Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bad Dream

I keep trying to like Digital Radio Mondiale. A couple of broadcasts are pretty loud into The Land That Shortwave Forgot aka California. They sound really cool. They don't use IBOC, so there's no analog signal at all. It sounds like the old SELSCAN tones they used to use on the COTHEN net, only more so.

Good ute DXers refuse to be told they cannot extract intelligence from every weird noise out there, so of course I went looking to see what I'd need to hear the digital quality audio on my own little short wave radio. I found out that what I'd need is to modify the radio to send a 12 MHz IF directly to the computer. No thanks. I like my NRD-545 the way it is. Thank you.

If it is true that the implementation of DRM that the industry intends to use is completely incompatible, and there will never be a US $29.95 converter board for analog receivers that can be installed with two wires and an AA battery, we have a problem. Every short wave receiver in the world may someday be useless. This bodes ill for the future of the medium, since the installed receiver base in places like Africa is all that keeps it alive. People who use wind-up radios because they cannot afford batteries are not going to afford new radios either. Bye bye shortwave broadcasting.

And then, of course, there is digital SSTV.

I heard someone complaining on the digital SSTV frequency that he can never decode the pictures. No matter how loud the signal is, he misses segments and everything goes blooey. They asked him what program he was using, and laughed when it wasn't EasyPAL Lite, since that's all they ever use.

Since EasyPAL Lite seems to have a new version out every couple of weeks, I downloaded today's beta (literally dated 4/8), and started it up. Crash-o-rama. I guess it's improving, though. It doesn't hang the computer any more. It just tries to write to nonexistent addresses, and goes quietly.

Sometimes, I am told, things improve if you turn off hyperthreading. Unfortunately, I am very much of the old school, and will go to my grave convinced that good programmers do not ask their users to make BIOS changes. I guess that leaves Digtrx and HamDRM as the working programs, and I will have to be content with sending files to myself.

C'est le guerre.