the most current, and should correct any server connection issues your having.

    Or you could try the solution described at the DSLreports website which explains the problem and fix as follows..


    Weather Underground changed the server where this gadget pulls its information from. It was using http, but now it only supports https. To fix this, first find the following folder on your computer:

    %localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets\WundergroundVistaWidget.gadget

    In there, you will find a text file called "localizedFunctions.js". Open this file up with your favorite text editor and navigate down to Line 26. Change the "http:" reference on that line to "https:".

    Save the file and restart your gadget (or Windows Sidebar aka Gadgets itself). This should get you back up and working like it did for me.

    http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r30702677-Weather-Underground-Gadget-No-Longer-Works

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  6. Let me know if it corrects your non-connection problem. You can also try contacting the developer of Weather Watcher (Mike Singer) for support at Mike@SingersCreations.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for the above info. I contacted Mike Singer and worked out the problem.
    Now for the latest problem. The model for broadcasting that I want to do is to have 50 or so minutes of music but then have 5 minutes or so of reports from local community (Audobon or ACLU). I have a decent amount of music that I have in the computer. I got some music from my brother which has a lot of music that I want BUT some amount that is not what I want to play. How can I delete some items from my music file in Zara's radio library file?

    Tom at WMWG-LPFM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tom, I'm not sure I understand your question!?
      If I understand you correctly, you're saying your brother gave you a bunch of music which you have transferred to your computer, but you don't like some of those songs..

      Well, the Zara music library is simply what folders you specify it to use.. if there are certain songs you don't want included then just don't put those songs in the folders which Zara draws from! Either delete them completely, or move them to another folder in a different location that Zara doesn't look.

      Alternately you can just delete the songs you don't want from the Zara playlist by selecting the songs and hitting delete...

      I'm really not sure what you're asking me!

      Delete

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