Custom Gubbins

Much of what I do is a custom solution for when requirements are “a bit special” – or when there’s no existing solution available.  This page details a few such examples of my work.  Please note that I am fully-booked at the moment and unable to undetake new projects.

A lookup application that displays nearby AM, DAB, FM transmitters/services within a set distance from specified location.  Using Ofcom’ TXParams data, it can easily tell you what DAB services are nearby as well as search for local Community Radio stations.  A reduced-functionality version of this software is freely available on the RadioLookup page.

Audio File Backup (with fail-safe validation)
A recent task has been to produce an application that enables audio files (songs, adverts, jingles etc) to be backed-up regularly.  This could easily be achieved with an xcopy batch file but what if the audio file has been corrupted?

My solution was to produce a simple Windows GUI that would look at various audio folders and copy new/replaced files to a backup location but also highlight issues such as significant audio length discrepancies.  It allowed regularly changing items like promos to be copied (and archieved) but issues with songs (that don’t really change duration much!) are flagged for attention.  It became evident that the program needed to know not only the size of the file, but also whether it really did contain audio!

On-Air Controller / Split Routing
I was asked to come up with a reliable “on-air” controller and “split” handler.  Essentially, the customer wanted to use several studios from which to broadcast but to a variety of different “destinations” (ie: transmitters).  They also wanted the ability to play “split” advertising+branding and have my controller deal with the incoming+outgoing GPIO signals.

Each studio is a “source” and each transmitter (with split playout) is a “destination.  My solution would take RS232 from a studio as they took/released control and when a single “split” command came from the studio, the controller would send commands (GPIO, RS232 or TCP/UDP) to the destination/s currently under that studio’s control.  A series of relays and buffer-amps control the audio side of things.  As the controller was on the broadcaster’s LAN, it could status updates to remote monitor as well as debug logs.

This solution was achieved using an Arduino MEGA, ethernet shield and a 1U enclosure.  Arduino programs (or “sketches”) are written in C++ and offer great flexibility and cost-savings over a dedicated PC.

Image Picker for Radio Studio
Customer wanted to display a variety of logo images on wall-mounted flatscreens in their studios.  The addition of a “Now Playing” text banner was proposed, and my solution was a “Windows” GUI showing a list of available logos – When clicked, the logo would display on each screen.  Unique to each logo was the placement of the now playing information which could be dragged to a position fitting it around the various logo designs.