C.Crane Skywave Ultralight-- Disassembly and Tech Report


Gary DeBock
 

Hello All,
 
As part of an upcoming review on C.Crane's new "Skywave" AM-FM-SW-AIR pocket radio, a full disassembly was performed on one of the three review units here.
 
As expected, this model is powered by a Silicon Labs' DSP chip of the same size and orientation as the Si4734 chips in the Tecsun DSP Ultralights (square shaped, with four connections on each side). The code stamped on the DSP chip is "3640" (first line), "CUN4" (second line) and ".249" (third line, with the first character being a solid circle). A photo of the DSP chip is attached with this report. I know that some members of our Ultralightdx group have the ability to decipher these SiLabs chip codes-- if so, they may provide very useful information about the software programming for this Skywave model.
 
C.Crane claims that this model is a unique breakthrough in RF design, and there is some technical evidence that this model is unique to C.Crane (and not simply a rebranded Redsun model, as the SWP model is of the Redsun RP-300). The back side of the RF board does have the C.Crane name and revision number, which would be unlikely in a Redsun product manufactured for other sellers. Although the model is stamped "Made in China," there doesn't appear to be any current Redsun product with the same appearance and capability of this model. My hunch is that C.Crane custom designed the RF boards, and had Redsun include them during factory assembly in China.
 
The loopstick of the Skywave model is a 2 3/4" x 5/16" x 3/16" (70mm x 8mm x 6mm) long ferrite rod with a single 235 uH coil of 13/16" (21mm) length. Although of similar inductance to the loopstick of the Tecsun DSP Ultralights, this antenna appears to be of higher quality, with more ferrite than the 3" long flat bar in the PL-380. The two-lead design also makes it relatively easy to solder in a replacement loopstick of much higher sensitivity, such as the 7.5" long Amidon MW loopsticks used to "Supercharge" the PL-380. "Supercharging" the new "Skywave" (with its superior DSP filtering) may turn out to be a real thrill-- possibly even creating an "air superiority" portable on Medium Wave :-)
 
73 and Good DX,
Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA) 
     

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