Monday, March 31, 2014

ZenoRadio - Free service for broadcasters

This is an interesting and hard to believe it's free service.. They will assign your station a phone number which people can dial and listen to on any telephone!
All of the following information is from their website...

ZenoRadio offers listeners a unique service and offers broadcasters and advertisers interactivity and user information not possible with conventional or sattelite radio.

Becoming a broadcaster is easy and best of all, it’s FREE!

Just send us your broadcast stream (URL or IP) and ZenoRadio will assign a dedicated phone number for your station. Users just dial and start enjoying your station's content from any phone. Now  promote the service to your listeners and sit back and enjoy your new audience.
ZenoRadio enables radio and other audio content from around the world to be heard on any phone in North America at no cost to users who have unlimited voice plans. No smart phones or data plans are needed.

Benefits of becoming a Broadcaster

  • Free dedicated phone number for your station
  • No computer or smartphone required
  • See real time detailed statistics about your listeners
  • Have the ability to reach out to your audience
  • Marketing and support team to help you grow your radio station
No more estimating, and no more guessing! ZenoRadio provides all of our broadcasters with reporting tools that will give you insight on who is calling in, when they are calling in, and which station they are listening to. We will give you real-time information and metrics on the number of listeners, calls, call duration, and peak hours. All of our reporting is a free service for broadcasters who sign up to ZenoRadio's network.

Zeno Player 
Imagine the convenience and ease of use in a  ZenoRadio web player. All your stats collected in one easy to use Web Interface.

  • 100% free
  • Cut down on stream costs
  • No limit on listeners
  • Customized welcome prompt -just like on your ZenoRadio phone player
  • We can help sell your advertising


Ohhh-kaay.. I wonder to myself; Now really, how can this be free??

A CNBC article at explains:
So how does ZenoRadio make money? 
A loophole in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, originally intended to help compensate rural carriers, allows the company to receive a few cents for every five minutes or so that a customer listens to the station. The exact amount depends on the carrier, but for the most part, it's only a few cents. But multiply that by close to a million customers—some of who listen for hours a day—and revenue starts pouring in.
...experts say changes in telecommunications technology have allowed rural carriers to turn this into a profit center by partnering with providers of services like free conference calling and radio...
"The model is pretty strong because of the regulatory loophole that they are exploiting. Without that, the business would be unsustainable,.."

But here's something I completely managed to miss on the website, as it's only mentioned twice...

"Join ZenoRadio, the fastest growing network of immigrant and niche focused content in the U.S. ZenoRadio helps expand your audience."

Well, I know what immigrant is, but wasn't sure on the define of a "niche" focused content..
So I looked it up in a dictionary:

niche noun \'nich also 'nēsh or 'nish\   
   a :  a recess in a wall especially for a statue   
   b :  something (as a sheltered or private space) that resembles a recess in a wall 
2 a :  a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted <finally found her niche> 
   b :  a habitat supplying the factors necessary for the existence of an organism or species 
   c :  the ecological role of an organism in a community especially in regard to food consumption
   d :  a specialized market

So.. Now I know what a niche is. But I still didn't know if a part 15 broadcaster who did not have an immigrant target audience could be eligible to utilize the services of ZenoRadio.
The only way to be certain was to ask, so I sent an email inquiry, clearly explaining my station and it's programing, and emphasizing that my target audience was not in any way specific to immigrants..
Their reply was brief:...
Hello Richard,

Yes, Richard your station is welcome on board. Does your website have a stream?


Incredible ain't it ! .. Check them out for yourself at

Here's a sample banner they create for you (this currently is not live)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Surreal programming affected by weather, and explained by the Navy

It so happens I tend to be a night owl. Oftentimes wish it were not so, as it creates all kinds of obstructions.. most notable having to get up to go to work right around the time I'm finally ready to go to sleep..
Ahhh,.. but let me get to the point before I drift completely off the intended topic.

I like listening to Coast to Coast AM, don't particularly care who the host might be on any given night... and no, nothing about that surreal program has anything to do with  the topic I'm about to present, but it is what indirectly led me to where I am now.. So just bear with me a moment.

Almost every night around midnight, I reach over and turn on a portable Lifelong brand radio to 1290 AM  to listen to another night of Coast to Coast AM. Never have I experienced notable reception problems.. at least never this bad. Never, that is, until tonight. No matter where I move the radio or what angle it's positioned, the signal won't hold for more than a few sporadic seconds at a time, and the show is completely unlistenable.

What's causing this? Sunspots? The weather? Yeah it is raining tonight, but it's rained plenty of times without this much adverse affect. I pull up the weather report online..

Precipitation currently 60%, Humidity 99%, Wind 2 mph.  Hmmmmmm....

What of it? I don't know. So off I go exploring the net for an explanation about what the weather is actually doing to the reception of the signal, and eventually end up, in of all places, slap down in the middle of chapter 2 of a US Navy training manual in about Radio Wave Propagation..Page 2-34


Weather is an additional factor that affects the propagation of radio waves. In this section, we will explain how and to what extent the various weather phenomena affect wave propagation.

Wind, air temperature, and water content of the atmosphere can combine in many ways. Certain combinations can cause radio signals to be heard hundreds of miles beyond the ordinary range of radio communications. Conversely, a different combination of factors can cause such attenuation of the signal that it may not be heard even over a normally satisfactory path. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules on the effects of weather on radio transmissions since the weather is extremely complex and subject to frequent change. We will, therefore, limit our discussion on the effects of weather on radio waves to general terms. . 


Calculating the effect of weather on radio wave propagation would be comparatively simple if there were no water or water vapor in the atmosphere. However, some form of water (vapor, liquid, or solid) is always present and must be considered in all calculations. Before we begin discussing the specific effects that individual forms of precipitation (rain, snow, fog) have on radio waves, you should understand that attenuation because of precipitation is generally proportionate to the frequency and wavelength of the radio wave. For example, rain has a pronounced effect on waves at microwave frequencies. However, rain hardly affects waves with long wavelengths (hf range and below). You can assume, then, that as the wavelength becomes shorter with increases in frequency, precipitation has an increasingly important attenuation effect on radio waves. Conversely, you can assume that as the wavelength becomes longer with decreases in frequency, precipitation has little attenuation effect.


Attenuation because of raindrops is greater than attenuation because of other forms of precipitation. Attenuation may be caused by absorption, in which the raindrop, acting as a poor dielectric, absorbs power from the radio wave and dissipates the power by heat loss or by scattering (fig. 2-24). Raindrops cause greater attenuation by scattering than by absorption at frequencies above 100 megahertz. At frequencies above 6 gigahertz, attenuation by raindrop scatter is even greater. 

 It continues on from there discussing fog, snow, and hail.. but that's where I stop reading; I had found my answer; It was the rains fault... or at least that is the conclusion I choose to rest upon to stop me from running after a wild goose all night.

Perhaps I didn't really find an answer, and even if I did, I didn't comprehend it deeply enough to recognize it. Still I did get to read a lot of interesting things along the way. It's a well written manual.. not that I read it all, but I did eventually find myself jumping to Chapter 1 to read a delightful introduction to the course:


Of the many technical subjects that naval personnel are expected to know, probably the one least susceptible to change is the theory of wave propagation. The basic principles that enable waves to be propagated (transmitted) through space are the same today as they were 70 years ago. 

One would think, then, that a thorough understanding of these principles is a relatively simple task. For the electrical engineer or the individual with a natural curiosity for the unknown, it is indeed a simple task. 
Most technicians, however, tend to view wave propagation as something complex and confusing, and would just as soon see this chapter completely disappear from training manuals. This attitude undoubtedly stems from the fact that wave propagation is an invisible force that cannot be detected by the sense of sight or touch. Understanding wave propagation requires the use of the imagination to visualize the associated concepts and how they are used in practical application. This manual was developed to help you visualize and understand those concepts. Through ample use of illustrations and a step-by-step transition from the simple to the complex, we will help you develop a better understanding of wave propagation. In this chapter, we will discuss propagation theory on an introductory level, without going into the technical details that concern the engineer. However, you must still use thought and imagination to understand the new ideas and concepts as they are presented.

You got to love whoever wrote that!

I'll try to refrain from ever writing another such loopy blog post as this one turned out to be. Sometimes, I just can't help myself. Well, gotta be up in 3 hours. I'm going to bed.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Part 15 for Dummies - AM vs FM

I've been posting several miscellaneous things lately, and suppose I should focus specifically on Part 15 topics more, since after all the Part15LAB is a Part 15 blog..

So this morning I'm going to begin the first in a series of chapters of Part 15 for Dummies.. by a dummy. 

I'm not an engineer, nor have any background as a professional broadcaster, nor do I posses much knowledge concerning the mechanic of radio and radio wave propagation.. There certainly others more qualified than I to school on this topic.

However, over the numerous years, I have learned a thing or two about Part 15, and feel confident that the information I provide here is accurate and useful to anyone wishing to join in on this unique and satisfying hobby of Part 15 broadcasting.

So then, lets begin somewhere in the middle.. but we're still going to call this chapter 1.. 

Part 15 For Dummies - Chapter 1

A common question I get asked is..
Why not broadcast on FM instead of AM?
Good question. It's true that FM has a cleaner, clearer signal with better fidelity and it's in stereo. Whereas AM suffers more from interference, has a less favorable fidelity range, and it's only a mono signal. At first glance it certainly appears that choosing to broadcast on FM would have been the better choice, and in many cases it is, but in this situation it's not.

To explain why, let's take a look at the legal issues of Part 15 broadcasting..
The FCC's Part 15 Rules and Regulations allow and govern unlicensed broadcasting in both AM and FM. One common utilization of these allowances are use of the FM frequencies, due to the improved sound quality. Micro radio stations, cordless microphones, speaker systems, headphones, public address systems, and forms of wireless networking, make use of this legal unlicensed broadcasting in FM.

However, broadcasting on AM has definite advantages. 
First and foremost is the fact that with AM a considerably greater range can be legally achieved. That is, with AM, the signal is more likely to travel a greater distance. 
Also on a directly related matter; there are specific AM transmitters on the market specifically Certified by the FCC (as opposed to "type-accepted" or "compliant")  under sec.15.219, which eliminates the
limitations imposed on how far the signal can legally travel in an area, and under these circumstances, the primary concern is limiting power input to 0.1w, and the antenna system to 3 meters height. 
Transmitters such as these are highly efficient, and perceived as more FCC friendly, and though substantially more expensive, often considered essential to legally accomplish the establishment and growth of a community broadcast.

For this reason, FCC certified unlicensed AM transmitters seem to be the preferred choice to employ in the operations of a Community Broadcast.
However, truth is that is really no genuine advantage of broadcasting with a certified unit as opposed to using just a compliant one. Both are eligible for use under 15.219, and both can be comparably efficient. The FCC doesn't care if your transmitter is certified or not, as long as it is operating in compliance with the rules and regulations.
Nevertheless, there still is one major advantage to a certified unit; They are already built and ready to use.. Plug and play, as it were.

FM, on the other hand, (under Part 15) is severely limited and can not legally broadcast farther than a few hundred feet under any codes, under any circumstances, or in any situation. 
AM has much more freedom. That's the primary reason to choose to broadcast on the AM frequency!

That concludes this chapter, stay tuned for more....

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

VOA Radiogram

This is not directly related to Part 15.. maybe not at all, but it is a fascinating use of an AM broadcast.
It's called VOA Radiogram.
Basically is a method of embedding webpage like content within a tone via an shortwave AM broadcast!

No internet connection or special equipment is needed to receive or decode the signal other than a standard shortwave receiver and a computer or smartphone.

I don't have a shortwave receiver, but if I did, I'd be all over this:


To decode and read the VOA Radiogram text and image transmissions, you will need the following items:

1. A shortwave radio. The radio does not need to have single sideband (SSB) capability. Even if you do have SSB capability, listening in the AM setting will probably work best.

2. A basic personal computer. It does not have to be particularly powerful.

3. A patch cord from the audio output of the radio to the audio input of the PC. This is usually from the earphone jack of the radio to the microphone jack of the PC.

4. Free software such as Fldigi, Flmsg and Flamp, which you can download from
    More detail here: How to decode the modes

There are four, 30-minute broadcasts every weekend broadcast on different frequencies all originating from the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in in North Carolina...

VOA Radiogram transmission schedule:
Sat 0930-1000 5745 kHz
Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz


Here's a Radiogram sent from North Carolina as it was received and  decoded in Japan... This one included only text, but some of the other examples include images such as logos and photos as well.. see more here: 


"Because of the distant signal (all the way from North Carolina) and over-the-horizon (OTH) radar causing, not much is heard until 1:08 into the video, when the sound of MFSK32 breaks through, and the text begins to display.The images are fuzzy, as befits the distant signal:"


Here's a fascinating introduction from Radio World :
Below I've copied and pasted the highlights from this article..

 "......They want to draw attention to VOA Radiogram, a form of international high-frequency broadcasting. Radiogram is a VOA program experimenting with digital text and images via shortwave broadcasting;

Radiogram broadcasts Web content via error-detecting/correcting AM tone modulation, using standardized formats commonly used by ham radio. They say this approach is robust and resistant to interference.

“The user’s ordinary shortwave receiver, tuned to a Radiogram transmission, feeds its audio to a user device. These could include mobile phones, tablets, laptop and desktop computers and the new ARM-based miniature computers and embedded devices. The user device decodes the tones and displays text and imagery despite propagation impairments and intentional interference — and without Internet connection.”

They point out that no hardwire connection is required; putting the radio near the phone or computer is usually sufficient. “By adding a simple audio cable between receiver and user device, however, reception can be silent and covert. No specialized hardware is needed, and the software platform for decoding is long in the public domain.”

The user need not be present to receive content, and essentially receives a web magazine “updated at will and always ready for use” that can be redistributed.

“Naturally, the audio tone transmission can be recorded for later playback. Even when buried well under music or noise, the nearly inaudible recorded broadcast can nevertheless deliver 100% copy upon decode. “

Radiogram’s transmission methods provide text at 120 words per minute, along with images.
“Sent over regular broadcast transmitters (no modifications needed), this approach effectively extends the reach of the transmitter. In other words, the digital text mode will decode in locations where the audible speech over the same transmitter would be too low for aural intelligibility. The audio recorded or captured could be replayed over another transmitter to even further extend the reach of the broadcast.”


I can't help but ponder... Since no special equipment is needed on either end, is it also feasible to experimenting the same procedure with part 15 AM locally?


Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Samson Meteor Mic

I bought a Samson used usb Meteor Mic on ebay for $27 a couple years ago and am still impressed by it.
It's small, but solid and rather heavy, all chrome, with foldable, and adjustable legs.. It's recording quality is really bold and clear. It  has a mute button and a headphone jack with adjustable volume on it - I think it's a really nice  mic in both quality performance as well as an attractive appearence.
It doesn't require any special drivers or install. Simply plug it into your usb port and in a few seconds it's ready to go. And believe it or not, it's excellent for voice over work.

Here's a picture I compiled to show what it looks like:

I had actually bought mine for use in remote locations in mind to utilize with a laptop, but to be honest I ended up mostly just use it for talking to people with google voice and things like that, but I would have no qualms against using it as a broadcast mic, providing a stand is attached to it (it does accommodate a standard 5/8″ thread mount to attach to any microphone stand.). It's own built in legs however do work great on their own, and you can securely adjust it at any angle, but they are a little short (about 6").

Listen, I don't profess to be a microphone connoisseur or expert, or even close to it, but I do have a few good xlr mics (Rode and MXLs), and will say that the inexpensive usb Meteor Mic does a wonderful job, and also has such an appealing retro look and feel!.

This isn't really a review..  I'm not technically inclined enough to provide one, I'm only expressing my own opinion and delight concerning the product. If you're interested, then google Meteor Mic review and watch some of the youtube videos concerning it.

They generally go for $70 to $80 on Amazon and at music stores, but I often see them used on ebay for half that price, sometimes even less. You might want to check them out, put the search in your watch list and keep an eye out for bargains.. Or if your not keen about gambling on used items, just buy a brand new one! it's well worth the price.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Talking House Game Show

This sounds cool.. only I'm not sure what it is.. but it's interesting.. but I don't quite comprehend what their doing.. but it's neat that they're doing it.. whatever it is.. or was.. But one thing is certain, it is really cool.. or it might be.. I think...

Maybe you can make sense of it.

The best I can surmise is they utilized numerous part 15 transmitters located in numerous houses, spread across an entire subdivision to create some kind of game show in which people participate by driving around the area and listening.

It's an art project of NPR (No not that one.. it's Neighborhood Public Radio).

Other than that, I don't know the objectives or how one might acheive being a winner in this "game show"... To be honest, I got tired of trying to read it.

Perhaps some one else might be more patient to delve into to the details and provide a better summary.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Intended use of Part 15 in the eyes of the FCC

Once upon a time, back in 1972, a gentleman by the name Victor H .Fischer, a spokesman for a group called Western Pennsylvania Youth Radio, was operating a six-watt AM transmitter to broadcast a noncommercial educational radio service to his community.
As noble a venture as this may sound, he was broadcasting without a license; a pirate, as it were, and somebody reported his illegal activity to the FCC.

Needless to say, the FCC promptly informed Victor that he since he had no license, nor did his equipment comply with Part 15 non licensed operation, he would have to shut it down.. Having little choice but to heed the FCC, Victor promptly terminated his operation.

Victor then applied for a legal license to operation the station, but the FCC replied that his proposed operation was not eligible for licensing under any of the provisions set out in the Commission's Rules for a broadcast station.,

It appears that Victor may have next done a little research into the Part 15 legal unlicensed method which the FCC had briefly mentioned in their notice, and might have actually experimented with Part 15 some, but apparently being unsatisfied with the limited capabilities of this method; he decided to boldly file a petition requesting the FCC to simply waive the technical restrictions imposed by Part 15..!

The following is quoted portions from the official FCC document regarding Victors request and their response on the request to waive the Part 15 restrictions..

 Part 15 of our Rules permits operation in the AM Broadcast
Band of a miniature transmitter, called a Low Power Communication
Device, without an individual license provided that the input power
to the device does not exceed 100 milliwatts and that the total length
of the transmission line plus the antenna does not exceed 10 feet...

 These technical specifications are designed to limit
communication range for the protection of authorized radio services
from harmful interference, and yet are considered to be sufficiently
lenient that a reasonable operating range is provided for a Low Power
Communication Device . Moreover, regardless of strict adherence to
the technical limitations in Part 15, a Low Power Communication
Device is permitted to operate on a sufferance basis only,..

Noun: Absence of objection rather than genuine approval; ie: toleration.

Because relaxation of the technical specifications and operating conditions
set out in Part 15 would greatly increase interference potential to the regular broadcast service, the Commission has not granted such requests as the petitioner's in the past. 

The intent of Part 15 is to provide the radio enthusiast with
an opportunity to experiment with radio, and to entertain friends or
neighbors within a very limited communication range. The Commission
never intended that Part 15 be used to establish a low power broadcast
facility to service an entire community.

Noun: A thing intended; an aim or plan. (see my comment below)

In support of his request, the petitioner sets out the technical requirements for his proposed operation, and merely states that interference will not be caused. The petitioner has offered no information or technical data to justify waiver of our rules; moreover, there is no showing how the public interest would be served if the restrictions in Part 15 were suspended to permit the petitioner to carry on his proposed operation.

 The Commission is not convinced that grant of the petitioner's
request is either justified or appropriate . Accordingly, IT IS
ORDERED That the petitioner's request for waiver of Part 15 is

45 F.C.C. 2d

Read the original document in it's entirety:
UPDATE 2/20/2017: The above link is no longer good, here is an updated link:

 I've always considered it a little humorous what Victor had essentially said to the FCC..
 "Hey, since I can't get a license, then instead I wish to utilize the part 15 method on unlicensed broadcasting, except the power and antenna restrictions really limit my range, so would you eliminate those restrictions for me? It would then suit my purpose fine."

So the reality is that Victor never actually had any genuine interest in Part 15 broadcasting per se, he was just looking for a legal term in which to pirate under.

Part 15 is what it is.. If it weren't, then it would be something else.
Part 15 is basically just a free reign playground in which you have the liberty to do the most you can with almost nothing. But you know the old expression?.. "Less is more"... Not really sure what that's supposed to mean, but it seemed an appropriate expression to insert it here cause... umm... well, nevermind.

Anyway.. I also find the document to be a to be interesting in a couple other ways..

1. It clearly describes the intent of Part 15 for public broadcasting in the view of the FCC;

" The intent of Part 15 is to provide the radio enthusiast with
an opportunity to experiment with radio, and to entertain friends or
neighbors within a very limited communication range..."

However, they also dampen that statement a little in the next line;

"The Commission never intended that Part 15 be used to establish a low power broadcast facility to service an entire community."

Yeah, well, we all know what intention is; the end or goal that is aimed at. Outcomes that are not anticipated and not foreseen are known as unintended results. But neither affects the letter of law.

Point being is that an intention is only a direction, not the final outcome or destination, nor part of the rules.
If you are able to accomplish establishing a low power broadcasting service for an entire community using only part 15 compliant transmitters and antenna systems, without causing interference to a licensed broadcast signal, then you're operation would be completely legitimate and legal. (although it would certainly entail utilizing multiple transmitters spread throughout the target area, unless your community happens to be really, really, really small!). Original intentions has no bearing in the rules or regulations.

2. Another thing I find interesting is the FCC reasons for not granting Victor's request:

a. Victor merely states that interference will not be caused, and offered no information or technical data to justify waiver of rules

b. There was no showing how the public interest would be served if the restrictions in Part 15 were suspended to permit the petitioner to carry on his proposed operation.

What's odd is that these reasons of denial imply that if Victor had provided data showing that interference would not occur to a licensed signal, and if he had elaborated on how the public interest would be served, then the FCC might have considered waiving the restrictions for him.
Of course it's unlikely it would ever happen, but nevertheless, the implication is there.

By the way..
I couldn't find any reference to the Western Pennsylvania Youth Radio group in Pittsburgh mentioned in the above document, however, there is a long running youth radio organization in Pittsburgh called 'The Saturday Light Brigade' which was formally established about 5 years after Victors petition got squashed.. Could there be a connection?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Free One-stop Audio Processing

Here's a cool and useful cloud based resource that does an excellent job of optimizing raw recorded audio from (for example) a cellphone or other portable recording device which you may have recorded in less than optimal conditions, and wish to do some quick and easy audio processing to make it more suitable for broadcast on your station.. 

Automatic audio post production web service
for broadcasters, podcasts, radio shows,
screencasts and more

"We develop new algorithms in the area of music information retrieval and audio signal processing to create an automatic audio post production web service for broadcasters, podcasts, radio shows, audio books, lecture recordings, screencasts and more. Users just upload their recorded audio and Auphonic will do the rest: neither complicated parameter settings nor audio expert knowledge is necessary."

 It's a completely free service where you simply upload your audio file using any web browser using their handy online form..

The application instantly goes to work applying Adaptive Leveling, Global Loudness Normalization, True Peak Limiting, Noise and Hiss Reduction, and Hum Reduction.. You can also apply presets or integrate external services.
The difference is impressive! You then save the newly processed audio file to your computer ready to use and/or automate into your stations programming.

Try it yourself, or listen to the example audio files on the site. 
In their examples they used recordings utilizing the internal microphone of mobile phones - and then run it through processing to demonstrate the dramatic improvement.

Perhaps it's not something most of us here would commonly use, as we generally utilize other software and/or hardware in our studios to accomplish the same thing, but certainly there can be many situations where this easy access resource would come in handy on the fly.

It's free (I like free ). It's simple (I like simple). It's fast (instant gratification is nice).
You do have to sign up as member to use the service, but it's instant and requires only a valid email address.
I think it's pretty cool, and at least worthy of a bookmark! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An oil tank is not a tunnel

The following quote is from section 15.211 of the FCC OET63 bulletin ~Understanding The FCC Part 15 Regulations for Low Power, Non-Licensed Transmitters -

Tunnel radio systems
Many tunnels have naturally surrounding earth and/or water that attenuates radio waves. Transmitters that are operated inside these tunnels are not subject to any radiation limits inside the tunnel. Instead, the signals they produce must meet the Part 15 general radiated emmission limits on the outside of the tunnel, including it's openings. They also must comply with the conducted emission limits on the electric power lines outside of the tunnel.

Ok, I get it.. no I don't.
Now, let's just stop here for a minute... and just in case your thinking that I'm quoting this portion of the FCC bulletin as a means of leading up to some kind of wonderful loophole we could utilize somehow or something... I'm not. Nor is this an attempt at pointing out some important or useful information.

No, It just struck me odd, and I'm curious why the FCC made it a point to specify such permission to lift the radiated limits for Part 15 in a tunnel to begin with? For what reason did they feel a need to bring this subject at all?
Why?? To me, it just seems weird.

But even weirder, and kind of funny to me, is what they say in the next paragraph..

Buildings and other structures that are not surrounded by earth or water (e.g oil storage tanks) are not tunnels. Transmitters that are operated inside such structures are subject to the same standards as transmitters operated in a open area.

Well thank you very much for letting me know that, because I thought they were tunnels, I was just getting ready to start broadcasting inside of an empty oil storage tank till you told me that.

Is it just me??..
Why would they ever even say such a thing!
There has got to be some kind of story behind it all.

And I really wanted to transmit in that oil tank too....

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Voice Of America 5 Minute World News Broadcast

Here's a good 5 minute news broadcast you can air on your station for free!:
If your interested, take a listen to their broadcast, and email your request to use their daily 5 minute news broadcast to: and they'll email you a couple forms for you to fill out and return.
They do have a couple stipulations..

1. You have to have an online stream of your station that accessible worldwide.
2. You must play the 5 minute broadcast in it's entirety.
3. You have to fill out and sign 3 simple forms that look like this:

You can use a pdf software like Foxit Reader to fill it out and sign it, to email the forms back, (it's free too):

So there you go, there's a free and professional World News for your station! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The 200 Foot Elephant

I was going to initiate this blog with a rundown of the Part 15 rules and regulations, seemed like the natural way to start it off... But really, anyone who actually might have interested in reading this blog, most certainly, already are quite versed on the subject.
So instead of trying to educate the educated, I'm just going to rant..

There's one thing that has always irked me; "The 200 foot rule"
If you google "Part 15 radio"  and on the very first search result is found a FCC guide entitled "Low Power Broadcast Stations".. Upon reading that page you will soon come across this notorious statement:

"Unlicensed operation on the AM and FM radio broadcast bands is permitted for some extremely low powered devices covered under Part 15 of the FCC's rules...
On the AM broadcast band, these devices are limited to an effective service range of approximately 200 feet (61 meters).  See 47 CFR Sections 15.207, 15.209, 15.219, and 15.221...

WTF??.. 200 foot?.. Who approximated that?

If you have a Part 15 AM radio station with a half mile or so listening range, then anyone who happens to read that statement would probably think you're a law breaking pirate.
It's on the FCC website, so it must be true..

Some refer to this as the "200 foot rule",
I like to call it the 200 foot elephant in the room. Everyone realizes what it says there, but ignores it, but not because their just turning a blind eye...

The fact is, it simply is not true, - at least not when it concerns the AM band operating under regulations defined in 15.219. So why then would it say that?.. One can only speculate. Most likely, it's a means of discouragement to keep  too many of these tiny stations from popping up all over the place

What first must be realized is that the “200 feet” reference is NOT a FCC regulation or rule. It is just came from an official who contributed a public statement in an attempt to clarify the actual rules for the sake of the common Joe..

The problem is that some of the wording in these types of notices and bulletins tend to at times get interpreted as being part of the rules.

The 200ft statement is just that, a general statement. The actual Part15 law applying to unlicensed use of the AM/FM broadcast bands is given in FCC paragraphs 15.209, 15.219 and 15.239, with some additional mention in 73.3550 (in reference to call letters).

But it's not a matter of what it says; the approximation is actually accurate when it comes to certain devices, but it's what it doesn't say, that makes it an untrue statement..

There are two primary governing options of part 15 in relation to this matter:

 ~ One is based on field strength only
    (ie; 200 foot) with no limits on power or antenna length. ( 15.209 )

 ~ The other is based solely on power and antenna length,
    but has no field strength limitations. ( 15.219 )

This alternative option is clearly outlined in Section 15.215: 
Additional provisions to the general radiated emission limitations.
(a) The regulations in §§ 15.217-15.257 provide alternatives to the general radiated emission limits
for intentional radiators operating in specified frequency bands.

This is why most part 15 broadcasters do not operate under 15.209, but use the AM band operating under the alternative rules of 15.219 as it has been provided by the FCC, because it specifically has no range limits applied to it:

§  15.219   Operation in the band 510-1705 kHz.

   (a) The total input power to the final radio frequency stage (exclusive
   of filament or heater power) shall not exceed 100 milliwatts.

   (b) The total length of the transmission line, antenna and ground lead
   (if used) shall not exceed 3 meters.

The 200 foot limit is not written into law, it is only an illustration cited in a public notice on the subject and states an estimated range, which by the way, particularly under 15.219, that approximate estimation is wholly inaccurate.

Blog Addum 2/5/2016: And to further emphasize the point, look up most any NOUO investigation that's ever been issued on an unlicensed AM broadcast, and you'll find this fact again confirmed in the FCC agents own reports.
What influences the agents to specifically acknowledge the alternate rule in their reports? It is because that is specifically what it tells them on page 4 of their official FCC field operations manual.. which states the following..
 "..There are two exceptions to this rule (15.219 and 15.221) and because there is no field strength limitation associated with operation under 15.219, an inspection is generally required to determine with absolute certainty that an AM broadcaster is in violation of Part 15..."

The 200 foot elephant has left the building...

Finally here's a quote from the Chief Engineer of the FCC John Reed concerning the above FCC Public Notice:
"..Yes, I know that a Public Notice was released saying that unlicensed AM and FM transmitters have 200 feet of range. On the practical side, however, you're lucky to even get 30 feet in the FM band. I did see one experiment achieve 400 feet of range when operated in a remote area with a low background noise level and no other FM stations any where near the selected frequency, using a very sensitive FM receiver with a good antenna, and transmitting in a mono mode with 75 kHz of deviation applied to the modulation.
This is why our rules do not specify a range - it's a relative term that is completely dependent on the environment. The same applies to range estimates for operation in the AM band. (That same Public Notice also incorrectly stated that you can have 50 mW ERP in the AM band and 10 uW in the FM band. The 250 uV/m at 3 m limit in the FM band translates to an ERP of 11.4 nW or 0.000,000,014 W. A field strength level of 24 uV/m at 30 m, as permitted under Section 15.209 at 1000 kHz, translates to an ERP of 10.5 nW. The non-technical author of the notice should have checked with the engineers before writing this. Note that the numbers in this Public Notice are not binding - the equipment must meet the standards in the actual regulations.).."

The 200 foot elephant has left the building, and he ain't coming back...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Welcome to this place

Welcome to Part 15 LAB..

PART 15 is the Section found under Title 47 of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Rules and Regulations, which govern the permissions which so happens to enable micro-powered radio stations to legally operate a public broadcast without a formal license.
This blog has been created to compile and maintain a casual resource and reference for just about anything related to the subject of Part 15 Broadcasting.

LABORATORY is defined as a place for experimental study or for testing and analysis; broadly :  a place providing opportunity for experimentation, observation, or practice in a field of study... So in an offbeat way this blog can be considered a laboratory of sorts, but "LAB" in this case is not an abbreviation for laboratory...

The Part15 LAB is short for 'Part 15 Local Area Broadcasting'
And this concludes this first post.