A Hacker’s Guide to Alexa

FM Transmitter 2 with Amazon Alexa Echo DotAnother meaning of “hacking” is to “clear a path”. In this case I want Alexa to perform the way I want. I warn you I’m the guy who disabled the annoying “Bixby” button on my S8 android phone by gluing it down with two small dabs of clear silicone. This glue can be removed in the event of some incredible cosmic event where Bixby has something to offer me. Smart phones are only tools.

I am also completely uninterested in smart speakers including Alexa’s even with its extensive abilities except one . . . radio. I have seen oral navigation to a favorite radio station end up in terse arguments with a robot which keeps adding perceived insults to the request. The app that downloads to your phone is a not bad as long as you are willing to press the button a few times until it makes a selection. You can scroll through your history to find your favorite station without opening your mouth. This is particularly good when changing stations in the middle of the night. We keep the Alexa mic off after reflection of some of our home discussions. Question:  Can two people download the Alexa app and control one device?

I tried plugging Alexa close to my CCRadio 2E so I can plug it into the “audio-in” port. Unfortunately, the Alexa’s switching power adapter destroyed AM reception. I prefer over the air radio when I can get it because internet radio advertising is many times more repetitive and demeaning (IMHO). Plugging Alexa into another circuit about 25’ away solved the noise problem. Using an FM transmitter from Alexa to my CC Radio solved the transmission problem and gave me audio clarity I enjoy and an expanded radio dial that has infinite possibilities. There are a few 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 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.

My predominant source of enjoyment is news (BBC), podcasts and late night radio, but I do love good movies and books too. I don’t think I am the only one who has shut off their cable after realizing all they want is keep your eyeballs looking at a screen any way they can in exchange advertising dollars.

Enter to Win: Do you have a smart speaker? If so, which one and how do you use it most? Have you found any useful tricks? Please answer in the comments below and be entered to win the FM Transmitter 2. Drawing to be held February 9th. Thanks! Please only one entry per person.

Congratulations to Charles Arneson on winning the FM Transmitter 2!

What is Airband (Aviation Band) on a Radio?

© Frankljunior | Dreamstime.com - Air Traffic Control Tower And An Airplane Photo

© Frankljunior | Dreamstime.com – Air Traffic Control Tower And An Airplane Photo

This has become a popular question with our new CC Skywave™.

According to Wikipedia, Airband, also referred to as Aircraft or Aviation band, is a group of frequencies in the VHF radio spectrum that are allocated to civil aviation radio communications. VHF is a short range, line of site transmission. Our radio covers 118 – 137MHz for Airband. In most countries a license is required to operate airband equipment but that appears to apply only to transceivers, not receivers. In some countries it is illegal to listen to or monitor the Airband without authorization (even in the UK).

The language that is used to communicate on this band can be a challenge to follow. Ken Hoke’s article on Stuff Pilots Say, gives some great insight into the meaning of the seemingly cryptic language used on Airband.

The primary purpose of Air traffic control worldwide is to prevent collisions, organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and provide information and other support for pilots. It was difficult to find any “history” of airband but it appears that it was first used extensively after World War I and after 1921 at Croydon airport in London. Navigation and air traffic control have changed over time and many areas use higher frequencies and RADAR and other more sophisticated systems. The Airband radio frequencies still continue to play a part though, especially in ground communication with pilots. It is used almost exclusively in small airports that don’t have control towers. We have one customer who plans to use the CC Skywave for monitoring the ground to pilot communication at the local air races.

As to why we decided to include Airband in our radio? Here is Bob’s answer:

“When you are in a big airport you are sometimes subject to the whims of security and circumstance. TSA does a great job but when the process gets a little tense I yearn for more information. I want to know everything that will affect my tiny domain. When you listen to aviation band you can usually figure out more by reading between the lines on what pilots and the control tower are talking about. Sometimes you gain a sense of power and wisdom as you do with any knowledge.”

For more information on what you might hear or how to listen, visit the links below.

http://radio-scanner-guide.com/radioscannerguidepart3c-civilaircraft.htm

http://www.wikihow.com/Listen-to-Your-Local-Air-Traffic-Control

Tell us your best airline story to be entered to win a CC Skywave. One entry per person. Winner will be drawn on February 27th.

Consumer Electronics Show 2015

Forces2015 the past several days, you’ve probably been reading, watching and hearing about all the latest, greatest stuff at CES. For the first time in at least 20 years, C. Crane was not in attendance as an attendee or an exhibitor. When you’re a small company like ours it’s tough to justify the expense of a trip like that unless you have something really groundbreaking – and although we continue to find radio groundbreaking, the super tech at CES don’t necessarily concur.

These days it seems you’re better off reaching out directly to the folks you want to meet up and work with rather than trying to carve out a space in that crazy overcrowded place (not to mention nursing the blisters on your feet and trying to get the cigarette smell out of your clothes). Apparently, we weren’t alone in our decision as we’ve learned Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and several others that have been keystone exhibitors in the past were not in attendance this year.

So what was really at CES? Well, it appears to depend on who you ask. Some folks that we know in the media, said that there was a lot of the same old stuff, or anything that was new had a competitor with a duplicate right down the lane.

CNet has their take here.

Jonathan Takiff at Philadelphia News gives a quick rundown on their favorite 10.

Gizmag always pulls out some unique ones. I can’t lie the LG dual washer is intriguing for a mom who does A LOT of laundry.

PopSci found the Huh? list.

It sounds like all in all, change is coming to the way you watch TV (if you watch it) and maybe you’ll be “wearing” some tech” besides your pocket radio in the near future. So let us know are you going to wear tech gear or do you already? Would you let your car drive you? What’s your favorite “new” technology? What might make radio groundbreaking or new enough for CES?

C. Crane’s Been Busy!

C. Crane took a short blogging break to work on exciting new radio and audio projects. We sure do feel like hard working elves in our tech shop but the work pays off. Here’s a look at what we’ve been up too.

cc-wifi-2-BLK-MER2-300-1500 (1)

The CC WiFi 2 with remote, in Black

cc-wifi-2-WOOD-MER2-300-1500

CC WiFi 2 with remote, in Cherry

The new WiFi Internet Radio; the CC WiFi 2 was released in October. This radio took us some time. We wanted to create a WiFi radio that was both aesthetically pleasing and functional. The CC WiFi 2 uses TuneIn and is app based driven. There are thousands of stations available and hundreds of hosts to listen to, so that aspect of WiFi Radio hasn’t changed. WiFi radio still requires a broadband internet connection but the CC WiFi 2 has a built in FM tuner to receive local FM stations. We integrated Bluetooth® into the WiFi 2 so you can play your Bluetooth® devices like your smartphone or tablet through the radio’s speaker. We also include a full size remote control for easy access. The CC WiFi Radio 2 comes in black or Cherry finish.

 

CC Skywave

CC Skywave

The CC Skywave project has also been completed and is on the way now. The CC Skywave is a small, travel size radio that has AM, FM, Shorwave, Weather and Aviation. The Aviation band allows you to listen in to nearby air traffic controllers. This radio is the ultimate travel radio. The reception and audio is remarkable for the radio’s small size and the operation is straight forward and easy to understand. It took us a while to make sure it met our standards, but it was worth the wait.

New projects continue to be in the works for all of you C. Crane fans and we can’t wait to share them with you.

Give The Gift of Great Audio with our Portable Wireless Bluetooth® Speaker – The Senta Ally

Carolyn's niece performing her hula hoop routine with the Senta Ally Portable Speaker.

Carolyn’s niece performing her hula hoop routine with the Senta Ally Portable Speaker. Photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without consent of the owner.

 

With Father’s Day fast approaching and graduations for college and high school taking place around the world, we’ve been wrestling with what to give as a gift. We thought we’d share a personal story from our very own Carolyn, that elevated her to the “coolest Aunt” status and could possibly elevate you to a “cool” relative status as well.

Carolyn gave her niece the Senta Ally Portable Speaker as a gift: “My 19 year old niece is a drama major and enjoys going to street performances with friends in her home town.  She does a light-up hula hoop routine to music and puts on quite a show.  I sent her a Senta Ally last Christmas because she complained that hauling a radio around to play the songs on her phone was heavy and inconvenient.  She was thrilled that the Ally connects to her phone by Bluetooth, and that it’s so small and lightweight.  The volume is loud enough for sidewalk crowds to hear, and the audio quality gives her performance a pro feel.  I now have unchallenged “coolest aunt” status thanks to the Senta Ally Bluetooth® Speaker.”

The Senta Ally is a great sounding speaker and an excellent value for the money. See the Senta Ally in action and how easy it is to pair with your smart phone or Bluetooth® device. For other gift ideas click here.  We also have a great series on selecting the right speaker system for you .

 

Carolyn's niece with her Ally and Smart Phone.

Carolyn’s niece with her Ally and Smart Phone. Photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without consent of the owner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Bluetooth Logo and the Bluetooth® logo are registered trademarks of Bluetooth® SIG, Inc

Flashback Friday- Old Time Radio

Do you remember listening to your favorite radio shows on a radio, like this one below, in the “good ol’ days”?

Old Time Radio shows still play an important role for many of us radio fans. Did you know that Old Time Radio shows are still available on Internet radio? Internet Radios host many stations that play a variety of OTR shows. The shows are available with perfect clarity and no interferences; it will bring you right back to the good ol’ days!
Would you listen to an Old Time Radio show on an Internet Radio?

For more information about internet radio click here: http://www.woodenradio.com/internet-radio.aspx   https://news.ccrane.com/2012/09/26/pros-and-cons-of-wifi-and-internet-radio/

 

Do you remember listening to your favorite radio shows on a radio just like this one in the “good ole’ days”?

Do you remember listening to your favorite radio shows on a radio just like this one in the “good ole’ days”?

C. Crane’s 30 Year Anniversary- 30 Days of Giveaways, Day 28!

Congratulations to Friday’s winner Steve Yoth for winning the CC SW Pocket AM/FM/SW Radio, Dan C for winning the Power Vivid® BR40 LED Light Bulb (Cool White) and Dennis Whitehead for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color.

Congratulations to Saturday’s winner Sam Stewart for winning the CCRadio-EP AM/FM Radio w/ Lighted Needle & Dial, B Anurag for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb (Warm White) and Anna G for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color.

Congratulations to Sunday’s winner Julie Mendelsohn for winning the Senta-40 Wooden Headphones w/ Carry Case & Detachable Fabric Cord, Fred for winning the GeoBulb® Under Cabinet Light Bar II (Cool White) and Tom Blackwell for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color.

Today’s Blog Topic is: What did you do over the weekend?

Today’s giveaways are the Senta Ally Bluetooth® Stereo Speaker w/ FM, the Power Vivid® BR20 LED Light Bulb (Cool White) and the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color. To participate all you have to do is leave a comment on today’s blog post. We will select three comments in a random drawing and post the winners Tuesday morning. Good luck!

Senta Ally Bluetooth­™ Speaker & Power Vivid BR20 LED Light Bulb

Senta Ally Bluetooth­™ Speaker & Power Vivid BR20 LED Light Bulb

 

C. Crane’s 30 Year Anniversary- 30 Days of Giveaways, Day 27!

Today’s Blog Topic is: What’s one of the strangest things you’ve ever done?

Today’s giveaways are the Senta-40 Wooden Headphones w/ Carry Case & Detachable Fabric Cord, the GeoBulb® Under Cabinet Light Bar II (Cool White) and the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color. To participate all you have to do is leave a comment on today’s blog post. We will select three comments in a random drawing and post the winners Monday morning. Thank you for your participation!

GeoBulb® Under Cabinet Light Bar II (Cool White) and Senta-40 Wooden Headphones w/ Carry Case & Detachable Fabric Cord

GeoBulb® Under Cabinet Light Bar II (Cool White) and Senta-40 Wooden Headphones w/ Carry Case & Detachable Fabric Cord

C. Crane’s 30 Year Anniversary- 30 Days of Giveaways, Day 23!

Thank you all for the comments, they are very entertaining!

Congratulations to yesterday ‘s winners Carey Gilpin for winning the CCRadio-SW AM/FM Shortwave Radio, L. W. for winning the GeoBulb®-3 LED Light Bulb (Warm White) and Greg Becher for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color.

Today’s Blog Topic is: What’s for dinner tonight?

Today’s giveaways are the SoftSpeaker™-2 Pillow Speaker with Volume Control, the Power Vivid® BR20 LED Light Bulb (Cool White) and the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color. To participate all you have to do is leave a comment on today’s blog post. We will select two comments in a random drawing and post the winners Thursday morning. Yum, Yum!

SoftSpeaker™-2 Pillow Speaker with Volume Control & Power Vivid® BR20 LED Light Bulb (Cool White)

SoftSpeaker™-2 Pillow Speaker with Volume Control & Power Vivid® BR20 LED Light Bulb (Cool White)

 

C. Crane’s 30 Year Anniversary- 30 Days of Giveaways, Day 21!

Happy Monday!

Congratulations to Friday’s winners Dan for winning the Power Vivid® BR30 LED Bulb Bright White – Dimmable, Phillip Ellis for winning the SoftSpeaker™ Pillow Speaker and Bob Wilkins for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb True Color.

Congratulations to Saturday’s winners Elaine Garfield for winning the Senta Ally Bluetooth® Stereo Speaker w/ FM, Greg Altorfer for winning the Power Vivid® A15 LED Bulb (Warm White) and Rick Wiggins for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb.

Congratulations to Sunday’s winners George Hogetvedt for the Sun’s Dusk LED Accent Light Bulb, Hubenak for winning the CC SW Pocket AM/FM/SW Radio and Sona B for winning the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb.

Today’s Blog Topic is: September 23rd is National Great American Pot Pie Day. What does Pot Pie mean to you?

Today’s giveaways are the CC Gozo AM/FM Radio with Hi-Fidelity Audio, the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb (Warm White) and the GeoBulb®-II LED Light Bulb. To participate all you have to do is leave a comment on today’s blog post. We will select two comments in a random drawing and post the winners Tuesday morning. Thank you for participating!

CC Gozo AM/FM Radio & GeoBulb®-2 LED Light Bulb Warm White

CC Gozo AM/FM Radio & GeoBulb®-2 LED Light Bulb Warm White