Tag Archives: C.Crane CC Skywave SSB

XHDATA D-808 and C.Crane CC Skywave SSB size comparison

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, 13dka, who left the following comment on my post about coastal SWLing:

Nice weather and pics! Hmmm… it wasn’t so obvious to me before but it looks like the Skywave SSB is even smaller than the D-808. Now I’m jealous! ?

I find it pretty amazing is that just a few wavelengths away from the water, the signals seem to be tapering off a bit already, so standing IN the water and holding a portable is certainly getting the absolute best out of the radio. When I moved here (to the coast) I took a portable with a relatively stable station tuned in and drove to my beach listening post with it, then I headed back home right away. It seemed pretty obvious how the proximity to the water gradually improved the signals but of course that was a pretty unscientific test. I should repeat that with an SDR rigged up on the passenger seat and do that a few times in a row.

I’m off now to check how I can get a Skywave SSB to Europe.

It is quite amazing how large bodies of salt water enhance reception! 🙂 Although my home in the mountains has very little RFI, the ground conductivity is poor. Those who live on the coast get much better mileage from their antennas!

Regarding the size of the CC Skywave SSB and XHDATA D-808, based on my measuring tape, the D-808 is about 1.25″ wider, 0.5″ taller and perhaps 0.125″ deeper than the CC Skywave SSB. Here are a few photos:

Not a massive difference in size by any means, but the Skywave SSB is smaller in every dimension. Since I typically do one-bag travel, I always choose the smaller radio. Of course, the D-808 is more affordable than the Skywave SSB and is easier to purchase outside the US.

I don’t know of a C. Crane distributor in Europe.  Perhaps Post readers might comment with suggestions?

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Catching coastal shortwaves with the CC Skywave SSB

After Thanksgiving Day (here in the States) my family took a little camping trip on the coast of North Carolina. We spent a few nights near Holden Beach and Oak Island–some of my favorite parts of the NC coast.

Weather was splendid on Sunday, so we took a long walk on the beach and, of course, I packed a portable radio–this time, the CC Skywave SSB.

The Skywave SSB is a pricey portable, but it has certainly become my choice travel radio as it covers so many radio bands (AM/MW, FM, SW, AIR and WX). It’s also incredibly portable and can hang with the best in terms of sensitivity and selectivity.

I didn’t check propagations conditions on Sunday, but there were signals booming in from everywhere. I took a few short sample videos:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Being away from sources of radio interference and standing next to (and occasionally in—!) the Atlantic Ocean certainly helped a great deal with reception.

I had planned to put my Elecraft KX2 on the air while here, but simply didn’t have the time to fit it in with family activities.

Post readers: Do you have any radio vacations on the horizon?

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CC Skywave SSB Update: C. Crane addresses first production run issues

Earlier this year, I posted a review of the CC Skywave SSB: C. Crane’s latest ultra-compact travel AM/FM/WX/AIR/shortwave radio.

If you’ve been following this little radio, you might remember that early first production models had issuesindeed, all six production units I tested had issues–that prevented me from releasing my full review before the end of 2017.

The main problem that plagued my first production run units was a background audio whine/tone. Here’s the description from my full review:

Upon careful listening, I discovered the production unit had a faint, internally-generated whine on some of the shortwave bands; when tuned to marginal signals, this whine manifested in the form of variable background noise. Between signals it was audible as a faint background whine, hardly noticeable. With that said, the whine was most notable while tuning––since the Skywave SSB mutes between frequency changes, the whine was most conspicuous during audio recovery between steps.

I later discovered that part of the problem was related to an alignment issue that C. Crane had to address in-house on their first production inventory.

Second production run evaluation

A few weeks ago, C. Crane sent me one of the first CC Skywave SSB units from their second production.

Due to my hectic schedule after almost two months of travel in Canada, I’ve only gotten around to checking the new unit this past week.

I put the CC Skywave SSB on the air and carefully tested it across the bands.

Fixed: No more whine!

I’m very pleased to report that this unit shows no signs of the internally-generated noises that plagued all six of my first production run units!

In fact, the second production unit’s performance is identical to that of the pre-production CC Skywave SSB which I’ve so admired. I’ve compared the units side-by-side and would not be able to tell them apart if it weren’t for a silk-screen error on the back of the pre-production unit.

I can now recommend the CC Skywave SSB without hesitation. If you’d like to know more about this radio, check out my full review by clicking here.

You can purchase the CC Skywave SSB from the following retailers:

Next Up…

C. Crane also sent me a second production run CCRadio-EP Pro. If you recall from my review, this model also had several issues that prevented me from recommending it–primarily: muting between frequencies, images, fixed 10 kHz steps on mediumwave, and an inaccurate analog dial.

I’ll start evaluating the EP Pro this week and report back soon. Bookmark  to follow updates.

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Radio in the field: SWLing on the coast of the St. Lawrence river

Yesterday, the weather was gorgeous here in Québec, thus a prime opportunity to find a beach, start a new book and, of course, play radio!

I found a fantastic spot on the north bank of the St. Lawrence river near Baie-St-Paul, Québec. There were only a few folks at the beach, so it was all very peaceful.

I found a picnic table perched on the edge of the beach shaded by an apple tree–a perfect spot to relax, play radio and start a new book: Dark Voyage by Alan Furst.

I brought two portables: the C. Crane CC Skywave SSB and the recently acquired Panasonic RF-B65.

I had not checked to see if propagation was good, but tuning to WWV on 10 MHz and 15 MHz confirmed that signals were travelling. In fact, as I started tuning around–first with the CC Skywave SSB, then with the Panasonic RF-B65–I discovered some of the best propagation I’ve experienced in ages!

I did a relatively quick scan covering the 31 through 19 meter bands. Some signals were absolutely booming in.

I jotted down some of the broadcast details on a make-shift log and recorded a few videos.

Note that after making the first video, I discovered I had limited space on my phone, so most of the clips are quite short:

The Voice of America

Click here to view on YouTube.

Radio France International

Click here to view on YouTube.

Radio Guinée

Click here to view on YouTube.

BBC World Service Extra English

Click here to view on YouTube.

Here are the stations I logged in the clear:

All in all it was a brilliant afternoon and the short band scan reminded me that there is still so much content to be found on the shortwaves.

You just need a little propagation, and some time to listen and explore!

Post readers: Have you snagged any elusive DX recently?  Please comment!

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Hospitals and RF noise: FM and HD radio’s strong suit

The Sangean HDR-14 AM/FM HD radio

For the past week, I’ve been away from home spending time with my mother at the hospital while she recovers from a surgery. I’ve got a number of reviews and evaluations in the pipeline, but thankfully no shortwave or HF radios on the table this week (although the ELAD FDM-S3 and CommRadio CTX-10 are just around the corner). Listening to shortwave (or even mediumwave) in a hospital room can be an exercise in futility–there are just too many devices emitting noise and the buildings are built like bunkers with incredibly thick walls to attenuate signals.

I’ve had the little Sangean HDR-14 with me, however, and have been very pleased with its ability to snag FM stations both analog and digital. I’ve also had fun discovering a surprisingly diverse FM landscape in this metro area. I haven’t snagged an AM HD station yet, but my hope is one evening I might DX one (fingers crossed and not holding my breath).

The Sangean HDR-14 (left) and CC Skywave SSB (right)

At the end of most days, I’ve been able to catch a little shortwave action with my CC Skywave SSB (pre-production) portable at the guest house where I’m staying. The evenings have been surprisingly peaceful here with only the occasional popup thunderstorm to insert a little QRN in my listening sessions.

Last night, while listening to jazz on FM, I finished reading All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (affiliate link).

We’ve mentioned this book before and I know of at least dozen SWLing Post contributors and friends who’ve personally recommended it to me.

It is a superb novel and will, no doubt, tug at the heart strings of any radio enthusiast or WWII history buff. Highly recommended!

Indeed, last night I couldn’t fall asleep until I finished the book around 12:30 AM!

And mom? She’s recovering quite well and we hope will be discharged from the hospital soon.

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