Sat 14 May 2016 10:11PM

RasbPi "Pirate Radio" LPFM hubs

RF Robert Frittmann Public Seen by 296

Here's an idea for reaching a wider audience with the message and goals of PPNZ. The concept herein is for individual Pirates to set up microbroadcasting (LPFM) "hubs" in towns and suburbs all over NZ, maybe even using cheap RaspberryPi devices to broadcast Creative Commons licensed content as a free alternative to APRA / OneMusic license fees for businesses. The content could then be syndicated amongst the various hubs, and/or broken out to provide for regional content. This would bring more public attention to the core values of the Pirate Party, give us a ready-made channel to disseminate Party propaganda, give new Pirates something tangible to work on as part of their membership efforts, give back to the artistic community who freely license their music using Creative Commons, and give back to our local communities as well, providing a free alternative to the hostile copyrighted music "public performance" license fee regime.

This is just a conversation starter for the concept, and is part of my own NZ Music Month 2016 activities. Let's thrash it out. I'm keen to hear what you think about this concept, either positive or negative.


Robert Frittmann Sat 14 May 2016 11:01PM

One thing to consider, from the rules surrounding LPFM broadcasts, which might impact on any syndication of content, is this...

Within a 25km radius of any broadcast transmitter, there must be no more than one low power FM transmitter broadcasting substantially the same programme (including simulcast or re-transmission) as that broadcast transmitter.
Clause 3(1) of the LPFM GUL.

This is explained further in the Additional Information PDF file.

  • The phrase "substantially the same programme (including simulcast or re-transmission)" in application of the 25km rule above is intended to apply sensibly to a variety of situations. For example:
  • If two stations use the same source material for fairly short periods, or have partially over-lapping play-lists, this is unlikely to amount to being "substantially the same programme"
  • Broadcasting the same play list in a random order from separate locations will amount to being "substantially the same programme"

From my understanding, this would limit us to merely having a single "Pirate Radio" LPFM station (with significantly syndicated content) for the whole of Auckland, for example. With a maximum signal strength of 95dBµV/m at 100m from the transmit antenna, such a broadcast wouldn't be heard at all by most of the population within that 25km radius. To put it another way, if you were to draw a map showing a circle of 25km radius from a point within Auckland's CBD, scaled to view the whole circle, any inner circle representing the effective broadcast range of the LPFM transmitter probably wouldn't even be visible on the map! That is disappointing, but still, with a nationwide scope, it still holds some promise for syndication.


Danyl Strype Sun 15 May 2016 3:47AM

This is an excellent idea. It gives us a practical project for local groups to get together and work on, and as @robertfrittmann says, a way to practically demonstrate alternatives and disseminate talks that introduce people to our points of view.


Robert Frittmann Sun 15 May 2016 4:13AM

Thanks @strypey. On the subject of syndication, my original concept here was that those volunteers with particular interest (and available spare time) could curate the content and create the audio programmes centrally, to be posted online using MediaGoblin to host. Then everybody else simply points their own "Pi-rate Radio" to the relevant URI and stream it from there. There would be very little effort required for the individual hub owners this way, unless they particularly want to contribute / broadcast their own audio programming.


Robert Frittmann Sun 15 May 2016 4:49AM

A useful reference is The Society of Low Power FM Broadcasters Incorporated, who have "the necessary test gear and our members are able to assist" with setting up a new LPFM radio station in NZ. However, there doesn't appear to be much recent activity on their website, other than in their Contact thread.


Danyl Strype Sun 15 May 2016 8:00AM

The LPFM Society was started as an AK group, involving stations like Radio Chomsky who were keen to use the guard band for independent media broadcasting. Not sure how active they are these days.

I was involved in LPFM in the early 2000s. I worked with StationFM in Hamilton, and the founder and I were part of efforts to create a network of such stations, initially as a project of Aotearoa Indymedia, then under the banner of Aotearoa Independent Radio (AIR). AIR had a static HTML website (which I built), and we did some outreach encouraging community access and student radio stations to digitize their programs under CreativeCommons licensing.

The FM broadcast circuitry and aerial are fairly simple, and anyone could put one together with the right parts, and help from their local MakerSpace. Back in the AIR days there were people selling LPFM broadcast kits for a few hundred dollars. Not sure if that still happens.


Hubat McJuhes Sun 15 May 2016 11:12AM

Would that allow us to broadcast the program via internet radio in parallel?


Robert Frittmann Sun 15 May 2016 5:30PM

Yes, definitely. Each programme "package" would be hosted online first, so that the individual Pirate microbroadcasters could stream them from there. The same package would then be available to an online audio player widget. Essentially it's just a podcast, but with lots of Creative Commons licensed music in it.


Danyl Strype Fri 27 May 2016 1:19PM

Despite leaving the party for now, I'm still keen to work on a pirate radio project with you folks. A number of members have my email and phone contacts, but they can also be found on my wiki. I'm particularly keen to keep in touch with you @robertfrittmann , you've brought a sense of calm, patient, and thoughtful style of engagement to this group that I find most refreshing.