Stream Setup Info Print E-mail

Occasionally we receive inquiries as to how difficult it is and/or what is required to setup a stream. This page will attempt to answer all questions of that nature.  We frequently are asked why don't we have a stream in the XYZ area. The plain and simple answer is we rely on volunteers to bring the stream to us, we normally don't go soliciting for specific areas. We've found that from past experience it works better if someone develops the interest and approaches us, as they tend to stay with the effort longer and more reliably too.


So what is required to set up a stream exactly?


You would need:

  • A dedicated computer (Windows or Linux) [we prefer dedicated because the stream reliability suffers when the machine is used for other things]
  • A Broadband internet connection (T1, DSL or cable - no dialups)
  • A good railroad and radio location whereby you can hear reasonable amounts of action
  • A radio (scanner or Ham radio or Commercial radio) that will interface into the LINE IN of your computer's soundcard
  • A decent antenna that helps achieve the 'reasonable amounts of action' heard on the radio so that we can accomplish the stated goal, above.
  • 2 pieces of shareware software (winamp and shoutcast plug-in for windows, Darkice / Lame Codec for Linux) - available from our site "Links" section
  • A few hours to setup everything and work with us to get your stream info page up and published. 

 A few words about radio types and antennas...

We strive to provide high quality communications for our listener enjoyment. No one likes to hear pager noise, intermod interference from the local Taxi company or Industrial Data service bleeding into the railroad comms. So frequently, regular scanners are not the answer if you live in an urban or built-up area. Scanners just don't function too well to provide interference free communications unless you live out in the sticks, away from high powered commercial transmitters. Yes, you could filter out the objectionable stuff, but by the time you spent money on a filter that would do the job, you could have bought 1 or 2 commercial radios which have no need of the filters in the first place, plus they sound better. Several streamhosts started with scanners and upgraded to commercial radios, (some are provided by us, when we have them to loan out). So please understand we like to provide good quality communications and if after listening to what someone has to offer it doesn't quite get to the level of quality we like to see, usually a radio change would fix that problem. The performance improvement by using a commercial radio that was designed to operate soley in the VHF band is almost always head and shoulders above the highest price scanner available. Just ask any of the streamhosts currently running a commerical (or HAM rig) as their stream radio. 


And now for Antennas...

It really is important to have an external antenna to pickup the signals with as much strength as possible. Indoor antennas can often pickup local interference from computer monitors, PCs, even your WiFi or wired computer network.. and having good quality (which means low loss and well shielded) coax leading outdoors to an antenna mounted above the roof or atleast on the side of the house above the eave will do wonders to keep local computer-generated interference from giving you a good case of the buzzzzzzzz. Your physical location relative to the railroad action you want to cover with your stream is of course rather important too. If you're too far away from the action or you live in an RF 'Hole" where you're not line of sight to any of the transmitters chances are that it will result in alot of noisy transmission receptions, and that won't keep most listeners' interest for very long. 

So location and good radio equipment are the two most important prerequisites for a good sounding / highly active stream.  

We can't emphasize that enough.


Okay, so we've not scared you away yet, and you think you want to give it a try, huh?

Well your next step would be to check out this website page that was put together by our very own Alabama Railfan who runs the  Decatur, Alabama stream . It is a very thorough "How to" step by step on setting up the software as used on a Windows PC. 

(If you're a Linux geek, you won't be needing this tutorial, that's for sure!). He's done such a great job with his write up we can't improve on perfection, now, can we? So give it a look over and if we STILL haven't scared you away, then drop us a line here at:

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , or click on one of the "Contact Us" links and tell us about your possible stream development plans, and we'll do everything we can to give you a hand with it.