Old PC as broadcast equip

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Old PC as broadcast equip

Is this a good place to ask about using a PC to run your station? I want to know if there is an open source operating system, with a desktop (not too much command prompt), that is good for running the usual radio automation stuff. Seems like the better sound software works on new PC's.

Well, I have an (about) 15

Well, I have an (about) 15 year old IBM laptop running Zara Radio under Windows 2000 and it works just fine (including running audio processing software).  You'll need a bit more PC for XP, but not much more.   I use the old IBM PC to drive an AM transmitter that I use to listen to oldies around the house and immediate vicinity.

My main automation computer is an older ASUS dual core fan-less mini desktop computer (physically it's smaller than a softcover book) that I run Vista on (to get the most of the dual core architecture - it's easily 7-8 years old, maybe more). On that one I also run my streaming software (IceCast server, standalone EdCast to generate a stream).  I use outboard hardware audio processing.

Some people swear by LINUX, but there's much more software available for Windows, even the older operating systems, and much more help available (as more people use it).  You can easily pick up an old computer for well under $100 (I usually pay under $50 and far less than that when I come across good ones at vintage shops - I recently scored a decent Toshiba Satellite laptop for $20).

Ok, cool to hear. I was

Ok, cool to hear. I was wondering about Zara. What I have is a Win 95 machine I used to use in business. I'm guessing I'll have to use it 'air gapped'. Wish it has a USB port. Haven't powered it up in about 8 years. But if it works it frees up $300 toward something I'll have actually buy.




CMOS Battery

Worst thing you'd have to do is change the CMOS battery on that 95 machine, it should fire up after that.

 Barry of 1200 AM BBR - WQYY 664

Will Zara run on 95?? Even if

Will Zara run on 95?? Even if it does I personally would install XP on that old machine if that's your only option, believe it or not I've actually installed Xp stripped down on numerous 486 pcs in the past and the ran quite well comsidering (it's not particuarly difficult to accomplish and I assume there are still plenty of step by step tutorials on the web on how to do it).

But really, again,..  Older capable computers are a dime a dozen, and you certainly wouldn't have to pay $300 for something else.. Maybe $50 tops.. $25.. $15 or free.. At least the way it is around Georgia.. People just don't care about computers older than 5 years old anymore. Computers are considered disposable items now, but honest to god even the oldest of computers can be repurposed for some of the most capable things for free.. Including radio automation, and run trouble free.

One day I'll make some kind of demostration/tutorial of just how much you can accomplish for basically free (minus the cost of the transmitter) 100% free to set up a part15 station.. it's just too easy!

But I really woudn't go Windows 95

Rich Powers Part15, Take 2..

Old PC

If you don't stream on that PC ......... you can use 98 SE or XP. I had en for 8 years long en PII running under 98SE with Zara 1.4.4 and it works fine. But I got a problem. The Bios wasn't good enough for large hardisks, so ...........

Now I have a PIII (Compaq Deskpro EN) with XP Lite and it still works fine. There's only one thing, you can only do some simple processing cause the processor is to slow. So I use the plug-ins SqrSoft and the DeCisoft Equalizer. This all works fine. 

Rob Veld

Station Manager Radio 199 (Netherlands)

XP Machines

I'm 100% with Rich on the XP. Just make sure (if it's a laptop) the sound card is good. Zara runs flawlessly on XP. Windows 7? Not so much...


Hmm.. funny, I thought I was

Hmm.. funny, I thought I was just in this thread a minute ago but I was in the shoutcast thread! See my comment #36 there if you want:

Rich Powers Part15, Take 2..

There's only one thing, you

There's only one thing, you can only do some simple processing cause the processor is to slow. So I use the plug-ins SqrSoft and the DeCisoft Equalizer. This all works fine. 

Ah yeah.. I didn't consider proccessing because I prefer using external hardware for that. But Rob's suggestion sounds like a suitable solution.

Rich Powers Part15, Take 2..

Radiodugger, Zara 1.6.2 runs

Radiodugger, Zara 1.6.2 runs just fine on Window 7, but I run it in XP compatibility mode.


I know you won't be putting Win10 on the old box, but Zara runs fine on that too.

I just don't like the forced updates Win10 shoves on ya.


Charter Member - Association of Low Power Broadcasters

Member Station - ALPB

You Want Open-Source Specifically?

Centinel, if you are truly after a free open-source solution, Rivendell (for Linux) and Airtime are pretty much the ways to go.

Rivendell is available in two flavors: the Rivendell Appliance, which is a 64-bit Centos-based automation system on a single DVD; and RRABUNTU, an older version based on Ubuntu 10.4. I would not try to run either on a machine optimized for Win95 -- that is REALLY old hardware. TigerDirect has refurbed machines that may suit your purpose, one of which (at this writing) is an HP for about $120. Not awful.

Airtime also has it going on, but requires an Ubuntu Linux server which is beyond the capabilities (and interest) of most Part 15 broadcasters.

It takes a bit of configuring to get Rivendell right, but only once. It may not be for you, but its worth a look.

Download Rivendell from  and RRABUNTU from  Airtime is available from   Good luck.

Darsen the III



So my spouse agreed to donate our 'old' cafe computer running Win 7. Its biggest problem is it needs a new mouse. 

By the way, I like the Ubuntu platform idea. but I think I'll use that on a Rasberry Pi machine. I'll set that up as a VPN.





Anyone use iMac's?  Forgot I have an old one but it needs a new hard drive.  I had some kind of software on it enabling a Windows OS to operate (can't recall its name). Could probably get the software folks to transfer the licenses to the newest drive.





How Old?

Is it one of the "purple turtles" from 1998? I'm not even sure what I would do with one of those today.

 This page may help a little ... <g>

Darsen the III


Tim in Bovey

I think Tim is a Mac Man.

Druid Hills Radio AM-1610- Dade City, FL. Unlicensed operation authorized by the Part 15 Department of the FCC. We do not censor free speech and hide public information.

iMac ... Wait a Minute ...

Hold on ... were those old 1998 bulgy blue-bubble computers IMACS or EMACS? I'm pretty sure Im thinking of the wrong device.

Darsen the III


As far as software, if you

As far as software, if you are not comfortable using a command line then open source operating systems may not be for you. You will wind up needing command line to install the things that you want. 

As far as hardware ,  don't torture yourself with anything that has less than 4 meg RAM its not worth it and its likely the software you want will not work. 

RAM-BAM, Thank Yew Ma'am...

From Skywave: "...don't torture yourself with anything that has less than 4 meg RAM"

Hope you mean 4 GB RAM. A four-megger is basically a 386.

Darsen the III


i typically use an xp or win7

i typically use an xp or win7 netbook running winamp and sound solutions plugin. sound solutions takes a while to tweak but when done right, can bring dull flat sounding oldies to life. this of course is only good if your using you station as a wireless jukebox.

Meh, if its Windows XP you

Meh, if its Windows XP you can get away with 512 MB. If you are running Win 98 SE, 128 MB does just fine. (Assuming you are using Zara Radio)

If you want to try to work

If you want to try to work with open source stuff for your radio station, the $35 raspberry pi is a pretty good way to go.   I used them as an link back when I was on commercial radio, and when I get my part15 on the air, it's going to be driven by a raspberry pi 3.

Previously, I might have opted against a pi and instead gone with an atom board, but the 3 version has wifi onboard and has a quad core 64-bit CPU with enough horsepower to run things like jack.

You'll need a good USB power supply and a decent microsd card for storage, but if you can get going with the raspberry pi, you're doing pretty well as far as command line goes.

Airtime is pretty nice, but it's not quite what I need.   The engine that it runs on, liquidsoap, is really, really nice if you can figure out it's scripting language.   Once I get started, I might document what I'm doing.


Edit:  Oh yeah, if you go the pi route, keep in mind that it's just a board.   You can get cheap enclosures for it, and it needs an HDMI monitor and USB keyboard/mouse if you want to use it.   Also, sound output is crap and it doesn't have input at all.   The nicest cheap USB sound card that I've found is the "diamond sound tube."   It looks a bit like a vacuum tube, but it has stereo in and out, unlike most cheap USB sound cards I've found.    And the output is comparatively nice.



I just installed Ubuntu on an Intel Dual Core 2 Quad PC. Did a partition on the hard drive so I can keep the Win XP.  Using Firefox to log onto this forum under Ubunto and it is working well. I'm guessing the learning curve will be getting programs like Zara, etc. to run on it.





Ubuntu is working well. I ran "Wine" in Ubuntu and got Zara Radio to run. I don't have speakers hooked up yet so I don't know if it outputs sound yet.




Another update

Thus far I'm finding that Zara Radio crashes under Ubuntu/Xubuntu.

Will try Radio DJ.

It would be real nice if this worked out. If it doesn't I'll have to lay out cash for a Win machine.




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