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Revision as of 20:48, 26 December 2019 by Ka3jjz
DRM – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
One of the most common complaints of HF listeners is that a station's fidelity is about as poor as a standard AM station. This issue attempted to be addresssed with the development of DRM, which stands for Digital Radio Mondiale. This name represents 2 things;
- A digital broadcasting standard that was designed to address the limited fidelity issue;
- And a consortium of countries that market the DRM standard.
It's beyond the scope of this introductory article to go into the technical standards and engine used in a DRM broadcast, and the reader is encouraged to check out the links referenced at the bottom. However, let's briefly examine some of the highlights and issues that a DRM broadcast will entail;
When a DRM signal is received cleanly and without undue fading or interference, the audio is much more FM-like. Distortion is greatly reduced and music comes out sounding much clearer. It's much less fatiguing as well.
The software for decoding a DRM signal is widely available, and is used with a soundcard input, so no external interfaces are required.
A DRM signal is digital. Such a signal tends to create sidebands which would wipe out any weaker signal that is nearby.
For example, if you have a strong analog station on 6180khz, and a weaker one 5 khz away, you still might have a chance of hearing the weaker station using techniques such as Exalted Carrier Single Sideband (ECSS) or similar techniques. If however the station on 6180 is using DRM, the chances of hearing the weaker station 5 khz away are vanishingly small, since the digital sidebands would be detected as 'noise' by most HF receivers.
In order to receive a DRM signal, there are only 4 ways currently available;
- Use a portable radio (usually marketed from Europe or Asia where DRM is much more widely heard) that has the ability to decode it
- Use a radio that has an output (usually 12khz) already built in (such as the Ten Tec RX320D, or WinRadios)
- Modify your radio to extract a signal from the detector
- Use a SDR with the DREAM software.
The modification to your radio is similar in principle to a discriminator tap from a scanner. The detector signal is fed from the receiver into your soundcard input, where the DRM software can decode it. It is sometimes necessary to add some manual attenuation (in the form of a small 10k pot in line between the radio and PC) as the software is very sensitive to being overdriven, and some soundcard software cannot reduce the level low enough. The outboard attenuation is also an attractive alternative if you are using the soundcard for other purposes, such as digital decoding.
Why are there few North American DRM Broadcasts?
HF as a broadcasting medium in North America is non-existent. The market has been saturated with FM and AM stations from the inception of broadcasting as a service. As a result, few average Americans even know that HF is a broadcasting medium, much less what DRM is supposed to be used for.
How do you use DREAM to Route Audio to your HF Decoder?
If you are using a SDR such as SDRPlay, you will need to use a router such as Virtual Audio Cable (VAC) to get the audio from your software of choice (SDRUno, HDSDR, etc.) to the input of DREAM. Make sure to select Speaker/Headphones as the output from DREAM. Now set the input of your decoder (FLDigi, MultiPSK. DM780) to the same setting
See the Virtual Audio Devices section of the HF Appendix for some other applications that can reroute audio
- Digital Radio Mondiale - Wikipedia
- Digital Radio Mondiale - SigIDWiki
- What does a DRM Waterfall look like?
- Dream AM/DRM Decoder
- DRM Demodulator/Decoder for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10 for Winradio SDRs and others
- DRM Software Radio Site
- Other Sites
- Receiver Modifications
Software Defined Radios Known to Natively Support DRM
DRM Decoding with SDRs - YouTube
- R New Zealand DRM s/on 9890 0700z PERFECT RX 4/25/16
- Elad FDM DUO/ Wellbrook ALA1530 loop: Radio Romania International DRM 7350 kHz
- FUNcube Dongle Pro+ broadcast (AM, DRM, WFM) receiving
- KiwiSDR in IQ mode sending audio to DREAM DRM receiver
- KiwiSDR receiving DRM with SoDiRa
- Perseus SDR using DREAM
- Shortwave DRM Decoded Using Sodira & Perseus SDR
- Decoding Digital Radio Mondiale using DREAM decoder (for SDRPlay RSP SDRs)