Automatically Update IPTables on DDWRT with Dynamic IP Address

I’m running a Netgear router with DDWRT installed and a NAS behind it. The Synology NAS runs a nice service called Cloud Station. It’s basically a private dropbox service. I’d like to restrict access to Cloud Station to a handful of hosts. Each family member has an IP, but they are all dynamic and can change.

If you’d like to open up a port or service on an open source router, it’s difficult when the IP address may change. Typically you would enter this information in the GUI/Admin interface. The problem is knowing when the IP address changes and getting it updated as quick as possible.

To overcome this issue, I wrote a simple bash script that will query and store the IP address of the dynamic host. Then it will modify rules based on if the IP address has changed.

Thanks to Dave Horner for the inspiration.


# setup variables

# check to make sure we have enough args passed (1).
if [ $# -eq 0 ]; then
    echo "$0 hostname"
    echo "You must supply a hostname to update in iptables."

# lookup host name from dns tables using ping, if invalid hostname, dns server ip responds (
IP=`ping -c 1 ${HOST} | egrep -m1 -o '[0-9]{1,3}\.[0-9]{1,3}\.[0-9]{1,3}\.[0-9]{1,3}'`
if [ "${IP}" = "" ]; then
    echo "Couldn't lookup hostname for $HOST, failed."

# check if hostfile exists (-e) and if so, read the contents
if [ -e $HOSTFILE ]; then
    echo "CAT returned: $?"

# has address changed?
if [ "$OLDIP" == "$IP" ]; then
    echo "Old and new IP addresses match."

# save new ip to host file.

echo "Updating $HOST in iptables."
if [ "${#OLDIP}" != "0" ]; then
    echo "Removing old rule ($OLDIP)"
	`${IPTABLES}  -t nat -D PREROUTING -p tcp -s ${IP} -d $(nvram get wan_ipaddr) --dport XXXX -j DNAT --to 192.168.1.XXXX:XXXX`
	`${IPTABLES} -D FORWARD -p tcp -s ${IP} -d 192.168.1.XXXX --dport XXXX -j ACCEPT`
echo "Inserting new rule ($IP)"
# route and forward all traffic from ip XXXX to port XXXX
`${IPTABLES}  -t nat -I PREROUTING -p tcp -s ${IP} -d $(nvram get wan_ipaddr) --dport XXXX -j DNAT --to 192.168.1.XXXX:XXXX`
`${IPTABLES} -I FORWARD -p tcp -s ${IP} -d 192.168.1.XXXX --dport XXXX -j ACCEPT`

Mount a USB HFS+ Volume on a Synology NAS

UPDATE: In the next major update (4.3), Synology will be supporting HSF+ natively. If you really need this functionality, I highly recommend downloading the 4.3 beta.


I recently purchased a Synology DS213Air NAS to backup all my files. Since I use a Mac at home, there were several HFS+ volumes that I needed to transfer data from. Mounting these disks isn’t quite natively supported right now, but it’s possible to mount these disks using the terminal.


Synology NAS running DSM 4.2 or later

Minor terminal ninja skills


Removing journaling from your USB drive (Synology doesn’t support this feature)

  1. Insert your USB disk in your Mac
  2. Open “Disk Utility” application
  3. Select the disk on the left hand side
  4. Hold the option key, go to the file menu and select “Disable Journaling”
  5. You won’t receive a confirmation, but the “Enable Journaling” icon will be lit up when you’re successful

Turn on SSH

  1. Log into your Synology web interface
  2. Select “Control Panel”
  3. Select the “Terminal” icon
  4. Check the box next to “Enable SSH Service”
  5. Click on “Apply” and then close the control panels


 Create a new shared directory

  1. Log into your Synology web interface
  2. Select “File Station”
  3. Select “Create” and then “Create New Shared Folder”
  4. Give the shared folder a short name, I called mine “USB1”
  5. Select “OK” and then close


Mounting the Drive

After you’ve completed each of those above sections, open up the Terminal application on your Mac.

  1. Insert your USB drive into the Synology NAS
  2. Verify the disk is recognized by clicking on the USB icon in the top right
  3. Log into your Synology NAS
    $ ssh root@<synology nas ip address> (e.g. root@
  4. Get a listing of all the disks in your Synology
    $ fdisk -l (lowercase L)Disk /dev/sda: 2199.0 GB, 2199023255040 bytes255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 267349 cylinders
    Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytesDevice Boot Start End Blocks Id System
    /dev/sda1 1 267350 2147483647+ ee EFI GPT
    fdisk: device has more than 2^32 sectors, can’t use all of them

    Disk /dev/sdb: 2199.0 GB, 2199023255040 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 267349 cylinders
    Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

    Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
    /dev/sdb1 1 267350 2147483647+ ee EFI GPT

    Disk /dev/sdq: 4022 MB, 4022337024 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 489 cylinders
    Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

    Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
    /dev/sdq1 1 490 3928063 ee EFI GPT
    Partition 1 has different physical/logical beginnings (non-Linux?):
    phys=(1023, 254, 63) logical=(0, 0, 2)
    Partition 1 has different physical/logical endings:
    phys=(1023, 254, 63) logical=(489, 5, 27)

    Disk /dev/sdr: 1000.1 GB, 1000170586112 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 121597 cylinders
    Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

    Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
    /dev/sdr1 1 121598 976729087+ ee EFI GPT

  5. USB Drives will appear on the bottom. Each HFS+ drive will actually have at least two partitions listed. The first which is of the “EFI GPT” type and the second which is the HFS+ drive with the data (or others if you have the drive formatted with multiple partitions)
  6. Find the location you need to mount by looking near the bottom for the drive information. Add one to the location to find the partition after the “EFI GPT”. For example, the drive shown in bold has the location of “/dev/sdr1”. Therefore, the HFS+ drive is “/dev/sdr2”. Different drives have different names and numbers.
  7. Mount the drive to the shared folder you created earlier
    $ mount -t hfsplus /dev/sdr2 /volume1/USB1/

All done! Now you can explore the drive using the “File Station” or by using the terminal.


  • When copying files over using the terminal, make sure you use “cp -r” even if you’re copying a single file due to the differences in file systems.
  • This mount is only temporary (until you remove the drive or reset the NAS), if you want to make it permanent, see this article for more information on making it permanent
  • Make sure you unmount the disk when you’re finished with it (via the terminal or UI). Journaling was disabled so the drive is more prone to corruption if it’s not removed safely.

Related links

Pandigital PANSCN06 Photo Scanner Review

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Pandigital photo scanner

My recent post about a high speed photo scanner showed some good information for those people looking to scan mountains of photos quickly. I wanted to find a cheaper alternative that people could use for a smaller project (perhaps 1000-2000 photos). The solution needed to be a little easier to use than the Kodak I recommended and so I started looking at retails stores, Amazon, mail catalogs, and eBay for something.

What I found worked the best was the Pandigital Photo Scanner (PANSCN06). It’s a slim, light, and reasonably quick photo scanner that scans photos in both 300dpi and 600dpi with supported sizes up to 8.5 inches by 11 inches. It’s also readily available.

Why I chose this scanner.

I needed to get something my wife could use, is easy to understand, and produced acceptable results. There were many flatbed scanners available, but each had the fundamental flaw of requiring a computer to scan photos. Although my previous recommendation required a computer, it was needed because of the sheer amount of photos the scanner was sending to the computer (while simultaneously straightening and cropping each one). Flatbed scanners also required more time laying out each photo on the glass. If you have a few great photos that you want to scan at 2400dpi, a flatbed scanner is the way to go. Otherwise, if you want to scan through a lot of photos really quickly, a stationary document scanner is the best bet.

There are lots of document scanners out there, but none were really touted as “photo” scanners. Many reviews talked up how great a scanner was only to point out that “photos didn’t turn out very well”. They are also very expensive for a simple photo scanner. I noticed that Pandigital made a 4×6 photo scanner, but it had too many limitations (size of photos and 300dpi max resolution). So I landed on the next model up which I felt had the best value in terms of price, quality, and overall value.

The scanner came with the following items:

  • Scanning unit
  • 512mb SD card
  • AC adapter
  • Cleaning piece
  • Manual
  • CD

Using the scanner

Overall, the scanner is very easy to use and I got it up and running in less than 30 seconds. Just plug it in, insert the included SD card (or connect the unit to the computer), and wait until the light turns on. The only option you really have is if you want 300dpi or 600pdi. I highly recommend going with the 600dpi setting.


Unlike professional scanning systems, the Pandigital scanner is fairly hard to clean really well. The scanner comes with a cleaning stick that you insert into the scanner to remove dust. For the most part, this does the job. If some white out gets on the scanning element, its extra hard to remove. I’m not sure how Pandigital would make a compact unit while still giving the customer full access to the scanner for cleaning.

As a side note, all document scanners will need to be cleaned. It’s inevitable and is guaranteed to happen because photos aren’t always clean. It’s very important to clean this scanner every 50-100 photos because unless you connect the scanner to the computer, you may run into an issue where lines start to form on the photos as dust accumulates.


When scanning, the user is given two options, 300dpi or 600dpi. This option is made by pressing the power button and looking at the indicator light (green = 300dpi, orange = 600dpi). When in 600dpi mode, the scan speed is slower, but acceptable. When running scans at 300dpi, the speed increase is noticeable, but it comes with the price. The pandigital scanner scans in a 600dpi 4×6 photo in about 8-10 seconds each (and 4-5 seconds at 300dpi).

Bottom Line


Standalone operation (scan directly to SD card without the use of a computer)

Very small (compared to the Kodak scanner)

Auto crops photos (but does not straighten)

Reasonably fast photo scanning for both 300dpi (quicker) and 600dpi (slower)


Does not correct slanted or skewed photos

Dust can easily add unwanted lines to photos

Hard to extensively clean the scanning element (without removing screws)

The compression used on photos are pretty high (great file sizes, but lower quality)

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How to Build a Simple Small Marshmallow Catapult

To change things up from my regular posts, I decided to write instructions on how to make a simple catapult. I’m a Den Leader for my local Webelos cub scouts group and we are working on the engineering activity badge. One of the requirements of the activity badge is to built a catapult. This catapult can be used as a craft idea for kids on a slow weekend or it can be used as a school project.

When finished, I found that the best items to launch from this type of catapult was mini marshmallows commonly found for a few dollars at a grocery store.

I chose a simple design that would be easy for the boys to follow and would allow plenty of time to launch marshmallows at a target. Many designs (including the one provided in the scout handbook) were fairly complex and would require a long time to built. Some I saw were just as big as the scouts themselves. After following these instructions, it only took the scouts about 10 minutes to complete everything and start participating in trying out their new catapult.

If you’d like to print these instructions, download this PDF.


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  • 9 craft sticks. Popsicle sticks may work, but wider sticks are much better. They can be found online at amazon or at your local craft store (I found some at Michaels for around $10)
  • 4-6 rubber bands
  • 1 plastic spoon



Step 1 – Take 7 of the craft sticks and tie a rubber band tightly around one end.

Craft sticks


Step 2 – Tie another rubber band tightly around the opposite end so all 7 sticks are bound together.

Craft Sticks Step 2


Step 3 – Take the remaining 2 sticks and tie a rubber band on one of the ends. Try to tie the band close to the edge of the sticks.

Craft Sticks Step 3


Step 4 – Insert the 7 sticks banded together through the 2 stick bundle as shown in the illustration below.

Craft Sticks Step 4


Step 5 – Tie a rubber band in a cross fashion joining the two pieces. The closer the 7 stick bundle gets to the edge, the more leverage the catapult will have.

Craft Sticks Step 5


Step 6 – Use a few rubber bands and attach the plastic spoon on the end.

Mini Marshmallow Catapult

If these instructions helped you in anyway, please leave me a comment or link to this page so others can find these instructions as well.

My Quest to Find the Best High Speed Photo Scanner

UPDATE: I’ve changed my recommendation as to what the best high speed photo scanner is.

My mom loves to take pictures. She always had a camera with her to make sure that every moment of our childhood was captured. As a result we have tubs and tubs full of pictures hiding in a closet. My goal was to get all these pictures digitized and backed up. Sending them to a scanning service was both very expensive and something we didn’t want to trust a shipping company with. I have heard rumors of people that sent pictures to a US based company only to find out that their pictures were sent to China to save the company money.

To start scanning, we originally purchased a flatbed scanner, but at nearly 30-45 seconds a picture, it was just way too much to really dive in and do a lot of pictures in a short amount of time. When there is 3-4 thousand pictures to go through and scan in, a little research can go a long way.

I found the way to go is by using a high-speed document scanner. Here were my requirements:

  • Full color 600 dpi scanning
  • Fast scanning
  • Double side capacity (so we get those dates and notes on the back of photos)
  • Under $500

When I started looking, I found many different great document scanners on Amazon. The problem in general with document scanners is that they we not designed to scan in photos. The feed rollers and separation pads are optimized to grab pieces of paper, not glossy photos. Most of the reviews for the top bestselling scanners indicate they are excellent at scanning regular documents, but are horrible at scanning photos. This is mostly due to the fact that the higher resolution scans are unforgiving to streaks, dust, scratches, and other blemishes. If a speck of dust or dirt gets on the lens of the glass, pictures develop streaks all the way down the photo.

After looking high and low for a high speed photo scanner, I found the Kodak s1220 Photo Scanning system from a YouTube video filmed at an electronics show. It features double-sided scanning, auto-straightening, and of course, fast scanning of photos. The one real downside to using this scanner is that it retails for $1600 which was a deal-breaker for me. It did however meet all of my other requirements and had a lot of great features. There is really not a lot of competitors for high speed photo scanners right now, so nothing is really driving the price down.

After a little more research and looking at comments on Amazon, I found out that the Kodak s1220 photo scanning system is really just some pretty software coupled with an i1220 Kodak document scanner (yup, they actually send you an i1220 instead of an s1220). This scanner has the same exact specifications as the s1200, but is nearly $900 cheaper! That’s some pretty expensive software. There’s also a single sided scanner called the i1210 document scanner that is even cheaper if you don’t want double sided scanning. I also just noticed that my neighborhood Target has a i1220 “rebranded” scanner in the photo section hooked up to one of those photo kiosks.

With all this research, I went ahead found a broken i1220 document scanner for a few hundred bucks on eBay, fixed it up, and downloaded Kodak’s free Capture Lite software. Like many document scanners, the higher the resolution, the slower the scans, but I found that this model scanned documents faster than I could take pictures out of the albums. As a extra, it scanned regular documents in blazing speeds (plus it did both sides) at 45ppm.


  • Double-sided duplex scanning
  • Fast full 600 dpi (1200dpi interlaced) scanning resolution
  • Rollers are designed in a way that doesn’t scratch photos
  • Software auto-corrects “dust” lines and straightens pictures automatically
  • Blank documents are removed automatically (when doing double-sided scanning, this is a key feature to have)
  • Price was acceptable if purchased refurbished or used


  • Windows or Linux only (I’m a Mac fan so this bugs me)
  • Capture lite software included can be quite overwhelming to figure out at first and requires a 32-bit system (because of the required software for the “key” if you use a s1220)
  • Doesn’t do slides or negatives
  • Parts from are way overpriced and their customer service/tech support is absolutely terrible. Let me reiterate this, the RMA process at Kodak for their document imaging process is one of the worst customer service experiences I’ve ever had. If you need to order a part, triple check it is the right part and expect a long 3-4 week wait to return anything even if it is Kodak’s fault.

Tips for scanning using a document feeder.

  • I found that by putting RainX on the glass, dust was repelled and didn’t require a swipe of the glass as often
  • Getting a can of air can really help reduce the dust, hair, and lint on pictures
  • Showing a preview of the pictures using the Capture Lite software allowed you to quickly find any blemishes
  • Scanning photos twice (flipping the photos over after the batch and re-scanning) saved time because if you found a blemish or something wrong with the photo, it was really easy to find it’s “twin” and just replace the bad photo instead of finding and scanning the original picture
  • Tag people in photos using software such as Picasa or iPhoto. You can then give a DVD of every picture that specific person was in
  • Try and keep things as organized as possible. Tackling a dozen pictures is much easier than organizing hundreds
  • If you use a different document scanner (and there’s a bunch of different quality ones out there), be sure that the pictures do not scratch on the pickup roller/separation pad when going through the scanner. Some scanners include a plastic “protector” sheet. I think this is pointless. Who wants to put pictures in a plastic sheet before the scan (and subsequently remove each picture after the scan).



UPDATE (Oct 6, 2013)

I recently got a hold of one of the newer Kodak Picture Saver Scanning Systems (PS50 and PS80). It was recently introduced and boasted better scanning results, so I was eager to see what it could do. I found that the specs were nearly identical to many high speed scanners out there today in terms of speed and maximum dpi output, but what was most interesting was the way the scanning unit was made.

The major problem with scanning using a document style scanner is the dreaded lines that appear due to dust particles collecting on the glass. After each batch, it’s necessary to clean the glass to prevent bad scans and when they do happen, the entire batch needs to be redone usually. The scanning unit inside the PS50/80 is inset so that the photo doesn’t actually touch glass when it passes through the scanner. This resulted in significantly better scans and lines were rare. I could go 1000-2000 pictures before seeing a line.

The software for the PS50/80 is also much better and easier to use. My mother felt comfortable using the computer to help scan in her photographs. Overall, it was a much better experience than previous scanners I had used.  My only issues with it was that when doing 600dpi TIFF images, the computer couldn’t keep up with the scanner which slowed the process. Also, really glossy photos got stuck on many occasions.

Even with those minor issues, I was very pleased with the results and would only recommend using one of the newer scanners. What’s the big difference between the PS50 and the PS80? It’s basically speed and output format. The PS80 scans a bit faster and offers TIFF output (instead of just JPG). I highly recommend capturing in the highest possible resolution and size because you can always compress more, but you can’t increase the dimensions (e.g. turn a 300dpi capture into a 600dpi). Scanning with TIFFs do have their trade offs. The size of the photos are really large, and the speed of the scanner is about 50% less.

These scanners aren’t cheap though, the price ranges from $1,500-3,000 depending on your options. They are however, the best device for the job right now.




Save and Export Yahoo Mail on Your Computer

A long time ago, I got a Yahoo! mail account long before the wonderful Gmail was available. All my friends had Yahoo accounts and we all slowly migrated to using Gmail or other services. I kept the account active to use for Yahoo services, but recently it was hacked since I used a fairly basic password setup a long time ago. Due to this, I have decided to close the account, but before I do, I want to keep all my email and contacts from so long ago.

After doing some research, I have found the following ways to save email. All of these involves setting up an email program on a computer that can read “POP” email. This older method of email reading is not used as much as the more commonly know standard of “IMAP”, but many, if not all, popular email applications can still read email this way. Please note that when you use any of these methods, you must move all your email out of any custom folders you have setup and in your “inbox”. Choose one of these methods and then move to the next step.

1. Use Gmail’s Import Feature (easiest if you are moving to Gmail anyway)

Google recently implemented a feature that allows you to import all your mail and contacts into Gmail just by providing your username and password. From there, you can use a free feature in Gmail to save all email to a local computer (see instructions below).

2. Puchase a 1-year Yahoo! mail plus subscription (costs money, but doesn’t require workaround)

In order to gain POP access using Yahoo! mail, you must(ish) purchase a $19.95/year subscription called Yahoo! Mail Plus. Once you’ve done this, proceed to the last section to save all email in the inbox to a local computer.

3. Enable POP access for your Yahoo! mail (Using a wordaround)

For some strange reason, if you change the regional language settings to “asia”, you can then follow a link to enable POP access. To enable this setting, login to your Yahoo! Mail and click on your username at the top right (to bring up your account settings). There are other ways of bringing up your account settings, but I find this to be the easiest.

Under the “Account Settings” section, select “Set language, site, and time zone”.

Yahoo mail settings

In this section, select “Asia” as your “Regional Site and Language” and then select “Save”.

Regional settings

Go ahead and logout, then log right back in and click on this link. It will direct you to the preferences page to enable POP access for your yahoo account.

POP access yahoo

Select “Web & POP Access” and choose the option to receive all messages (you can filter them out later). Then click on save and proceed to the next section.

Saving email to a local computer via POP access.

There are many different email programs you can use to save email to a local computer. My personal favorites are Apple Mail or Thunderbird. You could also use MS Outlook, Outlook Express, or Windows Live Mail as well. Since there are so many programs that could be used, I’ll include links on how to setup each program for POP email access and what the Yahoo! Mail settings are.

Incoming Mail server:
Outgoing Mail server:
Username: Your Yahoo username (without the at the end)

Password: Your Yahoo password

Configure using Apple Mail

Configure using Thunderbird

Configure using Outlook Express

Configure using Outlook 2003

Configure using Windows Live Mail

How to Open a Western Digital Elements 500GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive Case

[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B002CZQ4GU]I found myself needing to upgrade my MacBook Pro. So I went out and bought a WD 500gb Elements drive (External p/n:WDBAAR5000ABK-NESN Internal p/n:WD5000BEVT) to quickly swap out my old drive and get some needed space. Before actually performing the upgrade though, I cloned it using Carbon Copy Cloner and when that was finished, removed the old drive and replaced it with the new drive.  Western Digital came out with a revised enclosure that’s a little different than the last generation, so I decided to make it a blog post. Enjoy!

For this tutorial, I used my handy-dandy swiss army knife.

1. Start by taking the swiss army knife and inserting the screwdriver end (not the knife!) into the top portion of the drive and gently sliding it across the top. It may be a little difficult at first getting the edge of the screwdriver into the plastic edge.

2. Continue alone the left side of the case with the blade. You may here popping as you go along the edge which is normal.

3. Then move the blade to the other side of the casing until you hear a few more pops when the casing separates itself.

4. When there is sufficient room, finish removing the back piece with your hands. Keep in mind, there are a few more clips that will make noise, this is normal.

5. Here is a picture of the two pieces separated completely. Notice the clips on the back piece. These made the cracking/popping noise when you took it off.

6. To remove the drive, start by taking out 2 rubber fillers at the bottom of the case between the plastic and the hard drive.

7. Here is a picture of the rubber fillers removed.

8. Next, insert the blade into the bottom of the drive and gently pull the drive out of the case. It is not held in by screws or glue, but it is quite snug in the case.

9. Then remove the 4 remaining rubber fillers on the sides (they act like screws).

10. Turn over the hard drive and slide it out of the metal casing.

11. Remove the USB to SATA connector on the top by sliding that off as well.

12. Here is all the pieces laid out and a close up of the hard drive.

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AITP Conference 2009

Our team from BYU recently attended the AITP National Conference held in downtown Oklahoma City, OK at the Cox Convention Center. We competed in Java, database, application development, business intelligence, office solutions, and systems design.

Here are some highlights of our trip:

Reed, Dave, and I are hard at work during the Application Development contest. Here, Reed literally singlehandedly writes a sweet console application in Java getting the team 3rd place overall. Dave was the master planner and I worked on a small Microsoft Access application for another portion of the contest.
Landon and Bryce are working hard to develop a Flex program for the Application Development contest.
Here's a shot of other teams competing in the Application Development contest.
Before the ending awards ceremony started, we sat down to a great meal in the conference center.
Here we are at the awards ceremony near the end of our trip. We had an excellent team go this year that won many awards.

For more pictures, check out the official flickr album.

Plantronics .Audio 470 USB Headset Review

Plantronics 470 headset

I seem to be purchasing small gadgets lately and this month has been no exception.  For work, I needed to put together a series of useful video presentations/screencasts for my fellow co-workers. After looking around on the Internet for a good set of headphones, I found the Plantronics brand and decided to give them a go.

Headset quality
The physical headset felt pretty solid even though it was entirely made out of plastic as most headsets are today. It folded nicely for travel, however it didn’t lay flat so be sure and consider this before slamming it in a briefcase.

Sound quality
Listening to music and other media was pleasant. The included USB sound card helped to digitize the sound from the computer although it was still converted to an analog signal. Overall, I did like using the headset to listen to podcasts, music, and movies.

Recording quality
This is where I think the Plantronics brand shines. The recording quality was very good with little interference, static, and other annoyances. With a little base enhancement help from Audacity or Garageband, these puppies worked great right out of the box. I find them ideal for screencasts, podcasting, or using them with skype or similar program.

Overall I enjoy using this headset. Since I’m on a MacBook Pro, capatibility was a concern, but the included USB sound card worked great out of the box with no drivers or extra software needed.

JVC KD-HDR30 HD Radio Car Stereo Review

JVC KD-HDR30 HD Radio Car Stereo Review

UPDATE: It appears that there is a developing problem with this line of car radios from JVC where the CD drive will “click” when first turned on. JVC released a firmware update which has not worked for my stereo. For this reason, I do not recommend purchasing this model.
With our recent tax rebate, my wife and I decided to upgrade our existing car stereo in our ’99 Honda CRV. With our old car stereo, the sound wasn’t quite working and we wanted a way to use our MP3 player quickly and easily. When looking for a stereo, we marked the following requirements.

  • Needed to have an axillary input
  • Able to play MP3/WMA CDRW discs
  • Not look like something out of a high school Honda Civic with a grotesque spoiler
  • Needs to have HD radio tuner built-in

With those requirements I set out trying to find the best deal. From reading various articles on my vehicle, I learned that it would be very difficult to install. Usually I don’t mind attacking anything to do with the installation of electronics, but I just don’t have the time right now. This is why we purchased the stereo that provided free installation. We finally landed on getting a JVC KD-HDR30 which is a new model. I found it hard to get a hold of locally though. After installation and use for a few weeks here are the pros and cons.


  • HD Radio is a really nice step up from traditional radio. Didn’t realize we had so many channels available to us in our area.
  • We have many options to upgrade and use this stereo for our needs. The AUX input and bluetooth/iPod add-on modules are great ways to connect all your audio gear.
  • Although this is a simple feature, having a CD player that can read MP3’s is great. It saves us so much time from switching between all of our old CDs.
  • The remote works well and can be connected to the steering wheel for added convenience and safety.


  • There is no quick seek where the radio plays a few seconds per station and allows you to find a good song while you drive. The lack of this feature is bizzare, but we hooked up the remote now and just use that to navigate while driving.
  • The lights on the stereo are really really annoying at night. Even though they dim slightly when the headlights are turned on, it’s really distracting and makes it hard to concentrate on the road.
  • Although HD radio is great, it’s not as awesome when you live in an area that only gets the signal here and there. Unlike analog signals that get added noise, digital HD signals just plain go out and all your hear is silence for a little while until the radio finds the station again. Also, it takes the stereo 4-5 seconds to “lock into” a digital radio station. You get used to it, but it would be nice if it just connected right away.
  • The iPod adapter doesn’t work with the iPhone. It’s Apple’s fault, not JVC’s.

Bottom line

We’re pretty satisfied with our purchase and the installers at Circuit City. The stereo has a few small feature issues, but it works very well and the sound is great. I recommend not purchasing a car stereo that is “HD ready”. Always get the type with the tuner built-in. You’ll save money and installation costs down the road. It reminds of the “HD ready” TVs that went out of style within months of their launch date. Just spend the extra 30 bucks and get the tuner built-in.

With the built-in HD tuner, AUX front input jack, and MP3 CD player functionality, I’d give this stereo 4 out of 5 stars.