back to article Keene USB FM Transmitter

While we’re all being encouraged adopt to DAB and dump our FM radios, these sonic stalwarts from the analogue era may well get a second wind, at least if the likes of Keene’s USB FM Transmitter catch on. Keene USB FM Transmitter Keene's USB FM Transmitter: for the wireless, not Wi-Fi What the Keene USB FM Transmitter …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    nice little bugging device in the making there.....

  2. thomas newton
    Paris Hilton


    '...or the missus can twiddle her trusty Bush and listen to a podcast in the bath. '

    I see what you did there. Paris, because I bet she knows a few things about having her Bush twiddled.

  3. The Indomitable Gall


    "The Keene USB FM Transmitter comes with one of those godawful mini CDs to run the Windows installer from, but thankfully, you can download the software from the product web page"

    Well you must be a slot-loader man then.

    Seriously, what is wrong with a mini-CD? So many hardware items have a smaller footprint than a full-sized CD, so including a full sized one means more wasted packaging, and fewer in the same space in the warehouse, delivery van and shop.

    Besides, if nothing else, the mini-CD is the perfect "hi-tech" prop for cheap sci-fi. You get something that looks advanced (because it's smaller) but you get it from a normal shop at normal prices. Everyone's a winner.

    1. NogginTheNog


      The problem with mini-CDs is that they're unusable in vertically mounted tray loading optical drives, as found in many small form factor 'edge standing' computers (like my last 3 desktops).

  4. Michael Kean
    Thumb Up

    Hear a Peep?

    "With that option selected, you’ll discover that you’ll not get a peep out of your PC, you'll need to have an FM radio tuned in to hear it now."

    Some multimedia programs support specifying which audio device to use, so rather than sacrificing your local peeps, you can have the normal system sounds via your computer's speakers and just the 'tunes' broadcast :)

    Nice to see someone finally making something like this. I've made many in the past by reversing the USB output on some cigarette lighter adapters - give them an A to A lead and the usb power runs the transmitter. Some PCs output noise over the USB power however in which case lopping the plug off an old Nokia switch mode charger cable and soldering on a USB A end resolved that.

  5. Giddy Kipper

    the missus can twiddle her trusty Bush

    Made my morning. That is all.

  6. dave 46


    Sounds great right up until you forget you've got it plugged in and are broadcasting your gaming / skype conversations and porn viewing habits to the neighborhood :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Sorry, but all porn sounds the same. And how would the neighbors know its you? ;-)

      Surely you're not the *only* person in your neighborhood that watches porn on the internet?

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Neighbour from hell

    "It then occurred to me that if you have a very close neighbour from hell who regularly tunes in to some cacophonous channel, why not find the station frequency and treat them to the delights of John Cage's 4' 33" on a permanent loop?"

    Er, 'cos it's illegal?

    Fun, though - though one may prefer to treat them to e.g. Wagner instead.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Its only illegal if you get caught!

      And actually even if you do get caught, its going to be very difficult for the prosecution to charge you.


      But that's besides the point. Being part BOFH, I rather like Wagner.

      I'd even admit to liking the smell of Napalm, but where can you get it these days?

      Now if one were truly evil, and you can run multiple dongles on the same PC, a much more "interesting" torture would be to play some sugar coated brit pop from the '80's over and over again on overlaying all of the popular stations... And if you don't fancy that... the get a copy of Monty Python's Flying Circus album and put "... The records stuck.." on an endless loop.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    digital interference

    "...the missus can twiddle her trusty Bush and listen to a podcast in the bath..."

    C'mon, did you really think nobody would notice this?

  9. strangefish

    all very nice

    but not sure of the usefulness. If it performs as you claim, does this not turn anyone using it into a pirate radio station? Not sure what the rules are on range for broadcasting within the already overcrowded fm radio spectrum but if it's strong enough to actually block other transmissions and your neighbours can hear it, my guess is it would be completely illegal. Oh and if it isn't strong enough to do that then good luck finding any quiet frequencies - in London at least I can't even use one of the in-car ipod ones without interference from regular stations.

    1. Lamont Cranston

      It's Homeplug adaters all over again,

      isn't it?

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: all very nice

      Usual disclaimer about accuracy and all that, but Wikipedia seems to believe that transmission of less than 50nW (about 8 metres range) is now legal.

    3. LinkOfHyrule
      Thumb Up

      "having successfully killed off Heart 106.2 FM"

      "having successfully killed off Heart 106.2 FM"

      Who cares even if it dose break a few laws. The fact it can kill off that shite means its a winner!

  10. bygjohn

    Pity it doesn't just work like a USB sound device

    That would have avoided the need for any special software on any kind of CD, and would have made it work with Mac OS and Linux too.

    1. A J Stiles


      I bet the audio part *does* work like a standard USB audio device.

      Depending whether the frequency, stereo/mono and pre-emphasis selections are held in some sort of non-volatile memory, you may be able to get a Windows user to configure the device, then use it in your own setup.

  11. Russ Tarbox

    So if you crank up the TX strength, how far will it reach?

    I'm thinking of setting up a pirate radio station on the cheap!

    PS @ Anonymous Coward, I think that was the point mate...

    1. Anon E Mus

      power measured in mW...

      ... and no sign of anything resembling a decent ariel. You're not going to get much broadcast out of it. Stick the conventional dipole on a tower block.

  12. Mage Silver badge


    Though plugging a 3.5mm jack "generic" "iTrip" gadget into the built in sound card does the same thing with no software to install.

    They should have added RDS for the play list info (MP3 Tag or Station Now/Next). I added RDS to the "regular" type iTrip with USB, PIC4550 and inject the RDS into the iTrip chip's modulator. The latest Rohm chips have USB and RDS built in.

    Maybe it has RDS but not implemented in GUI?

  13. druck Silver badge

    Nothing new

    This is nothing new, I used to pick up my Acorn Electron's audio output on an FM radio back in 1984. Admittedly it was due to lack of RF shielding rather than design, but I found it quite amusing at the time.

    1. stucs201

      Amstrad PC1512 too

      But not with everything. Just one particular public domain game.

  14. LaeMing

    One of the nifty things about FM

    is the reciever latches onto the strongest signal source in that band, rather than super-imposing the competing signals as with AM. Unless the signals are of compariable strength, then you may get flip-flopping between them.

  15. Some Beggar
    Thumb Down

    "Wireless music for 15 quid, surely not?"

    You can buy an FM transmitter for under a tenner that will work with any OS or in fact any hardware with a headphone jack. For the extra few quid all I appear to be buying is some slightly flaky software on a mini CD and a wasted USB port.

    80%? Are you suffering A-level grade inflation?

  16. TheDude


    Are there any devices like this that work under Linux?

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Car FM transmitter?

      Just use an FM transmitter designed for car use. Stick 12v DC into it via a regulated DC power supply then connect to the line out of your computer.

      Not elegant, but will work.

      1. Annihilator Silver badge

        12v DC

        "Just use an FM transmitter designed for car use. Stick 12v DC into it via a regulated DC power supply then connect to the line out of your computer."

        And rather handily, there's a regulated DC power supply pumping out 12v DC right inside your PC :)

      2. Shades

        @Giles Jones:

        Or you could use an FM transmitter that can be powered by batteries AND has a power connector that can connect to a cars 12v DC (cable included) or a cheap home AC-DC converter (not included).

        Belkin do one. Though last time I looked they had changed it to a fixed power cable and no battery compartment.

  17. Pyers

    New country alert

    Interesting that 75uS pre-emphasis is used in 'USB and Japan'!

    I know that the US has had a pummelling of late, perhaps it has been downgraded!

  18. blackworx

    Marlett fail

    That is all!

  19. andy gibson

    Nothing new

    I had a USB powered device (manufacturer may have been "Audiolink") like this about ten years ago. Cost £20 from Ebay, about the size of a packet of fags, but could only operate on three pre-set frequencies defined by DIP switches on the side (and was highly illegal of course).

    Range was about 75 metres.

  20. stucs201

    No additional hardware required

    If you've got a decent set of speakers plugged into your computer then just turn the volume up :)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's it sound like?

    No mention in the article of what the quality of the received audio was? Any chance of an update, to avoid buying something that might turn relatively high fidelity audio streams to a muddy mush (like those car cassette adapters used to!)?

    1. stucs201

      No mention in the article of what the quality of the received audio was?

      Other than this bit:

      "Sonically, there is some low level hiss present which, for the most part, is going to be buried by ambient noise in most listening environments. It was only during quiet passages with the amplification turned up loud that this became obvious, and most music will drown it anyway. Whines and buzzes were largely kept at bay by repositioning the transmitter wire – the device itself even has an eyelet at its end to hang it up with."

  22. JB
    Thumb Up

    Looks nice

    Certainly cheaper and more discrete than the 'Whole-House Transmitter' I bought a couple of years ago. The thing costs about $120 and is the size of a pack of cards. You can power it with 3 AA batteries, which last about a month if you keep it switched on all the time, or via a mains adapter, though you get some rather annoying mains hum. I might invest in this little unit and keep the other for when we have a power cut and plug the MP3 player into it.

    As for power, here in the States, I believe the maximum power is 250mW, which you'd need for the larger houses and more crowded FM band here, and they even allow low-power broadcasts on medium wave here, which is fine for speech.

    About the neighbours. When I first got my FM transmitter, I lived in an apartment complex with 14 apartments. I never had any complaints, but one day one of my elderly neighbours asked me if I had heard this wonderful new station that had just opened up, they had English plays and comedy shows, just like the old days but in English! After that I was a bit choosier about what I put on the computer!

  23. JaitcH

    Would-be private broadcasters station in a package

    All those would-be pirate broadcasters could hang a suitably sized wire on this device and have themselves a low power station! Ofcom's nightmares realised!

    More seriously these would be handy for playing language courses or other computer-bound sound files to play through a sound systems without all those interconnecting wires.

  24. Orac

    Pretty handy

    I've been using it for a few days now, and it is dead handy to get podcasts and straems around the house- a lot cheaper than Wifi streaming receivers. Range seems fine, as long as you use the provided USB extension lead. I used the analogue line out versions before and it was a bit of a pain, as it was a pain to get access to it to switch it off or change frequency. You can control this one from the 'slightly quirky' GUI, as the review notes.

    The only pain I found is that audio out either goes to this dongle or the normal audio out, but not both. You need to get into the audio settings normally. or grab a third party switcher to do it on a hot key.

    It is also handy for a noddy wireless headphone setup, if your phone has FM receive.

    Sound quality is pretty good.

  25. Anonymous Coward


    FM??? What is that?

    -Sent from my Iphone Running Pandora.

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