March 4, 2003 2:41 PM   Subscribe

It's an mp3 player! It's an FM radio broadcast trasmitter! It's a dessert topping. It's a floor wax you cows! Whatever it is, the Neuros handheld "digital audio computer" puts the power of broacasting your mp3 collection (and soon your OggVorbis files) to any FM radio near you. What will Hilary Rosen do?
posted by WolfDaddy (22 comments total)
That thing makes me thirsty for some Extreme, Totally-In-Your-Face, Milk Products™.
posted by rcade at 2:56 PM on March 4, 2003

How is any different (aside from OggVorbis support) than any other number of FM streaming devices?


Motorola Simple-Fi

or even

Griffin's iTrip
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:59 PM on March 4, 2003

She'll probably quit her job.
posted by rev- at 2:59 PM on March 4, 2003

rcade: aaaaaaahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

I have a question. I have an iPod, and sometimes I find that updating takes too long (when I add some new CD's or swap out Essential Mix sets) at a minute or two. For anyone who's got a USB mp3 player, is it ever really annoying, or am I just conditioned to need fast syncing by Apple propaganda?
posted by hammurderer at 3:00 PM on March 4, 2003

How is any different (aside from OggVorbis support) than any other number of FM streaming devices?

You can also play/record fm radio, which is nice, although I think someone else does that already, too. I think the thing that I would like to try out would be the HiSi (hear it save it) function. I think that Ogg Vorbis is only half of the partnership with Xiph:
The joint project, dubbed "NeuRosetta," will make the Neuros HD the first hard drive-based portable to support the open source Ogg Vorbis format, preferred by Linux users and the open source community at large for its superior sound quality at lower bit rates. The agreement also calls for the development of "Positron," a synch application that will allow the Neuros to interface with the Linux operating system.
Between being able to record off of FM (NPR programs, mostly) and the Positron thing, this thing could be a lot of fun.
posted by eckeric at 3:19 PM on March 4, 2003

S_a_L The Simple-Fi doesn't use FM, nor does it appear to be useful outside the home.

However, you got me w/the iTrip. The Neuros is out now, though, and iTrip won't hit the shelves until spring according to your link.

I guess what I'm more curious about is that the range of these devices, right now, seems to be limited to about 20 feet. If, as I'm sure will happen, the range of this device or similar ones gets bigger, what sort of problems can or will they present to both the general public and the recording and broadcast industries?

I'd love to have a handheld device that would broadcast my divx rips over UHF or VHF ;-) Where audio goes, video follows.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:21 PM on March 4, 2003

The HiSi sounds sorta like a TiVo for radio, something I've been wishing for. If I could jump in the car, pull up "All Things Considered" or "Fresh Air" on command, pause it when I park, and resume it when I get back in the car, I'd be one happy camper.

The FM stuff isn't that complex, there are already a bunch of small products to allow iPods to do this (though I hear they all generally suck). The difference in price is kind of nuts and doesn't make all that much sense. I also wish there was a mac version and something faster than USB.
posted by mathowie at 3:26 PM on March 4, 2003

Between being able to record off of FM (NPR programs, mostly) and the Positron thing, this thing could be a lot of fun.

I agree...I've been waiting for a good mp3 player that can receive and/or record FM for a long time...I just wish it came with more than USB 1.1....and I'm not sure if I would use that FM transmission feature...how bout a cheaper device that receives FM but doesn't transmit??
posted by jacobsee at 3:29 PM on March 4, 2003

I've been looking for something to stream audio from my fileserver for a long time. The problem I've found is that most (there are a bunch, btw) have very limited ranges (< 20 feet), since they're meant for 'in-car' applications. Another problem is frequency drift.

Are there any ham radio buffs here that know anything about building my own transmitter, inexpensively? Another cool side-effect would be that my neighbors could tune in too.

There's a ton of info online, but it's total ubergeek stuff.
posted by maniactown at 3:48 PM on March 4, 2003

I recently bought an Archos FM Jukebox specifically because it supports recording FM to the internall HD, including a Tivo like feature that lets you jump back up to 30-seconds from reality to begin your recording. Not quite a full on FM-Tivo, but enough to get me geek on with. It's USB 2.0 (w/ 1.1 fallback), has analog I/O and SPDIF I/O, plus of course the built in FM tuner. Unfortunately, since they use a dedicated hardware mp3-decoder/encoder, there's zero-likelyhood of them porting ogg to it.
posted by nomisxid at 3:53 PM on March 4, 2003

The problem of frequency drift is caused by thermal expansion in the analog circuitry. The only solution is to switch to a PLL quartz synthesized system. Frequency lock-on is superb, but they cost more. this place has a variety of transmitters of varrying strengths, as well as decent info on antenna requirements for the bigger ones. They even let you sign a form promising you won't piss off the FCC, in return for selling you equipment you'd usually need a broadcast license to get.

Currently, I'm working a job that's under 200 yards from my apartment, so I've been considering seeing how much flack I get for running a 1w station to bridge the gap from work to home....er, I'm just thinking about it, yeah.
posted by nomisxid at 3:57 PM on March 4, 2003

What will Hilary Rosen do?

er... play golf and shuffleboard like a good retiree?
posted by clevershark at 5:12 PM on March 4, 2003

This is nice and all- but it's FM.. so it's limited to the frequencies FM transmits. Not sure what they are, but I know they're not 20hz-20khz.. and the connection isn't digital.

i'm happy with my empeg. :)
posted by shadow45 at 5:17 PM on March 4, 2003

[afterthought] since the EOL, that site has been mostly dead. here would probably be a better resource.
posted by shadow45 at 5:19 PM on March 4, 2003

Gizmodo is a useful resource on these sorts of things, in case you weren't aware of it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:21 PM on March 4, 2003

like a good retiree

Let's all remember that Our Rosen isn't actually outta there for another 10-11 months. Plenty of time for her to change her mind. Or blow things up.
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:26 PM on March 4, 2003

Needs more features!

1> Crossfade/automixing.
2> A "backpack" bigger than 20 GB. (It's disappointing their 20 GB backpack isn't even shipping right now, too!)
3> Volume equalization between tracks.

The volume equalization is really important, actually, especially if you plan on playing this through your stereo. Not only will tracks recorded too loud sound too loud on your stereo, they could even overmodulate the signal, killing the sound quality too.
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:10 PM on March 4, 2003

If you don't mind playing RF ubergeek, you can do this now, for free, without any extra hardware. Of course, I imagine the quality isn't the same.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:04 PM on March 4, 2003

oops, I think I combined two different features while posting earlier. Aside from recording FM, you can push a button to use the HiSi function, which seems to save a 20 second chunk of whatever song you are listening to. When you sync later, it will check against a database to tell you the title and artist of the song you were listening to. Hmn, it uses realtable's technology....
posted by eckeric at 7:06 PM on March 4, 2003

For a cheap home stereo broadcast solution, do what I did when I was a kid:

You need an audio device with *two* audio outputs for this, or you can just make one for something which only has a 1/4 or 1/8 jack.

Get yourself two Mr. Microphones, or something similar. The FM variety is better.

Get yourself two nine-volt power adapters.

Get yourself a male-male audio cable that will work with the audio device from which you want to broadcast. Don't buy "gold" anything; you will be cutting this cable.

Get yourself two radios.

Cut the plug off the DC end of the adapter. Separate and strip the ends of the wire. Your teeth will work well for this. Carefully crack open the Mr. Microphone. Connect the bare ends of the adapter directly to the wires leading to the battery tray. You may have to pry these wires from their metal clips which are supposed to connect with the battery tips. Polarity is not important. Attaching the adapter saves you from buying batteries. Do the same for the other adapter and Mr. Microphone. Leave the Mssrs. Microphone open.

Cut the audio cable in half. Separate and strip the cut ends to expose copper. Carefully disconnect the microphone part of a Mr. Microphone. Leave as much wire connected to the circuit board as possible, not to the microphone. Carefully strip the ends of the wires to which lead from the circuit board. Connect the two wires of the audio cable to the wires of the microphone. Polarity is not important. Do the same for the second Mr. Microphone.

Now put the Mssrs. Microphone back together. Plug one audio adapter into the left channel of your device, the other into the right, or just one into the single jack. Plug in or turn on one of the adapters.

Using an FM radio, find which channel the Mr. Microphone is broadcasting on. While some Mr. Microphone-like devices have tuning knobs or switches, on all such devices you can also change this frequency by fooling with the innards of the Mr. Microphone. On the AM version, slide the copper-wrapped wax paper around the ferrite rod, or wrap another wire lightly and widely spaced around the copper-wrapped paper. On the FM version, spread or compress the wax-coated copper coil a little bit. On some versions there may be a shiny metal box containing a ferrite screw. You can turn this slightly to adjust the tuner frequency.

Now do the same to the other Mr. Microphone. You now have separate right and left channels of your device broadcasting around the house for that famous "wireless speaker" effect.

For a bonus DJ effect, you can broadcast from a combo radio-cassette which has a microphone input. Plug in a real microphone, put a blank cassette in the machine, press record. On most such devices, your mic input will go to both the cassette and to the audio output. This means you can talk over and through songs, just like the worst DJs.

posted by Mo Nickels at 7:18 PM on March 4, 2003

FM is 20-14.5 khz, so the quality is pretty much the same as an audiocasette.

Also, you won't see much more powerful transmitters, as the FCC limits power to about 100 mW for unlicensed broadcasters. You could always replace the resistor or whatever else is impeding the amount of current flow to the antenna, but be warned that your local HAM radio guy will come out and smack you over the head. Not to mention the white vans... :-)
posted by shepd at 10:37 PM on March 4, 2003

A, uh, "friend" of mine has one of these transmitters. Great for listening to radioparadise.com and PC-stored music. Neighbors aren't complaining yet. The quality's pretty decent too, with no discernable frequency drift.

DIY radio. To heck with broadcast FM, I say!
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:16 AM on March 5, 2003

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