Kyodo News Agency Fax and the Sony CRF-V21

My friend, @K7al_L3afta, posted to Twitter, the following fax he decoded from the Kyodo News Agency on 12,745 kHz today:

The Kyodo News Agency is possibly the last marine weather fax station which faxes daily news (full newspapers) and navigational warnings to ships at sea.

PL-660For those of you who might believe it takes a sophisticated setup to decode a FAX transmission, you would be incorrect. @K7al_L3afta uses only a Tecsun PL-660 portable hooked up to his PC running the MultiPSK application. He lives in Morocco–in an urban environment with lots of RFI as well, so those of you living in a similar situation should feel encouaged.

After posting the FAX image, our friend @LondonShortwave then sent a link to a Sony radio I have never seen before: the Sony CRF-V21.

Image source: Universal Radio

The Sony CRF-V21 (Image source: Universal Radio)

The CRF-V21 is a full-featured shortwave radio receiver with built-in printer and decoding for FAX and RTTY. In fact, with an optional AN-P1200 satellite antenna, the CRF-V21 will even copy and print G.O.E.S. satellite weather transmissions.

Here is Universal Radio’s archived description of the CRF-V21:

The Sony CRF-V21 Visual World Band Radio is the first portable to offer integrated facsimile (FAX) and radioteletype (RTTY) shortwave reception. You can print RTTY and FAX transmissions directly with the built-in thermal printer. Supported RTTY modes include Baudot at 60, 66, 75 and 100 WPM and ASCII at 110, 200, 300 and 600 bps. FAX shortwave speeds include 60, 90 120 and 240 rpm. Even G.O.E.S. satellite weather transmissions may be copied and displayed with the optional AN-P1200 satellite antenna.

Frequency coverage is 9 kHz to 30 MHz for all longwave, medium wave and shortwave frequencies. Plus FM coverage from 76 to 88 MHz and NOAA satellite channels 137.62/141.21 MHz. The optional AN-P1200 antenna system adds 1.6910/1.6945 GHz G.O.E.S. satellite reception. Another highlight of this radio is built-in spectrum display showing a visual picture of 200 kHz or 5 MHz of the shortwave spectrum.

Other refinements include:   Mini Earphone Jack, S Meter, 350 Alpha Memories, Carry Handle, Clock, 8 Event Timer, Scan, Sweep, FM AFC, Synchronous Detection, Attenuator, 6/3.5/2.7/14 kHz Selectivity, AF Filter, Record Jack, Dial Lamp, Keypad and LCD Contrast Adjustment.

The CRF-V21 is supplied with:  AN-V21 telescopic antenna unit, ACP-88R AC power unit, NP-227 battery, BCA-70 charge tray, antenna cable, protective cover, UPP-21 thermal printer paper and manuals. Operates from 110/120/220/240 VAC. Requires two AA cells for memory retention. 16.25 x 11.25 x 6.75 inches (21 lbs.).

The CRF-V21 is basically an all-in-one Holy Grail portable for those at sea!

@LondonShortwave also shared the following video of the CRF-V12 in operation:

Simply amazing. I love the display–reminds me of the Eton E1. I would expect excellent audio out of this rig as well.

When I checked today, there wasn’t even one CRF-V21 listed on eBay–not even as a completed listing. I imagine they are rare indeed.

Out of curiosity, do any SWLing Post readers have a Sony CRF-V12 in their collection? I would certainly like to add one to mine someday.

Many thanks to my friends @K7al_L3afta and @LondonShortwave for this radio diversion today!

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27 thoughts on “Kyodo News Agency Fax and the Sony CRF-V21

  1. Liberato Ciao

    Hi, my name is “Liberato” and I’m in charge of electronic repairs.
    While browsing the net, I saw your chat a few years ago, where we talk about the receiver “CRF-V21” by “Sony”.
    I am the unhappy owner of one of these devices, kept working for years and for a few months, after dusting it, I realize (without giving power) that the display has black diagonal curls, which cross it from side to side.
    I am asking, on the net, to anyone who has had contacts with this radio, for a spare part or a help to be able to repair my device. I accept any news.
    I thank you in advance for what you can do. Thank you and see you soon.

    Translated with

  2. Julian

    I remember when these came out. They seemed to be the Holy Grail of “portable” receivers… their on-board weather printing capability also seemed to be the bee’s knees….

    I considered buying one of these in or about 1991. I was offered it at the “discount” price of GBP1,200.00 new by a specialist electronics shop in the East End of London who seemed to be having trouble unloading it. The CVF 21 was an astonishing bit of kit for the time, all-in-one… a bit like something off a Star Trek set… in the same category as the Seiko UC2000 / RC4000 series of wrist computers which boasted all of 2K RAM and needed to have data input via a pocket sized docking-station and keyboard…

    I settled for a ICF 2001D / 2010 which served me well…

    As someone elsewhere in SWLing has pointed out with some free software, a laptop and a Sony SW-100 one can receive and download weather faxes and probably also the Kyodo news too without the expense and hassle of lugging around the heft weight and cost of the CVF-21

    Just my penny’s worth….

  3. bp

    RE: Sony CRF-V21
    I have a NON-WORKING Sony CRF-V21 which I am offering for sale as a strictly parts radio. Radio is complete, no parts have been removed. List as follows:
    Radio CRF-V21, Powersupply, Rechargeable Battery, Battery Charger, Printer paper in
    box-approx 3 unused rolls, Metal Spindle for Printer Paper, Active Antenna Base with hookup cable, Antenna Base is missing telescopic antenna; All parts are in good to excellent condition, clean, no smoking odor etc.
    The radio and power supply are very heavy, and shipping will be costly.
    I repeat, the radio will not turn on when power supply (appears to be working) is plugged into radio. Radio and all parts sold as-is, no return.
    If interested please make offer. Buyer must pay shipping cost.
    Please reply to: bp [email protected].

  4. Valter

    Hi all,
    I am the owner of the receiver in the youtube video,
    I bought it faulty and blindly 🙂 just because I wanted to have one, the problem was related to the capacitors, but I replaced all of them with high grade 105C parts and now its perfect.
    I compare it with many other receivers I have, like the minlock 6900A that to me is the reference, and must admit the SONY is absolutely superb. Among the radios I own it is probably the most quite and sensible, a total pleasure to listen.
    I can still find the paper as it uses a very common type adoted in medical printers.
    the only issue I would raise is with the VERY poor redability of the display, this is really the only thing.
    All the rest is simply superb,

    1. Thomas Post author

      Wow–thanks for your comment, Valter. You are lucky indeed to have the CRF-V21 in good working order. Shame the display is poor, but glad to hear the receiver is quiet and sensitive! Thanks for sharing!

    2. Shortwave Listener 22007

      If you are not too busy, could you post a review of this radio? I am very curious as to whether or not it outperforms its famous 2010 cousin.

  5. Peter Richter

    I found an copy of the RadioWelt no. 8/1989 p.33 ff. and 9/89 p. 41 ff with a comprehensive performance report of the SONY CRF-V21 (in German) in a pile of old papers. For those who are intererested, I can offer a scan.

  6. Kuijer

    The V21 suffers from leaking electrolytic SMD capacitors. A problem of all Sony equipment sold around 1990. Bad seals on the leads. This causes 2 problems: loss of capacity and higher ESR, but even worse the leaking acid will destroy the copper traces on the PCB. So far I have overhauled 3 of these. One of myself and 2 for other people. You need to replace 50+ of the capacitors on the 2 boards.

    1. bp

      Hello Kuijer,
      I have a SONY CRF V21 non-working. The radio will not power up at all when using
      its power supply. I do not have a radio manual or a schematic . I probably do
      not have the required technical or physical ability to repair the radio. I have not
      looked inside yet. Please direct me to any information you may have that may
      help me to get the radio into operation. Thank you.
      Regards, bp [email protected]

    2. Igor

      ? ???? ???? ?????? ??? ???????? SMD ??????? ??? ??????????, ?? ?????. ???? ???? ?? ???????(?????? SMD ???????????? ) ? Sony ICF PRO-80, ???????? ??????? ?? ??????? ???? ??????, ????? ?????? ??? ?????. ??? ?????? ?????? ??? ??????????? SMD ??????, ????? ?????? ???????????? ?????, ? ??????? ????????? ????????? ?????????? ?????? ???????????. ????? ??? ??????? ?? ??? ??????????! ?????? ??? ????????? Sony CRF-V21

  7. Henry

    When I searched around I found one that sold by Universal Radio “recently” as a parts-only radio for $699 … that’s an awful lot of cash for a parts radio!

    1. Thomas Post author

      I noticed that “used for parts” unit, too, Henry. It made me scratch my head until I noted the $6K+ original price tag. If you’re a serious Sony collector, that may seem like a small price to pay for a collection of obsolete components. 🙂 Out of my price range, for sure.

  8. Ashok

    Interesting article Dan. Sometimes I use FLDIGI to decode FAX transmission on websdr at university of twente. But the resultant image is skewed several times.
    Well the integrated receiver and printer pictured above is nice. I think A similar receiver or the same receiver is pictured in Elector Electronics, If I Remember Correctly in 1990s, along with a FAX decoder circuit.

  9. Tony Clifton

    The 1992 Passport lists the price of the CRF-V21 as $6500. That would be a lot of money today, let alone in the early ’90s.

    I wonder if anyone ever ordered the RDI White Paper for this radio?

    1. Thomas Post author

      Wow–I had no idea that it originally cost that much. This must be the reason it was not on my radar. In 1992, I was a poor student in France. The RadioShack DX-440 was the best radio I could afford at the time and even it was a stretch! 🙂

  10. Michael S

    I don’t have one, but when I was more seriously getting into shortwave listening, this was the top of the line *radio* according to the various review sources (the Passport mainly, plus occasional mentions in Popular Communications). I wanted one so badly, but it cost a princely sum, of course. Also, PCs weren’t really a thing yet. All I had was my multi-band analog. When I finally did get my hands on Macintosh (via a monthly payment plan!), I could finally decode some things with my then-new Sony 2010. It was very cool, partially because the pieces of the puzzle took so long to assemble, but it would have been so much cooler with that beautiful hunk of tech in my bedroom.

  11. Dan Robinson

    CRF-V21 — among the holy grails of the former massive portable category, along with CRF-320/330, Panasonic RF-9000. V21, which quite a few of us have owned at one point or another, was a blockbuster of technology, but developed problems over the years, particularly with dried out and failed capacitors that were almost never fixable. Hard if not impossible to find the FAX paper anymore. And the LCD panel was difficult to view clearly. I had one of these, which was new in box, but sold it later. They still bring quite a bit on EBay, but can become a liability with one or more failures.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Dan, I should’ve known that you had one at some point! Thanks for those comments about the CRF-V21.

      Out of curiosity, how did the CRF-V21 compare–receiver wise–to the 2010 or other benchmarks?

      1. Dan Robinson

        I found the V21 to be quite sensitive, but it was never reviewed by anyone, including Magne, as being able to wipe other receivers off the map when it came to sensitivity or selectivity. I think the 320/330s, for example, are quite able to hold their own in these areas — though the V21 did as I recall feature sync reception.

    2. bp

      I have a non-working SONY CRF V21 with fax paper and its spindle.
      The radio does not turn on or power up in any way, with its required power supply.
      If you know of a schematic or photo repair reference, or if you have
      any repair information that you can send me, I will be most
      appreciative. Thank you.
      Regards, bp. [email protected]


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