Category Archives: Scanners

Review of the C.Crane CC Buds Solo In-Ear Single Earbud (and a chance to win one!)

A few weeks ago, C. Crane sent me one of their newest radio accessories: the CC Buds Solo Single Earbud.

Here’s the description from the C.Crane product page:

Single Earbud Optimized For Voice

The CC Buds™ Solo single earpiece provides a unique advantage over traditional earbuds because it allows you to interact better with others while listening to radio, podcasts or audiobooks (your boss will love you). The integrated stereo to mono plug works with smartphones, radios, tablets, and most other audio devices.

The Solo can give you a safety advantage when running, biking, or walking because you are more likely to hear if danger approaches. The cable is Kevlar™ reinforced for maximum durability. It is perfect for scanner radio listening. Can work well for law enforcement when greater awareness is needed.

Audio is tuned for superior voice clarity. Included are three silicone and three compressible foam covers––sized small, medium, and large. The small covers usually fits a small ear comfortably. Standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. Cord Length 48″.

At first blush, the idea of a single earpiece smacks of vintage solid-state radios. I’ve a number of classic portables that were designed around a hard-plastic single earpiece–anyone else remember those?

In fact, my Sony ICF-5500W (above) even has a little compartment to house its custom earpiece.

The Sony ICF-550W’s unforgiving 1970s era earpiece.

In my youth, I carried a hard plastic single earpiece with me everywhere, especially at school, because it made listening to the radio and still having some situational awareness possible. [Unfortunately, I was known to listen to the radio during classes…what a renegade I was back then!]

If you, too, used those hard plastic earpieces, I doubt you’d have ever described them as “comfortable.” I never found them even remotely so. Those earpieces were functional, but the audio they produced was tinny and it was always difficult to keep them in my ear.

Think of the CC Buds Solo as the earpiece we all wish we could have had back then!

The Solo includes numerous earpiece options, a carry bag and owner’s manual.

Here are some of the CC Buds Solo pros:

  • The audio quality is superb for spoken word
  • The earpiece is very comfortable (see notes below)
  • The audio plug allows for mono listening on stereo devices (obviously a must in 2019)
  • Features a super-strong Kevlar-reinforced cord
  • Includes a clothing clip that acts as strain relief
  • Ships with a small, soft carry bag

So does the Solo deliver what it promises? Yes, it does.

What I really love is the number of soft silicon and foam earpieces that ship with the Solo: a total of seven options, when including the default earpiece.

If you’ve ever used in-ear earbuds, you’ll understand the importance of swapping out the soft earpieces to a size that best suits your ears––that is, to a size that makes for a comfortable seal.

The Solo might also be useful if your hearing is a bit better in one ear than the other.

Unlike single earpieces of old, it’s actually a pleasure to use the CC Buds Solo earpiece.

Before using the Solo, I would often wear only the right earpiece of my stereo earbuds when I needed to be able to hear the environment around me. This obviously isn’t ideal because the left earpiece would dangle, catch on my shirt or otherwise get in the way, and often lead to jerking out the right earpiece. Not to mention, it led to an awkward muffling (or altogether missing) of some of the sound in that other dangling earbud when stereo sound is split or processed differently for each ear. Clearly, not the best way to listen.

Note the adjustable clothing clip.

Now, when I’m driving, working, or walking, I can use the Solo clipped it to my shirt; it’s a more simple and annoyance-proof solution that allows for greater mobility and permits me to hear all of the intended sound.

I’ve only used the Solo for spoken word; primarily AM/SW broadcast band listening and for listening to podcasts.

These days, while I’ve been at work on a home renovation, podcasts have become an essential part of my day by helping me pass the time while painting, sanding, cleaning, mowing, doing yard work, or carrying out other tedious tasks. A good podcast definitely keeps it fun. The Solo makes podcast listening easy.

And of course, the Solo is also a great solution for listening to audio books, too.

I’ll admit, when I first saw the product announcement for the CC Buds Solo, I was curious if there’d still be a market for a mono earpiece. I suppose I proved it, myself, as I have found it quite useful when I don’t need the total isolation or stereo sound from two in-ear earbuds.

Well played, C.Crane!

Click here to check out the CC Buds Solo Single Earbud at C.Crane.

Win a CC Buds Solo!

C.Crane kindly sent me two samples of the CC Buds Solo at no cost to me. I’ve used one for evaluation purposes and C.Crane is kindly allowing me to give the other away to a lucky SWLing Post reader.

Here’s how you can enter our Solo giveaway!

As I mentioned, I consume a lot of podcasts these days. Here are just a few you might want to check out:

What are your favorite podcasts or radio shows?

Please leave a comment with some of your favorite podcasts or radio shows for a chance to win! Next Tuesday (July 30, 2019) I’ll pick a winner at random from the comments section and ship them a brand new CC Buds Solo single earpiece courtesy of C.Crane!

Click here to leave your comment!

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Dave updates and expands AOR AR-DV1 review

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who writes:

A greatly updated and expanded review on the AOR AR-DV1 has now been posted by me. Made a few typo corrections and some minor text changes from the first draft a few days ago, so I hope I have all of those fixed now ?

http://n9ewo.angelfire.com/ardv1.html

Also just updated (again) the Sangean DAR-101 MP3 recorder review. Some minor text changes plus added 4 internal photos (bottom of it’s page). I have never seen any internal photos anywhere on the internet of the DAR-101. Now there is.

http://n9ewo.angelfire.com/dar101.html

Again for reading any of my web pages, be sure and have your Pop Up stopper on FULL (do not allow ANY pop ups) and your security settings on your browser set at least to default. Otherwise Angelfire can be rather nasty with junk. If all else fails turn off your Java Script.

Many thanks for sharing, Dave!

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SDRuno Version 1.3 now has Frequency Scanning feature

Many thanks to Jon Hudson with SDRplay who shares the following announcement:

SDRplay is pleased to announce the release of SDRuno v1.3. This is a major upgrade to SDRuno, which adds a number of important new features and is intended for all RSP models including the now discontinued RSP1.

Major new features include:

Frequency Scanning (for both frequency ranges and stored memory panel lists)
I/Q ? Audio Output (for CW Skimmer for example)
A new configurable IF AGC scheme

For a full list of additions/changes and bug fixes, please see the release notes at: https://www.sdrplay.com/docs/SDRplay_SDRuno_Release_Notes.pdf

This release of SDRuno uses a new version of the Windows Service based API (3.02) and so users that also used other applications such as dump1090 and HDSDR with the previous version of the Windows Service based API (3.01) will need to download and install the latest versions of API, dump1090 and the ExtIO plugin from our website at https://www.sdrplay.com/downloads

We have produced two new video guides which describe the use of the Frequency Scanner and I/Q Output functions. Links to these videos along with many others can be found by going to the SDRplay Applications and support catalogue on https://www.sdrplay.com/apps-catalogue/  , and on our Youtube Channel on https://www.youtube.com/c/SDRplayRSP

However, the two new videos can be viewed directly by going to:

https://youtu.be/ndMWIK1JLbQ (New Features in SDRuno 1.3 – Scanning and AGC)

https://youtu.be/w_pH56aOdE0   (SDRuno IQ output and CW Skimmer guide)

The ExtIO version of SDRuno can still be downloaded from our downloads page and is included in the SDRuno 1.22 release. Make sure to install it in a different directory to 1.3 otherwise it will stop 1.3 from working.

For any questions  or help regarding this new release, please contact SDRplay support via our dedicated support system at: https://www.sdrplay.com/support
For any other suggestions, please email feedback@sdrplay.com

Finally, we recommend that all users join our community forum where there is a wealth of knowledge and help available for using our products and software in a wide range of applications and circumstances. This forum can be found at: https://www.sdrplay.com/community

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Photos from the 2019 Charlotte Hamfest

This RS HF receiver was pristine. If I had the budget and the shack space, it would have gone back with me. See more photos in our gallery below.

Yesterday morning around 5:30 AM I started my nearly three hour pilgrimage to the 2019 Charlotte (North Carolina) Hamfest. The Charlotte Hamfest is one of the larger regional hamfests in the area–due to its central location, it attracts people from all of the surrounding states.

The Charlotte Hamfest typically falls on the heels of (or the same weekend as) the Winter SWL Fest in Pennsylvania so I usually don’t even put the dates in my calendar. Indeed, the last time I attended the Charlotte Hamfest was about twenty years ago! It was at a different location and, back then, was also very much a computer show. Today it’s almost purely radio.

Following Vlado to the hamfest site on a very foggy, rainy Saturday morning.

The Charlotte Hamfest is a Friday/Saturday event held at the Cabarrus Arena & Events Center in Concord, NC. The center is a superb hamfest venue: it’s well lit, clean, spacious and can easily house all of the vendors indoors–a huge bonus as weather was less than desirable.

My buddy, Vlado (N3CZ) reserved two vendor tables and packed it with gear to sell–I also brought along a handful of items.

I was very impressed with the turnout–indeed, it was one of the busiest regional hamfests I’ve attended in ages. I sold a couple of items and Vlado sold a lot (he also purchased a lot, but that’s another story!).

I believe I’ll start putting the Charlotte hamfest in my calendar–even though timing isn’t always convenient for me, I think it’s well worth the trip!

Kudos to the Mecklenburg Amateur Radio Society for putting on such a great show!

Photos

I’ve embedded over 140 photos of the Charlotte Hamfest below–click each one to enlarge. Being a lover of vintage radios, my photos feature a lot of boat anchors. Note that when possible, I try to include the price tags for each item.

Note: If you can’t view the embedded photos below in our email digest, click here to view them on the web.

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Radio Fun: Monitoring ISS Astronaut David Saint-Jacques as he answers student questions

My daughter hold the Kenwood TH-F6 HT while we listen to the ISS contact.

Many thanks to my good buddy Eric (WD8RIF) for reminding me about a scheduled ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) contact between Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, FL, USA.

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques (Source: Canadian Space Agency)

Living in the mountains, I miss a lot of low angle ISS passes due to ridge lines blocking my line of sight. This time, though, the pass was high and mostly to my open south which meant it was one of the longest ARISS contacts I’m monitored.

My daughters drop everything to monitor radio or visual ISS passes–this February 14th pass was no exception.

In fact, I’m sure a lot of their enthusiasm about studying for their ham radio licenses stems from these ARISS events.

Of course, it doesn’t take an amateur radio license to monitor an ISS VHF transmission. I’ve used everything from handheld scanners to handheld ham radio transceivers. Click here to read a post with a short tutorial on monitoring ARISS contacts.

My daughters helped me make short videos of David Saint-Jacques’ replies (of course, we can’t hear the FL school’s transmissions). Below, I’ve matched the school’s questions with his answers:

Question regarding superstitions, traditions and rituals:

Click here to view on YouTube.

“Can you see any constellations while on the ISS and do you have a favorite one?”

Click here to view on YouTube.

“Have you ever experienced a major malfunction on the ISS?”

Click here to view on YouTube.

“Does everything in your body work the same in a microgravity environment, for instance, does your heart work harder to pump blood through the body?”

Click here to view on YouTube.

“Do your ears pop like they would when you fly in a plane?”

Click here to view on YouTube.

“Are you recognized as an astronaut on the streets?”

Click here to view on YouTube.

“Are you allowed to request certain things to be delivered by the cargo missions?”

Click here to view on YouTube.

“Describe the escape system on the ISS in case of an emergency.”

Click here to view on YouTube.

“How do you shave or cut your hair on the ISS without the hair floating away?”

Click here to view on YouTube.

“What experiment are you currently working on and is it going well?”

Click here to view on YouTube.

“What did you feel the first time you saw Earth from the ISS?”

Click here to view on YouTube.

Have you ever monitored an ARISS contact or grabbed one of the SSTV transmissions from the ISS?  Please comment!


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Please consider supporting us via Patreon or our Coffee Fund!

Your support makes articles like this one possible. Thank you!

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Washington Post looks at the “Last of the scanners”

(Source: Washington Post)

Last of the scanners: Are police security measures and new technologies killing an American obsession?

In a white house on a quiet, leafy street in Takoma Park, Md., lives a man who listens to nothing but mayhem. He is remarkable not because of his appearance — tall, thin, black hair — but for what he has around him at all times: scanners.

On this day, the scanners of Alan Henney — whose tweets of bedlam are followed by dozens of Washington journalists — were going full blast. Eleven cluttered his coffee table and living room, all tuned to different radio frequencies from across the region. There was the chirp of D.C. Fire and EMS responders. The prattle of dispatch in Prince George’s County. And the broadcast of Montgomery County officials telling of a traffic accident, which, Henney concluded solemnly, “doesn’t sound very good.”

Something else that didn’t sound very good: the garbled noise coming from one scanner, obscuring D.C. police chatter. To Henney it sounded like death — not the death caused by crime or traffic accidents, but the demise of a passion.

Across the United States, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people like Henney who listen to official communications on radio signals, sifting through a morass of chatter for interesting news. Some pester crime reporters with tips. Others, such as Henney, showcase the hard-won news items — like gem hunters would a stone — on their social media feeds. But soon, Henney fears, all of that may end. And what will become of the scanner enthusiasts when there’s nothing left to scan?

Over the past few years, an increasing number of municipalities and police departments, including the District’s, have begun encrypting their radioed communications, a trend driven in part by fear that bad guys and terrorists need to do little more nowadays than download a police-scanning app to get all the intelligence they need on what police are doing and where. Just this year, police in Las Vegas, Richmond and Knoxville, Tenn., have encrypted their radio communication.

But what police are calling a public safety measure, scanner hobbyists are describing as a blow to transparency. Now they’re asking plaintive questions about whether it portends the end of a pastime once incubated in science clubs and Scout groups.[…]

Click here to read the full article at the Washington Post.

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Icom IC-R30: Free RS-R30 remote control software available

(Source: Southgate ARC)

After recently being demonstrated at the Tokyo Hamfair, we are pleased to announce that the new RS-R30I (for iOS)/RS-R30A (for Android) remote control software for the IC-R30 Communications Receiver is now available to download for FREE from the App Store and Google Play.

The RS-R30I and the RS-R30A enable you to wirelessly connect to the IC-R30 and remotely control VFO operation, memory channels, a variety of scans and the voice recording functions. Using the optional VS-3, Bluetooth headset, the VS-3 and iOS™/Android™ device can be wirelessly connected to the IC-R30 at the same time. You can control the IC-R30 from the connected device while listening to the received audio on the VS-3 optional Bluetooth headset.

To download either remote control software follow these links.

•  RS-R30I remote control software (for iOS)
•  RS-R30A remote control software (for Android devices)

For more details about the IC-R30 visit the dedicated  IC-R30 Wideband Communications Receiver Product Page .  More details and further documentation about the RS-R30 can be found on the RS-30 Product Page.

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