Total posts : 45366
I don’t usually count what I do as “community” either. More like “near neighborhood”. Definitely no offense taken.
Now somebody with a bit of budget in a fairly small town maybe *could* use part 15 FM with enough transmitters spaced up and down the streets to provide enough coverage for everyone in town to be able to tune in. That’s not really a new idea, the Wellsville Ohio station did that on AM with multiple certified transmitters and probably some other places I don’t know about have as well. Due to capture effect, I think it’d probably be easier with FM and certified FM transmitters cost less than AM, but that’d be balanced out by needing more of them. FM is more line of sight than AM, so geographic features alone in many places would make it require considerably more transmitters.
I do, however, strongly agree with ArtisanRadio on the much embattled topic of “range”.. To a good car receiver where you can have at least close to direct line of sight and with the transmitter at least a few meters up off the ground and a ways out from any building, right around 200 meters on the average. But to a cheap portable “transistor radio” type receiver, yes, around 200 ft. There were some occasional spots up to almost a half mile away where one could *barely* make out the signal part of the time with the volume on the car radio way up (and a high tolerance for noise). That half mile isn’t useful range by any stretch, but it did quite nicely demonstrate that the signal does keep going at feeble levels for a lot further than one might think.
However that was with some “heroics” in mounting that would be impractical without a lot of rethinking, and as such I settle for less range and the convenience of having my transmitter right in my studio (which is in a corner of the kitchen). It still covers my few listeners quite nicely and can be picked up a little over 120 meters away with the car receiver. With the cheap portable, well it barely makes it across the street. But that’s enough to be able to use a cheap portable out in the yard, so I’m cool with that. The few neighbors that listen use home stereos with at least some sort of receiving antenna. They’ve all been within at the most maybe 300 ft or less.
Calling it “community broadcasting” would be quite a stretch of credulity though. I’d say community broadcasting *can* be done, but it would take basically a network of transmitters and my budget doesn’t go that far. They’d pretty much have to be commercial certified anyway because of the limit on homebrew part 15 devices to 5 units at a time. For a single transmitter the only way it might manage to be community would be if it was in a trailer park or maybe a campground or something. And that probably still wouldn’t be enough to be what most people think of as “community” sized operations.
I can’t really speak much about AM. I built an SSTran, but listener interest among my current listeners was very low for the AM efforts. I did some experimentation with loading coils this summer but I felt the sound quality was not as good when I’d finally get the system tuned for the different locations around the house and yard I tried. I *like* how the SStran sounds in it’s “10 ft wire
mode”, though I use it with the vertical I made for the loading coil experiments of wood and 6 gauge copper wire, which is only 7 ft and some because it had to fit in some rooms that didn’t happen to have 10 ft ceilings. It does an admirable job of sounding real good on radios anywhere in the house and also sounding great on the vintage tube radio of the one neighbor interested in listening to my station via AM. His receiver is less than 100 ft from where my transmitter/antenna for AM are currently sitting, *and* he has an outdoor longwire antenna for his receiver. I’m not sure about exact dimensions, but I’d guess it as 40 or 50 ft of wire. Lately I’ve only actually been putting the AM on the air if he calls and asks for it. Or if I’m running some sort of holiday programming or special event.
I had fun building it, I have fun tinkering with it sometimes, it’s fun when the one neighbor wants to tune in.. But my enthusiasm got a bit damped for AM because none of my regular listeners (including my own household) have much interest in listening on AM.
But I’d definitely agree that 200 *meters* is closer to the range to a car radio if some pains were taken in mounting the transmitter outdoors and reasonably high and in the clear. In my experience the “200 ft range” often mentioned would be to a cheap handheld portable or maybe a boombox,and it’ll only reliably be that much with direct line of sight. A good car radio or a home stereo with an antenna can pick up a certified part 15 FM at more than 200 ft. It still wouldn’t be like a mile though, or a half mile, probably not even a quarter. *Maybe* a tenth of a mile, if they use something like an old roof-mounted TV antenna and a pretty decent stereo? And that’d be assuming the station went to some pains to do a good outdoor mounting of the transmitter/antenna.
That’s my evaluation based strictly on practical experiments with consumer level gear anyway, and as such would be considered anecdotal.