What in the World is SSB? Part 1

Single Sideband is a very different source of live audio and it is not on any radio you probably own, or your smartphone!

SSB (Single Sideband) is an obscure but very important way to communicate via radio. It is used primarily for two-way voice communication by ham radio operators, aircraft and air traffic control (ATC), ships at sea, military and spy networks. Occasionally some shortwave broadcast stations use this format. A lot of interesting and sometimes exciting talk goes on every day on these bands. Here is what you need to know to get started listening to this special method of radio communication.

A Radio Receiver is Only As Good as the Antenna Attached to It

While the Skywave SSB receiver is very sensitive and works quite well on the attached whip antenna, more signals can be received and signal strengths boosted by attaching a longer wire such as the included CC SW Reel Antenna or an outdoor antenna. The one drawback with attaching a wire to the Skywave SSB is that noise from things such as computers, fluorescent lights, fish tanks, etc., may actually make listening more challenging because the noise can block signals or make it very hard to receive them.

You will have to experiment to find the best location for both the radio and any external antenna. Generally speaking, the higher and further away from noise generating electrical devices you can place the external antenna, the better. Obviously, you also want to keep any external antenna far away from power lines both for noise and safety reasons.

If you are in a brick or concrete and steel building, the best reception will almost always be near a window. That goes for receiving signals on AM, FM, Weather Band, and AIR band, too.

Additional Tips for SSB Listening

Single sideband can be either UPPER (USB) or LOWER (LSB). You need to know which sideband is used by a given service to be able to listen properly, so make sure your Skywave SSB is set to the correct sideband.

Daytime Listening: During the daytime most activity will normally be on the higher frequencies like 10-30MHz (30, 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 meter ham bands). The exception is that you will often hear stations within 600 miles or so on 40 meters (7-7.300MHz) in the daytime, especially on weekends and holidays when more hams are on the air.

Nighttime Listening: At nighttime, the 80 meter (3.500-4.000MHz) and 40 meter (7000-7300 KHz) ham bands are normally full of activity in North America. 20 meters (14000-14350 KHz) may also be in use, depending on the radio conditions that day.

For Ham radio listening (Amateur Radio Operators), tune in the LSB on the 160, 80 and 40 meter ham shortwave frequency bands and USB on the 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 meter bands. Please see the Ham Radio frequency chart on the last page.

For aviation listening use USB. See the link in the last page for high frequency aviation frequencies to try.

The University of Alabama has a great website on what ham bands are currently active at http://dxdisplay.caps.ua.edu/.

Use the scanning feature of the Skywave SSB and scan the SSB Band and tune around to see what you can hear.

After tuning in a frequency, use the fine tuning adjustment on your Skywave SSB to help fine tune the frequency you are trying to listen to and achieve the most natural sounding voice.

Keep log notes of frequency, time, call sign and USB/LSB format for future reference.

Signal levels can change (and often do) from day to day on SSB/shortwave. A station you can hear loudly one day, might be weak or unreadable the next day. So, don’t be surprised or disappointed if you can’t hear your favorite frequency on a given day. They may be loud and clear tomorrow.

Applying the tips and information we have shared here will help you get the most out of your Skywave SSB radio. Beyond these, you can get more help by checking Google™, Bing™ or other search engines on the Internet.

Happy listening and 73s, (Ham jargon for Best Regards)!

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Thank You for Protecting Our Freedom

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We want to take a moment to honor anyone who has served or who is currently serving in our U.S. Military. Everyone here at C. Crane is so grateful for your service and the freedoms that it protects.

These words from Coulby Dunn’s Veterans Day speech Nov 7, 2007 will hopefully give you pause in your thoughts surrounding Veterans Day and their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their families. You can read the full transcript here.

….Let us never forget… that we cannot rightfully celebrate the joy of our freedom… without remembering the great price paid for that freedom.

We stagger…. at the eternal debt we owe… to the untold number of American Veterans…who chose to set aside…their personal ambitions and dreams… to assure the well being of our great nation. We, the living….are indeed… the beneficiaries… of those who made tremendous sacrifices for the advancement and surety of our liberty.

For those soldiers who have stood guard in peacetime… and to those who have seen the 
terror, the horror and inhumanity of combat — and to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice – Let it be said that our soldiers have been there for America…. defending the Constitution of the United States…..

To all our veterans…. we have a simple yet heartfelt message — thank you – Thank you for your unwavering service in peacetime and war, here in this nation… and throughout the world….

Lastly…. I would like to talk about service to your country and community…… I have always felt it was an honor to serve my country and I continue to serve today….not in the military …. but in my community….. and all of you should be doing the same.

I know there are many mothers and fathers…… sitting in this gymnasium this evening….. where your services and talents are needed….I encourage all of you to volunteer your services to any number of endeavors …. Your church, The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, The Little League, the Parent Teachers Organization, your local fire company or ambulance association……. We can all make a difference in our community…. What better way can we as parents…… show our children how to live their lives…. than by serving others….

Please take a moment to ponder Mr. Dunn’s suggestions above about community service, and consider making time to thank a veteran or visit a memorial site.  Though not all of us are called to serve our country in the military, we can all serve our community in some way.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Spooky Halloween

Halloween is Almost Here

If the real world isn’t scary enough, there are plenty of shows that are willing to help spook you into staying awake all night.

Coast to Coast will offer their legendary Ghost to Ghost show, you can view some archives here

NPR has some Halloween tricks and audio treats we love that folks are even gathering playlists so you can make your haunted house or Halloween party complete!

If you want some nostalgia, this is a great post with 31 scary old time radio episodes for Halloween.

If you’re looking to try something new, we’ve found a couple things for you to try:

The Nosleep Podcast  comes with this warning:  This is a horror fiction podcast. It is intended for mature adults, not the faint of heart. Join us at your own risk.

The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth and paranormal activity.

Let us know how you will be spending your Halloween and you’ll be entered to win a Unity Plus LED Flashlight to help you see in the dark.

Do you have a party or go to one? Take the kids or grand kids trick or treating? Listen to spooky radio or watch scary movies? Tell us in the comments below. One entry per person please. 3 winners will be chosen on November 2nd.

WiFi Calling When You Have Poor Cell Service – Guest Post by Jessica Crotty

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CC Vector WiFi Network  – 5 Bars!

Recently we were visiting my Father-in-Law at Quail Lodge Lake Almanor in Canyon Dam, CA. The lodge has decent WiFi through most of the property except where we were staying. Since I work at C. Crane I figured it would be the perfect time to test out our new CC Vector RV System – so I set up our system and went from one bar (in some cases none) to 5. Mission accomplished.

We were fortunate enough to meet our neighbors who were parked staying in their 5th wheel. I checked with them to see how their WiFi was in case they wanted to connect to the hot spot I’d created. Their problem wasn’t WiFi but it was no cell service. So we got to chatting about possible solutions and I remembered that while in China last year I had an issue that I was able to resolve by enabling WiFi on my iPhone SE. I am able to send and receive calls over WiFi when it’s available (like at the lodge). For many travelers this is a great solution, since so many remote places have poor cellular service but do have WiFi. In our case, with Verizon you do have to contact them to enable the setting and there may be a fee so it may not be something you want to have on all the time. I’m sure each carrier varies. To find it on an iPhone SE go to Settings -> Phone-> Calls -> WiFi Calling and enable the WiFi Calling on This Phone.

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FaceBook Messenger App – Make Calls by clicking the phone icon in the app.

The other option I shared, was the Facebook Messenger App. It requires that the other person also have the app, but I’ve used it with my Mother-in-law when she’s traveling internationally. It is much less expensive than adding an international data plan and there is even video calling available if you have a strong enough WiFi signal and it works even without an iPhone.

One of our resident WiFi gurus, Isaiah, also had this story of another solution – A couple years ago I added $10 to my Skype account for calling anywhere in the world and to any phone when I needed it. I’ve made many many calls .. some even to China and New Zealand and some just to family when I couldn’t find my cell phone.. I just used my computer and plug-in gaming headset. My audio was much better than using my phone and the other party could always hear me clearly because of the high quality microphone in my gaming headset. Anyways.. to this day I still have $4 remaining on my Skype account in case I need to make a call.

I hope this helps someone out there with similar issues and if you’re ever near Quail Lodge, tell my Father in Law, John and his partner Debbie that I sent you!

What are your biggest pain points with WiFi or Cell service while traveling and what solutions have you come up with? Tell us in the comments below and be entered to win a CC Vector Home Repeater System. Drawing September 8th. Please only one entry per person.

Special Note: Although we do have the most AMAZING U.S. based tech support (in my humble opinion) and we love to help, we only support our products and are unable to troubleshoot your cell phones.

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Public Radio Is Important

pmdmc2017C. Crane recently exhibited at the Public Media Conference 2017 in beautiful San Francisco #PMDMC17 (Public Media Development and Marketing Conference). We previously exhibited in 2013. Once again we were blown away at the awareness these stations have in relation to their listeners. It’s much different than we see and experience in other environments where there seems to be more disconnect between the station and the listener. We believe it’s because these stations exist because of their member base. No members supporting the station equals no station or a “lesser” station.

What is Public Broadcasting and why should I listen?

America’s unique public broadcasting system is a collaboration of 1,300 local non-commercial radio and television stations that meet the standards of and are supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. They work with each other and with hundreds of national and local producers and community partners to ensure that Americans have universal access to high-quality non-commercial programming….

https://current.org/about-public-media/why-public-media/

https://www.metamorafilms.org/2016/08/10/why-public-media-broadcasting-is-still-important-in-our-world/

We speak with people every day who couldn’t imagine a day without their local public radio station. The variety of programming includes NPR, BBC, classical music and often local on-air talent (which you all know is hard to come by in these days of mega consolidation, syndication and automation).

You might wonder how C. Crane fits into Public Radio since we’re normally an advertiser and well….there isn’t really advertising on Public Radio. We fit in, in a few different ways.

  1. We build radios that help the listeners get the signal. Often these stations are in rural areas or have fringe area listeners who struggle to receive the signal – our radios are high quality and help them pull in the weak signal and sound great too!
  2. If the station’s power is too low (or maybe it’s HD so the coverage radius is small and limited to their vehicle or an app) – we offer our internet radio which in many cases is the perfect solution. If the stream isn’t already available, we are usually able to have it added within a short period of time.
  3. Our radios make great membership premiums. The most popular is the CC Solar Observer.
  4. In the event our products don’t make sense for a premium, we also have a radio for resale program. We offer this to both public and private stations where they can offer our radios direct to their listeners.
  5. This year there was also a lot of interest in our new CC Buds Pro – Earbuds for Voice. A LOT of people listen using earbuds daily and finding a good pair, where you can hear the voice at a reasonable price is hard to do. We see earbuds in our futures 🙂

We met the most amazing,  down to earth, community minded and radio loving individuals at PMDMC and were so honored to be a part of this event. Stay tuned for some really great blog posts based on some of the people we met and stories we heard at the show!

Do you listen to Public Broadcasting? Share your favorite Public Broadcast show/station(s) in the comments below to be entered to win the NEW CC Buds Pro! Drawing will be held July 31st. Please only one entry per person.

Congratulations to Mer on your win of the CC Buds Pro! Thank you all for participating.

Happy Independence Day

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We wish all of you a safe and fun holiday – C. Crane Family

It’s Officially Summer – Time to Travel!

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Summer solstice was June 21st and we hope you were able to enjoy the long hours of daylight (and maybe some sunshine too). With summer comes travel. Whether you’re chasing sunshine or trying to get away from the heat, we have some ideas of essential items for your traveling:

CC Spot XB LED Spotlight – Even if you’re only traveling a few hours this light is perfect for changing a tire or finding the spot for your RV hookups. It’s bright, easy to hold, runs a long time on standard C batteries and has a kickstand for stability if you need it.

C. Zimmerman says Sturdy and powerful spotlight  “This is a very powerful spotlight that is well built but lightweight. I took it out and compared it to an incredibly bright 750 Lumen flashlight I have, and this has to be at least 100 Lumens on the bright setting. It lights up a large are to make it look like the sun came out. I don’t think you will be disappointed with this spotlight.”

CC Skywave Radio – This has become a favorite for those who want all the various communications and functionality with good reception in a small size and the weather alert comes in VERY handy if you’re traveling in areas with unpredictable weather.

N. Rosas says Perfect travel radio “This is the perfect radio for travel. I’ve had several, and this is the best. I tend to go to the same places, so the page memory feature is great for saving stations by location. The lighted display is a great feature. I would recommend this radio.”

Senta Ally Bluetooth® Wireless Speaker – There’s nothing better than being able to play your own tunes! Works with your iPhone™, Android ™, or any Bluetooth device or you can plug it in directly from any line out or earphone jack using the included stereo patch-cord.

TD says My 2014 favorite gadget of the year! “I use it pretty much every day. By following the instructions it paired easily with my iphone. Once I started using it, I realized it also paired wonderfully with my CC Witness. I record radio programs all week with the CC Witness using sandisk cards (the witness is able to screen out hours of commercials if you program the timers). I can play the disks in either unit at my convenience. I also use it to play The CBS Radio Mystery Theater, episodes that are available for free download on the internet, the voices are crisp and easy to listen to with the Senta. Navigation is a little tricky, but once I got the hang of it, its very simple. Also pairs great with the pillow speaker!“

And for those of you who struggle with WiFi at campgrounds, RV parks or hotels – the CC Vector Systems are a great solution for extending WiFi to multiple devices or the Super USB WiFi antenna is great for a single Windows Computer.

B. Freeman says Exceeded My Expectations “We travel full time in a motor home. Often RV Park WiFi is weak or unable to connect. This ‘kit’ makes it strong and stable and fast. Super easy to use and setup. Couldn’t be more satisfied.”

Whatever your travel plans are this summer – stay safe and make some amazing memories! If you missed it before, and your AM listening is leaving a lot to be desired with all that daylight – check out the tips on our blog.

Tell us your summer plans in the comments below and be entered to win a Senta Ally Bluetooth Speaker. Drawing will be held July 3rd. Please only one entry per person.

Congratulations Julie Horner winner of the Senta Ally Bluetooth Speaker!

Gift Guide for Dad

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It’s almost that time again – Father’s Day! We have some ideas to help you score a big win in the gift category.

The CC LED Spot XB Spotlight is great for any dad. We’ve had folks buy it for night time walking, camping, working under the house or to keep in the car. It’s bright, durable, and lightweight and makes an excellent gift.

If your dad likes sports or working in the garden, the CC Pocket might be the perfect fit. We hear about folks taking it to the baseball game so they can listen to the play by play on their radio. If gardening is more his speed, we’ve developed a kit that includes the CC Pocket,and noise blocking headphones with an optional chest harness.

When nothing but the best will do, the CCRadio-2E is the right choice. This is our top performer for long range AM reception. The voice focused audio on this radio is superb and will have him thanking you for years to come.

Still not sure what to buy? A gift certificate allows your dad to get what he really wants. No re-gifting or hurt feelings.

If you need any help with a recommendation, please call us and we’d love to help you pick out the right gift for that special dad in your life!

Memorial Day

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While we view Memorial Day as the official summer kick off and enjoying a B-B-Q with friends or family, please remember to set aside some time to honor the service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. That freedom extends into radio in the form of Freedom of Speech. Whether you agree or disagree with a host, your right to do so is largely a result of those who have gone before us to secure that freedom.

Gene Burns, an unforgettable icon in radio history, believed that talk radio played a crucial role in exercising and preserving our First Amendment Right. He gave one of the most moving speeches about the Freedom of Speech when he accepted the “Freedom of Speech” award at Talker’s. It was so long ago, there is no recording that we could locate (still working on it), but we did find some YouTube videos of Gene that make one realize that even though everything seemingly changes, everything really is the same…. Michael Harrison, founder of Talker’s Magazine and host of podcast Up Close and Far Out is also a huge proponent of Freedom of Speech. He said this in an interview on KNPR “I think talk radio is a very vital expression of the First Amendment,” he said, “And I think that the First Amendment, freedom of speech, is not a tidy affair. You cannot have free speech and have it be nice or the way you like it or only the truth or only things that are political correct. Free speech is the foundation upon which America is built.”

Take a minute this weekend when you’re listening to the radio or watching YouTube videos, about whatever content that you have the freedom to choose, to say thanks to all of those that died to secure your freedom.

May we never forget freedom isn’t free.

Is Radio Ready for a Shakeup?

Important happenings on the horizon – Talker’s Magazine recently shared iHeartMedia’s reports of their “Preliminary Q1 Results Expressing ‘Substantial Doubt’ About Future Given Current Debt Obligations.

What does this mean for radio as we know it right now? No one really knows. IheartMedia currently consists of two main media businesses – Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings and iHeartMedia. According to their website, iHeartMedia currently owns and operates 858 broadcast radio stations serving more than 150 markets, many stations that all of us listen to on a regular basis.

In the past when this has taken place, we’ve seen major restructuring which have included canceling shows, letting hosts go, consolidation, and more if something doesn’t give. On April 27th, iHeartCommunications Inc announced an extension of its deadline for private offers to May 12, 2017.

The fundamentals of radio are still strong but these circumstances have all the ingredients to create a significant conflict for stakeholders, investors, talent and listeners. We will be watching right alongside you to see what happens.

Tell us in the comments below, what do you think will happen?

Read the entire post from Talker’s Magazine below – reproduced with permission from Talker’s.

iHeartMedia Reports Preliminary Q1 Results Expressing ‘Substantial Doubt’ About Future Given Current Debt Obligations.  This report (filed yesterday, 4/20) to the SEC is designed to help the company achieve success with its debt exchange offer that expires for lenders today and for bondholders next Friday (4/28).  But the language is very strong as iHeartMedia preliminarily reports that consolidated revenue is down 2.4% for the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.  The company explains in this filing that it is analyzing, on a quarterly basis, “whether there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern for a period of 12 months following the date our financial statements are issued.  A substantial amount of our cash requirements are for debt service obligations.  Although we have generated operating income, we incurred net losses and had negative cash flows from operations for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015, as well as for the quarter ended March 31, 2017.  Our current operating plan indicates we will continue to incur net losses and generate negative cash flows from operating activities given iHeartCommunications’ indebtedness and related interest expense.  During the quarter ended March 31, 2017, we spent $570.4 million of cash on payments of principal and interest on our debt, net of facility draws and proceeds received, and anticipate having approximately $1.7 billion of cash interest payment obligations for the full year 2017.  At March 31, 2017, we had debt maturities totaling $316.5 million, $324.2 and $8,369.0 million in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively.  Our debt maturities at March 31, 2017 include $305.0 million outstanding under our receivables based credit facility, which matures on December 24, 2017, and $112.1 million of 10% Senior Notes due January 15, 2018.  Based on the significance of the forecasted future negative cash flows, including the maturities of the $305.0 million receivables based credit facility and the $112.1 million 10% Senior Notes due January 15, 2018, and the uncertainty of the outcomes of the Exchange Offers and Term Loan Offers, management anticipates that our financial statements to be issued for the three months ended March 31, 2017 will include disclosure indicating there will be substantial doubt as to our ability to continue as a going concern for a period of 12 months following the date the first quarter 2017 financial statements are issued as a result of uncertainty around our ability to refinance or extend the maturity of our receivables based credit facility, to achieve our forecasted results, and to achieve sufficient cash interest savings from the pending Exchange Offers and Term Loan Offers.

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