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The New Early Adopters …since 1993

WLN KD-C1: The Programmable Toy Radio

Posted on 26 August, 2016  in Radios

IMG_20160826_105116The OPG has always been about usable tech.  For communications gear, this means a combination of portability and flexibility with a little bit of style thrown in for flavor.

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:

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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.IMG_20160826_104232

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.IMG_20160826_104242

There’s a Mini USB port, but this is only for charging the batteries.IMG_20160826_104250The battery looks pretty standard, and the charger has a separate slot to charge an extra battery outside of the unit. IMG_20160826_104307

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.)

KD-C1_Stock_CodeplugHere’s what’s inside the case!

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

17 thoughts on“WLN KD-C1: The Programmable Toy Radio

    1. Thanks. Its an interesting little handie. I had trouble getting real answers out of the sellers on eBay. Things like “Does it do narrowband?”. Eventually I had to just buy one to find my own answers. It does more than I was expecting.

  1. I bought this radio on eBay as well. Like you said, the sellers dont know alot about what they are selling. I assumed (my mistake) that i could program the radio using the controls like Motorola Spirit radios, but NOOOO. It wad convienantly left out of the sellers eBay auction that i need software and a cable for this radio to be programmed. I cant even tell what frequencies the radio is preset to in order to program my other radios to it for testing purposes. Looks as though i bought a paperweight

    1. 409shop.com has the software for download. They also have a lot of other neat stuff. I’ve successfully ordered from tham and was happy with the experience.

      http://409shop.com/shop_displaynews.php?id=292

      The cable is just the same Baofeng/Kenwood F-Connector most of the Chinese radios are using…



    2. If you look at the pictures in the review, the pre-programmed frequencies are listed for you!

      1. I’m glad you noticed. I’m going to write an article in the near future about default codeplugs. I’m starting to collect them. There are so many people buying these radios and just using them out of the box. They have no idea where they are talking!

  2. Thanks for the great write up! I just ordered mine on ebay. Less than $20.00 shipped with a programing cable. I am hoping this will make a nice compact monitor receiver with occasional talk back capability.

    73,
    Frank, KA6CPR

    1. It’s a nice form factor. They’ve smoothed off all of the edges that normally break and it’s light enough that I wear it like a speaker Mike.

      Being able to program it for repeater splits and scanning make it a neat little toy.

  3. You mention the Vertex VX-F1 and VX-F10, which sound very interesting, being from a reputable manufacturer, and all that.

    Google is showing me a zillion ads for third party accessories, but zero info on the radios.

    Maybe you could do a write up on what you know about them?

    Did Vertex build a commercial grade radio in the VX-1/2/3 form factor?

    1. I’ve never actually seen a VX-F20 in real life, but I know I’ve heard it mentioned in some literature. These F1 and F10 radios were from around 1999. They were great. They were the first FRS radios to use DCS (Digital Coded Squelch.) I didn’t seen anyone else doing that for about a decade.

      The idea of a micro radio that could be programmed has always been interesting and Yaesu/Vertex has a good reputation for quality. These radios came out around when Vertex was selling the VX-10 as a small portable for business users. That was like carrying an orange around.

      The VX-F20 was more like a small candy bar. Even at just a half watt, you could pick up the slack with a well-built and placed repeater.

      I’d always wanted to do that, but never found an F20.

  4. I am a beginner, I bought kd-c1 recently and want to use it on my baofeng uv82, pls help me what configuration or program do I have to do? thank you

  5. Pingback: WLN KD-C1 Programming Software? - Page 4 - The RadioReference.com Forums

  6. Hi,
    did you measured the real power on LOW and HIGH into the matched dummy load when you had it opened please?

    1. I couldn’t get it apart enough to really attach a properly shielded lead to the antenna and ground from the RF board. The way that they main board is held into the case by the charging posts made it require more destruction that it appeared to be worth. I clipped a lead to the coil that I could access and called it “good enough.” My experience over the past few months with this radio is that it does perform comparably to other radios that I have a more precise 2 watt power measurement from.

      Thanks for the comment. For under $20, it’s hard to go wrong with this radio and I’ve been happier with them than I expected I’d be.

  7. Alfonso Faustino

    Very cool little radio. Thanks for introducing it to me today, 24-March-2017 on CARLA System 2.

    Great getting to know you. I did the research on the wind and solar battery chargers.

    Talk soon.

    Check 6!
    /s/ Alfonso Faustino

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