Thursday, December 08, 2005
Shiny shiny: RocketFM USB audio transmitter
I just got a nifty new gadget- it's an FM audio transmitter that plugs into the USB port on my desktop. It's a handy solution for those of us who want to pipe audio from the computer to other places in the house, but are too cheap to pop for AirPort. With shipping, it cost about 30 clams, and I had it working in a couple minutes.
The cool part is how easy it is to open the case and extend the internal antenna so that it becomes a three-inch external antenna, greatly improving the devices range. It's almost it was designed with this hack in mind.
If you're running WinXP or OS X, you can use the included software to change the frequency the device transmits on. I'm stuck in the dark ages with Win2K, and my machine wouldn't run the software, but the gizmo is still plug-and-play, it's just limited to one frequency- 88.1 FM.
Here's what I'm using it for as I write: time-shifting NPR programming. Where I live, my NPR affiliate only broadcasts All Things Considered until 6 pm. If I had my druthers, ATC would run until 7 or later so I could listen while I'm making dinner. Now, all I have to do is pull up an internet simulcast for a station that's further west--say, KCRW in Santa Monica--and I can time-shift my NPR. Plus, I get to hear about how awful the traffic is out there while I'm in my cozy little house having a glass of wine.
The audio quality isn't fabulous-- it's FM, and for listening to music, it's just not up to snuff. But I love getting NPR when I want it, and I think I'm going to enjoy listening to international stuff like the BBC, too.