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Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Covers all of Northern Lower Michigan (from Ludington to Tawas northward), as well as the Straits Area and Soo Region.
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TheForce
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Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by TheForce » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:46 pm

Going through the channels on the car stereo...some stations have RDS, some don't. Some display incomplete information and some lags. What is going on?



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audiophile
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by audiophile » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:11 pm

It's a very fragile signal, so it quits when the signal gets weak. It may only lock on hilltops of a weak station.


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TheForce
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by TheForce » Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:19 pm

While RDS seems neat-o on the surface, I think it's kinda pointless if it's not going to work at all times.



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Plate Cap
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by Plate Cap » Sun Dec 18, 2016 1:12 pm

RDS is interesting....it's a lower-level signal, comparatively, to the main channel.....akin to the level of the stereo pilot, and you lose that all the time on the fringes.

Broadcasters do not know, or perhaps more accurately, do not choose to employ it properly. In the north, they cry about money, but when competing with XM and streaming sources (again, see my signature box below), they don't 'get' that people want artist and title. It can be used for imaging, promos, and a lot more.

It tends to cluster in areas; Detroit went wild with it when it first came out, theoretically it was because of automotive manufacturers wanting to do development on systems. Nice theory; don't know if it's true. You can, however, because of this clustering, drive for miles and never see an RDS signal.

I vividly recall a group owner, years ago, when I inquired about why they were not using RDS, stated something along the lines of that being 'big city stuff' and they couldn't afford / wouldn't bother with it in the sticks.......same guy told me years later that it was the single biggest marketing and positioning tool a station can have. See, he learned!

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ftballfan
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by ftballfan » Sun Dec 18, 2016 8:28 pm

There even seems to be variances within groups. 98.1 has had RDS for quite a while now, while sister station 95.5 does not have it (and has never had it as far as I know).


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cckadlec
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by cckadlec » Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:27 am

It depends on the settings of the RDS as far as engineering goes, and how well the signal comes in as to whether or not all the data packets can be decoded on your radio. Engineers can turn up the RDS injection level if they want, where something like 3%+ is a decent signal, meaning that if the station is somewhat weak, the RDS will still manage to come in, whereas others have the level set lower so even with a good signal, you may not get a solid RDS readout. I remember a time when WHTS here in town had their settings drastically off and the RDS would only come in about 1/2 mile from their tower and sometimes not even then. Eventually they fixed it, but it was pretty pathetic at the time. Other stations have equipment go bad and RDS goes off entirely for a period or forever (104.1 Grand Rapids recently). A lot of stations had it but ditched it in recent years, while others got it, and then others got it but aren't yet efficient with it (103.7 and 106.1 Muskegon with some of their oddities I've seen in the past).

Here in town, WIIL has one of those signals where it doesn't even need to be clear, they always have RDS in. While we can get stations from Northern Michigan clearly and there is *never* RDS on almost any of them, naturally among the stations that do run it I mean, because all the hills seemingly take out that part of the signal. Terrain and other factors make a difference. The Milwaukee stations here are easy to get it, but Northern Michigan not so much.

But also keep in mind the way RDS is employed these days. It's supposed to be a basic 8-character display, but stations have managed to fix it up to fit their needs by running song info and other things that extend those 8 characters by far. And that's another part of the problem is that it would be easy to get those 8 characters usually, but once you're dealing with 64, and perhaps scrolling info and whatnot, it's harder to pull all that in steadily.

So you've got the stations that use the most basic form of it with 8 characters:

102.7 WMOM MI Pentwater
PTY Top 40
PS "MOM-FM"[/b] <-- PS is by default 8 characters or less, but can be stretched with work-around technology, but the 8-character display alone should be easy to receive, but if you're distant, you will get only parts of the message, usually in 8 character blocks at a time
RT "Always Listen To Your MOM" <-- RT can be 64 characters and is usually decoded in full at one time

And then you've got the ones that use it to the end of the earth (this particular engineer knows his shit though; running traffic info that updates through RDS):

91.5 WBEZ IL Chicago
PTY News
PS "WBEZ" | "WBEZ WBEZ WBEZ WBEZ WBEZ WBEZ WBEZ WBEZ WBEZ" Traffic Hotspots ("WBEZ LSD NB Hayes to Balbo: 0 min" | "WBEZ LSD NB Balbo to Hollywd: 0 min" | "WBEZ LSD SB Hollywd to Balbo: 0 min" | "WBEZ LSD SB Balbo to Hayes: 0 min" | "WBEZ KENNEDY IB Ohare to Loop: 0 min" | "WBEZ KENNEDY OB Loop to OHare: 0 min" | "WBEZ DAN RYAN IB 95th to Downtown: 0 min" | "WBEZ DAN RYAN OB Downtown to 95th: 0 min" | "WBEZ IKE IB Woodfld to Congress: 0 min" | "WBEZ IKE IB Wolf to Congress: 0 min" | "WBEZ IKE OB Congress to Woodfld: 0 min" | "WBEZ IKE OB Congress to Wolf: 0 min" | "WBEZ EDENS IB Lake Cook to the Junction: 0 min" | "WBEZ EDENS OB Junction to Lake Cook: 0 min" | "WBEZ STEVENSN IB TriState to LSD: 0 min" | "WBEZ STEVENSN OB LSD to TriState: 0 min" | "WBEZ REAGAN EB Aurora Toll to IKE: 0 min" | "WBEZ REAGAN OB IKE to Aurora Toll: 0 min" | "WBEZ TRISTATE NB I80 to Stevensn: 0 min" | "WBEZ TRISTATE NB Stevensn to J.Addams: 0 min" | "WBEZ TRISTATE NB J.Addams to Lake Cook: 0 min" | "WBEZ TRISTATE NB B.Ford to WI State Line: 0 min" | "WBEZ TRISTATE SB Lake Cook to J.Addams: 0 min" | "WBEZ TRISTATE SB J.Addams to Stevensn: 0 min" | "WBEZ TRISTATE SB Stevensn to I80: 0 min" | "WBEZ TRISTATE SB WI State Line to B.Ford: 0 min" | "WBEZ J.ADDAMS EB IL53 to TriState: 0 min" | "WBEZ J.ADDAMS WB TriState to IL53: 0 min" | "WBEZ B.FORD IB I80/I94 to I57: 0 min" | "WBEZ B.FORD OB I57 to I80/I94: 0 min" | "WBEZ BORMAN IB I-65 to I80/I294: 0 min" | "WBEZ BORMAN OB I80/I294 to I-65: 0 min" | "WBEZ IN TOLL WB I-65 to State Toll Plaza: 0 min" | "WBEZ IN TOLL EB State Toll Plaza to I-65: 0 min")
RT "Chicago Public Radio" Traffic Hotspots ("WBEZ LAKE SHORE DRIVE Northbound Hayes to Balbo: 0 min" | "WBEZ LAKE SHORE DRIVE Northbound Balbo to Hollywood: 0 min" | "WBEZ LAKE SHORE DRIVE Southbound Hollywood to Balbo: 0 min" | "WBEZ LAKE SHORE DRIVE Southbound Balbo to Hayes: 0 min" | "KENNEDY Inbound from Ohare to The Loop: 0 min" | "KENNEDY Outbound from the Loop to OHare: 0 min" | "DAN RYAN Inbound from 95th to Downtown: 0 min" | "DAN RYAN Outbound from Downtown to 95th: 0 min" | "IKE Inbound from Woodfield to Congress: 0 min" | "IKE Inbound from Wolf to Congress: 0 min" | "IKE Outbound from Congress to Woodfield: 0 min" | "IKE Outbound from Congress to Wolf: 0 min" | "EDENS Inbound from Lake Cook Road to the Junction: 0 min" | "EDENS Outbound from the Junction to Lake Cook Road: 0 min" | "STEVENSON Inbound from TriState to LSD: 0 min" | "STEVENSON Outbound from LSD to the TriState: 0 min" | "JANE ADDAMS Westbound from the TriState to IL53: 0 min")


[ Radio and weather geeks, beware! Coastal tropo studies, the 3-hr. Seoul AM Radio Listening Guide, 6-hr. 500 Top-of-Hour IDs, and Chinese FM at www.chriskadlec.comTuner: Grundig G8 • Location: Fremont, Mich. ]

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TheForce
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by TheForce » Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:07 am

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cckadlec
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by cckadlec » Mon Dec 19, 2016 7:57 pm

Your radio has the PS on the top line and the RT on the bottom, but seems to entirely lack the PTY. Mine (a 2004 model) has a single screen where I need to manually switch between them, but I can hold it on the PS or RT by setting it up as such so it stays on there by default and shows whatever info is coming through.

101.3 WSUE MI Sault Ste. Marie
PTY Rock
PS "Rock 101"
RT "The Sault's Rock Station"

104.3 CJQM ON Sault Ste. Marie
PTY None
PS "Today's Best Country 104.3" | "Song by Artist on Country 104.3"
RT "Today's Best Country 104.3"


[ Radio and weather geeks, beware! Coastal tropo studies, the 3-hr. Seoul AM Radio Listening Guide, 6-hr. 500 Top-of-Hour IDs, and Chinese FM at www.chriskadlec.comTuner: Grundig G8 • Location: Fremont, Mich. ]

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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by ChrisKun2K5 » Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:40 pm

The strangest RDS in my neck of the woods is that of WFBE (Nash FM) in Flint. My old 2008 Dodge Nitro would not decode that station's RDS even in Flint itself - not even the PTY (and despite the fact that my Eton Traveler decoded it just fine). Now I have a 2016 Nissan Rogue that decodes the station's RDS near-perfectly even down to around Brighton and Whitmore Lake (unfortunately it does not have PTY).

Another thing I get a kick out of is when some stations don't have auto-scroll in PS on band names or other words of eight or nine characters. For example, whenever WRIF or WCSX plays a song by Aerosmith, the PS will display as "AEROSMIT" but won't auto-scroll to show the "H." WKAR-FM does this too - when displaying this afternoon's weather forecast you'll see "This Afternoo" without an auto-scroll to show the "n."



cckadlec
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by cckadlec » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:38 pm

ChrisKun2K5 wrote:The strangest RDS in my neck of the woods is that of WFBE (Nash FM) in Flint. My old 2008 Dodge Nitro would not decode that station's RDS even in Flint itself - not even the PTY (and despite the fact that my Eton Traveler decoded it just fine). Now I have a 2016 Nissan Rogue that decodes the station's RDS near-perfectly even down to around Brighton and Whitmore Lake (unfortunately it does not have PTY).

Another thing I get a kick out of is when some stations don't have auto-scroll in PS on band names or other words of eight or nine characters. For example, whenever WRIF or WCSX plays a song by Aerosmith, the PS will display as "AEROSMIT" but won't auto-scroll to show the "H." WKAR-FM does this too - when displaying this afternoon's weather forecast you'll see "This Afternoo" without an auto-scroll to show the "n."
Actually, that auto-scroll would be the fault of your tuner instead, in most cases. All the technology is different in the end and some radios have different settings for the user as well that can allow you to view certain information. If I hold down the menu button on my car's radio, it can allow me to keep the RDS screen I want, and it can also allow me to do that without scroll it seems (I don't mess with it much as I have the setting I want), which would be much the same as what you're describing. Every great now and then though, the station does have a quirky setting. In your case, certainly your radio (I have no problem with those stations). I don't remember which station it was, whether it was up by Green Bay or Sudbury - I think the latter - but one of them behaved as you described. It refused to scroll to finish the message, no matter what I did!

WFBE (their RDS from my 2016 database below) is funny here. WIIL is my local station on 95.1 but every great now and then I'll get a hit from WFBE's RDS despite the fact that their audio is nowhere to be heard. It'll change for a few seconds and then WIIL's RDS comes back in. When they do sneak their way in during morning inversions sometimes, which can be hard because WIIL is not an easy station to lose sometimes, it comes in very quickly. They obviously have a very high injection level for RDS much like WIIL does. I don't get WKAR quite that often here because I'm 7 miles from the 90.3 100kw classical flamethrower in Hesperia, but not to say it doesn't come in on a good night if Green Bay isn't in.

95.1 WFBE MI Flint
PTY Country
PS "Nash FM 95.1 Country for Life - Nash FM 95.1" | "Nash FM 95.1 Country for Life - SONG ARTIST" | "SELECTIVE SERVICE - SLAMMING DOORS :60" (ads)
RT "Nash FM 95.1 - Country For Life" | "SONG - ARTIST" | "SELECTIVE SERVICE - SLAMMING DOORS :60" (ads)


[ Radio and weather geeks, beware! Coastal tropo studies, the 3-hr. Seoul AM Radio Listening Guide, 6-hr. 500 Top-of-Hour IDs, and Chinese FM at www.chriskadlec.comTuner: Grundig G8 • Location: Fremont, Mich. ]

ChrisKun2K5
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by ChrisKun2K5 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 3:13 am

Yeah, I've noticed that as well - when I visit family in the Lansing area, WFBE's RDS will often show up even though the station itself can hardly be heard in the slop from WMMQ.



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TheForce
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by TheForce » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:22 pm

I haven't listened to Rock 105 in a while but when I did the RDS display wouldn't update. For example it would show "cartman in the morning" or something like that all day long instead of showing the song names.



hunterw
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by hunterw » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:41 pm

Up in tc. Most only have station names on the displays
All listed have station names come up
92.9 has title of songs
94.3
95.5. Only has station name rotating and Below it cartman in the morning
97.5
98.5
103.5 shows song name
104.1
104.5
105.5 and 106.7
105.9
106.3 is dead. No signal. Not on air. Wonder what happened
107.5 has title of songs
107.9cdy. Has rds but hard to get here



kc8yqq
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Re: Why is RDS so inconsistent?

Post by kc8yqq » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:54 am

There is an RDS (actually it's RDBS here in the US) standards document that's over 100 pages long. I can't find it using Google search and Dogpile doesn't work here in the office. The PS is supposed to show the station ID and not scroll so it won't distract the driver in a car. The RT is for station info, comments, or anything and can scroll. There is a traffic alert feature when activated will automatically tune your receiver to the station to hear traffic reports. Some stations have had this turned on 24/7/365 such as WLGH (Lansing area), WEJC (Gladwin area), and KFDI (Wichita KS). It would be great if stations were to tie this alert feature into the Emergency Alert System.

Interesting story from several years ago. My wife was in the Westwood Mall in Jackson shopping and me (not much of a mall person) stayed out in the truck listening to a tape. A storm came up and the cassette stopped playing and switched to FM 101.3. I thought it was the Grand Rapids station testing their RDS as it was around the time they started using it. Commercials came on with unfamiliar addresses and area codes. I made a few quick notes and did an internet search when I got home. It turned out to be KFDI. I emailed them and they replied they had also heard from a woman in Pennsylvania. Years later we went out to Wichita to see my wife's cousin. As we were coming in the area, the stereo would switch to the station on hilltops and would go back to tape in the valleys until we got close enough when it would stay on the station. Upon leaving the area I stopped by the station and talked with the engineer. He mentioned the person that set up the RDS was no longer at the station and the RDS manual had been lost, so they didn't know how to shut off the alert.



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