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Author Topic: Low-power broadcasting at bluegrass festivals  (Read 1512 times)
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« on: June 08, 2015, 0124 UTC »

I attend a lot of bluegrass music festivals, and I often see small FM transmitters being used to broadcast the audio of the festival on a blank frequency.  Do the sound operators have a license to do this?  Or is this technically a violation of FCC rules?  I know that the transmitters put out more power than Part 15 permits.  I was able to hear the audio up to a mile away from the festival ground on my car radio after leaving.
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2017, 1808 UTC »

Many "Part 15" transmitters put out far more than what is technically allowed by the FCC.  A Christmas Town in Michigan called Frankinmuth had a FM transmitter (Whole House 3.0) which will do 1 1/4 miles to a decent car Radio or High End Radio.  It has operated for years and the FCC has not bothered them one bit and most likely the know about it since they are not too far from Detroit, Michigan.

AFIAK from my own experience with friends and colleagues who do this that as long as you don['t operate right in a large Radio market that you can often operate 5-15 Watts into a ground plane antenna 10-20 feet high in the air and not receive 1 complaint unless you don't operate on a frequency that is one blank channel below and above a licensed station.  Example you operate on 100 .1 Mhz there should be a blank frequency on 99.9 and 100.3 Mhz.  You will also have to chack in the summertime after 6PM for the ducting effect and make sure that if anything comes in you cease to operate till the inversion (ducting effect) is over.

87.7 Mhz and 87.9 Mhz is where you can operate if you don't have blank frequencies in your area but again if you live in a major market some jealous station is going to cry wolf to the FCC.  Keep your signal away from large radio market cities too.  A Beam antenna can help with this as well.

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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2017, 0308 UTC »

If you go Part-15 with a ground plane legal on a mast of modest height, your range will cover the parking lots and campgrounds of most festivals and fairs easily plus some. How far depends on the terrain. If the fest is on the hill the signal is going to go a lot further than it would if you were in the valley.

We have local Xmas light display thing about a mile and half from my house. They run the audio for that thing on a loop 24/7 from Thanksgiving to New Years, with the transmitter and antenna mounted up by the old water tower, perfectly legal by specs, but w/ a 300-400 ft. vantage point over the floor of the valley. It gets out to nearby towns. I drive around at times to see how far it goes. I've had it three plus miles out in the flats in it's lobes. My guess is if you were up on a ridge level with it, it might go a couple more.
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« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2017, 2055 UTC »

They could also be playing the odds in their favor.  Most of those things last just a weekend, and even if you were running a few watts, the odds of it catching the attention of the commission is quite small, unless they just happen to be in the neighborhood (it happens).


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