Preparation for All Hazards

The northwest fires this season have been unbearable. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and of course California have all been states that are greatly affected by these fires with more fires in other states across the U.S. popping up daily. So far this year, more than 7.4 million acres have been burned by wildfires. Firefighters have come from as far away as Australia and New Zealand to battle the blazes across the Pacific Northwest.

Photo credit: Trinity Ridge fire, August 24, 2012, photo by Kari Greer for USFS http://wildfiretoday.com/2012/09/08/kari-greer-photos-from-the-trinity-ridge-fire/

Photo credit: Trinity Ridge fire, August 24, 2012, photo by Kari Greer for USFS http://wildfiretoday.com/2012/09/08/kari-greer-photos-from-the-trinity-ridge-fire/

 

 

 

 

In our neck of the woods here in Northern California, Humboldt and Trinity Counties have been severely affected by these wildfires. Homes have been lost, gorgeous acres of hundred year old redwood trees are gone, livestock has perished, crops are destroyed and unfortunately it’s still not contained. The smoke in the area reminds us daily how bad fire season really is. The devastation hits too close to home.

In some areas nature took over, scattering dry lightning storms that has caused most of the destruction. Other areas were not affected by natural causes, but by not knowing the simple precautions to take to avoid a devastation like this, a disaster can happen at any time. http://lostcoastoutpost.com/2015/jul/31/dozens-small-wildfires-burning-humboldt-county-mor/

Current known wildfires sparked by lightning in the Humboldt County region. Graphic: Calfire HUU

Current known wildfires sparked by lightning in the Humboldt County region. Graphic: Calfire HUU

Everyone hears how important is it to be prepared, but how seriously do you take it? Do you have a plan? Having stored food and water is a priority for survival but what about staying informed when all communication is down? Radio has been a solid form of communication when cellular services were not available in the rural areas affected. Your local radio stations are the most likely sources for up to the minute information on what’s happening and evacuation information that’s critical for survival. This is why the all Hazards CC Radio 2 E is a necessity to have on hand during any emergency.

 

Here are a few great tips to help avoid the start of wildfires:
• Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it.
• Regularly clean roof and gutters.
• Inspect chimneys at least twice a year and clean them at least once a year.
• Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once each year.
• Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher (ABC type) and show them where it’s kept.
• Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc. Move them outside of your defensible space.
• Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool, or hydrant.
• Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
Find more useful tips to help you before, during and after a fire by clicking here: http://www.ready.gov/wildfires .

No matter what the emergency is whether they are fires, snowstorms, floods, hurricanes, landslides, or earthquakes – any natural disaster, we encourage you to check your kit and plan and if you don’t have one, make one. http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/foodwater/prepare.asp

Let us help you start your emergency kit. Comment on our blog with the necessities you’ll need for your survival emergency kit for you and your family members. What do you want the closest members of your family to have to stay safe? One winner will have the choice of either the CC Solar Observer AM/FM/Weather Windup Emergency Radio or the CC Skywave AM/FM/Shortwave/ Weather with Aviation Portable Travel Radio in addition to the Power Vivid Pocket Flashlight and the Unit Plus LED Flashlight. One entry per person. Drawing will be held September 15th.

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Back to School Must Haves This Season

Whether your kids or grandBacktoSchoolkids are starting pre-kindergarten or taking their first steps into college this fall, send them back to school with the right gear and most helpful must haves for the year. We can help you find the best electronic equipment to keep your scholar connected through the entire year.

The Necessities

Radios aren’t just for adults
Give your kid the opportunity to open up an entire new world of radio listening. The internet is great but your kids may not have considered listening to the radio as an amazing wealth of knowledge and information. Kids love music on FM and their MP3 players but introducing a bit of AM talk radio into their lives may do major justice. The information is endless on the AM dial. The CC Pocket Radio is small and compact so the size will be familiar and it fits into any size backpack. The CC Pocket Radio offers AM, FM, Weather and Weather Alert. 

Why would my kid need a radio, they have a cell phone
Kids may have the impression that their cell phones will always keep them informed but whether or not we’d like to admit it, we all know an emergency can happen at any time and cellular communication may go down. A reliable way to stay informed at all times during an emergency is with an all hazards weather radio. Radio communication will always have the ability to stay in operation with reliable sources like Ham Operators. Ham Operators are local and have equipment ready to help coordinate emergency efforts. The CC Radio 2 E is C. Crane’s all hazards AM, FM, Weather and Weather Alert with the 2 Meter Ham Band Radio http://www.ccrane.com/CCRadio-2E-Enhanced-AMFMWX2-Meter-Ham-Band-Radio-Black-Mica that will stay up and keep information flowing. The CC Solar Observer is also a fantastic emergency radio that comes with AM, FM, the Weather band and can be powered by using the built in hand crank, solar panel or by using regular alkaline batteries. It also comes with a built in flashlight and in an emergency it can charge cell phones.

A Flashlight can save your life
Having a reliable flashlight on your key chain or in your bag can be a lifesaver. The Power Vivid Pocket Flashlight is small, light-weight and will provide a large amount of light to see by. Never be too cautious when it comes to staying lit. The Unity Plus Flashlight is a beefier version. It’s larger and puts out more light but it can also act as a self-defense tool with its firm grip and rigid top. It’s the perfect combo of power, size and weight.

The Fun Stuff

Tricked Out Dorm Room
Turn any dorm room from a dull den to a chic chill zone by livening up the place up with a small and portable, Bluetooth® speaker. The Senta Ally Portable Speaker with FM will fill any room with rich, full range sound. Its generous battery time will last hours and hours. Connection via Bluetooth makes listening to music endless and it comes with all the cables necessary to connect to anything from cell phones, to tablets, to laptops.

Beef Up the WiFi
The School’s WiFi can be hard to receive and depending on location, almost impossible. A WiFi Antenna can be your internet savior. The Super WiFi Antenna 3 will receive a WiFi signal from hundreds of feet away and will significantly boost the WiFi to your computer or laptop. Couple the Super WiFi Antenna 3 with our Repeater to create the Super WiFi Repeater Kit that will connect multiple WiFi devices. Free WiFi normally surrounds campuses so a good WiFi antenna is a priority to stay connected.

Now that we’ve given you a few back to school tips, we want to know what your back to school must haves will be this school year. Let us know what’s on your school shopping list and you’ll be entered to win a C. Crane back to School Starter Kit filled with a few necessities any scholar would need. One entry per person. Drawing will be held September 3rd.

Summer is for Travel

beachsummerrevisedWith summer in full swing, we know many of you are on the go. Whether you’re traveling for your bucket list, to visit family or for a little R&R, C. Crane has a few things that you can use to make your travels more enjoyable.

For news and information, the CC Skywave is hard to beat. It will also keep you informed of the weather with weather alerts. It’s the perfect size to stash in your travel bag regardless of your mode of travel. If you want something a little simpler, the CC Pocket might be the right choice. We’ve had several customers who mention using it on the golf course or by the pool.

What fun is the destination without some music? The Senta Ally is a versatile portable Bluetooth Speaker. Use your smartphone with your favorite app to transmit music to the Ally or you can connect a device directly through the line in, or even load your playlist onto an SD card or USB thumb drive. This is great for the lake, on the patio boat, by the pool, at the river or the beach. It’s small enough to easily throw in your towel bag.

Traveling to campgrounds or RV parks that have WiFi or even some hotels – the range isn’t always very good. Use one of our WiFi antennas or the Super WiFi Repeater Kit to get the range you need. We have a great explanation on the different options and how to pick the one that is best suited for your situation.

If camping or hiking is more your style, the Unity Plus LED Flashlight is one of the best or even the Power Vivid Pocket LED Flashlight. Long battery life and easy operation. Everyone will be asking where you got yours. They are an essential part of the camping or hiking pack.

Wherever your summer takes you, we hope you make the most of it!

We love a good story, and you guys have given us some great ones! Vacations are some of the best stories (sometimes for calamity). Tell us your favorite vacation story in the comments and be entered to win any one of the products mentioned above. One entry per person. Drawing will be held August 12th.

Congratulations to Jason Vanderveen who is the winner in our drawing for our blog post Summer is for Travel. Thanks to everyone who participated! ~Jessyca M.  from C. Crane

Why We Made the First CCRadio

selectatenna

Select-A-Tenna – AM Antenna

After C. Crane started to gain momentum selling mostly antennas and radio accessories, we received our first real technological challenge when customers starting asking for recommendations on the best radio. It was pretty easy to select the Sangean 803A as the first radio we offered to our customers. Tuning was precise and voice audio was sharper and more legible than most other radios on the market. With the Select-A-Tenna that we sold, it turned into one of the best radios made for reception. It was a little complex to use as a regular daily radio but it met many customer’s needs. We also carried the GE Super Radio which was much easier to use but lacked some of the functionality customer’s wanted and supply was erratic. It seemed that there wasn’t a good blend of features, performance and ease of use.

In the background we went about acquiring and testing just about every popular radio made at the time. It turns out that most radios are tuned for music and FM. There are many that have too much bass or filtering which distorts the human voice for talk radio and even voices found in music tracks. It turned out nobody was making a radio that made voices sound realistic and very few had good reception. If they did, they were so complicated that you needed a PhD just to turn it on or they were so expensive you needed a small loan to pay for it. It took 10 years to convince a manufacturer to help us make the radio we knew our customers needed and wanted. Something that had some of the most desired functionality (memory presets, clock, alarm), audio tuned for voice, excellent reception and wasn’t too difficult to use.

ccradio2eWe started the CCRadio by selecting a speaker and an amplifier designed to react well with voice frequencies. Trying to make a sensitive radio that picked up weak stations was the real challenge. The new solid state chips generated their own static noise that masked the weak signal so that is all you heard. It took months to reduce the noise and make the radio quiet so a weak station was above the noise level. The original CCRadio was introduced in July of 1998 and we haven’t looked back. Grandma Faye gave the best compliment; “you can hear the voices with this radio”. It’s gone through a few different iterations based on customer feedback and changes in technology but the idea behind it remains and it continues to be one of the most popular radios we offer. Models based on our design are still popular worldwide. It took several more years but we eventually invented and received a patent for the Twin Coil Ferrite AM antenna. This allowed us to exceed the reception of our original AM antenna and radio.

Our line of CC Radios has expanded to include different types and styles but the focus on reception and audio remains.

In honor of our anniversary month, 17 years of CCRadios, you can enter to win, tell us your favorite radio story in the comments on this blog and win the CCRadio of your choice. Drawing will be held July 31st. Only one entry per person.

Congratulations to Bob Emery for sharing his favorite radio story! Thanks to everyone who participated! ~Jessyca

Art Bell. . . What the heck is he doing? He is going back on air July 20th, 2015!

Midnight in the Desert Art BellArt Bell will be broadcasting on Internet radio, shortwave and even some regular radio stations! What a wonderful unorthodox blend! He is dramatically reducing the number of commercial breaks so it will be very interesting how this meshes with a traditional broadcast station. Keep up with latest news and station list at Artbell.com.

Where can I hear him? Most people may already have their favorite way to listen but if not here are some tips:

The inherent streaming quality of Art’s stereo broadcast is high. You can listen on a phone, tablet, Internet radio, Shortwave or perhaps even a local station. Shortwave station WTWW at 5085 KHz puts out a powerful signal so those beyond any services can hear him. The small CC Skywave radio with 10′ of wire attached to the whip antenna works excellent along with our larger CCRadio-SW.

You can also listen to Dark Matter Digital Network on the CC WiFi Radio or the CC WiFi 2 Radio (available in classic black or gorgeous cherry wood finish).

How can I make Art’s audio stream sound great on a tablet or smartphone?

Speakers:

  • The Senta Ally Stereo Speaker can use Bluetooth or a patch cord from your smart phone. Audio on the Ally is particularly accurate and full for voice. Our price and the fact that it is portable make it a great value.
  • My “spoiled brat-best way” to listen in bed is a tablet directly connected to my CCRadio-2E for impeccable voice rendition. We offer a 1/8″ stereo 3′ heavy duty patch cord that works well for this and other similar devices.

Headphones:

  • If you have a tendency to mangle and destroy headphones you should try our low cost Voz. Many people think they are the finest for voice.
  • For audio connoisseurs check out the Senta-40 at a price that defies the quality.

Earbuds:

  • The Voz Earbuds are inexpensive but normally better than what you may have received with your smartphone.
  • Art Bell’s Hot Pick: The highly rated Voz-P Premium Wooden Earbuds are his favorite.
  • The CC Buds are a new invention of C. Crane that are tuned for voice but also accurate for music without heavy bass.

Tips for Extending WiFi Reception:

Crane has always specialized in long range reception and WiFi is no exception!

Art Bell is on 9-12 PM Pacific Time but you may not have good WiFi reception where you like to listen. There are inexpensive repeaters you can find that work very good for 30′ or more from your router. I particularly like Netgear’s wallplug repeater. But If you have a serious problem making an internet connection then C. Crane has some very powerful solutions to check out.

Good ‘Ole AM/FM Radio:

You can check out the station list on ArtBell.com and see if you can get any signal. The CCRadio-2E is probably the best radio for reception.

Art’s new show has all the signs of a great ride and the future is downright bright and mysterious at the same time. Please join the show!

If we can be of any help, please give us a call. That’s the job we love doing!

Why AM Listening is Better at Night

If you listen to AM radio stations at night that are just impossible to pick up during the day, chances are you’re benefiting from sky-wave propagation. Propagation is just the technical word for how radio signals travel through the air. Sky-wave propagation is the specific name given to radio waves that travel through the sky. Sky-wave propagation takes place between sunset and sunrise. It’s the flip side to the ground wave propagation used to transmit during the day.

During the day, ground wave propagation is preferable because the radiation from the sun causes so much ionization that radio signals sent into the air are absorbed into the atmosphere. When atoms in the D region of the ionosphere are ionized, you end up with free electrons and ions floating around in the air. It’s kind of like trying to walk through a room filled with dancing couples. When in pairs, there’s more room to walk through, but when they’re not paired, it’s easier to get stuck in a conversation with someone. That’s kind of how the ions and electrons in the D region work. When they’re not combined they look for something else to combine with and that’s how they absorb radio waves. At night, however, once the sun begins to set, the electrons and ions in the D region recombine rapidly – leaving more room for the radio waves to travel a little farther up. Above the D region, the F1 and F2 regions are also recombining, but much more slowly than the D region. When the radio waves hit those regions of the ionosphere, they have a chance to be reflected or bent (some prefer refracted) back toward the earth.

ccrane

What that means for AM radio listeners is that they’ve experienced the remarkable ability of AM radio signals to travel hundreds of miles farther than during the day. Listening to AM, and scanning the AM dial between sunrise and sunset is a fun way to discover how far a sky-wave signal can travel to reach you. During the baseball season, you can use the sky-wave to tune in some night games played in different parts of the country. In Northern California (where C. Crane is based), as in other places around the country (even up into Alaska), people use the sky-wave to listen to stations like KGO which is a 50,000 watt station located in San Francisco. If a signal reflects off the ionosphere and then bounces off the earth and then reflects off the ionosphere again, it can travel even farther than with just a single reflection. So, as you can see, sky-wave propagation makes it possible to tune in stations that you might not even know about when tuning your radio during the day.

If you ever come across a DX website, or even a shortwave radio website, where someone is really happy about intense solar activity (or lots of sun spots), it’s because more ionization during the day makes for better sky-wave propagation during the night.

If you want to make the most of sky-wave propagation, we’d suggest the CCRadio-2E and if you’re into shortwave, our CCRadio-SW is also an excellent choice. Since these radios have fine tuning capabilities, thanks to the built-in Twin Coil Ferrite® AM Antenna, you may be able to find a new station almost every night. A smaller version that works great for portability would be the CC Skywave. It’s a lot more fun than you might realize, with something as simple as a radio. Here’s a sample personal station log you can use to keep track of what you hear.

We’d love to hear how far away you’ve received an AM signal from its source, and on what radio!

Happy DXing

Gift Guide for Dads and Grads

giftguidedadsandgradsShopping is supposed to be fun, but when it comes time for Father’s Day or Graduation Day, we know even the most savvy shoppers are often left wondering “What the heck do I buy this person?” C. Crane is here to give you some suggestions for the man in your life who might seem to have everything or the graduate who seems to need everything. 

Ideas for Dad

CC Skywave – Great for the traveler. It’s small and portable, with excellent overall performance, an intuitive layout and great sound for the size. Easy to stash in a carry on or take to the ball game. Covers AM, FM, Shortwave, Weather (with weather alert) and Aviation Band.

CCRadio-EP – Perfect for when less is more. Larger radio with a flip up handle. Analog tuning dial, great AM and FM reception, clear sound from the large speaker with separate wide and narrow audio control. No clock to set or memories to program, just turn it on, tune the dial and listen. External AM antenna jack.

CCRadio 2E – For the man who wants it all. The top of the line digital radio with extra bells and whistles. This is the best radio we have for AM Reception and it also has really good FM reception as well. Audio tuned for clear voice. 5 one touch memory presets per band, clock, alarm, sleep timer, programmable timer, separate bass and treble. Weather band with WX alert. External AM antenna jack. 2 Meter HAM band for emergency listening. 

CC Pocket – For the man on the go. Small, lightweight pocket radio with excellent reception for its size. Your dad can listen through earbuds or the built-in speaker. AM/FM and Weather with Alert.

Garden Noise Reduction Headphones and Radio Kit – For the man who does it all and wants to listen to his radio while he does! Kit includes the CC Pocket Radio above along with Noise Reduction Headphones and a made in the USA harness is also available to keep the radio in place while working around the house or weed eating in the yard.

Pillow Speaker – This may be more for your Mom :). Allows your dad to listen to his favorite radio show at a volume level that doesn’t disturb the whole house (sorry we can’t help with snoring).

Ideas for Graduates

Senta 40 Headphones – Awesome set of headphones that are a great value for the money. If your graduate is more interested in sound than in a brand name these are the right set of headphones for them.

VOZ Wooden Earbuds – A favorite among staff and their families. Great sound, comfortable to wear and the no tangle wires are such a relief.

Senta ALLY Portable Bluetooth Speaker – Great for listening to a favorite smartphone app using Bluetooth. Whether working out or sitting by the pool, it makes listening to any audio from a Bluetooth device so much better. Also works with SD cards, USB or direct line input. Bonus – it has a replaceable battery!

Super WiFi Repeater Kit – May come in handy in the apartment or dorm room. Allows you to pull distant WiFi signals into your computer, smartphone, tablet and more. The best part is there are no drivers to install!

If all else fails a gift certificate is pretty safe. Our C. Crane Amazon store has a lot of stuff and depending on your recipient, it may make more sense to give them one from there. Especially if they have a Prime Membership, they can take advantage of their Prime Shipping options if they are enrolled. 

No matter what you choose, we hope all of you have a fantastic Father’s Day!

For those of you with loved ones or acquaintances who are graduating – Congratulations! What a fantastic way to kick off summer. 

Wireless Audio Demystified

WirelessAudio-ThenNowWe’re living in a world full of contraptions that were once considered futuristic concepts. For audio lovers, this is a particularly exciting time. With the development of digital audio technologies, we’ve experienced incredible reductions in physical device sizes, while data storage capacities have increased greatly. More recently, wireless technologies have enabled audio to be transmitted from source to speakers without cables; however, many of us may be confused by the many wireless audio options that are available. This article will hopefully help clarify the differences among the various technologies and may serve well as a platform for further research.

Wireless Audio- The Basics

Despite many differences, all wireless audio systems share some common components: an audio source (this can be a Radio, a television, a stereo receiver, a smartphone, really anything that has an audio out or headphone jack), a transmitter, a receiver, and an audio amplifier. The audio source is the device that contains the audio signal. The transmitter receives the audio signal from the source and then transmits the signal wirelessly. The receiver picks up this wireless signal and passes it to the audio playback device which plays the signal back as audible sound.

WirelessAudio-SignalChainKeep in mind that wireless audio technologies deliver audio signals, not power, wirelessly. Depending on the design, wireless audio devices may be powered with batteries or with a power cable.

FM Transmitters

FM transmitters are great devices that serve a wide variety of applications. These devices are typically connected to the headphone jack (or audio output jack) of an audio source and are able to transmit the audio on vacant FM frequencies. These wireless FM broadcasts can then be received by any FM radio.

WirelessAudio-FMTransmitter

FM transmitters are very popular due to their ease of use and wide compatibility. The audio quality provided by FM transmitters is limited compared to other technologies. Top-notch FM transmitters may offer a frequency response of 30Hz to 15kHz. The operational range (i.e. broadcast distance) of FM transmitters varies. Some are low powered and will only transmit audio a few yards, while others may be able to transmit a signal 50 feet. The FCC places limits on the output power for these devices to prevent interference with licensed FM radio stations. The FCC output power limit is 250 Micro Volts at three Meters.

FM transmitters are often used to transmit audio from source devices like MP3 players, satellite radio receivers, etc. to car stereos, home theaters, or portable radios. Many times they can be found in gyms or fitness centers where they are used to transmit audio from televisions. People who are exercising simply tune their radios to the FM frequency listed below each T.V. to hear the audio. One point of confusion that often exists, is transmitting an AM signal over FM. The transmitter doesn’t “care” what is on the audio signal, it just uses the FM frequency band to send that signal to other devices on that same frequency.

One of the greatest benefits of FM transmitters is the fact that the transmitted audio signal may be received by any and all FM radios within range. As far as the radios are concerned, they are receiving an FM signal just like a normal FM radio station.

Bluetooth®

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that uses radio signals in the 2.4GHz band to transfer small amounts of data wirelessly over short distances. While Bluetooth can transmit various types of data, we will focus on its usefulness for wireless audio.

Many new mobile devices like tablets, smartphones, MP3 players (etc.), may already have Bluetooth communication technology built in. These devices are also capable of storing music or audio files, thus making them “audio source devices”. These Bluetooth devices may actually perform two functions of our wireless audio chain: the source and the transmitter. There are also Bluetooth transmitter devices which may be connected to the headphone jack of an audio source to transmit audio to a Bluetooth receiving device.

Bluetooth audio receivers are available in various forms. They may be devices which can be connected to input jacks on (non-Bluetooth) playback devices like home stereos, amplified speakers or headphones. Other times, they may be devices which are consolidations of Bluetooth audio receiver and playback device. These are typically stereos, amplified speakers, headphones, radios (etc.) which have integrated Bluetooth audio receivers.

WirelessAudio-Bluetooth

Providing 20Hz-20kHz frequency response, wireless Bluetooth audio offers better audio quality than FM transmitters. The operational range is about 30 feet with clear line of sight. A neat feature about Bluetooth is that because it can transmit data other than audio signals, it is possible for Bluetooth receiving devices to offer control of audio content such as fast-forwarding/rewinding, song skipping, pausing etc.

Most people familiar with Bluetooth may have seen the technology used in wireless earpieces for cell phone calls. (Some of us may just wonder why so many people seem to be talking to themselves nowadays.) Bluetooth is also used for mobile or home speakers systems. Since many new audio source devices (smartphones, MP3 players, tablets, etc.) feature Bluetooth technology, Bluetooth speakers offer a convenient and widely compatible way to playback audio without requiring special (proprietary) adapters, connectors, or docking mechanisms. This is one of the greatest strengths of Bluetooth technology in regards to audio. Due to the 30ft range of Bluetooth, audio products using this technology are typically optimized for single room (close range) environments.

WiFi

If you’re not familiar with the term “WiFi”, please click the link above to learn more. In regards to audio, WiFi offers the same provisions as Bluetooth, but the operational range is usually about 250 feet with clear line of sight. Compared to the mobile benefits of Bluetooth, WiFi is typically more of a home-based technology that is able to connect multiple devices together to form a network. This networking ability works out great for setting up wireless audio systems to serve entire buildings.

Many people may already have wireless networks in their homes. In these home WiFi networks, multiple computers, laptops, wireless printers, tablets, smartphones, etc. may all connect to a single WiFi router to share data between the devices. Music (or audio files) stored on one device may be shared via the WiFi network with the other connected devices.

WirelessAudio-WiFi-1

WiFi audio products follow the same basic signal chain as the other wireless audio technologies. WiFi audio source devices, WiFi audio transmitters, WiFi audio receivers, and WiFi audio playback devices are all available. Generally speaking, WiFi source devices are typically also transmitters. WiFi enabled playback devices (speakers etc.) are typically also receivers.

As with Bluetooth, there are also separate WiFi transmitter or receiver adapters which can be connected to external sources or playback devices.

WirelessAudio-WiFi-2

Proprietary

Some audio companies make wireless audio products which only work with other compatible products made by the same company. These wireless audio products are usually sold as transmitter and receiver kits. Often times, multiple receivers may be used to receive a wireless audio signal from a single transmitter or source. Products like these, which are only compatible with other products made by the same company, are considered “proprietary”. The benefit of proprietary products is convenience. Since the products are designed to work together, setting up and using the systems is typically an easy process.

Keep it Simple!

All of these mentioned wireless audio technologies provide great methods for sharing audio without requiring cables. No matter which type of wireless audio set up you’re considering, the easiest way to understand the system is to consider the signal chain.

WirelessAudio-SignalChain

Original article written for C. Crane by James Adams

Tips for Improving FM Reception

Tuning in an FM station isn’t the same as tuning in an AM station. That’s why, when you have a reception issue, the first thing you’re usually asked is “Which band or station are you trying to receive?”. FM transmissions are line-of-sight. That means that obstacles between you and the transmission you’re trying to receive can block the signal and leave you with poor reception on your radio. A hill, a coliseum, big buildings – all these things can get in the way of your FM reception and even leave you hearing the effects of multi-path interference. You get multipath interference when a signal meets an obstacle of some sort, such as a mountain. Depending on the broadcast strength, the signal might get absorbed or reflected by the mountain. Due to these issues your radio will end up with poor reception as the different paths taken by the reflected signal arrive at your receiver at different intervals.

Fortunately, multi-path interference usually happens when you’re in your car, so it tends to be pretty easy to overcome by finishing your drive around a city loop or the base of a mountain. Still, some people might experience all kinds of radio interference at home as well. That’s where a better antenna might do the trick.

Most portable radios have a whip or telescoping antenna that works fairly well when the radio is set close to a window and away from sources of significant interference. However, if you always have the whip antenna fully extended, you may not be getting the reception you’re expecting. Sometimes you’ll get better reception for a certain station when the whip antenna isn’t fully extended.

Occasionally, pulling in the cleanest signal is accomplished by trial and error. You can experiment by extending the antenna to different lengths and also pointing it in different directions (if the radio’s antenna is designed to rotate, of course).

yagi antennaIf playing around with the antenna or moving the radio around doesn’t improve your reception as much as you like, you may need to move toward a more powerful indoor or outdoor antenna. An outdoor unidirectional antenna, also known as a Yagi, is a powerful option. A Yagi looks like a rooftop TV antenna and is ideal for tuning in distant stations and for reducing multipath interference. By aiming the Yagi at the signal you want to capture, you can tune out most types of interference – be it from competing signals, buildings or a weak signal.

Another alternative in outdoor antennas is an omnidirectional FM antenna. Though omnidirectional antennas might not reduce interference as much as unidirectional antennas, their ability to pick up stations cleanly from all directions make them a good choice for overall reception.

If you don’t have access to the outside of your building, you might want to go for a good dipole antenna. These T-shaped antennas offer pretty decent reception indoors and are easy to hide if necessary. C. Crane carries the FM Reflect antenna.

There’s often confusion around how to connect an external FM antenna to a radio that doesn’t have external FM antenna jacks. We’ve created this diagram to give you an idea of what these jacks might look like.

Whichever antenna you choose, be sure you’ve tried some basic things first. Sometimes just switching to mono rather than stereo, or putting a portable radio in a different location, can improve reception. You might also be lucky enough to improve your reception by just attaching a simple wire to the external FM antenna jacks. If these quick and easy solutions don’t work for you, or if you can hear a signal in your car but not indoors, you may want to consider one of the antennas mentioned above.

We’d love to hear from you – tell us about your FM Antenna setup in our comments (homemade or purchased) and be entered to win a CCRadio-2E AM, FM, Weather and 2Meter Ham Band Portable Radio. Drawing will be held June 16th. Only one entry per person.

Congratulations to James Lawrence! He’s the winner of the CC Radio 2 E! Thanks for everyone’s participation. ~C. Crane Company

Can You Boost Your WiFi Signal?

wifilaptopwithwomanSeems like this would be a really easy question to answer, but there are so many variables and pieces to this puzzle that it can sometimes become overwhelming. We’re here to help you break it down and simplify the process.

You’ll want to answer a few questions to get you started on the right path:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
    • Are you wanting to share internet with a neighbor?
    • Do you want your child to be able to stream movies in the WiFi devices in their room?
    • Do you want whole house WiFi access?
    • Access the RV Park signal that’s 300 feet away?
  • Where do you want the signal to go?
    • This relates to question one, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t have the answer for this.
  • What do you want to connect?
    • You’ll need specifics, makes, models, number of devices.

These may seem like straight forward questions, but correctly and honestly answering them can save you hours of frustration by getting you the right solution the first time. Below is a guide you can print out and use for reference when talking to anyone about possible WiFi solutions:

  • Do you have WiFi already? (This is a service that is often set up when you get broadband internet, possibly by your cable or cellular phone provider).
    • (This is a service that is often set up when you get broadband internet, possibly by your cable or cellular phone provider).
      • If Yes, what kind of router do you have? The make and model and knowing whether it has removable antennas or not can help you make an informed decision.
        • Some common brands are D-Link, NetGear and Linksys.
      • If No, how do you plan to access WiFi? Are you using public WiFi (like something at an RV park, coffee shop or hotel). You will not want to purchase any kind of accessory until you know how you are going to connect to WiFi
        • If you plan to use public WiFi there are several nuances you may encounter, we will save those for a different article.
  • Now that you know what router or WiFi access you have, where is it located in relation to where you’re trying to receive the signal? If the location is your house or office a rough diagram will help, especially with approximate distances. Is it 100 feet away through 4 walls and a refrigerator? Is it in the middle of your home but you’re trying to receive in the garage or the mother-in-law cottage next door which is 300 feet away? The more details you have about how far away and what’s in the way (walls, trees, levels of your home etc.) the better the solution will be. If it’s the coffee shop signal you want receiving may be more difficult.
  • The most important part is – what do you want to connect? The reason this is important is some devices like laptops can install drivers. Other devices like tablets, smartphones and gaming systems can’t. Those that cannot eliminate several possibilities for boosting WiFi. If you are planning on using the solution with a laptop, you will also need to know what operating system and version (this would be Windows 7 or MAC OS 9). If you want to connect multiple devices that narrows the solution options significantly.
    • Keep in mind that devices are only tested for operating systems that are currently available at the time the device is created. Sometimes drivers can be updated to work with new operating systems. Sometimes no updates are needed but other times major changes make older devices incompatible with new operating systems. Please be cautious when upgrading operating systems.

Now that you know the details, you can begin to look for the right solution.

  • For computers and laptops, you can choose from one of the USB antennas that connect directly to the USB port on your computer.
  • For routers with removable antennas, you can upgrade to a larger antenna system.
  • For creating a hotspot that multiple devices can connect to (such as smartphones and tablets), a repeater system would be a good place to start.
  • For specialty situations that are a distance of more than a few hundred feet or that require multiple access points (like a hotel or multi-office setup) a standard or custom bridge kit may be needed.

One more consideration: Not all makes and models are designed to work together (especially if you’re purchasing parts from multiple vendors). Compatibility issues may cause sub-par performance. Make sure to do your research and if you have any doubts, ask questions before making the final decision.

We’ve put together this really great chart to help you figure out the best solution for your situation. Still not sure what to do? Use the worksheet above that you’ve completed and give us a call. We can only advise you on solutions that we sell but we can certainly tell you if we don’t have anything that will work for what you’re trying to accomplish.

Not looking to purchase anything right now, here’s some ideas for boosting your WiFi for free.

What is your WiFi challenge? Tell us in the comments and you will be entered to win the Super WiFi Repeater Kit. One entry per person. Drawing will take place on June 1st.

Congratulations to Scott Goggin for winning the Super WiFi Repeater Kit on June 1st. Thank you all who participated! ! C. Crane

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