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Two things, right out of the gate here.

First. As soon as I published my last diary about how nice it would be, here in the redder states, to hear Ed Schultz or Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann on our local radio, people began to point out that this was copyrighted material. They are correct. So. Now. Here's the deal:

We will not broadcast nor re-broadcast any material that is not VOLUNTEERED by the person who created and/or holds the copyright on it. We will not seek their permission. They want it available to us, they can send it to our website, Free Radio Me. Or, they can post ON THEIR OWN WEBSITE, that it is specifically permitted for Free Radio Me participants to download and rebroadcast their material.

Obviously, I don't control what anyone else broadcasts on equipment they bought and paid for. You want to broadcast a local band that has given you music for that purpose? Fucking do it. You want to quote something anyone on this planet has said or written publicly, in your own voice, then if you follow the basic fair-use guidelines commonly used on a place like Daily Kos, I don't see how there can be any trouble. I'm not going to re-fight the goddamned YouTube copyright wars. Use your common sense and you'll be fine.

All that said, I want Matt Damon to contact me about something. Instantly, you're all saying, oh for sure, Fishgrease... Matt Damon is going to get right in touch there, bud. LOL!

I bet he does. I bet you anything he does exactly that. So there.

You'll note I started this diary saying there were a couple of things I wanted to discuss. I've forgotten what the second thing was. How can you people read this crap?

OH YEAH! I remember now. I used a big portion of that initial "Airwaves" diary discussing increasing range on your transmitter by dangling a wire from the negative battery terminal. I'll discuss that some more, but I want to be clear that this movement isn't even as complicated as that. The REAL POWER here is people carrying a stock FCC-legal FM transmitter, broadcasting wherever they go. Keeping it simple:

----

  1. Purchase a cheap FM transmitter (several will be rec'd here and on Free Radio Me). Purchase an mp3 player, or use one you have.
  1. Load your content onto your mp3 player. It's better you use a dedicated player for this so you don't fuck up and let everyone know you listen to Hanson and shit. Set the mp3 player to continuous loop, just loop one piece, whatever you want to broadcast.
  1. Find an open FM station. Set the transmitter to broadcast on that station.
  1. Turn the mp3 player on. Turn the transmitter on. Put it in your pocket and go for a walk or a bike ride. Dangle it from your rear-view mirror every time you're in your car.

If we get to the point where a few thousand progressives in Wingnut Radioland remember to take their broadcast setup with them every time they leave the house, just like they do their cellphones, purses and wallets, WE WIN. We've created a progressive presence on the FM band where before, there was none.

----

Okay, for folks who want to broadcast at maximum range, from their house or a remote location (say, a hill overlooking a highway), I will continue to experiment and publish my results. YOUR CHANCE OF GETTING INTO ANY TROUBLE WITH THE FCC OVER THESE TECHNIQUES IS MINIMAL. BUT IT IS NOT ZERO. Your chance of getting into any trouble with the FCC using the equipment stock, as in the 4 steps above, is exactly zero. In either case, if you don't cuss and don't hate and only broadcast on open channels, you'll be fine.

In the comments of the last diary, there was some discussion of using solar power for remote (lets call them guerrilla or ninja) placement. I bought a $4, 4.5V solar cell and tried it out.

It was early evening and the sun was coming through trees at a low angle, so I stuck the foil there to give it enough light. An hour earlier it would have run fine without the foil. It's a good proof-of-concept, though. Transmitted at full power. Just like this it would run when it had sun, but I ordered some better panels -- two 5v panels a little bigger and better made -- $14. Going to run them in parallel through a charging circuit to some rechargeables (in series). Should run the mp3 player and transmitter, 24/7 indefinitely. We'll see. I'll publish my results. You other tech ninjas, get busy your own selves. This is good clean fun. And cheap.

Although the wire hooked to the negative battery terminal to complete the dipole looks to be legal within a strict reading of FCC Part 15, I wondered if the same thing could be achieved without direct attachment of anything inside the unit at all. So I removed the wire and just stuck foil up underneath the transmitter case.

Actually got more signal than with the wire. There was a storm coming, so my installation of the foil was hurried and not very neat (as you can see). Those wrinkles can't be helping. I think a flat, smooth installation will give more gain yet, even painted.

This means they'll have to regulate against aluminum foil, or even regulate where the transmitter can be placed. I'm pretty sure just hanging the setup on a metal fencepost would yield the same result, or nearly so. I doubt the FCC will mess with it. Change the rules too many times and it begins to resemble the British salt tax in India. It was evening when I was out testing this and as it got dark, the lights on the commercial billboards next to the highway came on. One of them had a faulty transformer and was broadcasting across 105 FM to 107 FM at the equivalent of about 20 watts. Gas music from Mars. I was broadcasting at 1/10th watt. This is the sort of thing the ACLU or the EFF would be interested in.

Oh... that's a different kind of FM transmitter I'm trying. $6.88 USD and works just as good as the SCOSCHE FMT4 I was using before. These are commonly called by the name "SONGBIRD", although you want the ones that look like the one in the picture above, or this,

NOT this,

The difference is that the top one can be set to many more channels at the top and the bottom of the FM band. The lower one pictured just has 4 choices. Not good. Choices are good.

I just ordered two of these Griffin iTrip FM Transmitters from OVERSTOCK. Ten Bucks and their shipping is a buck.

I'll let you know how those work out. They look good.

If you're ONLY going to use it on your person or in your car or home, and you can afford $125 then the Whole House Transmitter is very simply the best you can get. Powerful. Maximum range right out of the box, easy to use, guaranteed, and very VERY well made. A little pricey, but considering you won't be leaving this one out in the sticks and you might have it for 10 years, it's by a wide margin, the best transmitter I've reviewed. If you want the best and can afford it, this is the one to get.

If you folks see any deals on cheap mp3 players, let me know and I'll buy and review them.

Originally posted to Fishgrease on Sun Nov 07, 2010 at 07:01 PM PST.

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