By Michael Campos

Community radio also known as LPFM in the USA which stands for LOW POWER FM was created to provide a non expensive method for non profit groups to get on the air operating anywhere from 1w – 100w. This attempts to bring humanity together, induce creativity in individuals and transform communities by having their own people RUN and PRODUCE their own programs. This gives sufficient time to elaborate programs which bring interest to the community. One of the reasons for this sufficient time is that generally community radios are legally PROHIBITED or RESTRICTED to play any sort of advertisements opposed to commercial radio.

To the best of our knowledge the first known community radio was introduced in 1940 in Bolivia during a labor strike, since then it’s become an essential tool for communities to fulfilling the urge, the desire for communication and self expression.

Community Radio in some countries is not protected from interference that may be received, unlike commercial radio. Also it’s sponsored by individuals and business that believe in the concept of giving a voice to the rarely heard while giving us the freedom of speech thought and expression.

On the other hand commercial radio is based on business on the practice of airing radio advertisements for profit. Commercial radios mostly owned by private corporates and are known for playing high quantities of copyright music with a high ratio of advertisements cutting short the time for community programs and local issues.

Things You Didn’t Know About Commercial Radio

1.In most stations DJ’s don’t pick the music, the management do this.
2.Your production must be very professional or it won’t be played.
3.Buying advertisements and trading publications is not required but helpful.
4.It’s not about if your music is good or not, it’s about ratings.

In conclusion, community radio was created to give people of the community an opportunity to express themselves in a with truth and honesty in way that cannot be done with commercial radio.

By Alex Hollings

In the world of digital music, the mp3 is the most common audio format used. It is so well known that many people think that all digital audio is mp3. But not every music file is mp3. The mp3 is short for MPEG-2 Audio Layer-3 and was developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG).

People use MP3s for digital music because music converted to that format creates smaller files than those created using CD-quality audio. This gives you the ability to store more mp3s on the same amount of space as a single CD quality file. Though settings can cause this to vary, generally speaking, an MP3 takes up about 10% of the space of a CD-quality audio file.

AAC, short for Advanced Audio Coding File, is a digital audio format that was the successor of the popular mp3. AAC offers higher quality sound compared to the mp3 and can use less memory space.

Many people think that AAC is an Apple audio format, however, it was actually developed by several different companies such as AT&T Bell Labs, Sony, Dolby, Sony and Nokia. Because of this AAC can be played on many different non-Apple devices including the Zune, Sony PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Wii U and Android platforms.

Similar to the Mp3, AAC is a lossy format meaning that to compress CD-quality audio into smaller files suitable for transmitting over the internet. However by doing this some data will be lost due to its compression process even though you can barely tell the difference. Both the MP3s and AAC measure their quality based on its bit rate, rendered in kbps. Just like the MP3, the most common bit rates for AAC files include 128 kbps, 192 kbps and 256 kbps.

The reasons why AAC files produce better sound than the MP3 may seem a little difficult to understand so I will explain some of them as simple as possible;

– AAC offers a broader frequency range from 8 to 96 kHz as opposed to the MP3s 16 to 48 kHz.
– AAC offers up to 48 channels including Dolby 5.1 as opposed to the MP3 only providing 2 channels you see in stereo audio.
– It offers much better handling of audio frequencies above 16 kHz
– And it gives you additional modules (tools) to increase compression efficiency. These tools include: TNS, Backwards Prediction, PNS etc…

In a nutshell, the AAC format grants the developers good flexibility to design codecs compared to the MP3 and corrects many of the design flaws made in the original MPEG-1. This increase in flexibility often leads to more concurrent encoding strategies and better compression.

This is the 5/8 FM antenna, one of our best products with over 15 years of sales. Over the years this antenna has had some small adjustments in its design but has retained it’s reliable quality made structure.

The materials we use to make this ultra reliable structure include Teflon, aluminium and brass. The Teflon carries the intense RF signal through the FM antenna without melting its base. This allows the 5/8 antenna to be used at high power, even a few KW with the 7-16 connector. Inside the aluminium tubes there are brass inserts that provide excellent conductivity between its connecting points.

In order to test the reliability of its build we gave this FM antenna some pretty tough tests. First we gave it a drop test and apart from a couple of scuff marks, the antenna was intact. After that we gave it a bend test to see how far it could bend before it snapped and our results were interesting. We managed to bend the antenna almost a full 30 degrees before we could see the metal begin to loose its structural integrity and then we bent it back and it worked perfectly again.

This year we made some major changes to the 5/8 antenna, the most significant change was providing the customer the facility to ajust the antenna between 88 and 108 MHz. We did this by making the main inductor at the base variable in steps, to put it simpler, this is an aluminium bar that can be moved over six different positions.

Aareff 5/8 FM Antenna

By changing the length and selecting the correct position it is possible to have an SWR of less than 1.1. Another change we made was that we added more telescopic sections to enable the FM antenna to be packed in a box only 60 cm in length. This allows us to send the antenna as a small packet through the postal system and therefore keep the antenna quality high, the delivery cost low and the overall price competitive and good value for money. DHL delivery is available for a small extra cost.

There are many advantages in using this antenna, however there are also a couple of disadvantages. These are shown below.

– Easy to install
– Sits on top of the tower
– True perfect omni-directional radiation pattern
– Light weight, low wind loading

– Not good for mounting on side of a tower.
– Narrow frequency range.(Only 2MHz)

To learn more about this antenna, click here: Aareff 5/8 antenna

By Alex Hollings

By Yoneli J

These STLs use two long range 900MHz, 2.4GHz or 5GHz active panels of a few hundred milli watts with 16 to 20dBi antennas, this is ample power to get the studio to transmitter signal 10km and more. The link is a digital stream, each panel is connected to a Barix codec to provide analogue audio in and out.
The panels use the latest OFDM modulation which is very robust even a low signal levels with interference. The Barix codecs encode and decode the stereo analogue audio into the robust mp3 digital stream. At the receiver end of the link the audio is so good, no noise, no distortion, nothing, it’s sounds like it’s connected directly by cable to the mixer in the studio.

You install the STL antenna panel on the same tower as the FM antennas, if possible underneath the FM antennas as low down as possible. You don’t need a separate tower. It is important that the STL antenna panel at the studio can see the STL panel antenna at the FM tower, this is a “LINE OF SIGHT” system for 5GHz and 2.4GHz and “NEARLY LINE OF SIGHT” for 900MHz. It does not matter how low the STL panel is on the FM tower as long as it can see the studio STL panel.
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Your products perform well. I also had a Veronica 100W TX that performed well for almost 5 years….but, unfortunately, my antenna took a direct hit by lightning and it came in through the coax and burned it out. I’ve since put a much better grounding system on my coax which I hope will help with those kind of problems. But…when lightning decides to hit….it’s difficult to completely tame it. My 30W I use as a back-up and I’ve had it for 8 years now. Prior to that I had a Veronica 12W which I sold to another broadcaster when I purchased the 30W. Your products certainly perform well and consistently for a good long time. I appreciate having a company I can depend on for superior service as well as great products!.

On behalf of Trust fm I would like to thank you for your excellent service. Our transmitter is being used 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and it performs perfectly, We will be doing a lot more business with you. Regards, Bobby Martin, Station owner.


FM Transmitters in the USA, FCC, should it be Certified or Verified?

Is your transmitter FCC approved, or certified or verified? This is without a doubt the most common technical question we are asked about transmitters and their use in the USA by FM and LPFM.

To clear the first part up, there is no FCC approval. The transmitters can be certified or verified. Our understanding of this is that both certified and verified transmitters meet or exceed the FCC spec, the only basic difference is that the certified transmitter is independently tested in a lab for compliance. The verified transmitter is declared to be compliant by the manufacturer similar to the CE marking process in the EU. The result of this is that to cover the costs of the independent lab testing the certified transmitter can cost between 1000 and 2000 US dollars more than a verified transmitter for essentially the same thing. This would okay if the station purchasing the certified transmitter had a large budget to play with.

Unfortunately only LPFM stations need to use certified transmitters, all the other types of FM stations can use verified transmitters. LPFM are the stations with the least money running on charity and shoestring budgets and they have to buy the most expensive transmitters, there’s got to be a better way than this.

LPFM.TODAY at have filed a 226 page petition to the FCC to have some of the rules changed. One of these changes is to allow LPFM stations to use verified transmitters. LPFM-AG claim there is no evidence to demonstrate that the use of certified transmitters is any different to the use of verified transmitters with LPFM and it is only an additional expense to the LPFM operator. LPFM operators have the same responsibility to hire or contract competent engineers as any other FM stations and given this should be allowed to use verified transmitters. You can follow this by signing up to Check page 66 of the petition at

Making the RF indicator

My name is Alex and when I recently joined AAREFF I was assigned to make a video tutorial on how to build an AAreff indicator. When I started this to make this video I was worried I would struggle with it as I’m not an expert in electronics. But as I worked on it, I discovered it was really easy to make as there was no soldering involved, components were easy to put together and it only took me about 10 minuites to make.
Apart from that it is really cheap to make since each component cost a few cents.

If you need more information about this, don’t hesitate in emailing us or blogging about it here.

You can have the biggest and the best FM transmitter in the world, but if the power doesn’t get from it to the antenna you may as well turn it off. A transmitter is only as good as the antenna it is connected to. A poorly tuned antenna and antenna cable will send the power back to the transmitter and in worse case cause it to over heat resulting in permanent damage. It’s a bit like driving a car with flat tyres, it will move slowly, but most of the power will be used in chewing the wheel rims to pieces. A well tuned antenna will take all the power put into it and radiated it all into free space. The antenna is effectively a transformer between the transmitters RF electrical current and free space.

The term SWR is used to measure the performance of an antenna.SWR is short for Standing Wave Ratio. An SWR of 1:1 indicates that the antenna is perfectly matched and there’s no reflected power. At the other end of the scale an SWR of 1:Infinity indicates that no power is being absorbed by the antenna and all the transmitter power is being reflected back to the transmitter.

A useful piece of test equipment that measures SWR is an SWR meter. All serious radio stations should have one of these. This connects in line between the transmitter and the antenna and antenna cable. SWR meters have a switch on them usually labeled up as FWD and REF. In the FWD position the meter indicates the forward power traveling on the antenna cable, this is the power going from the transmitter to the antenna. In the REF position the meter indicates the reflected power traveling on the antenna cable, this is the power that has not been absorbed by the antenna returning back to the transmitter. To make an SWR reading the transmitter is switched on, the meter is set to FWD position and the CAL control is turned to make the meter needle point to 100%. The SWR meter is then set to REF position, the reading shown on the meter is the amount of reflected power relative to the forward power.

Significance of the SWR reading.
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