Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:
SWLing Post readers might enjoy your reporting about the brilliant
cover of the new 2020 C.Crane catalog. Have you seen it? I think
you’d agree it’s brilliant:
Here’s Bob Crane’s message about the cover:
This year our catalog cover is based on one of the most famous TV
commercials of all time. It was the day Apple® announced Macintosh
computers during the 1984 Superbowl. . . the first iPhone® was released in
2007. Now that we are all significantly attached to our brilliant pocket phones,
maybe it’s gone too far? As a tool the Internet is hyper-revolutionary, but the
pace of incoming polar information is intense and beyond anyone’s faculty to
follow. . . radio is far less invasive and does not know who you are.
Radio continues to ring a big bell with a surprising percentage of dedicated
listeners by reaching more people every week than any other media type. We
all need reflective time to rediscover who we are. While a cell phone demands
your focus, the simplicity of radio sparks creativity, regardless of the signal
source. Walking, gardening or any activity that does not require conscious
attention allows you to mentally focus on a specific problem to gain wisdom
and promote insight. We are here to support you in your resistance to
distraction with great radio products . . . including Internet radio. Please peruse
our custom radios and earphones to see if one rings a bell with you.
It has become important to have WiFi available in every corner of your house
and property including a guest house, greenhouse, barn or a garden. While
inexpensive repeaters work in most circumstances, please check out our
extended range WiFi repeaters to create a new WiFi zone up to 1/2 mile away.
. . we love making weak signals strong and bringing radio everywhere YOU
want to go.
Clearing the southern coastline of Maui en route to the Big Island. (Photo by Gary DeBock)
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and intrepid Ultralight DXer, Gary DeBock, who shares this DXpedition summary with recordings:
Kona, Hawaii DXpedition– Pacific Island Results
by Gary DeBock
From December 17-20 a Mini-DXpedition was conducted in Kona, Hawaii with a 5 inch (13cm) “Frequent Flyer” FSL antenna and a 7.5 inch (19cm) loopstick C.Crane Skywave Ultralight radio.
The FSL antenna was a new type designed to easily pass through TSA security checkpoints at airports, and provide inductive coupling gain roughly similar to that of a 4 foot air core box loop. South Pacific island reception was generally good from 0630-0800 UTC daily, but usually became problematic after that when powerful Asian stations tended to drown out the exotic Pacific island stations as sunset progressed over Japan, Korea and China. By 0900 daily only the most powerful Pacific island stations on 621, 846, 1098 and 1440 had much of a chance of surviving the Asian signal onslaught, and even some of those were drowned out. During a similar visit to Kona, Hawaii with identical gear in April (DXing at the same motel) the Pacific island stations were generally stronger, and had no co-channel competition from the Asians from 0800-1030 UTC. As such the South Pacific results during this trip were slightly down from April, although there were still plenty of strong signals to record.
The new 846-Kiribati on Christmas Island was a star performer as the strongest island DU station, with local-like signals shortly after the Hawaiian sunset each evening. Despite this it had an intermittent transmitter cutout issue, with the signal failing to transmit at odd intervals (including one stretch with six signal dropouts within one minute, as documented in an MP3 linked below). In addition 846-Christmas Island’s programming had a variable time delay with that of distant 1440-Kiribati in Tarawa, with both a 19-second and 35 second time delay noted. This may be related to the transmitter cutout issue, with the time delay changing after a major dropout. DXers looking for a parallel with 1440 should keep this programming quirk in mind. Although both 846 and 1440-Kiribati signed off at the usual 0936 UTC time on the first couple days of the trip, they had both switched to a 1009 UTC sign off on the last couple of days. Whether this is a permanent programming change is unknown, but the loud 1000 Hz audio tone is still being broadcast before power is cut, resulting in a very easy way to distinguish the stations at sign off time (even in heavy domestic QRM).
846 and 1440 weren’t the only exotic DU’s with transmitter issues. 621-Tuvalu came down with distorted audio on December 18th, a problem which got worse and worse on the remaining two days. By the last day it was sounding very garbled, making a bizarre combination with 621-Voice of Korea’s buzzing Japanese service transmitter. Whether 621-Tuvalu has repaired its garbled audio is also unknown.
540-2AP was somewhat weaker than it was in April, while 558-Radio Fiji One was MIA during the entire trip (probably because of Asian QRM). Efforts were made to track down 630-Cook Islands but only a weak UnID was recorded. 801-Guam was possibly received during a Pyongyang BS/ Jammer fade, but 990-Fiji Gold was given a golden knockout by 990-Honolulu. 1017-Tonga showed up for a couple of good recordings, but got slammed by Asian co-channels after 0830. Efforts to track down 1035-Solomons ran into heavy 1040-Honolulu splatter, while 1098-Marshalls became the only Pacific island station to have stronger signals than in April. Its overwhelming signals after 0700 daily were one of the bright spots in Pacific island reception. Finally the new 1611-DWNX in Mindanao, Philippines was received at a strong level at 0855 on December 19th, apparently with a major boost from sunset skip propagation.
540 2AP Apia, Samoa, 5 kW Christian worship music at a good level through the T-storms at 0751 on 12-17, but not nearly as strong as in April:
621 R. Tuvalu Funafuti, Tuvalu, 5 kW This station had very strong signals until around 0800 on most evenings, when it usually began to be pestered by Asian QRM (China, N. Korea and NHK1). It also came down with a garbled audio issue on December 18th, which continued to get progressively worse until I left Hawaii. Sign off time is still around 1006, but by that time it ran the gauntlet of powerful Asian co-channels during the December propagation.
Local employment offers read by the usual lady announcer at an S9 level at 0750 on 12-18. This was the last undistorted audio signal recorded from the station during this trip; after this the audio went “south”:
Full Radio Tuvalu sign off routine at 1003 on 12-18, but with China QRM initially. Tuvalu’s signal prevails during the national anthem, but the audio distortion is quite noticeable. The carrier apparently stays on for over a minute after the audio stops:
630 UnID While trying for the Cook islands (Rarotonga) I came across this weak Christmas music with English speech at 0742 on 12-17, although this could just as easily be a west coast domestic station playing the “exotic” to fool a hopeful DXer. Walt says this station is a notorious underperformer:
846 R. Kiribati Christmas Island, 10 kW This newly rejuvenated station had awesome signals, and was overall the strongest Pacific island station received. Of all the Pacific island DU’s it faded in at the earliest time after sunset, and maintained its strength even during strong Asian propagation — as long as it managed to transmit without its signal dropping out. Unfortunately this seemed to be a pretty common occurrence while I was in Kona. Island-type music at typical S9 strength at 0735 on 12-18:
After a prolonged 846 transmitter dropout it seemed like the programming time delay between the distant 1440-Kiribati on Tarawa Island and the new 846-Kiribati on Christmas Island would change. On December 17th I recorded two different time delays– 19 seconds, as in the following recording (the MP3 starts out on 846 at 0635, switches to 1440 at the 1:02 point, then switches back to 846 at the 1:34 point, with a 19-second time delay evident between the 1440 and 846 programming (846 lags behind):
1098 R. Marshalls (V7AB) Majuro, Marshall Islands, 25 kW This station was very strong in Kona with its island music every night, and rarely had any Asian co-channels.
S9 Island music and native language speech (and possible ID) across the 0700 TOH on 12-17:
1440 R. Kiribati Bairiki, Tarawa, 10 KW Somewhat weaker than its rejuvenated 846-Christmas Island parallel (which has variable programming delay times, as explained above), this home transmitter could hold down the frequency until around 0800 every night, after which it was usually hammered by JOWF in Sapporo. Despite this it often put up a good fight until its new sign off time of 1009, and it continues to use the loud 1000 Hz tone right before the power is cut (an awesome aid for DXers hoping to ID the station through heavy QRM).
Typical island language speech and strength level at 0830 on 12-18, just as it is starting to get jumbled by JOWF (a Japanese female “Sapporo desu” ID is at 25 seconds):
1611 DWNX Naga City, Mindanao, Philippines, 10 kW (Thanks to Hiroyuki Okamura, Satoshi Miyauchi and Mauno Ritola for ID help) Received at 0855 on 12-19, this station was a mystery until the Japanese friends matched the advertising format with that of a new, unlisted station which just came on the air in the Philippines. The propagation apparently got a major boost during sunset at the transmitter:
Thank you for sharing your Hawaiian DXpedition with us, Gary! Your mediumwave DX catches with modest equipment reminds us all that when HF propagation is poor, there is still so much signal hunting below 2 MHz!
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, for sharing this column from The Athens News. I’m sure many of us relate to Dennis E. Powell (note this is only an excerpt):
If you lose power at just the right time, it can enrichen your life
This is being written last Monday night.
Several hours after the storms of earlier in the day passed, the sun shining, the birds singing, and all apparently right with the world, the electricity went out. Because there is no cellular telephone service in my part of the county, this necessitated a drive much of the way to Athens to register a report with the power company. The power company’s outage report line is the first entry in my cellular phonebook.
[…]The evening was (and as I write this, is) cool, with a bit of wind passing through the open windows, so there was no panic, as there is when the power disappears in the dead of winter or in the 100-degree summer – both of which I have experienced. But there was no fire to build, no need to think of a reason to drive to town for a few hours in some place air-conditioned.
Instead, I remembered that just a few days ago I had pushed the battery-charge button on one of a couple shortwave radios I have around here, this one a decade-old C. Crane CC Radio SW. It has a big speaker and a pleasant sound, though it’s not the sort of radio you get to dig faint signals out of the mud. It is just right for such an evening as this. So I brought it to the living room, extended its built-in antenna, and fired it up.
Shortwave radio is like Forest Gump’s mama’s box of chocolates, and that’s part of its appeal. Poking around the dial I find some Ohio shortwave amateurs putting on a bit of a panel show, passing the mic metaphorically from one to another. Because they are shortwave amateurs, all they talk about was their shortwave equipment.
The power is out all over the neighborhood, so there is not a single static scratch, no 60-Hz whine of interference. And the ionosphere seems stable, no fading in and out of signals.
Heading up the dial, I find a station in accented but easily understood English. I have to listen for a while before I learn that I am listening to Radio Romania International. That broadcast ended, so I retune and find a cranky man and a cranky woman who are discussing how awful things are and how the only thing you can count on is gold.
Moving along, I find an impassioned man with a deep Southern accent. He, too, is discussing how awful things are – and how they soon will be especially awful for those who put their trust in gold or other things of this world.
There is a broadcast from somewhere – from the accents I’d guess the Caribbean or Africa – that features a man and woman talking spiritedly and sweetly about English idioms.
Now I’m listening to the Argentine national shortwave service, which had a talk program in English though they’ve switched to Argentine music.
[…]I do hope the power comes back. Just not tonight. Tomorrow, maybe. Or the next day.
(Note: Just as I set this to email itself eventually to the Athens NEWS, minutes after I was done writing, the power came back on. And it really was a little disappointing.)
I just received the email above announcing C.Crane’s Cyber Monday Sale which is, essentially, 10% off everything. They’re also offering free shipping on orders over $350. (That would be quite the radio grab to get free shipping!)
If you’ve thought about getting the CC Skywave (which I love) this would be a great time.
SWLing Post reader, Bob C., recently shared his review of the C.Crane CC Skywave portable radio:
Well, I just received my new CC Skywave radio and it’s terrific! I own a lot of portable radios (including several Tecsun DSP sets), and the Skywave is a new favorite and will likely become my standard radio for travel.
Good fit and finish, great ergonomics, and easy to use. I was pleased to find that, despite what’s written in the ads and on the back of the radio, you can set the radio to receive FM down to 76 MHz by selecting the a 9 kHz MW spacing.
Great for international travel. The following is my brief review (by band):
The Skywave is far better than any of the Tecsuns and is almost as good as the C Crane 2E (my best MW receiver). At my location (40 miles N of Chicago), the distant groundwave fringe includes WLW, WJR, and KTRS (St. Louis) – in descending order of reception potential. Most radios can get a whisper of WLW (though not discernible), while the other two are rare. The C Crane 2E gets WLW and WJR well enough that you can listen; KTRS is detectable. The Skywave gets WLW and WJR and you can tell that KTRS is there. That indicates that the Skywave is among the best. And there are no birdies nor whistles on the band. Nice.
Just as sensitive and about 99% as selective as any of the Tecsun DSPs. The shorter antenna doesn’t seem to hamper reception at all. And, with no soft muting and a more logical tuning setup, it’s a pleasure to work with. Lastly, the stereo reception threshold on the C Crane DSP chip is significantly lower than that on any of the Tecsun rigs, so most signals decode stereo and simply sound better. Where I live, I have tons of signals that are 0.2 MHz apart (i.e. 101.9 Chicago, 102.1 Milwaukee, 102.3 Waukegan – and local) – the Skywave has no trouble separating these and providing a usable signal for all three.
Seems to do just fine. I have not had any overload issues with my unit and can pull in all as many SW signals and most of my other small portables. The lack of SSB is an inconvenience, I suppose, but I guess you can’t have it all!
This band is great to have and is perfectly functional. I will say that this isn’t my most sensitive WB radio, but it’s not deaf by any definition. It’s just a little less sensitive to distant fringe WB stations than some of my other sets. But it does dependably pull in anything within 60 miles, so we’re only talking about ability to pull in distant fringe signals (which can be fun).
I’ve played around with this a little and it definitely works better than expected. O’Hare tower is about 25 miles away and I get it clearly, along with aircraft that are (from what I can tell) basically anywhere within about 60 miles. The ability to scan is very helpful; however, catching a signal when someone is broadcasting is tricky. A little online research into local ATC frequencies goes a long way toward having fun on this band. The Skywave seems to work the Air Band better than the G6 and G3, my only other radios with this band.
So, overall, this radio has been a very pleasant surprise. No disappointments whatsoever. Kudos to C Crane Company for doing such a fine job with yet another radio.
That’s an excellent tip about widening the FM frequency range down to 76 MHz by selecting 9 kHz steps on mediumwave. Brilliant!
Readers should be aware that some Skywave owners have noted a vulnerability to overloading and imaging in urban markets or where blowtorch stations are nearby. If your listening post fits this description, you may want to hold off until C.Crane has addressed the issue.