This is a quick and dirty mini review of the new C Crane Skywave SSB radio. Right to it then.
What’s the first thing I noticed? It’s small. Very compact. Also after a few minutes of use I have to say that THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST INTUITIVE RADIOS THAT IS CURRENTLY ON THE MARKET. It’s not too terrible to figure out how to navigate around and yeah, okay, there are a few crazy things that make no sense like figuring out how to apply squelch to the Air Band.
I just took a little inventory of my short wave radios. It shakes out like this:
- Tecsun PL-660
- Tecsun PL-880
- Sangean ATS-909X
- Kaito KA1103
- Majestic El Cheapo Italian Radio
- Tivdio V-115
- C Crane SSB
On order and not yet received:
- Tecsun PL-365
- XHDATA D-808
Okay, you’re probably not reading this unless you are a Ham or an ShortWave Listener (SWL). I probably seem like a rank amateur compared to many guys you’ve seen who have possibly dozens of more radios than I have.
I have the shortwave radio bug. It seems that it isn’t enough to own a shortwave radio and enjoy Short Wave Listening (SWL). It seems one must own MANY radios to enjoy SWL.
One of my acquisitions was the Kaito KA1103. I purchased mine from eBay from kaito-electronics for $60 as a used radio which I assume to mean “a returned radio” or a “refurbished radio”.
As I find myself getting into Short Wave Radio again I find myself picking up more radios to play around with and assess. The latest acquisition is a Sangean ATS-909X. $205! OUCH! But lets see what we have before we pass judgement.
First of all in the batch of current model short wave portable radios this is by far the most attractive of the bunch (in my opinion). Attractive is good but sound, sensitivity, and selectivity are really what matters with a radio of this caliber.
Here’s something you haven’t heard about in a while. Short Wave Radio. Heck, walk around Walmart, Best Buy, Target, wherever and you CAN’T EVEN FIND A SHORTWAVE RADIO IN THE STORES ANYMORE. It seems like a dead medium. And yet it isn’t.
When I was a young boy I had a great big tube Short Wave receiver that a friend of my fathers gave to me, and that’s the way it worked back then. The old hams would happily teach the up and coming hams. Anyway I spent untold hours listening to that thing and was always stunned and amazed at how much content and how varying it was. And of course back then the prize was listening to a station as far away as possible.
Well, Short Wave sure has changed. There aren’t nearly as many stations, even less high power stations and most of Short Wave seems to be mostly Christian content, and political propaganda. Also you’ll find a healthy dose of Patriot and Prepper community folks and alternative news sources. And when I mean alternative, I mean alternative. Out there stuff. Also you’ll hear hams talking, morse code (CW) and various types of data, some of it critical such as NOAA Weather Fax (WEFAX), Radio Teletype (RTTY), and real life spies transmit coded messages called “Numbers Stations” on Short Wave as well. Short Wave is very much still alive and well but clearly not as active as when I was a kid in the 60’s and 70’s.
The Tecsun PL-880 is one of the finer Short Wave table top radios being made today. One of the best features of it is that it has a Line Out feature which means you can plug it into a computer and record. Well………..sorta. If you plug it into a computer it is full blast line out which overloads and distorts awfully. There are no instructions in the manual for turning down the Line Out volume however there is a super top-secret page of firmware hidden features that tells you how to turn down every band EXCEPT short wave. Here’s the entry:
An RTL_TCP server first of all is a taking a USB Software Defined Radio and setting it up as a server for receiving radio signals within the frequency parameters of the SDR device which can them be connected to from anywhere. For example an RTL-SDR Version 3 operates from about 500 kHz (with direct sampling enabled) to about 1.7 GHz.
So if you set up the server you can be anywhere provided your server allows incoming connections to the internet or you can access your network via VPN, as I do, and connect back to it and hear all the local radio stations or radio signals that interest you.
What good is that? Maybe there is a radio program you like but the station doesn’t stream. Maybe you want to hear your kid playing his high school football game broadcast on local radio. Maybe you set a microphone and transmitter up in your home as a security device (such as a baby monitor). Maybe you want to listen to the local weather broadcast or maybe you are a scanner junkie and like hearing your local police scanner. Whatever. There are lots of reasons.
This is one of my favorite subjects. Repurposing an older computer and using it when there is no available internet connection. If you have internet that is a big plus and you can and should use it but computers are still pretty useful with no network with the addition of a couple of pieces of inexpensive hardware.
What can a computer do that isn’t hooked to the internet? Quite a lot actually. Here’s a few things you can do:
- Watch digital over the air television
- Listen to FM or AM radio
- Listen to Shortwave Radio
- Listen to Amateur Radio
- Listen to emergency service transmissions such as police, fire, weather, etc.
- Decode NOAA Weather Satellite Images
- Detect Aircraft Overhead
- Decode Digital Transmissions that are unencrypted
DSD+ is a popular Windows digital decoding program that handles various digital protocols. I’m going to install and use it with WINE on Ununtu 18.04. The example I’ll show here today is a digital trunking control channel that the local Emergency Services uses. Without DSD+ the signal will sound like this:
I set Screen Sharing up on Ubuntu 18.04 but then found out none of my clients could connect to it. After a little digging I found that in order to use VNC Viewer (or other software) from another computer that I had to disable encryption. Yeah, not ideal but I need it to work.
First go to Settings and then “Sharing”. Make sure to turn the Slider in the upper right hand corner to the ON position.