Review: C.Crane CCRadio-SW
Share |
Reviewed by Ryan McLaughlin on 09/01/2007
Editors' rating: 0.0/10
Detailed editors' rating
Average user rating:
GD Star Rating
loading...
See all user reviews
GD Star Rating
loading...
Bottom Line
JusTech'n editors' rating
Features0/10
Design0/10
Performance0/10
Warranty0/10
Support0/10
Price0/10
0.0/10
  • Neutrodyne

    A fair review, highlighting features that are important to most casual consumers, who certainly make up the bulk of the purchasers of any radio these days. These days I can’t fault anyone doing radio reviews for not having $10,000 worth of test equipment and using it to create pages of test data. I have been designing, building, using and repairing just about any sort of radio imaginable for over 40 years. I can offer a few suggestions for tests that I have developed since I no longer have access to a van full of test gear as I did when I was a working technician for a communications service company.

    Some items are important to a serious radio hobbyist, which can be hard to define. This radio is familiar to me, as it appears to be a new version of a radio made by a Chinese company that had been making short wave radios, but had not ventured into this level of quality and features. I could be wrong, but visually it looks the same. The choice of AA or D batteries is a feature I have never seen from any other manufacturer. I made a fairly extensive study of it and opinions of the workmanship I found were positive. Chinese companies in general can make fine quality products if the company contracting for the production asks for better quality for a higher price, allowing more time for tuning and quality control. I have seen Chinese electronic products made as well as the highly respected Japanese and Taiwanese manufacturers. A few features have been added or deleted on this radio, the biggest improvement is clearly the inclusion of the Twin-Coil Ferrite Antenna. Another pleasant surprise is the price. C.Crane is including a high performance antenna but is keeping the retail price very close to the prices I was seeing on the earlier model, buying on Ebay, direct from China with essentially no warranty due to the cost of sending it back for service! It is refreshing to see a company that doesn’t try to make a huge markup on a high performance specialty product like this.

    A few tests that can give a good indication of a radio’s performance, without hardware. An important one is to find a strong local signal with a distant station one or two clicks away (10 to 20 Kc for techs). If the radio can get the weak station without hearing a constant howl or the audio from the stronger station bleeding through, it is exceptional. Usually you can do a few different tests like that up and down the dial in any metro area with several local stations. Try going higher or lower to see if the performance is different one one side or the other of a strong local. This will indicate that the radio is very well aligned (tuned). It should be even both directions. Selectivity is the most important feature for AM or short wave. Due to the natural noise generated by the Earth itself, people 60-70 years ago could make an am/shortwave radio quieter than the noise “floor” in the most remote wilderness. In a city environment today, the noise “floor” is much higher, so an overly sensitive radio can actually work very poorly due to overload and noise. So selectivity is the crucial feature of a really good radio. As an illustration, I have a very strong local on 980. There is a high power station 125 miles away on 1000. So a good radio should be able to tune both without any bleedover or howls. The tougher test at my location is a low powered station about 75 miles away on 970. A radio that can get both 980 and then get the station at 970 is a very fine radio. I’m sure you can find similar challenges based on your location and stations in the area.

    You hit many excellent points on the nature of short wave reception. Something helpful in testing a radio can be the WWV time signal stations the government operates from Fort Collins Colorado. They have transmitters at 2.5 Mhz, 5 Mhz, 10Mhz, 15 Mhz, 20Mhz and 25 Mhz (I’m thinking one of the higher frequencies may be in Hawaii). They operate 24 hours a day with a constant tone and clicks every second. A voice announces the time each minute, and some times there are weather reports mixed in. There is also a similar one in Canada at 3.3Mhz. Fixed stations like these allow you to zero in on the times when each frequency works best. They can give you a basic idea of how accurate the digital or other frequency readout of the radio is as well.

    A very nice feature for the “geekiest” of techies, is the “IF” output jack. This gives a raw signal that can be displayed on an oscilloscope to check the performance of the radio. It also allows one to run a raw signal, before any filtering that makes the sound through the speaker better through the speaker. This raw signal can be fed to a simple, cheap computer interface. With software that is usually freeware from Ham operator sites on the web, you can decode the morse code Hams use, and also the weird rushing noises and “tweeting, warbling” noises (which are teletype signals, or fax encoded signals). It takes some patience and study to get the setup right, but it is really fun to pick up these “secret” signals and watch the text and fax type pictures on your computer screen. Before satellites became the main communication pathways, these teletype signals were the main way to distribute news services worldwide. When heavy sunspots shut down the satellites temporarily, the few remaining teletype networks and shortwave voice networks have to pick up the load for short periods. Few radios under $500 have this feature.

    For the ultimate weirdness, you can couple the short wave radio to an IF output on an old (big dish type) satellite receiver, then tune in things like computer data, teletypes, and telephone calls on both satellite and some earthbound microwave relays.

    I’ll stop this long winded article,I’m sure you can compact the important info into a much smaller form. I hope a few points in here might help you on later reviews of short wave radios. Radio and TV long distance reception has been a lifelong obsession for me. I’m always trying to get higher, longer and better antennas along with better radios and ways to modify them for better performance. If my health allows, this spring I’ll get a 40 foot tower erected, with the 12 foot long FM antenna I built last summer and rotor – for FM broadcast DXing. I want to snag some difficult catches before HD FM radio trashes up the band completely. I also want to get a stand alone Twin Coil antenna mounted on (or in) the loft of my garage, or my garden shed, 50 feet away from the computers and house wiring. I also have a couple of 50 year old (new old stock, never used) rotors, since the twin-coil is directional it will need one. I also want to have the twin coil run to my computer room and my bedroom, with a rotor control at both places. (sorry to wander off subject).

    This radio is an exceptional value at $149.95, I believe it is comparable to radios that cost twice as much. If my old, highly modified DX-398 ever dies, I think this one would be a good replacement. Thanks for doing the reviews, they are so important to shoppers but hard to find on any unusual gear.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • John,

      Thank you very much for the information. I will certainly use some of it in future reviews and if I get time I may update this review.

      Have you ever thought about starting a blog or writing reviews about some of the projects you work on? With your level of experience you would have a lot to contribute. The project you are planning this spring with the 40 foot tower sounds very interesting and I am sure others would love to read about it. If you ever want to take pictures and write something or just make comments I would be more than happy to host them for you.1

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
    • Alexander Martis

      Wow. Thank You very much for your comments on the Ccrane radio. Would like to see people like you with your technical expertise publish technical evaluations. There are virtually no technical reviews available of radios, audio and video equipment. I miss so much reading how the sensitivity, selectivity, frequency response, signal to noise, and other parameters compare between different equipments. People have the impression that everything has been digitized in its entirety and nothing remains in the analog domain, so there is nothing to compare and evaluate.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  • Well I just had the speaker on my CCRadio-SW stop working. Actually, it still works, but I cannot hear anything because there is no sound coming out. At first, I thought it was the speaker because when I plug in headphones I could still hear the radio. However, I could only hear out of the left side of the headphones. So after playing around with the knobs and buttons I found that if I press vertically down on the volume knob then I could hear out of both sides of the headphones. So I tried this without headphones and I got sound out of the speaker. This leads me to believe that the volume knob is broken, but it also brings out a interesting fact that the speaker only plays the right channel, since the left channel still worked with headphones.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • After playing around with the volume knob some more it started working again. I can still get it to go crazy by jiggling it, but everything else about it is fine.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  • T. Burns

    I happened onto this site/forum while researching the CCRadio-SW that my father-in-law “thinks” he wants for Christmas. I wonder if anyone here could tell me if this is a good buy or a great buy. It seems that after the AM radio stations turn down their power each day that he’s unable to listen to his favorite talk shows. He’s retired and listens to them most all the time (when the signal is there). Just wondered if some of you owners/techies can elaborate on the CCRadio-SW. Thanks to all.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Because every situation is different I always recommend that you buy, or borrow, the radio and try it out. If it is not able to pick up the radio stations, then send it back. I don’t know of any other way to determine if a radio is good for your particulare situation.

      You could also look into an External AM Antenna.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  • Merv James

    The only irritat65ing thins about this radio, which is sold
    in Australia as a “digitech” (made in China), is the world time display. It assumes that the minutes of your local time is the same as the world time, so that they can’t be changed. South Australia has a non integer time zone. What this means is that if my local time is 9.20am, It cannot display GMT at 10.50pm. It can only display 23.20hrs, being the same minutes as local time. The manufacturers, should cater for the world’s non integer timezones.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Walt McCrystal

    A note to Ryan on the intermittant volume control: it may be a broken solder joint on the board, the control itself may be OK (i.e.: no parts needed). My display began to fade at times, but by disturbing the front panel, it would come back. It turned out to be a visibly poor solder joint on one of the boards. If you feel confident about opening up the radio to touch up these solder joints use anti-static precautions and just enough heat to do the job. The display and ribbon cables are delicate, so handle them as little as possible. On another note, I’m interested in CW/SSB reception and am thinking of getting a TG37 adapter (see the demonstration on youtube). It sounds like it works well and plugs into the IF jack in the rear. It sits outside the radio, but I think that it could be put in an enclosure with a battery for appearance and portability. I’m very pleased with the radio overall as I retired my Sony ICF-2010. I only miss the full time clock and CW/SSB features.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Thank you for the idea. I took apart the CCRadio to see if I could identify anything that was broken. Unfortunately, I did not find anything.

      Here are some pictures of what I saw. When I took off the board that the volume knob is attached to, and looked underneath, I did not see any broken solder joints.

      IMG_1968.JPGIMG_1970.JPG
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  • C Player

    Ryan, when you open the CCRadio-SW up, did you get a chance to look at the twin ferrite antenna. What size did it look like and are they two ferrites side by side, or what?

    cheers

    Just got mine this week and am curious, but don’t want to open it up unless I need to.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Unfortunately no, that was not on my mind at the time so I did not pay attention to it.

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  • Max Dellabond

    fyi
    LED is light emitting diode
    LCD is the display type for the CCSW

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Walt McCrystal

    Well, the radio would blast full volume at times and it wasn’t the solder joints. I removed the control pot from the board and gently drilled out the rivets (later replaced with thin, long screws and nuts). The control is 2 back-to-back pots. A wiper arm must have been losing contact intermittantly, so I gently sprung them out a tad and added a couple of drops of Deox-it.
    The radio has behaved fine since. This is very delicate work and last ditch would have been to replace the control. The control is serviced as the complete board, so repair was attempted first.
    Beware the schematics availible on the net for the Roadstar clone, it has point-to-point wiring errors. This radio is similar to the CCraneSW, but not the same radio.
    The twin-coil antennas are located in the rear of the cabinet and hot-glued in place.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Chris McCall

    Just thought I’d clarify for you and any other “new to high frequency” folks what that “reported to be strange” jumping back & forth from 7.100mhz-7.500mhz and so on actually is.
    High frequency is divided up into meter bands as follows, 120m, 90m, 80m 60m, 49m, 41m, 31m, 25m, 22m, 20m, 19m, 18m, 17m, 16m, 15m, 13m, 11m and so on. For instance 7,100mhz – 7.500mhz comprises the entire 41 meter band!
    Most digital portables allow you to jump to any desired individual band in any numeric order with just the touch of a single button which greatly enhances the ease of operation, yet that feature is lacking on the CC radio shortwave!
    So they included a carousel button which will cascade through the bands in either direction, though won’t allow you to jump to a specific band with a single touch, thus you must carousel through the meter bands individually, though the inclusion of the carousel button still greatly enhances the ability of the receiver!
    Otherwise you’d be forced to manually spin the knob, or slew up & down by button through all of the bands to reach your desired position!
    I rate the CC Radio Shortwave as an excellent field type receiver, it has decent to very good sensitivity, fair selectivity enhanced greatly by a killer narrow filter coupled to the best speaker magnet in any receiver in it’s price class…Actually almost any price class!

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • mike

    WHO would, After these Reviews want to spend $149.00 on a radio with ALL these faults ?????

    Seems to me a no brainer… DON’T BUY IT ! Sorry, that’s just my opinion.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Walt McCrystal

    Well I did wind up having to replace my volume control pot after all. The resistive coating on the control shoe had worn a spot in it that would blast full volume whenever the wiper crossed it.
    The control itself is a piggybacked pair of 10K pots which was made by CTS (the recalled Toyota gas pedal company) **grin**.
    This specific part was not availible but I was able to buy and make a similar pair from Mouser work. Parts for Chinese electronics are pretty much a captive market or non-existent.
    Otherwise, the CCraneSW is doing very well. Good sound and sensitivity but local RF noise (broadband?) makes listening to DX annoying at times.
    My old Sony ICF-2010 had cheap plastic, internal connector problems and intermittant switches. Although it was highly rated 25 years ago, it is a mediocre radio by today’s standards.
    The Chinese-made Eton/Grundigs from Radio Shack have numerous little nuisance quality issues also.
    I do take my radios camping and they are not considered outdoor radios. I wouldn’t call it abuse, but they aren’t pampered either.
    Overall the CCraneSW experience has been good. My dad hasn’t had any problems with his, but his is strictly a bedside radio. He swears by it and listens to big band AM stations 200 miles away in Canada with good results. I would buy another. It has not been a disappointment.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...