WLN KD-C1: The Programmable Toy Radio
Small radios are always appealing because you can hang them on your leather jacket. The Problem has been that most small radios lacking features to be useful. Manufacturers generally produce only easily sellable, marketable toys. (FRS/Family Radio Service radios.)
There have been a few gems early on, like the Vertex VX-F10, which was basically a VX-F1 that could be programmed. They’re pretty tough to find and the power output is a half watt.
Baofeng has changed the landscape with the UV-5R, an ok-quality, somewhat small, wonderfully cheap little radio. The trouble is that it’s not that easy to set up and the build quality isn’t as solid as a real radio. It will get you started, but it probably isn’t where you’ll end up.
The desire is for a wearable, programmable, tough enough, tiny lightweight radio.
The WLN KD-C1:
This is a very compact and lightweight 16 channel, 2 Watt, UHF 400-520 radio. It comes in basic black and “Imperial Stormtrooper White” (with orange buttons and covers, but I think I’m going to transplant the rubber from a black unit for the full effect. Because, …you know.)
The included clip is a lightweight carrier instead of a clip that is mounted on the back of the radio. The battery cover is otherwise smooth and ready for whatever you want to stick on it.
The buttons below the PTT are +=Channel Up and -=Channel Down.
The channels are voice annunciated in switchable Mandarin, or English with a Mandarin accent.
A long-press on the + will open the squelch and a long + will start or stop the scan.
Scan members are individually selected in the software, but not in the field.
The headphone jack is standard “Chinese/Baofeng/Kenwood-F Connector” and programing is done here with the same programming cable as most Baofengs and other Chinese gear. Software is easily available.
There’s a Mini USB port, but this is only for charging the batteries.The battery looks pretty standard, and the charger has a separate slot to charge an extra battery outside of the unit.
The software is easily available and looks pretty much like all of the other Chinese radios. It also comes shipped with a dangerous stock codeplug… (Though this one doesn’t have a bunch of obvious police frequencies as Baofengs do.)
Six TORX screws hold it together. #6 is behind the label. The shield in this picture isn’t held to the board, you can lift it right off.
The antenna is a coiled wire stuffed into the wedge on top. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the way they designed the outside. It looks durable and connectors won’t be a problem. I tried to get my service monitor on this, but I’d have to take more of the radio apart. (On the spectrum analyzer, the signal is pretty much the same as the other Chinese radios. The strength is good and this one is on frequency closer than most.)
There are no screws to hold the board in place. Instead, there are two charging connectors on the bottom end of the radio. It looks like they placed the board, then pushed the teeth of those connectors through the case and soldered them in place. This does a good job of keeping the board where it belongs and making a solid charge connection. On another day, I’ll dive a bit deeper.
Overall, it’s a good and solid little radio. You can program it onto legit frequencies and make up for the power limitations with a repeater if you have one. They’ve designed out a lot of the things that break on these, like the volume knob and the antenna connector.
These are typically found in the $18 a piece range. You can also buy them in pairs for about $34-36.
WLN Radios on eBay
*Official OPG Leather Jacket sold separately.