Setting up streamboxes in Orkney

A streambox is positioned on a rocky wall on the Orkney shoreline with the open sea visible on the horizon beyond.

Live audio transmissions for ecological listening

As part of the UK Acoustics Network’s ‘Noise and soundscape’ special interest group’s outreach activities programme, I have been working with Grant Smith from Soundcamp Cooperative to set up two streamboxes to share intermittent transmissions from the Orkney archipelago, north of mainland Scotland.

A streambox is a live audio transmitter for ecological radio. It relays environmental sound in real time to a public server, where anyone can listen along by means of a live online soundmap.

A key aim of our project was to share all stages of the streambox development with island residents in a range of informal community settings. We first introduced the streambox hardware to North Ronaldsay islanders and visitors during their annual Science Festival weekend, and discussed the potential for open microphone networks with individual members of ecologically-focused groups such as Orkney Nature Festival and RSPB Orkney. Suitable streambox sites and the resulting audio stream links were also sought-out and shared in community settings too. An in-person group listening opportunity arose in a families listening workshop on the Orkney Mainland, and through a water-front tourist accommodation provider Orkney Escapes. Remote listening opportunities were regularly shared with the Orkney-based Móti Collective, and the current project will also be overviewed in the Scottish Artist Union’s climate and sustainability subgroup meeting at the end of April.

Our streambox will be live again soon, and will join this year’s Reveil broadcast on 4th-5th May 2024. We are seeking a location to run a permanent live stream from Orkney beyond these dates, and hope that in time this will also lead to the establishment of a ‘transmission community’ or group that gathers to listen and map the sounds of a place, thereby strengthening connections both within and beyond the island archipelago.

In the meantime, you can listen in to ecological sound streams from all over the world via the LocusSonus online soundmap, and you can also contact me to be notified about future broadcasts from the islands in Orkney.

More about our collaboration

Amy Beeston is a sound artist and audio researcher whose work encourages others to listen more deeply to their everyday environments. Her practice is interdisciplinary and collaborative, and draws on her research into human and machine listening in the creation of ecological sound art installations and participative listening experiences. Amy’s collaborators at Soundcamp have much experience developing, building and working with affordable, participatory devices for environmental sound. They are an arts cooperative based at Stave Hill Ecological Park in London, and in Yorkshire, Berlin, Glasgow and Crete. Amy and Grant first worked together during Reveil 2019, a 24-hour live round-the-globe radio event on Dawn Chorus Day, sharing sounds from the Stromness shoreline. They met again in 2023 in the Pyrenees, and broadcast sounds of bat echo-location during an ecoacoustics workshop at CAMP FR. Their shared enthusiasm for sound, listening and community-building sowed the seeds for this collaboration.


We are very grateful to the Noise and Soundscape special interest group of the UK Acoustics Network for the funds to make this project happen. I would also like to personally thank Grant at Soundcamp Cooperative for a very enjoyable collaboration, and thank members of my local community who have generously shared their time, thoughts and places with me during the early stages of this project.

Amy Beeston