CommRadio CR-1: a superb travel radio

The CommRadio CR-1 in Taos, New Mexico

The CommRadio CR-1 in Taos, New Mexico

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I’ve been on the road for the past three weeks, and have enjoyed some quality radio time in New Mexico and Colorado. While I brought four portables along (the CommRadio CR-1, the Sony ICF-SW7600GR, the Tecsun PL-380, and the Tecsun R1212A), when conditions were favorable and I wanted to chase a little DX, I chose the CommRadio CR-1.

I’ve sung the praises of the CR-1 as a great travel radio in the past, when it accompanied me on several shorter trips, but this particular road trip afforded me some quality time with this little rig.

What makes the CR-1 such a great radio for travel?

  • Excellent sensitivity and selectivity
  • Wide frequency coverage (150 kHz – 30.000 MHz, 64.0 – 260.0 MHz, 437.0 – 512.0 MHz)
  • Internal battery powers the CR-1 for hours at a time (meets FAA regulations, too; you can pack it and fly with confidence)
  • Charge or power the radio from a generic phone USB charger or 12 V power supply (indeed, the CR-1 can be powered from a variety of sources–anything from 6-18 Volts)
  • Mil Spec tested and tough
  • Compact footprint; this one is as small as most shortwave portables
  • Lightweight
  • OLED display that works from a variety of viewing angles
  • Resin feet can even be removed if packing space is severely limited
  • Very quick to deploy

The CR-1, hooked up to my Zoom H2N digital recorder,  on the balcony of our Keystone, Colorado condo

One con of the CR-1 is that its front panel function buttons are not backlit. Fortunately, there are only six buttons, so it was easy to commit them to memory: I did so much outdoor nighttime listening, I can now operate the CR-1 in the dark.

Although the CR-1 is basically a tabletop SDR, it reminds me very much of the Palstar R30C I once owned and Lowe receivers I’ve used in the past–simple and effective.

The photo at the top of the post was taken in the back garden of a friends’ home in Taos, NM. Though you can’t see this in the photo, it was hooked up to a Par Electronics EF-SWL wire antenna at the time. It took five or so minutes to hang the EF-SWL in a tree, but took me only a few seconds to pull the CR-1 from a small flight case, plug in the antenna, and have it on the air. I charged the CR-1 prior to the trip so I didn’t even need a power supply. In fact, the internal battery powers the CR-1 long enough, I only charged it perhaps twice on the whole trip.

A flight case I purchased for $3 at a charity store holds the CR-1, the Sony ICF-SW7600GR and the Tecsun PL-380. The case is pretty much bullet proof and protects its contents even if dropped or heavy items placed on top.

A flight case I purchased for $3 at a charity store holds the CR-1, the Sony ICF-SW7600GR and the Tecsun PL-380. This  case is fairly bullet-proof, protecting the contents even if dropped or heavy items are placed on it.

 The CommRadio CR-1a

CommRadio recently introduced the CR-1a, identical to the CR-1 in every respect but with the addition of a USB I/Q output, making it a very capable SDR when connected to a PC–and simplifying the update process to one step (the CR-1 requires two steps).

In conclusion? My appreciation for this rig has grown.  If you’re searching for a capable travel receiver, certainly consider adding the CommRadio CR-1 or the CR-1a to your list of considerations.

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Nothing on the bands? Check out the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive!

SWRAA-Shortwave-Archive-iTunes-LogoAlas! Lately, the sun has been playing tricks on those of us who enjoy the magic of radio wave propagation. Due to solar disruptions in the ionosphere, propagation has been fickle, albeit with a few good openings. And it’s not likely to get any better or more predictable over the next couple of days.

If you’re not hearing a lot on the bands, fear not: as history demonstrates, this solar interference will soon end, and conditions will again improve. But in the meantime, this is the perfect opportunity to listen to some of the hundreds of recordings in the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

Listening to the recordings and subscribing to the podcast is 100% free, and entirely void of any advertising. The fact is, I pay for this site out of my own pocket.  Not only does it serve as a historical record of radio, but it’s for listeners like us to enjoy.  We already have over 600 podcast subscribers, and invite you to subscribe–as well as to contribute content in the form of your own radio recordings.

Great content, great contributors

Speaking of contributors, check out some of Dan Robinson‘s recent offerings to the archive; many of these are very rare recordings, and all date back to the 1970s:

Brilliant stuff! I hope you will spend some time listening to these great recordings on the archive, and perhaps even join the many contributors by submitting your own recordings, too. Enjoy!

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The Mighty KBC is moving to 7,375 kHz


I just received word that The Mighty KBC is moving frequency from 9,925 to 7,375 kHz starting this Sunday September 7, 2014, 00:00 – 02:00 UTC.

The Mighty KBC’s Giant Jukebox is an easy catch in North America–even on a modest portable radio. Make the Giant Jukebox a part of your Saturday evening (or Sunday morning) entertainment.

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How to listen: A 1930 BBC radio manual


Many thanks to David Goren for sharing this article from Open Culture:

A comparison between the invention of radio and that of the Internet need not be a strained or superfical exercise. Parallels abound. The communication tool that first drew the world together with news, drama, and music took shape in a small but crowded field of amateur enthusiasts, engineers and physicists, military strategists, and competing corporate interests. In 1920, the technology emerged fully into the consumer sector with the first commercial broadcast by Westinghouse’s KDKA station in Pittsburgh on November 2, Election Day. By 1924, the U.S. had 600 commercial stations around the country, and in 1927, the model spread across the Atlantic when the British Broadcasting Corporation (the BBC) succeeded the British Broadcasting Company, formerly an extension of the Post Office.

Unlike the Wild West frontier of U.S. radio, since its 1922 inception the BBC operated under a centralized command structure that, paradoxically, fostered some very egalitarian attitudes to broadcasting—in certain respects. In others, however, the BBC, led by “conscientious founder” Lord John Reith, took on the task of providing its listeners with “elevating and educative” material, particularly avant garde music like the work of Arnold Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School. The BBC, writes David Stubbs in Fear of Music, “were prepared to be quite bold in their broadcasting policy, making a point of including ‘futurist’ or ‘art music,’ as they termed it.” As you might imagine, “listeners proved a little recalcitrant in the face of this highbrow policy.”

Continue reading…


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A map of every device connected to the Internet

(Source: John Matherly, via Gizmodo)

(Source: John Matherly, via Gizmodo)

SWLing Post reader, Mehmet Burk, shares this tweet from Sherry Rehman:

Many thanks, Mehmet!

Though this map may not be completely accurate since IP addresses in IPv4 can have thousands of devices behind a single IP, I believe it is a solid reflection on where the Internet is(n’t). Note that Africa is still very much in the information dark; shortwave and FM radio fills this void 24/7 in many rural communities.

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Editor in Chief leaves Radio Netherlands

RNWMany thanks to Jonathan Marks, who shares this article from the populist Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf on Saturday.

If you can’t read Dutch, here’s a link to the article via Google Translate.

I believe RNW has struggled with identity and purpose since abandoning  all radio broadcasting and most programming in 2012. I’m still confused as to why they dropped The State We’re In; an award-winning program which had a loyal listenership and could have stood on its own.

Posted in Broadcasters, International Broadcasting, News | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Stack Exchange radio Q&A site


London Shortwave writes:

I’ve just discovered that there is an Amateur Radio equivalent of the StackOverflow website (a Q&A website for programmers where answers are upvoted/downvoted according to a number of strict guidelines, ensuring answer relevance and quality).

After a quick scan it seems that it contains many useful answers that are also relevant to SWLs, for example:

Very cool! With over 630 questions ham radio questions so far, there are many answers that can help SWLs. Thanks for sharing this, LS!

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