A Quick Way to Start Listening to SSB

SSB-REFLECT-4BOX-R4-1500Single Sideband is a comparatively unknown, interesting and important radio format that takes a special radio for listening and a little time to learn.

If we start an hour after sunset, on a weekend, it is easier to pick up your first station. Attach and stretch out your portable shortwave antenna to the CC Skywave SSB™ and select the SW band. “SW” will show on the display. Push in on the tuning dial so that it steps 1 KHz at a time. “SLOW” will show on the display. Tune between 7125-7300 KHz until you hear a modestly strong distorted voice. Now press the SSB key and let the SSB circuit download. Then press the Fine Tune Key (both key lights be on) and turn the tuning knob up and down until the voice becomes legible. Most likely you will be listening to a ham talk to his friends. It normally takes a few successes to get the basic swing of it. You can look up call signs at QRZ.com, (you have to register) and find out who and where people are talking from. The University of Alabama has a great website on which ham bands are currently active: http://dxdisplay.caps.ua.edu/.

Note: Radio conditions on shortwave change every day like the weather. Sometimes you may hear many stations on the air, and sometimes just a few or even none. Evenings and weekends tend to be the best times to listen. There is more to learn by searching the web for “ham radio”.

Generally higher frequencies work better during the day and lower frequencies at night.

Listening suggestions:

  • Daytime – try: 7125-7300kHz (LSB), 14150-14325kHz (USB) or 21200-21450kHz (USB)
  • Nighttime – try: 3600-4000kHz (LSB) or 7125-7300kHz (LSB)

Please see What in the world is SSB? Part 1 from the hams at C. Crane.

Decide for Yourself

We would love to tell you all the reasons you might enjoy the CC Skywave Radio, but our customers are so much better at it.

skwyavetravel

Sorensen – Much better than anticipated
Pros: Everything about this little jewel is Pro. I have been using this for past 6 months and nothing has disappointed. I also use to check on aviation weather at local airport before I got to fly our aircraft. As an added bonus the tonal quality is amazing for such a small unit.

Cons: No Cons that I can think of.

Best Uses: Both music and spoken word. Also very good for NOAA weather.

M Mooney – Great Emergency / Travel Radio
This feature packed radio best satisfied my need for an emergency type radio. I live in hurricane and tornado country, so the weather band was a must have feature during power outages. My Skywave arrived the same day as an expensive pair of Marshall earbuds. Although not perfect, the CCrane earbuds trounced the Marshalls in every way. Quality FM stations will have your toes tapping. Problem FM stations aren’t magically transformed into powerhouses…. …Skywave does a fine job with any reasonable signal. I can imagine others would like an external antenna connection. That’s fair, but this IS a pocket radio and not a full feature desktop entertainment system. About the only major item on my wish list for the Skywave would a rubberized Otterbox like case for the inevitable drops that will occur. Overall I am exceptionally pleased with this radio. It easily covers all of my must have features in a well thought out, compact package. I believe it would be the perfect answer for many people.

Pros: Size, Weather Band, Battery Strength Indicator, Signal Strength Indicator, Ability to charge [rechargeable] batteries, Handy Keyboard Lock, Quality Earbuds, Time and Radio Presets retained on battery change

Cons: Average Sensitivity, No AC Adapter, No Batteries, Built-in speaker sound

Best Uses: Beach, Boating, Hunting, Camping, Emergency, Natural Disaster

S Lowry – The Greatest
Went on the wait list for this one to be shipped as soon as available. I’ve had several Grundigs, Kaitos and others, but the Skywave trumps all, especially with the aviation band, battery efficiency, panel layout and more. Look at the other reviews: there are a lot of good reasons for so many 5 stars.

C Stacks – Better then expected! A big smile on my face.
6:30 PM yesterday attached 20 ft long wire and counted 58 readable shortwave stations. Also able to rcv aircraft from several airports with the radio’s antenna. C CRANE please make a Sky II that covers the HF ham frequencies!!!!

Pros: Great Reception on all bands, Does not drift, Speaker does a great job even better with head phones

Cons: None except ssb is missing

Best Uses: With me all the time

H Alexander – The Ultimate Travel Radio
After putting this radio through all the paces, I am convinced that it’s quite possibly the ultimate travel radio! I am particularly impressed with the performance of the AM and SW bands. And I really appreciate the precision offered with the thumbwheel volume control, as well. Thanks for another great product, my 6th purchase from CCrane. I have yet to be disappointed!

Sharonon – Worth it.
Now my father-in-law can listen to his baseball games inside and not have to drive to a clearing on the mountain’s side. Great buy and great price.

C Desmaraison – Buy this radio.
Reception is outstanding. I am in MA and am able to receive Beijing Radio International, Radio Romania and Radio Havana Cuba just to mention a few. I also use their 23 foot clip-on wire antenna to increase reception. Radio is easy use and has many useful features. C.Crane customer service is also outstanding. Buy this radio.

There you have it folks, a wide variety of different users and uses. If you aren’t sure if this is the right radio, contact us and we’d be happy to help you determine which radio is best for you. A good starting point is our article on “Buying the Right Radio for You”. Don’t forget, we offer a no risk 60 day money back guarantee on all of our radios!

It’s Personal

If there is one thing we know about radio, it’s that “It’s personal”. You might already know this or you might be wondering – how can radio that is broadcast to millions of people all day through hundreds of different stations and different shows be personal?

From the selection process of picking the right radio to how and where that radio is used, and what is actually listened to – for each person this process is unique and personal. The radio becomes a companion. In some cases, the voice of camaraderie sharing similar views or vision. In other cases, presenting new compelling ideas that push the listener outside of their previously held beliefs. It can be a teacher. Teaching about gardening, cars or how to get your money or your relationships right. It can join you in the spirit of the game with your fellow fans, like you’re there at the game seeing that pitch or re-living that amazing catch. It’s a place you can belong. Radio is always happy to have you and that makes it very personal.

In an emergency, it can keep you safe. In an election year, it can help you make a decision on how to cast your vote. When you’re traveling it can help you become a part of your destination. When your eyes aren’t working so well, or your health has deteriorated and limited your activity, radio is a friend you can count on to be there day and night. We can listen to the same show and come away with different pieces of information that have an impact on our life. These are just some of the ways it’s personal.

Please share in the comments why radio is personal to you.

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.

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.