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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What is Shortwave?

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Shortwave radio
is a radio transmission using shortwave frequencies, generally 1.6–30 MHz (187.4–10.0 m), just above the medium wave AM broadcast band. Many of SW’s properties are similar to AM like the ability for the signal to travel long distances.

Since the early 1900’s, there have been significant advances in radio. One of the biggest advances that has had the most impact on shortwave, is streaming on the internet and through internet enabled devices like smartphones and Internet radios. Many of the most popular shortwave broadcasts in the late 90’s and early 2000’s have almost disappeared from shortwave and switched to streaming. If stations are still broadcasting, they often no longer broadcast to the Americas or much of Europe.

At any one moment, there are literally hundreds of millions of signals now transmitted from a wide range of devices. Cell phones, garage door openers, AM and FM broadcast stations, police, fire, airlines, TV stations and even the AC power to your home all occupy a part of the frequency spectrum. Time, propagation and the ionosphere all have an impact on what you are able to receive. Because all signals are affected by these things, it is important to understand the basics of radio transmission.

If you really want to learn about shortwave, the best way to learn, is to listen to it. ShortwaveSchedule.com provides a list of all the signals currently broadcasting at the time of your search and is a great starting place for your shortwave listening quest.

Why Would I Listen to Shortwave?

  1. Governments often use shortwave “utility” bands. Utility bands are where the action is on shortwave and are used for reliable long range communication. Coast Guard Search and Rescue, coordination of US military aviation and spy networks all use this band. One reason it continues to be used, is it is very difficult to block these transmissions. Utility stations generally operate in upper sideband mode. Virtually none of these type of transmissions is on the Internet.
  2. During a big crisis, whether it be an earthquake or hurricane, your best source of real news can be shortwave. Ham operators do an excellent job of contacting emergency services and handling messages between people. You may have experienced “all circuits busy” situations or failed text messages in a large scale emergency situation due to cellular towers being down or overloaded. Amateur radio is the only communication that works well under all circumstances and for that reason, it will continue to be used for the foreseeable future.
  3. News from other countries will give you a new perspective on the world. Following shortwave closely over a few months will give you information that approximates the political information the President and staff have at their disposal to make global decisions. When you listen to shortwave you find out how difficult it is to make decisions with global consequences. The political bent of a country slips out providing you with an alternative point of view. There is a whole world of listening and very little of it may be found on the Internet.
  4. You might stumble across a Pirate Radio station

If you have the urge, you can even take to the air waves yourself by becoming a Ham operator through the American  Radio Relay League (ARRL). You don’t even have to learn Morse code anymore unless you go for an advanced classification.

SWLING.com is probably one of the most comprehensive sites in regard to shortwave and advocating for it. This article on Does Shortwave Radio Have a Future really outlines what’s available and what’s not and why.

Share with us the most interesting shortwave broadcast you’ve heard.

There are Elephants in the Audio Room

There have always been diverse opinions about what comprises “good” audio. In the last 15 years I have witnessed many people, younger than me, that seem to discount full bass with their music. How did this happen? I remember the first time I saw a girl dancing with her friends to cell phone audio. I winced. Then came Rap music with the characteristic monotone electro bass thump. . . I was confused by the dichotomy! Why Isn’t it a good thing if music sounds realistic? Like it or not it turns out audio profoundly affects everyone at a traditional point in their lives about or when we are in junior high or high school. It seems like it then becomes our “idea” of what good audio sounds like by timing and/or peer influence for the rest of our life.  This may be a generalization but we all get attached to our favorite music at some point.  From what I know about science each of us hear the same music differently because each of us has a unique set of ears and probably a brain supplied equalizer. There is probably more diversity now as to what makes good audio that ever before in history!

At C. Crane we strive for realistic full voice and legibility but we understand how to make great audio for music too. This means reproducing music so well that you can’t tell the difference between what you’re listening to and a live concert. I have found that “Voice of the Theater” type speakers do this well because this is generally the type of speaker used in live rock concerts in the late 20th century. Similar speakers are still used today but you will also find banks of 18” woofers along with other speakers running  50,000 watts or more! It should be noted that most of this power is used for bass notes since bass requires perhaps 10 times the power of higher audio frequencies to sound equal in intensity. This is also why an inexpensive radio or speaker system will likely have poor bass because audio with good bass response is more expensive to design and build. These speakers are way too big and expensive for most situations and so are typical Home Theater receivers and speakers. There is very little superb audio gear available for a typical room.

The point of this article is to let you know we have a new piece of audio gear for those who love music with generous bass and live by the spoken word.

AEGO Amplified Speakers, has Bluetooth and a remote for all functions including bass level!

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Normally I would not recommend you purchase a serious home audio system without hearing it at a store first. The notable exception is our new AEGO stereo speaker system for two simple reasons: 1) To my knowledge, through countless tests, it is perhaps the only system with full well rounded bass that you never tire of at a modest price. 2) You can reduce the bass with the remote until voice clarity is beautiful. You can have your music and your voice clarity cake too!

Technical Benefits:
-Simple to setup and use
-Bluetooth or patch cord to phone
-Remote with bass control

Aego Remote Control v1

 

 

 

 

Uses:
Audio from your TV, phone, pad, Internet radio for office, kitchen, party, for any medium size room (about 20 x 14),

Installation tips:
The central control bass speaker (7.75”W x 14”H x 12”D) can be tucked under a  desk, unused corner or in a kitchen base cabinet. It should have eye shot to the remote.

The two satellites are 3”W x 4.5”H x 5”D can be mounted six feet or more apart for good stereo separation.

Wires and connectors do not protrude from these sizes.

Best AM Reception Tips

Best AM Tips - blog-ed2

Summer time in all its fabulousness leaves much to be desired when it comes to AM Reception. We’ve put together the best tips we’ve found for improving AM Reception and reducing interference, especially reception on portable radios.

First, if you’re having trouble receiving your favorite talk radio program – determine if you get the signal at all. If the station is a 500 Watt station across the country, no amount of reception tips will help you receive this signal. That said, if the station streams, an internet radio or combining your smartphone and a portable Bluetooth speaker may be a viable solution.

If you get the signal but it is weak, try moving near a window or outside wall. If your reception improves, then you know that the signal is having a hard time reaching where you prefer to listen or there may be some interference. You have a couple of options – you can run an antenna over to the window (or maybe even outside). Another thing we’ve learned recently is that some stations are being rebroadcast on sister stations either AM or FM so if you go to Radio Locator and look up the station call letters you’re trying to receive; you might see another station listed as “also broadcasts from” with a different frequency so you may be able to find a closer station that is stronger that is rebroadcasting the same content.

If the problem is noise, try the radio on batteries and walk around your home and see if the static or buzzing gets worse or better. If the noise gets worse, odds are good the offending device (or electrical component) is located here and you may be able to turn it off. Rotating your radio when you get near the buzzing can help you determine exactly where the noise is coming from. If it’s the same throughout the house, try going outside. Is it better? If it is, then an antenna may help or you may end up needing to do a more thorough investigation in your home. We’ve talked to people who end up turning off all the breakers to find out they have some electrical wiring issues that are producing noise in their entire house!

If you’re on an analog radio, slowly turn the dial and consider using a piece of tape to mark where you find the station. Also, keep in mind that there are times where a signal will not broadcast exactly on frequency or a radio’s tuning isn’t completely accurate so tuning a little off frequency may get you a stronger signal.

Don’t want to buy an antenna or a new radio – no problem, we have instructions on how to make your own AM Antenna.

Many people don’t know (or forget) that stations may be required to power down, change direction or in some cases power up at night so differing signal during day and night may not be limited to summer, solar flares and the atmosphere, it may be that your 10,000 Watt daytime station switches to a 5,000 watt station at night that broadcasts in the opposite direction. Again, radio locator is a great source of information about your favorite station.

Have a tip to share? Enter it in the comments below!

Common causes for interference, buzz and hum on AM radio

Easily determined and turned off:

Incandescent Lights
Fluorescent Lights
Lights that are about to burn out
Touch lamps (must unplug turning off may not be enough)
Christmas Lights or other blinking bulbs
Televisions
Computers and Monitors
Electric Motors
Vacuum Cleaners
Microwave Ovens
Bug Zappers
Electric blanket
120V AC smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors
Air purifiers
Motion detectors
Cell phone chargers
Even your own radio adapter may be the culprit

More Difficult to Determine:

Neighbor’s using fluorescent lights
Faulty electrical switch
Neighbor’s dimmer switch
Scanners
Dirty insulators on a nearby power pole

Additional Sources of AM Reception Information

http://www.ccrane.com/University?by=University

https://news.ccrane.com/?s=AM+reception

https://radiojayallen.com/combatting-am-and-sw-interference/

http://radiosausalito.org/listen/AM-reception-tips/

http://www.radionz.co.nz/listen/AMhelp

Gift Guide for Dads and Grads

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Tis the season to shop for some of the most important people in your life. Your dad (or husband) – the man you can never figure out what to buy for since he’s already bought everything for himself. Your graduating child or grandchild who thinks the world of you but may not share your taste in gifts….

We have some ideas to help you find the perfect gift.

An emergency radio that has a built in flashlight – what a great way to show you care. Make sure that they have what they need in the event of an emergency. Everyone thinks their cell phones replace a good radio nowadays, but we’ve learned (in some cases the hard way) that this just isn’t true. All circuits busy anyone? Phone died and the power is out, and your car is floating down the river? We’ve heard stories like this, and more, where radio is the only way they know what’s going on – and the CC Solar Observer can charge most cell phones.

The Senta Ally Bluetooth speaker with FM Radio is always well received – We can’t tell you how many employees here have given these as gifts to their dads, siblings and graduating family members. This speaker has a very broad appeal and is really easy to use. They are in work shops, on kitchen counters, and out in the garden. The only limitation is your smartphone’s apps or your playlist. It also has a replaceable, rechargeable battery.

Have a gardener in your life? Get them the garden noise blocking headphones – This may be more geared for dads, although Jessica’s younger brother has found great use for this with his smartphone in the wood shop. The planer is just too loud! Bob’s gardener uses the kit with our CC Pocket radio regularly while weed eating out in the yard.

The Super WiFi Repeater System will allow anyone looking to extend the distance from their router by repeating the signal. Great for apartment complexes and dorm rooms where the signal might not be so great or for offices in the back of the house that are too far away from the router.

If you’re in a house where your political views (especially this election year) and thus taste in talk show hosts are as far apart as you being a vegetarian and him being a cattle rancher, a pillow speaker could be your best investment ever. We can’t help you with your differences in the kitchen, but this lovely little piece of equipment allows him to listen to his preferred stations in bed, and you don’t have to hear it. It also works great for audio books.

Still not sure what to buy? A gift certificate allows for them to pick whatever they prefer.

If you need any help with a recommendation, please call us and we’d love to help you pick out the best gift for your loved one.

Tell us – what’s the best or worst Father’s Day or Graduation gift you’ve ever received?

 

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.

Congratulations to winner Paul Walker! You will be receiving the Senta Ally Bluetooth Speaker, a pair of CC Buds, the Power Vivid Pocket Flashlight as well as a pair of AA batteries.