FM Stream: broadcasting local radio to the internet

The Raspberry Pi is being used increasingly in professional products and industrial applications, and this one from Artica and partners is one of most impressive yet. I can’t better their own description of FM Stream as a beautiful, low cost, carrier grade rack of FM tuners, IP/Internet encoders and broadcasters, using nothing but RaspberryPis, Arduinos, clever electronics, neat mechanics, a shiny aluminium case and lots of passion.”

FM Stream — shiny AND useful

As well as being clever and beautiful, FM Stream does something extraordinarily useful – it takes radio signals from local radio stations and broadcasts them over the internet. It’s designed to be used with no technical experience: just plug an aerial in one end, the internet in the other and off it goes, technomagically turning local into global.

At the heart of things — a Raspberry Pi

There’s a huge amount of hardware and expertise at work here, much of which is detailed in Artica’s blog. On a simpler level it’s fantastic to see the Raspberry Pi at the heart of such a beautifully engineered and useful product.

For a taste of what the FM streamer can do, have listen to this FM station in Luanda, Angola. We’ve been listening to it all afternoon and can highly recommend it — It’s funky.

32 comments

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That’s really cool, how they used the Pi for that type of networking.

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I have one word WOW that is awesome especially the aluminium. Super cool looking and functional! Superb work! :)

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Awesomeness!

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And isn’t this just a beautiful example of how the Arduino platform and RPI compliment each other – certainly puts the ‘Arduino vs RPI’ comments in the infancy of the RPI’s life life to bed! :)

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Nice to see the design, interesting mixed-signal connector there on the right. Also interesting that they mounted a heatsink on the SoC+RAM, but not the LAN chip which I find gets hotter.

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That D sub, RS do them i’m sure – Search on HYBRID DSUB!!! I’m sure i’ve seen them on some PBX’s before now.

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Yes, I’d have put a heatsink on the LAN chip too – that’s the hottest component followed by the 3V3 regulator, with the CPU next.

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Great idea for the raspberry pi. There are many companies that take a radio stream from an FM station and put it online. Really great to see the pi being brought into this field!

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COOL STUFF!!!

Can we have something like this for TV stations? :)

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Well, in the US, that’s still being decided int the courts…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aereo

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> Well, in the US, that’s still being decided int the courts…

That’s only an issue if you are offering the signals to others. But you can put an antenna anywhere you can get a signal, and your connection from that antenna to your receiver can be as long as you need it to be. And if you convert the signals to IP using a Raspberry Pi, perhaps in conjunction with something like a HDHomeRun, that’s nobody’s business but yours unless you are trying to sell a service or something of that nature.

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You need a way to get the digital video signal into the Pi, and that’s going to be many times more expensive than the Pi alone, much less other required expensive components. Plus, the only path into the GPU would be via the Camera Serial Interface (CSI), for which software would need to be provided by the Foundation/Broadcom engineers, and that’s just not going to happen. The signal needs to go into the GPU directly – the Pi’s USB bus isn’t going to be fast enough to keep up even at just 30 frames per second for standard definition TV. Plus, the USB path is shared with the Ethernet port, where the bits would be coming out at too slow a rate anyway. The Broadcom BCM2835 system-on-a-chip (SoC) used in the Pi hardware was designed to take high-definition digital media off a network and pump it out the HDMI port, not the other way around, unfortunately.

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Cool, but what is the advantage over more tradiational wideband frontend+digital channelizing this type of equipment often uses?

I find it hard to believe that this solution is cheaper.

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Do you know what such a traditional system costs? Especially for low numbers of channels, I would not be surprised if the R-Pi solution is cheaper.

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It is cool, but like Dodo I also wonder if it wouldn’t be possible, and more efficient, to get at least a few channels of bandwidth into each RPi?

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A pi rack! Amazing what can be produced with a little Linux board and some great engineering.

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Now if only something like this could be done with TV stations. You could create your own Aereo-like service, if you had a friend in a place with good TV reception and no bandwidth caps, and it would not cost you $8 a month or more. If you recorded a program, maybe the Raspberry Pi could even compress it to save bandwidth.

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I am really liking the rack, I wish more people would adopt the euro-card form factor.

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Cool!

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Wonderful, it’s very impressive.

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Excellent ;) is there any thing that raspberry-pi can do ?

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Looking at it, I’m trying to figure out if they’re back-powering the Pi through the USB connection or through the ribbon cable connected to the GPIO pins.

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It’s the ribbon cable.

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Phew. Glad I’m not the only one having an “Oooh, backpower. That’s not going to end well” moment.

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Kewl! Hack the URL – radios 1-5, 7-13 are working.

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Looks suspiciously like one of our heat-sinks :)

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WAAAAANT!!!!!!!
(OK, maybe the cases got me first, but…)

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I also had this idea previously (SI4735 chip, PCM2904) so nothing original here, but WOW!

WOW again.

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I need to find a reason to have that many Pis so I can have a case like that.

As for the project itself it is a very interesting idea. Its almost a shame you couldn’t do something similar with TV but I don’t think a Pi would be able to keep up with the stream to compress it enough to make it a viable thing unless you started getting expensive receiver equipment.

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Great! How much money was spent on this project?

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where does it broadcast to?
are these for sale?
will it broadcast to radio reference?

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