The CC Skywave SSB: Is C.Crane developing a Holy Grail travel radio?

Earlier today, intrepid SWLing Post contributor, Cap Tux, spotted an interesting link on Google when he searched for “C.Crane Skywave SSB”:

Turns out, it’s a product sheet for a new C.Crane radio: the CC Skywave SSB. Ther is no mention of this radio on C.Crane’s website yet. Here’s a screenshot:

Yes, C.Crane has obviously listened to our feedback and has developed a version of the Skywave with SSB mode–! Based on the product sheet, the CC Skywave SSB has all of the features of the original Skywave as well. That’s a plus because I love the NOAA weather radio functionality and the aviation band, especially when traveling.

If the Skywave SSB performs well, and the price point is decent, I think it might become one of the most popular shortwave portables currently on the market.

Why?

Well, for one, I’m a huge fan of the original CC Skywave (check out my review from 2014). It’s compact, feature-rich and has brilliant performance for a very compact travel radio. It’s a brilliant piece of kit for us one-bag travellers. The only glaring omission with the original Skywave was SSB mode, but at the time I believe DSP chips simply couldn’t implement this functionality.

Similarity to the Digitech AR-1780?

The Digitech AR-1780

In terms of size, the side-mounted encoder and some key placement, the CC Skywave SSB resembles the Digitech AR-1780 I ordered yesterday. The overall chassis design and display, however, are quite different.

I wouldn’t be surprised if both the AR-1780 and the Skywave SSB are built on the same DSP chip.

Will they have similar performance? I doubt it.

If you recall, when the original CC Skywave was first announced, we radio geeks noticed a striking resemblance to the Digitech AR-1733. Fortunately, the Skywave was far superior in terms of performance. I made the following note in my Skywave review:

“But I was concerned a few months ago when I noted the similarity between the CC Skywave and the poorly-reviewed Digitech AR1733, sold in Australia/New Zealand by Jaycar.

Fortunately, it’s clear that C. Crane noticed the shortcomings of the AR1733 and has modified the Skywave’s design and firmware accordingly, which may account for the delayed roll-out of the CC Skywave. Obviously, the Skywave’s ACG circuit has been tweaked to cope with medium wave and shortwave listening, since a poor ACG circuit is one of the shortcomings of the AR1733. But, if so, wow…what a tweak.”

I know the crew at C.Crane and I can confirm that they do their own product development. Their team consists of proper radio enthusiasts and ham radio operators who work directly the engineers. This is why C.Crane never releases products with serious receiver flaws like other manufacturers have in the past.

A CC Skywave SSB review?

 

You bet!

As soon as I can get my hands on the CC Skywave SSB, I’ll share updates here on the SWLing Post. Just follow the tag: CC Skywave SSB.

You might have noticed that my expectations are pretty high for the CC Skywave SSB, so I hope I’m not disappointed when I do the review.

In the past decade, there have been very few full-featured, ultra-compact travel radios with SSB introduced to the market. There is, of course, the CountyComm GP5-SSB, but it lacks a direct entry keypad, aviation coverage and NOAA weather radio. There is also the discontinued Grundig G6, but it too lacks NOAA weather radio and SSB operation was pretty basic (let’s not forget the G6 was also a “sticky radio”).

The CC Skywave SSB could be a Holy Grail travel radio, if it lives up to expectations.

At this point, of course, I have no idea when this little radio will hit the market. We can assume, though, that C.Crane will do their best to ship it prior to the 2017 Christmas shopping season.

Stay tuned! And thanks for the tip, Cap!

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25 thoughts on “The CC Skywave SSB: Is C.Crane developing a Holy Grail travel radio?

  1. Jeff Patterson

    Here is their email to me:

    Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for your interest in the CC Skywave SSB. Pre-orders can be placed now by phoning in. Pre-orders via the web should be possible in the next week or two. We are expecting to have the first batch ready to ship the first week of September. All pre-orders will be filled first on a first come, first served, basis.

    If you have additional questions or we can be of further assistance please email or call our toll free number.

    xxxx xxxxxx
    Customer/Product Support Specialist
    C. Crane Company, Inc.

    800-522-8863
    Customer Service and Technical Support Hours
    Mon – Fri 8:15am – 5:00pm (PST)
    Saturday, Sunday and Major Holidays (Closed)

    Orders
    800-522-8863
    Open 24/7, 365 days per year.

    Reply
  2. Joe

    You can pre-order the CCrane Skywave SSB instruction manual. For $5. 😀

    https://www.ccrane.com/item/bk_man_ssb/search/cc_skywave_ssb_instruction_manual

    I’m guessing that pre-orders for the radio itself can be taken only by phone. (Do you get an instruction manual with it?…) I’m also guessing that the price for this radio will be more than I care to spend.

    I had a bad experience with CCrane, having to do with a CCRadio-EP that conked out six months after I bought it. They “graciously” offered to sell me a new one for 10% off, but that was the extent of the help they were willing to offer. I don’t plan to buy anything else from them.

    Reply
  3. Jeff Patterson

    Crane is taking pre orders now for early November shipment on a first order basis. Just placed my order today.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: The C. Crane Skywave SSB: A sneak peek! | The SWLing Post

  5. Pedro Moreno

    This is the response from C. Crane Customer support to my info request email:

    Thank you for your inquiry. We do not have a date when the new radio will be ready yet and we do not offer pre-orders on a new product. We want to make sure the radio will pass our extensive Quality Control first, receive them here at CCrane in Fortuna, CA and then they undergo a second Quality Control. You are welcome to contact us again and we will be happy to share any updates we may have with you. I suggest you also sign up for our Deal of the Week specials on our homepage, that way you will be one of the first to know when we have a new product to offer.

    Reply
  6. Trever

    I am surprised that it doesn’t have an external antenna jack. I’m curious how it compares to the current Skywave and the Tecsun PL660. Otherwise, I will keep my eyes out for it. CCcrane says it will be released in the fall so hopefully not too long of a wait.

    Reply
  7. Arthur Smith

    With so many other, long established options from companies like Tecsun, I really don’t know how SSB will turn a radio like this into a holy grail. C Crane should have been integrating a BFO into their core offering all along. I don’t see how this can be hyped as such, when no one even knows what the price point will be. Who knows who makes these, but it does have that Tecsun look to it.

    Reply
    1. Thomas Post author

      What makes this a “Holy Grail” radio in my world is the combo of features in such a compact package. There’s nothing else on the market like it. No other radio has AM, FM, SW, Air, NOAA weather radio with SAME alerts and SSB mode. The closest to it was the G6, to my knowledge. For travelling–if it performs as well as its predecessor–it’ll be a wonderful radio. Now, if I were going on a bit of a DXpedition and size wasn’t an issue, I’d probably take a larger primary radio (PL-880, PL-680, etc.) and still take the Skywave as a backup. That’s what I do now, at least.

      Reply
  8. Pat Brown

    I hope this is real. This radio will sell like hotcakes! I will buy one the day it comes out, as I have been looking for a small shortwave portable with SSB. I miss my G6 Aviator, even though the air band on that radio was worthless.

    Reply
  9. TomL

    MW is so crowded using a good antenna, I need a Sync mode to get good listening audio. Too bad it does not seem to have this….. Guess I will have to keep using my Sony 2010 and Satellit 800. I might consider the new Satellit if the Sony dies.
    🙁

    Reply
  10. Mario

    With SSB capability comes ability to decode RTTY, FAX, ALE, NAVTEX, PSK-31 and other digital modes. Good news indeed.

    Reply
    1. RonF

      Yes, never really understood why anyone with more than a passing interest in SWL would choose a receiver without SSB. It’s not just the “digital” modes, or ham activity (which doesn’t interest me at all), but plenty of other interesting stuff as well e.g. maritime & aero voice & services. Not to mention copying AM under certain types of interference.

      Ain’t nothin’ wrong with “a lousy BFO job” either! 😉 Well, I guess it depends how lousy it is…

      Reply
      1. Vince

        I’m in the opposite camp, not interested in maritime& aero voice services. 🙂

        Trying to decode digital modes using BFO derived USB/LSB is an exercize in frustration.

        The lousy BFO I’m referring to here, is the basic 455khz type, not proper USB/LSB.

        Reply
        1. RonF

          I was only half serious with my BFO crack 😉 – I’m more of a digital modes/utilities guy too, though I do sit and listen to the HF aero frequencies now and then.

          Agreed, a generic BFO without sideband filtering is pretty useless, though I can’t think offhand of any half-decent (i.e. non Kaito-style cheapie) SW receiver in recent decades that’s been so lousy as to use one – they either do it properly (one way or another), or skip SSB altogether. I’ve just never seen the point of the latter…

          Reply
  11. Ken

    CC-Craine finally produced a portable shortwave with SSB, now maybe i will consider them when i buy my next portable, i always ignored their products because of no SSB, thats most of HF listening i do is in SSB, i dont listen to tinfoil a**hats like alex jones and i dont listen to religious nuts which HF broadcasting has devolved in to, but i do like HF SSB for amateur and the occasional utility stations like military GHFS and the occasional pirate broadcaster, too bad for radio Australia going off the air, the good shortwave broadcasters are getting as rare as hen’s teeth at least New Zealand is out there (for how much longer?)

    Reply
    1. DanH

      RNZI remains very committed to SW broadcasting although they run only one transmitter at a time now. I hear them very well here on the US West Coast. Other English language SW I hear on a daily basis currently: Voice of Turkey, Voice of Romania, Voice of Korea, KBS Korea and of course Radio Havana Cuba and Radio China International. Also Voice of Greece and NHK Japan was coming in well last week. I’m using a portable Sangean ATS-909X with a suburban 83m full wave loop. 909X has switchable LSB and USB but the only SSB listening I do is HF aero. I get all of the weather I need from MW.

      Reply
      1. Thomas F. Giella

        I hear R. NZI very well most every day here in central Florida using my Tecsun PL-880 and the 17 foot reel up antenna mounted inside on an the wall. I follow them around on 13840, 11725 and 7425 kHz.

        BTW I also hear them equally well on my Sangean ATS-818 and ATS-909, but not so well on my ATS-909X.

        Reply
  12. Steve

    I have both a Sony 7600 GCR and a Skywave. The Skywave is smaller and lighter but doesn’t receive SW signals anywhere as near as well as the Sony with just the whip antenna. Of course, the Sony costs at least twice as much. The real question is what the price of the new Skywave will be as well as whether it’s ability to receive shortwave with the whip antenna has improved. I hope so. We shall see.

    Reply
  13. NordicDX

    Impeccable timing Cap and Thomas. I had planned to order the AR-1780 later today as I would really embrace a compact radio with SSB. I might still order it since the price isn’t astronomical by any means. Let’s see how I feel after dinner and some ale! (OK so watch me, I’ll probably buy it.)I will now watch for updates on the Skywave SSB. Thank you! Good DX all!

    Reply
  14. Larry W

    Thank you C. Crane! I never leave home without the Skywave and my work keeps me in the sky traveling the Americas each week. I’m also an amateur radio operator so you can imagine how pleased I am to see SSB has been added. I will be one of your first customers–not even going to wait for the review. Hi hi

    Reply

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