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Did You Get a Smart Speaker for Christmas?

FM Transmitter 2 with Amazon Alexa Echo Dot

Updated 01/22/19

Smart Speakers are wonderful because you will probably have better access to the audio you want, but not always. Since my life seems under control, I am completely uninterested in 99.9% of the abilities or “skills” of all smart speakers including Alexa’s except for one . . . radio.

I have both the Alexa and Google Home but I have been using the Alexa so far. With the frequent changes to their phone app interface it now looks impossible to search for your favorite station so you will initially have to request your station by voice. It can be very frustrating to get your favorite radio station on Alexa because it won’t understand you. Using the call letters of the station along with the frequency seems to work best (Alexa get KFI 640 AM). There is an app that you can download to your phone, so you don’t need to talk to Alexa (as much) to get your favorite station.  There are little lines in the upper left-hand corner of the app that are supposed to suggest a “menu”. Press that and then go to “Activities” which will show your recent stations. Tap the station you want and up it comes. This process is easy once you fail in numerous ways. Once you become familiar you will have your phone as the remote control you always wanted for a radio. Alexa will often pump you to find out more about Alexa instead of letting you use it the way you want. I think they want my data? A husband and wife can both download the Alexa app but this will allow Amazon to combine your data as partners. My wife prefers talking to it, so we keep Amazon guessing. It is interesting to see who they think we are by the odd ads they come up with things to buy. I do try and help them by occasionally searching for random weird items.

I initially tried plugging Alexa into my CCRadio 2E because the audio is perfect for my “news and information” preference. Unfortunately, Alexa’s switching power adapter destroyed the AM reception on my CC Radio. I prefer over the air radio because internet radio advertising is repetitive and degrading when you realize it is based on what you Googled that day. Plugging Alexa into another circuit about 25’ away solved the noise problem and puts Alexa out of listening range. Using an FM transmitter from Alexa to my CC Radio solved the transmission problem and gave me the “CC” audio clarity I enjoy. I also have an expanded radio dial that has infinite possibilities available to every radio in my house. There are a two potential obstacles to be aware of before you try an FM Transmitter.

  1. Some locations have a full dial of strong FM stations. You can check https://radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/vacant for a vacant station slot or tune and search the dial for dead air.
  2. The FM Transmitter-2 is low power so it only goes a maximum distance of about 45 feet line of sight with no obstructions.  In my location I was getting less. You can search “FM transmitter 2 mod”for user solutions if you’re not getting the range you need. I can listen to Alexa using any radio in the house or separate wood shop with the FM Transmitter.

Bluetooth is a good way to go too because smart speakers have the capability built-in. You might want to wait until we come out with our new Bluetooth CC Radio about September of 2019. The new radio will be good match to any smart speaker because of the superior audio and long distant reception of regular radio. You can also receive weather with the emergency alert plus the 2-meter ham band for monitoring local communications. My next article will be about what to do when/if the web goes down.  Stay tuned! Bob

 

Happy Holidays

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A Message from Bob Crane

Thank you for your interest in radio! Your support is the only reason C. Crane has prospered for 35 years. Your comments and suggestions make us strive to produce better radios for clearer audio and magical entertainment.

We hope you have a fabulous New Year, and we look forward to serving you.

Recommended Gift Guide from C.Crane 2018

Holiday Gifts

Every year we talk to hundreds of customers looking for the right gift, often they’re curious about our own personal preference or what we might recommend. Below are some recommendations that we’ve gathered to help you in your journey to picking out not only a great gift but something that will actually be used!

Check out this year’s holiday gift guide for more ideas and as always – you can contact us directly to answer any questions or help you with your selection. Continue Reading

The Only Communication Immediately After a World-Wide Internet Crash will be Radio . . .

 

The Internet is about 20 years old, yet we depend on it as if it was an amendment under the Bill of Rights. It has given a quantum leap in knowledge to half of the world’s population. Probably each one of us is concerned about content, speed and how it changes all facets of our lives including our jobs. The pace of change seems to be accelerating.

I have taken very small excerpts from the well written articles listed below. They are probably the most frightening articles I have read in 10 years. We can safely presume many more hacks and viruses have made their way into our computers without becoming public knowledge. The full articles below are available on Wired Magazine and the Wall Street Journal online or mobile. Search the title and publisher for the full article (a subscription may be required to view the full articles). Continue Reading

Is the government going to close WWV, WWVH and WWVB?

C. Crane loves radio and are here to make sure you’re informed when something might impact radio in a negative way. The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) has proposed cutting their radio stations (WWV, WWVH, and WWVB) from their budget next year. This is the only reliable source of shortwave to see how band conditions are. This would equate to all three stations being closed down. We’ve heard from our friends in the field that shortwave radio listeners are gutted by the idea of losing WWV and WWVH–both stations are staple references for listeners and hams alike.  The loss of WWVB would mean that all of the atomic clock-synchronized time pieces out there in North America (clocks, watches, weather stations, etc.) would stop synchronizing and automatically changing from DST to standard time. We’ve heard conflicting reports as to whether WWVB would be impacted or not.

Our good friend and radio advocate Thomas Witherspoon was recently interviewed by NPR as to what impact this would have and why it matters. You can listen to the full interview here: https://www.npr.org/2018/08/25/641835302/what-closing-a-government-radio-station-would-mean-for-your-clocks. Continue Reading

It’s Wildfire Season on the West Coast and Flooding on the East Coast – Here’s What You Need to Know to Stay Safe in an Emergency

When logging into PG&E’s (Pacific Gas and Electric) website, the following message appears. WILDFIRE SAFETY – ACTION REQUIRED.

pgewildfireactionrequired

A quick Google search leads to the following information.

PG&E on Tuesday warned customers in the Bay Area about a new policy that will cut electricity to certain neighborhoods during extreme fire weather conditions.

Customers were told to be “prepared” for when the alerts go into effect and the power could be abruptly cut off….

PG&E is talking about using these pre-emptive power outages specifically during the threat of wildfires like the ones that destroyed nearly a quarter of a million acres in the north bay last October.

PG&E has now been blamed for some of those fires. 90,000 people were evacuated and more than 40 people died.

Southern California Edison has a similar program in place…. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

Evolution of the CCRadio- Survival of the Fittest

selectatenna

Select-A-Tenna – AM Antenna

C. Crane started in 1983 selling AM antennas. After starting 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. Continue Reading

Radio – The Father’s Day Gift That Keeps On Giving

dreamstime_xs_71128231

While I’m sure those wild socks and ties get the biggest eyes upon opening them, we know at C.Crane you can’t go wrong with the one pastime most Dads enjoy: Listening to the Radio. The creative minds at C. Crane have created a radio for all enthusiasts whether they prefer a basic, simple radio to one that has it all, we’ve lined up some   “Dad Approved Gifts”. If you are looking for special Father’s Day gifts, look no further! Continue Reading

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