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Thread: PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter with RDS RadioText

  1. #1
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    Default PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter with RDS RadioText

    Announcing PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter for personal holiday lighting events. It's a low power radio that can broadcast mono / stereo analog audio and it supports RDS (RadioText).

    PixelRadio2_600.jpg

    What is RDS? When your drive-by visitors tune into the show's music their automobile's infotainment display will show RadioText messages. The RDS can provide information about the music (artist / song name), hours of operation, charity donation instructions, and much more.

    This is not a commercial product. It's a personal project that has been expanded for wider appeal to the pixel community. Initially I only planned to send a couple different canned messages that were important to me. But the final design includes a variety of features that should be useful to most pixel enthusiast.

    PixelRadio is a WiFi appliance. That is to say, operation is through a web interface via a smartphone or desktop. A dedicated app is not used and most modern browsers should work. It is NOT cloud based, access only requires the local LAN.

    homeTab1_400.png

    Keep in mind that this is a DiY project. I do NOT intend to make & sell them (my spare time is limited). Plus I'm aware that very few pixel hobbyist have the experience to reproduce the project. But some of you enjoy building such things. And perhaps the community can work together to make it more accessible to those with less experience.

    The full project has been uploaded to my GitHub repository. You're invited to stop by and learn more about the project.
    https://github.com/thomastech/PixelRadio

    - Thomas

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    Default Re: PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter with RDS RadioText

    I only did a quick scan of your project so I may not be asking the right questions here -- and for that, I apologize.

    How do you create the sub-carrier frequency for RDS? Normally the RDS text is injected into the hardware just prior to the transmitter's output section. I didn't see any mention about the transmitting hardware you're using for both the FM frequency audio and RDS sub-carrier. Or is this a complete software-synthesized FM system using a Pi?

    http://digwdf.org/store/
    Even though the DIGWDF Store has been closed for almost three years, it's still awesome!
    User guides, documentation and other files are still free and available for downloading.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter with RDS RadioText

    No Pi needed. To keep cost low it uses an ESP32 for WiFi connectivity and a QN8027 single-chip stereo FM transmitter module. The FM chip provides digital-synthesized RF functions, including RDS. Its native RF power output is extremely low so PixelRadio has it's own RF amp to achieve a useful distance (100 meters on simple telescoping whip).

    *EVERYTHING* is disclosed on the Github site. Schematics, source code, PCB Gerbers, bill-of-materials, and so on.

    - Thomas
    Last edited by ThomasLED; 04-07-2022 at 05:14 PM. Reason: Typos! Yuk.

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    Default Re: PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter with RDS RadioText

    Thomas,

    May I respectfully suggest you post this over on the Green Site as well? I think there would be some interest there too!

    This looks like a great project and while I am considering building 1 or two, I wonder if this might be something that could be facilitated by a resurrection of the Group Buy concept to bring down the cost of building them? Just a thought.
    2012 - 1st year 64 Channels - 7500 LED lights - 5 sequences
    2013 - 128 Channels - 10,000 LED lights - 7 sequences (2 New)
    2014 - 201 Channels - upgrading 8 Arches to dumb RGB - 8+ sequences (1+ New)
    2015 - 240 Channels + 8 Universes - sequences TBD
    2016 - No Display
    2017 - Back in the Game - 240 Renard Channels + 12 Universes
    2018 - 256 Renard and 9 Falcon Outputs of Pixels - 16 sequences shown over 2 nights
    2019 - 256 Renard and 9 Falcon Outputs of Pixels - 16 sequences shown over 2 nights
    2020 - Emergency Conversion to Falcon F48 with limited wireless
    2021 - 10 RHL Simple Pi Pixel Controllers - 1 Master with 9 Remotes

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    Default Re: PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter with RDS RadioText

    Hi TomL8345,

    In regards to spreading the word to other forums, I prefer to keep it low key until there's been some early adopter builds. Feedback will help iron out any issues.

    An organized group buy would be helpful, so maybe someone will do such a thing. In the meantime I have a very small number of blank PCB's (no components) for those in the USA that are highly motivated to build their own PixelRadio. Not free, but very low cost. /* Contact me privately if you are interested in a blank board and we can work out the details. */

    EDIT: All my spare PCB's have gone to project builders, so I'm no longer able to help out. But a PixelRadio project builder has commented that he ordered PCB's from JLCPCB for only $7.

    - Thomas
    Last edited by ThomasLED; 04-26-2022 at 01:34 AM. Reason: No more spare PCB's

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    Default Re: PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter with RDS RadioText

    Quote Originally Posted by TomL8345 View Post
    Thomas,

    May I respectfully suggest you post this over on the Green Site as well? I think there would be some interest there too!

    This looks like a great project and while I am considering building 1 or two, I wonder if this might be something that could be facilitated by a resurrection of the Group Buy concept to bring down the cost of building them? Just a thought.
    Ahh,I remember the group buy days. I would all in for it if it's done.
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    Default Re: PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter with RDS RadioText

    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasLED View Post
    No Pi needed. To keep cost low it uses an ESP32 for WiFi connectivity and a QN8027 single-chip stereo FM transmitter module. The FM chip provides digital-synthesized RF functions, including RDS. Its native RF power output is extremely low so PixelRadio has it's own RF amp to achieve a useful distance (100 meters on simple telescoping whip).

    *EVERYTHING* is disclosed on the Github site. Schematics, source code, PCB Gerbers, bill-of-materials, and so on.

    - Thomas
    Very, VERY clever and elegant! Hope you get some takers on this very fine DIY project!!!

    http://digwdf.org/store/
    Even though the DIGWDF Store has been closed for almost three years, it's still awesome!
    User guides, documentation and other files are still free and available for downloading.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter with RDS RadioText

    Hope you get some takers on this very fine DIY project!!!
    +1. It would be great to have others enjoy it too. So far I've heard from three guys that are preparing to build it. Hopefully they come back and share their building experience, either here or at the project's Github site.

    - Thomas

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    Default Re: PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter with RDS RadioText

    Is there a reason using Qn8027 vs SI4713 https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000...21ef1802B65WWs ? I have the SI4713 that already has support under FPP for rpi, able to pull the mp3 title for RDS or add your own texts, it also output 10mw from the module, you could eliminate the RF amp to save some money and could have an adaptor to use on rpi and xLights/WiFi interface with your design.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: PixelRadio, a DiY FM Transmitter with RDS RadioText

    Is there a reason using Qn8027 vs SI4713
    I used a QN8027 based transmitter last year and was satisfied with its performance. I am familiar with the SI4713, but the QN8027 got the gig in my project.

    ... could have an adaptor to use on rpi and xLights/WiFi interface with your design.
    Yes, could have done that. I didn't want to use a RPI, I prefer the ESP32.

    Keep in mind that this was a personal project. So design decisions were my own. Developer's choice, as they say.

    PixelRadio is an open source project. So if someone wants to use the SI4713 then all they have to do update the schematic and change the code. The beauty of open source is you can use it as-is, or break it open and take the things you like and use them in your own spinoff.

    - Thomas

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