Sunday, May 24, 2015

DRM developments at NASB 2015 in Washington DC

I have just returned from an excellent two days at NASB 2015 in Washington DC, hosted by RFA with on-site host Al "A.J." Janitschek

I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of DRM30 discussion this year. North American shortwave broadcasters are ready for DRM!

It was the 25th annual meeting of the NASB so Continental helped us celebrate with cake!

Specifically, there were three talks that featured DRM prominently. Below are just a few of the overall conference highlights:

Lauren Libby, President of TWR gave an impassioned plea for DRM receivers and for us to look to DRM for the future of international shortwave broadcasting. TWR trialed a DRM feature to Japan on KTWR Guam where they received a positive response from Japanese enthusiasts. 

On Friday, Cal Carter of Continental Electronics presented updates from the DRM consortium including the current status of the large scale Indian initiative as well as positive momentum in the Asia-Pacific region, Brazil and Southern Africa.

Of course, I took a crack at sharing the excitement by presenting my experience as a listener and logger. I enjoyed showing examples and playing audio from the user's perspective. I explained and demonstrated the strengths of DRM using Terje's DRM-Log Plotter software. My slides here and the audio clip here. I presented a reception time-capsule video at NASB 2014 which you can view here. Thanks to Terje for the great DRM-Log Plotter handout.

Here is a music sample from RNZI, recorded via DRM at my home in Oregon. That is about 7000 miles from their 25kW transmitter and received on my Newstar DR111 using an alligator clip-lead to a basement drain pipe as an antenna. Isn't DRM amazing?

We were very fortunate to have Jerome Hirigoyen in attendance from TDF. Their site in Issoudun, France currently has 2 high-power DRM transmitters in operation.
Dr. Kim Andrew Elliott presented VOA Radiogram and encouraged broadcasters to participate in the Radiogram initiative. VOA Radiogram is a weekly program whereby textual news with images can be transmitted on traditional, unmodified shortwave transmitters and likewise received using off-the-shelf, unmodified shortwave radios.

Gerhard Straub from IBB gave a worldwide update about their broadcast sites. Gerhard also indicated there will be an RFP out soon to develop an end-user app for decoding VOA Radiogram on smartphones and tablets. More info to follow on this exciting development!

During the NASB business meeting, the conversation got very interesting. A significant number of the broadcaster members showed interest in using DRM (sooner rather than later) and working together to make affordable receivers (USD 50 or under) available. This conversation was augmented by audience members including Ludo Maes from Broadcast Belgium and his extensive DRM knowledge. I was really excited to finally get to meet him, having enjoyed years of his work with TDP Radio and The Disco Palace on DRM.
I'm sure that attendees will agree, this was an enjoyable and informative gathering. For me the opportunity to "talk shop" with shortwave broadcasters and enthusiasts is unsurpassed. To those I met for the first time and for those I have known, it was my great pleasure to be in attendance.
As I flew home, I snapped this gorgeous view of Mt. Hood near Portland, Oregon. It was a perfect way to sum up my trip - "the sky is the limit" for DRM in North America. I would like to thank the NASB, RFA and all those in attendance for making this such a great conference. Special thanks go to Dr. Elliott for serving as my local host. It made my trip even better!