PI8EHV automatic audio bulletin station

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The radiostations at the TUE has been shut down due to the pending move of the EE department of the university.
If, when, and from what location the stations will become available again is unknown at this time; please monitor this website for updates.

Frequency: 438.625 MHz (71.9 Hz CTCSS)
Output power: 10 Watt
Antenna: Diamond X5000, 45 meter high
Location: Technical University Eindhoven, Electrical Engineering building

The purpose of the experiment is to build a station that, fully automatically makes audio news bulletins from hamradio clubs available in Eindhoven and around. As far as I know, the automatic distribution of bulletins is new; they are transmitted elsewhere, but that's usually manual.
Moreover, those transmissions often block repeaters, which frequently are not suitable (timers, etc). This station does not use a repeater, and therefore doesn't block one either. (the antenna is shared with PI6EHN, the 23 cm repeater of Eindhoven).

Transmission schedule:
Monday 21.00 VRZA bulletin
Tuesday 21.00 ARRL Audio News
Wednesday 21.00 RSGB News Broadcast
Friday 21.00 DARC Rundspruch
Saturday 14.00 ARRL Audio News
Saturday 15.00 RSGB News Broadcast
Saturday 16.00 DARC Rundspruch
Sunday 14.00 ARRL Audio News
Sunday 15.00 RSGB News Broadcast
Sunday 16.00 DARC Rundspruch
Sunday 17.00 VRZA bulletin

In addition to the schedule above, it is possible to have a bulletin transmitted on request, using DTMF commands. The following commands are available:
*2# ARRL Audio News
*3# RSGB News Broadcast
*4# DARC Rundspruch
*5# PA0DLO satellietbulletin sunday eve 22.00
*6# VRZA bulletin

Requesting a bulletin is blocked 30 minutes before the start of a scheduled transmission.

The creation of an automatic station wasn't easy. Software typically expects users to click on buttons, which obviously was not possible here. This station uses software that allows fully automatic operation without operator intervention.
The software also automatically fetches and refreshes the audio bulletins; this wasn't always easy as some web designers clearly didn't have automatic operation in mind.

Also, the audio formats gave a few challenges. MPEG 2 layer 3, also known as 'mp3' is preferred as it gives good audio quality with the low bitrate of 16 kbit/sec, certainly for narrowband FM. Realaudio format is also possible (thanks to the Software Development Kit of Real Networks), but this format doesn't add much functionality to the bulletins and somethimes makes things more difficult.

The experiment is located at ESRAC, at the Technical University Eindhoven. For the construction and the operation, I owe many thanks to ESRAC, PA0SHY, PA0IB, PE1BEY, PA0SON, PD0HOT, VK3ESM, Matthew Campbell, packet comittee van de VERON afdeling A13, Amateur Radio Museum Jan Corver, and many others.

Here is a picture-tour (big!).

73, Geert Jan PE1HZG
mail: pi8ehv (at) qsl.net

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