Jock discovers the joys of ATS tuning with the C.Crane CC Skywave SSB

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jock Elliott (KB2GOM), who shares the following guest post:

Really cool trick the CCrane Skywave SSB will do — the “radio butler”?

To paraphrase Ratty from Wind in the Willows: ” “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing–absolutely nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about with radios.”

That is precisely what I was doing . . . messing, simply messing about with the CCrane Skywave SSB.

Then I observed something. Just above the LIGHT button is some lettering: “ATS.” Not having taken notice of it before, I looked it up in the manual. It stands of Automatic Tuning System, and the manual says this about it:

“This feature programs all receivable stations in the AM, FM, Air and Shortwave bands to memory buttons. To use ATS, select your desired band: AM, FM, Air or Shortwave, and press and hold the ATS button for two seconds. The CCrane Skywave SSB will scan the entire band and automatically set all available stations in sequence 1-20. If more than stations are available, then the remaining stations will be preset to the next memory page, and so on.”

So I tried it; I punched in a shortwave frequency — 9250 — and pressed and held the ATS button for two seconds. The Skywave then muted itself and went to the bottom of the shortwave bands — 2300 — and started silently scanning through all of the international shortwave bands, hopping from one shortwave band to the next. Occasionally it would stop and silently store a frequency. After a while it stopped, unmuted, and began playing the very first memory that it stored. I checked the other memories that were stored and — sonofagun! — there were stations stored in each memory. Some of them were really faint, and I had to mess with single sideband and bandwidths to make them fully copyable, but they were there, automatically scanned and stored by the CCrane Skywave SSB. Obviously, you might want to repeat the ATS scan as shortwave propagation changes, say, from day to night.

Well, I thought, would it do it also for Air frequencies? Short answer: it certainly will. And it will do the same for AM, FM, and — get this — if you put the Skywave SSB in single sideband mode, it will scan the ham bands, automatically changing sidebands appropriately as it hops from ham band to ham band. Note: when you check the memories stored during an ATS ham band search, you may not find anything there, simply because ham transmissions come and go much more often than international broadcasters.

There is one downside to the ATS function. When the Skywave scans and stores stations, it does so starting at Page 1, Memory 1 of the memory system . . . always. So, if you scan the Shortwave frequencies and store frequencies they will be stored starting at Page 1, Memory 1, wiping out anything that you have already stored there. If you then use ATS on the Air band, it will then write over whatever you stored from the Shortwave frequencies. I wish there were a way for the user to designate at which page in the memory system ATS will begin storing frequencies so that the information stored starting at Page 1, Memory 1 is not constantly overwritten.

However, there is another trick the Skywave will do: if you have used ATS to scan and store Air frequencies in Page 1 of the memory system (which it does automatically), you can then press and hold the UP and DOWN buttons at the same time, the Skywave will then scan through the Air frequencies that are stored there. Further, there is a squelch function on the Skywave that works only on the Air frequencies. So, with a little persuasion (very little), the CCrane Skywave turns itself into a civilian air scanner.

The ATS function on the CCrane Skywave SSB is a bit like having a radio butler: “I say, Jeeves, find me what’s on the air this evening.” A short while later, Jeeves reports back: “Here you are, sir, I found 10 shortwave stations you might like to listen to.”

Frankly, I don’t know if other modern shortwave portable radios offer a similar function, but if you have a CCrane Skywave SSB, give the ATS function a try; it’s pretty slick.

— Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

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17 thoughts on “Jock discovers the joys of ATS tuning with the C.Crane CC Skywave SSB

  1. Edward

    Will it automatically set the frequency on the money in SSB so you do not have to turn the clarifier to properly “de quack” SSB by itself, sort of like AFC for FM?

  2. Leslie Polt

    My question is how many “passes” does ETM or ATS make while storing active channels. Air traffic transmissions are so intermittent that many active frequencies will be missed if there is not a transmission in process as the scan hits that frequency. Between local terminals, TRACON and enroute centers, you can be anywhere in the U.S. and be able to pick up aircraft transmissions from dozens of channels between 118-136 MHz. But ATS may be deaf if it makes only 1 pass on the band.

    1. Jock Elliott

      As far as I know, it makes only one pass, so it’s not like a “search and store” that you can run for hours with a conventional scanner. So, you’re right; it probably will miss stuff, since air channel are only intermittently active. But since the Skywave SSB has SW, AM, FM, NOAA weather, Air, and HF SSB all in one package, I view it as “the glass is half full” (rather than half empty.)

  3. Ace

    A very useful function, as you say would be a lot better if you could select saving pages and not have previous scans overwritten.

    I’m fairly new to SWL, so do other radios save to selected pages? Is this a common feature or something only found on better sets?

    Glad I found SWL Listening post and enjoy it very much.

    1. Jock Elliott

      Apparently other radios do offer a similar function and save to other pages. See some of the other comments below.

  4. Paul JAMET

    To the question “… I don’t know if other modern shortwave portable radios offer a similar function …” my answer is yes … I just checked with the RADIWOW R-108; the ATS function is also available for the AIR band … I think it is the same with the XHDATA D-808
    I would like to remind you that many TECSUN receivers offer the ETM function (Easy Tuning Mode) which is very useful because it corresponds to a second ATS function that uses different memories.A function that is very useful when traveling or to scan the SW band at different times of the day without changing the contents of the memories used by the ATS function.
    The enthusiasm continues …

    1. Ken K. in NJ

      I have a few radios with ATS and a few with ETM. I much prefer the ETM because it is a separate set of memories, i.e. it doesn’t override any existing presets you have set. I just purchased the XHDATA, it has ATS but the only way you can scan thru these presets is by pressing the preset buttons one by one. I’ve never seen that before and is a major annoyance.

      1. Jock Elliott

        As far as I know, the Skywave SSB only does scanning when Air frequencies have been stored in Memory Page 1. Otherwise, you have to press separate buttons, but I don’t find that too bothersome.

    2. Jock Elliott

      Good to know. It would be nice if the Skywave SSB used separate memories for the ATS function. Still, it’s a cool function, and makes me like the radio even more.

  5. James Fields

    ATS in various forms is available on nearly every portable shortwave radio; but the air-band scanning is unique, as far as I am aware, among “shortwave radios”. It makes this radio *super* nice to have if you like to add a little air band listening into the mix. As a bonus I have found this radio pulls in the NOAA weather stations better than any other radio I own. I have a few complaints with the Skywave SSB but the air-band scanning and strong NOAA performance keep it in my regular rotation.


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