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    bbc-radio-recorder

Node.js VLC-based Recorder for BBC Radio Streams


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internet-radio-recorder: Unattended, scheduled recording of internet streams using Node.js and VLC

Rob Tweed rtweed@mgateway.com
13 July 2023, MGateway Ltd https://www.mgateway.com

Twitter: @rtweed

What is internet-radio-recorder?

internet-radio-recorder is a Node.js module for unattended scheduled recording of Internet Radio Streams.

This version will work on Mac OS and Linux machines, including the Raspberry Pi.

It has been designed specifically for use with the high-quality BBC radio streams, but could be adapted for use with other Internet Radio Streams.

What are its dependencies?

internet-radio-recorder is designed for use with Node.js version 18.11 or later. You need to have installed Node.js on your system (I recommend using NVM to install and update Node.js).

internet-radio-recorder has been developed for use on MacOS and Linux systems (eg Raspberry Pi).

internet-radio-recorder requires the VLC Media Player to have been pre-installed on the system, and uses its command-line API to record the stream to a file.

If you are using a Mac, you will need to find the file path in which VLC is installed. This is typically something like:

    /Applications/VLC.app/

On Linux systems, VLC is usually able to be run from the command line with the command vlc.

Can you schedule programmes?

Yes! internet-radio-recorder has been designed to work with a simple schedule text file in which you specify the programme(s) you want to record. Once you set the module running, you can leave it unattended to automatically record scheduled programmes.

I actually wrote and designed internet-radio-recorder to record the BBC Proms broadcasts, and you'll find an example schedule file for the first part of the 2023 BBC Proms season included in the installation repository. Simply edit this file to your own needs.

You'll see that the schedule is defined by each line of the file specifying three values separated by a space:

  • the Date (in dd/mm/yyyy format)
  • the Start Time (in hh:mm 24-hour format)
  • the End Time (in hh:mm 24-hour format)

eg:

    13/07/2023 19:25 20:55

Note that this version does not allow for programmes that extend beyond midnight into the next day!

Installing internet-radio-recorder

    npm install internet-radio-recorder

Using internet-radio-recorder to Record from a BBC Radio Internet Stream

The easiest way to use the internet-radio-recorder module is to use my pre-built installation repository.

Make sure you have the following installed on your computer:

  • Node.js version 18.11 or later
  • VLC (version 3.x or later)
  • git (this is usually included in XCode on a Mac, but other options may be available - check on Google. It is readily available as a standard package for Linux).

Now do the following using a Terminal window:

  • Navigate to the folder of your choice, and then clone my BBC Radio Recorder repository:

      git clone https://github.com/robtweed/bbc-radio-recorder
    

    You'll now have a new folder named bbc-radio-recorder containing everything you need to get started.

  • Switch to this folder:

      cd bbc-radio-recorder
    
  • Install the internet-radio-recorder module:

      npm install
    
  • You'll see three text files in the bbc-radio-recorder folder:

    • schedule.txt

      This is the schedule file. Use the included copy as a starting point and edit it as needed. See the earlier section above that describes its format.

    • params.txt.mac

      This is a Mac OS version of the parameters file. If you are using an Apple Mac computer, rename this file to params.txt.

      This file allows you to customise the recorder for your own Mac system. Use the included copy as a starting point and edit it as needed.

      This file consists of 4 or 5 lines:

      • Line 1: the URL for the Internet Radio Stream you want to use

        You can use this list of the most current URLs for every BBC Radio channel

      • Line 2: The file path into which you want internet-radio-recorder to create its files. Note that this folder must already exist before running internet-radio-recorder

      • Line 3: The file extension for the files that internet-radio-recorder will create. For the BBC High Quality streams, you should use .mp4.

      • Line 4: The file path in which VLC is installed, eg /Applications/VLC

      • Line 5: This line is optional and allows you to specify a number of minutes that is deducted from each scheduled start time and added to each scheduled end time. This can be useful to ensure that VLC's recorded stream has properly stabilised and to ensure you don't prematurely cut off the end of the programme. I'd suggest a value of 2 for this line.

    • params.txt.linux

      This is a Linux version of the parameters file. If you are using a Linux system (eg a Raspberry Pi), rename this file to params.txt.

      This file allows you to customise the recorder for your own Linux system. Use the included copy as a starting point and edit it as needed.

      This file consists of 4 or 5 lines:

      • Line 1: the URL for the Internet Radio Stream you want to use

        You can use this list of the most current URLs for every BBC Radio channel

      • Line 2: The file path into which you want internet-radio-recorder to create its files. Note that this folder must already exist before running internet-radio-recorder

      • Line 3: The file extension for the files that internet-radio-recorder will create. For the BBC High Quality streams, you should use .mp4.

      • Line 4: The VLC command line command, usually: vlc

      • Line 5: This line is optional and allows you to specify a number of minutes that is deducted from each scheduled start time and added to each scheduled end time. This can be useful to ensure that VLC's recorded stream has properly stabilised and to ensure you don't prematurely cut off the end of the programme. I'd suggest a value of 2 for this line.

You're now ready to run the recorder.

Running internet-radio-recorder

Make sure you're in the bbc-radio-recorder folder, and then type:

    npm start

The recorder will now start up, first reading and formatting your parameters and schedule into its own internal format.

It takes a minute before it begins to process the schedule, so be patient.

The recorder is designed to be a long-running script (eg running for days or weeks), so you can safely leave it to run on your computer. Of course you'll need to leave your computer running whenever you run the internet-raddio-recorder.

When started, or at the start of each new day, it checks the schedule for any programmed events.

Every minute it checks the time to see whether it needs to start a scheduled recording. If so, it spawns a new VLC process to record the programme.

If a recording is in progress, then at each minute, it also checks to see whether it matches any scheduled end time. If so it sends a kill message to the VLC process which terminates the recording.

Note: you may see the following error appearing on a Linux / Raspberry Pi system when a recording starts:

    stderr: [01b8e2f8] vlcpulse audio output error: PulseAudio server connection failure: Connection refused
    
    stderr: [01bad320] main interface error: no suitable interface module
    [01b11b58] main libvlc error: interface "globalhotkeys,none" initialization failed

This can be ignored: the output file will still be created, though you may need to copy it to a different computer in order to play it back if you are using a headless Linux system or Raspberry Pi (ie a server version without the desktop UI installed).

Stopping internet-radio-recorder

Simply stop the recorder process by typing CTRL & C.

Restarting internet-radio-recorder

You can safely restart the recorder by typing:

    npm start

It will ignore any earlier dates and times in the schedule.txt file and carry on from the current date and time. If you've edited the schedule.txt file, it will take account of any changes/additions you've made.

Playing Back Recordings

You'll find your recording files in the folder you specified in the params.txt file. You'll see that the file name is created from the scheduled start time, eg:

    Wed-Jul-12-2023_18-47.mp4

You can now play back these files using a media player such as VLC or any other media player that is capable of supporting MP4 files. Note that QuickTime cannot play back these files.

Editing Recordings

You can edit and transcode the recordings using a suitable audio editor. I recommend the Free, Open Source Audacity editor for this.

Enjoy listening to your BBC Radio Recordings with all their high quality audio sound!!

License

Copyright (c) 2023 MGateway Ltd,
Redhill, Surrey UK.
All rights reserved.

https://www.mgateway.com
Email: rtweed@mgateway.com

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License");
you may not use this file except in compliance with the License.
You may obtain a copy of the License at

  http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0                           
                                                                       

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
limitations under the License.

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Last updated on 02 Sep 2023

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