Category Archives: Aviation

The C. Crane Skywave SSB: A sneak peek!

Tuesday afternoon, I took a number of portable radios to the field: the Tecsun S-8800, Tecsun PL-880, Digitech AR-1780, C. Crane CC Skywave and the new C. Crane CC Skywave SSB.

Last week, I received a pilot run (pre-production) CC Skywave SSB from C. Crane to test and provide feedback. My unit, of course, is still subject to cosmetic changes and engineering tweaks.

Since this is not a final iteration of the product, I won’t comment or review performance other than to say that if you like the original CC Skywave, you should love the new CC Skywave SSB.

C. Crane has kindly given me permission to post a few preview photos.

CC Skywave SSB Photos

First thing you’ll notice is that the CC Skywave SSB is essentially identical to its predecessor in size and shape.

Indeed, the CC Skywave SSB fits the original Skywave’s carry case perfectly. If you’ve purchased a custom protective case–like this one— for the original Skywave, it’ll fit the CC Skywave SSB like a glove.   As you can see above, the front panel design has changed, though. The CC Skywave SSB accommodates four additional function buttons and sports a re-designed speaker grill (similar to the CC Pocket Radio).  Nice touch! C. Crane thought to use that little piece of real estate behind the backstand.

As many of you know, I’m a one-bag-traveler-kind-of-guy who never leaves home without a shortwave radio. On one bag travels, of course, I only carry one full-featured portable. Space is too precious to carry two.

Listening to the 2016 BBC Midwinter Broadcast to Antarctica while traveling in Canada with the CC Skywave.

The original CC Skywave has pretty much been my go-to travel radio since it was released. I’ve taken it everywhere.

I’ve also taken the amazing Sony ICF-SW100 and the full-featured Grundig G6 (which even includes the AIR band) on trips when I wanted access to single sideband mode–something the original CC Skywave lacked. (Note that both of these radios are now discontinued.)

But when traveling in North America or by air, I really appreciate the Skywave’s excellent NOAA weather radio and access to aviation frequencies on the AIR band. Very handy features for the traveler who likes to stay informed.

By adding single sideband mode to an already capable ultra-compact travel radio, C. Crane has created a welcome radio traveling companion indeed.

Video: Peter’s review of the Digitech AR-1780

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rob Wagner (VK3BVW), who comments:

There’s a quick and dirty video review of the AR-1780 by Peter VK3YE, which highlights a few interesting quirks (if that’s the right word!) with this receiver. Some birdies, specs that don’t appear accurate, and a query over one of the bandwidth settings. Well worth a look!:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Thank you for sharing this video review, Robert!

Peter (VK3YE) has done an excellent job indeed summing up the AR-1780–his notes and comments mirror my own. I would have never caught that oddity with the 1.2 to 1 kHz bandwidth reversal.

I plan to post my full review in the coming weeks, but in the meantime release a few comparison videos. Click here to follow my AR-1780 posts.

Check out Peter’s website by clicking here and his YouTube channel by clicking here.

Mike spots the RCA AR-88 in series “Prime Suspect: Tennison”

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Hansgen (K8RAT), who adds the following to our growing archive of radios in film. Mike writes:

Near the end of the current episode of “Prime Suspect: Tennison” [the radio operator mentions] he was listening on “the RCA 88”.

“Tennison” is set around the early ’70’s.

Great catch, Mike (and thanks to Eric WD8RIF for the screen cap).

According to the Crypto Museum:

The AR-88 was a valve-based shortwave general coverage communications receiver, developed and built by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in the early 1940s. Although the receiver was initially intended as the successor to the AR-77 amateur receiver, the outbreak of WWII made it evolve into a professional high-end military-grade receiver for which cost was no object.

The AR-88 is a 14-valve (tube) receiver, which covers a frequency range of 535 kHz to 32 MHz. Unlike the National HRO receiver, which had pluggable coil packs for each frequency band, the AR-88 uses a six-position band selector. A special version of the receiver, the AR-88LF, was suitable for LF and MF, covering 70 to 550 kHz (continuously) and 1.5 to 30 MHz (continuously).

Continue reading at the Crypto Museum online… 

The Crypto Museum photo of the AR-88 jogged my memory…

Last year, I visited the Musée de la Défense Aérienne at the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Bagotville (a museum I wholeheartedly recommend, by the way).

I snapped this shot of this display:

I’m sure I actually have a close up of this receiver somewhere. It also appears to be an RCA AR-88 based on dial and control configuration, though I certainly could be wrong.

Do any SWLing Post readers have an AR-88? Please comment!

Video tour of the E-4B NAOC Doomsday Plane

An Air Force E-4B National Airborne Operations Center aircraft sits at the international airport in Bogota,Colombia Oct. 3, waiting for Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jerry Morrison)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jason Whiteley, who shares a video tour of the E-4B NAOC Doomsday Plane and notes:

This is a pretty interesting video of the inside of the flying Pentagon or Doomsday Plane. There is a lot of radio equipment on board including a radio antenna that can fly out of the back of the plane:

Click here to view on YouTube.

This is very cool, Jason! It’s amazing how much technology they’ve crammed into this Boeing 747-200. The 747 is a large aircraft, but when loaded with so much technology and support staff, there’s no room to spare.

With a video this detailed in the public domain, I can’t help but think there may already be a replacement for the E-4B.

Thanks for sharing!

Video: Air traffic on the HF bands

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Hawkins, who writes:

Air traffic bands on VHF is well-known.

Not so well-known are the shortwave (HF) communications networks that must be operated by transoceanic flights.

This is an ARINC station for San Francisco, California. I am located about 70 miles inland from this station. I assume ARINC is using a directional antenna system beamed westward toward the Pacific Ocean.

I recorded this video of an ARINC station late last night for my YouTube channel.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Many thanks, Dan!

I enjoy monitoring air traffic on VHF and often forget that when I’m outside the range of an airport’s tower, I can still hop on HF and often hear international traffic. Thanks again!