Archive for March, 2011

CC SW Radio Part 2: The FM Experience

March 17, 2011

Hello again!


First an apology, I did intend to talk about the clock, alarms and timers of this radio but I haven’t had a chance to try them so those particular topics will have to be set aside for another day.


What I have tried is the FM band, I discussed how good performance was on the Medium and Short Wave bands in my last installment and Fm is very good too!


FM on the CC SW Radio is both sensitive and selective, it will easily distinguish between stations which are 200KHZ apart from each other on the band and I have seen very few radios that do that, I can’t even think of one that I have in my collection with such selectivity except perhaps for the old Sony ICF-2001 which is now a little worse for wear at 31 years of age <smile>.


With FM you can use either the internal whip or an external antenna, for these tests I used the internal whip antenna.


The whip antenna of the CC SW is rather long so for good reception on the FM band one is advised in the CC SW Radio manual to collapse the 2 bottom sections, this gives a length of around 90CM which is about the length of antenna required for the FM broadcast band, works well.


Both RF gain and DX/Local switches are disabled on the FM band which is a pity and a problem if you’re living close to FM transmitters which can cause overloading to radio sets.


The radio will output a stereo FM signal when connected to headphones through the headphones jack or to a line in source connected to the 2 RCA jacks on the side of the radio, line-out level for the radio is rather lower than I expected but not too low as to present any major problems.


To Be Continued.




CCrane SW Radio, The Retro Look With the Performance Brush

March 5, 2011

Hello Again!


Had this radio for a couple of weeks now and I’ve been able to put it through its paces.


I’m impressed, yet another product to recommend to anyone who’s serious about DX radio listening whether that be on the AM, FM or SW bands.


This radio reminds one of a 70s short wave set, the tuning dial, the large round pointer type dials to select the bands, the knobs to control volume, bass, treble and RF gain, the switches on the sides to control DX/Local sensitivity etc, its a 70s look with a 21st century technology factor, despite its analogue feel and look the CCrane SW radio boasts a micro processor to control its many functions which include pinpoint accurate PLL synthesis tuning.


Though the analogue tuning dial feels like an old fashioned radio dial to turn its far from being one, the digital circuitry within the radio monitors the turning of the dial thus tunes the radio accordingly, speed of the tuning and step can be changed, an incredibly useful feature for a radio of this type as it enables one to get from points A to B in a band quickly.


Shortwave is divided into 3 bands and each cover 10MHZ except SW1 which covers from 1710MHZ up to 10MHZ, the other bands follow on from this, SW2 from 10-20MHZ and SW3 from 20-30MHZ


Sensitivity of the radio is utterly superb on all 3 SW bands, so much so that you may find you have to reduce the RF gain or turn the sensitivity from DX to local.


Now for a point to look out for, the external antenna switch only works on SW and FM bands, its disabled for the AM band and that’s a pity, I would have dearly loved to connect my CCrane Tuneable Twin Coil ferrite antenna directly to the set but this is not possible, only way of using this antenna with the CC SW radio is by using the coupling ferrite stick, perhaps CCrane have a reason for disabling the external antenna for AM but I’ve not seen this in a shortwave set of the kind I’m writing about here before, I can only hope that CCrane add the use of the external antenna terminals in the AM band in an upcoming or replacement model of CC SW radio if there ever is one.


When turning the tuning dial you hear an audible “click” as the radio steps from one frequency to another, these clicks become faster or slower depending on the speed the tuning dial is turned, some people may find this clicking noise an annoyance though I had no trouble with it, I actually consider these audible clicks a useful aid, at least you know the frequency is changing and you can keep a mental note of the changes.  If you use the line out jacks of the radio with a Hi-Fi system or external speakers then audible clicks are muted and stepping between frequency’s with the tuning dial is smooth, just like the behaviour you’d expect from an analogue tuning dial of a radio.  Also note that when the step up and down buttons of the radio are used that audio isn’t muted so when one of the step buttons is held down to put the radio in “Seek” mode you will hear each station through the line out jacks as the radio tunes past it to find a strong signal it can lock on to, a handy feature but would like to see an option to disable the mute on the internal speaker.


Performance on the AM band as you’d expect with a CCrane radio is first class and I venture to say that its better than the CCrane EP radio which I wrote about some time back, I can easily overload the CCrane EP set but not the CCrane SW radio, perhaps this is due to better circuitry being used.


I like the addition of the narrow/wide band filter which brings the quality of an AM or SW broadcast to life and enables good reception of weaker stations closer to stronger one’s.


Like the CCrane EP the CCrane SW uses CCrane’s Twin Coil antenna system which is very affective when looking out for those long distant stations.


Amplifier is excellent, one can get quite a loud volume out of the set with little or no distortion.


I haven’t had much time to play with FM yet though all indications from the little testing I’ve done are very positive indeed.


The radio can be powered from several different sources , from the supplied AC mains adapter or from 2 different sets of batteries, 1 set of Size D – flashlight – batteries or 1 set of AA type penlight batteries, the radio can be switched between battery sets which is an incredibly useful feature giving the CC SW radio versatility unheard of in a radio of this class.  Add to this the built-in charging circuit for rechargeable batteries and you’re on a winning combination of features and functionality if you’re planning to travel anywhere with this radio amongst your luggage.


So some final thoughts before I close this part of my review of the CC SW.  Those who expect coverage of the LW – Long Wave band are going to be disappointed as there’s none.


The radio doesn’t support the reception of SSB/CW transmissions though with the IF out connector on the back of the set perhaps you could connect the radio to a computer running suitable software to decode these transmissions.


The radio doesn’t have a keypad so entry of direct frequency’s is impossible, the only way to get to a frequency quickly is to have it preset into one of the memory locations, yep a bit of a pain but something I can live with.


At under $130.00 you’re picking up both an incredible bargain and a most worth while treat if you’re into radio listening not to mention a very well built and solid product.


More on the CC SW Radio in the coming weeks, I’ll look at the radios many functions which include dual-time settings, alarm function etc.