Ever wanted to make your own pirate radio station? Well, you’re in luck. The folks at Free Radio Berkeley have put together a short video that walks you through the actual making of a 10 watt FM transmitter. That’s enough radio juice to broadcast in a 3-4 mile radius.
How To Make a Radio Station from Seth Gadsden on Vimeo.
The fun thing is they will send you all the parts – they sell the kits for between $280 (15 watts) and $1050 (300 watts). And all you have to do is sit down with your soldering iron (and leadfree soldier) and follow along. Now, I own a 2 watt transmitter that I built under the tutelage of Canadian performance artist (and former electrical engineer) Bobbi Kozinuk, who in turn developed the transmitter design from Tetsuo Kogawa’s pioneering work in the 1980s in Japan.
Owning your own portable radio station is pretty much the funnest thing you’ll ever do. I’ve broadcast a show in East Vancouver about a movement to stop a disastrous transportation plan, and also in Cape Breton with the Chapel Island First Nation, the first time they had ever heard their own voices, music and language broadcast locally. A microtransmitter is also a wonderful art tool – used it once to help stage a performance in a parkade across the street from a gallery, audience on the roof, performers engaged in clandestine movement, music, and delight.
To be fair, it is a little complicated to put together a transmitter, soldering is a skill and some of the components can be fried by too much heat, but it seems like the folks at Free Radio Berkeley are doing this for all of the right reasons and will likely be available to help you get through any tricky patches.
Overall, the video is a great introduction, maybe not quite enough to have you broadcasting to your friends and fellow citizens immediately, but with a little dedication, patience, a few emails and maybe a telephone call or two to the Free Radio Berkeley pirate radio champions, a radio station could be yours. Radio Free Berkeley is a pirate radio station that has been broadcasting in the Berkeley area on a 50 watt transmitter since 1993. Props to Ceci Moss at Rhizome for picking up on the video.