Initial impressions of the CCrane 2E

KB2GOM

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Jun 1, 2020
Messages
125
Location
upstate New York
Over the decades, I have been captured by the magic of the airwaves multiple times. It all started when a kid. I was given a germanium diode radio. It had now power supply; no plug, no battery. You clipped a ground lead to something metal – in my case, a radiator. There was an antenna of sorts, an earphone, and a gizmo that you moved up and down to find a station. I tuned in the Hawthorne Den from Cleveland Ohio after midnight. This was Big Time, Big Deal adventure for a boy of nine.

In Junior High, my Dad brought home a Zenith Transoceanic Radio. Slide-rule tuning on the shortwaves, foreign tongues crackling through the air, more Big Time, Big Deal adventure. Fast forward through listening to shortwave, CB, 10-meter DX on ham, writing for Passport MT, PopComm, and QST to today, when my main radio activity has been 2-meter ham for the Commuter Assistance Net -- Commuter Assistance Net

In researching on Radio Reference, I stumbled upon a reference to “Ultralight DXing,” decided to check it out, and discovered these guys are mainly into MW DXing. Cool! Even better, there’s lots of stuff to listen to in MW DX (and the pickings on HF seem to be pretty slim these days). But I wasn’t ready to go the ultralight route . . . not yet, anyway. And I didn’t want to put up big wires outside to connect to a communications receiver. Barefooting with a state-of-the-art MW portable seemed like the way to go, and thanks to reviews from many sources, including radiojayallen I now have a C Crane 2E in my hands.

And my considered initial impression after a couple weeks of ownership is: Wow!

But my very first impression when I opened the box was: “This is bigger than I thought it would be.” The faceplate is about the size of a Sony 2010, if I recall correctly, but the 2E is significantly thicker, and it gets thicker toward the bottom. But the advantage of that is a high level of stability when the 2E is sitting on a table. It won’t easily topple over.

The 2E is bulky compared to many portables and heavy: something over 4 pounds, but not so big that you can’t slide it into a backpack or shoulder bag for a trip to some lonely outpost for a DXpedition. The “handle” consists of an indentation on the backside with a rubber gripping surface.

The layout is clean and functional, with a clearly marked knob or button for every job. I like that. After doing the initial auto-alignment procedure, I haven’t needed the manual to operate the 2E.

And the performance? Outstanding from my perspective as newbie MW DXer. About 4am recently before the Commuter Net started, I was tuning down the AM band. Around 570 I could hear a faint station. Turning the 2E to orient the internal antenna, I picked it up loud and clear. Rotating the 2E 90 degrees, I tuned in an entirely different station on 570 with almost the same clarity. Clearly CCrane’s “twin coil antenna” was doing its job.

The thing that has impressed me the most is the quality of the audio on AM. 590 WROW is a local station for me, and listening with headphones I could hear detail in the percussion section of a song that I had never heard before. Impressive.

Finally, I think that the 2E checks all the boxes for an emergency radio for a household. It will, according to CCrane, run 250 hours on four D cells (there is a non-wall-wart power cord, and when it is unplugged, the radio automatically switches to batteries), it has NOAA weather radio with alert function, AM, FM, and two meter ham.

Bear in mind, before you comment, that this is an initial impression and not intended to be an exhaustive review.
 

MDScanFan

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Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Messages
216
Location
USA
I was listening to my 2E when I clicked on this thread. It is my go to AM/FM radio for general listening and MW DX'ing around the house. Reception on both bands is excellent. It has the best audio quality out of all of my portables.

I don't like dealing with D batteries so instead I use rechargeable AA cells in D sized holders. I get a week or two out of a single charge with a normal level of listening.

I only have a few minor complaints. First, the display reverts to the clock instead of the frequency after a few seconds of inactivity of the controls - I wish there was an option to keep the frequency displayed. Second, the carry "handle" slot does not allow for a secure grip - I always feel like it is going to drop. Lastly, like many of the latest portables, the radio exhibits a soft mute (or something similar to a soft mute) as you tune from one frequency to the next across the AM band. I wish it did not do this but it really doesn't bother me on this radio.
 

KB2GOM

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
125
Location
upstate New York
I was listening to my 2E when I clicked on this thread. It is my go to AM/FM radio for general listening and MW DX'ing around the house. Reception on both bands is excellent. It has the best audio quality out of all of my portables.

I don't like dealing with D batteries so instead I use rechargeable AA cells in D sized holders. I get a week or two out of a single charge with a normal level of listening.

I only have a few minor complaints. First, the display reverts to the clock instead of the frequency after a few seconds of inactivity of the controls - I wish there was an option to keep the frequency displayed. Second, the carry "handle" slot does not allow for a secure grip - I always feel like it is going to drop. Lastly, like many of the latest portables, the radio exhibits a soft mute (or something similar to a soft mute) as you tune from one frequency to the next across the AM band. I wish it did not do this but it really doesn't bother me on this radio.
I'll trade you . . . Here's the exact recipe for getting your 2E to display frequency all the time and only display the clock when you press the button:

From the manual: "To change the display to show Frequency -- turn on the power, and press and hold the Clock/Freq button. Then quickly press the Memory 1 button until you hear a beep. Release. You should now see the frequency displayed unless you push the Clock/Freq button, in which case you will see the clock displayed for approximately 5 seconds."

Now, tell me more about those AA cells in D-sized holders. How do they work? Where did you get them?
 

MDScanFan

Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Messages
216
Location
USA
That sounds like a great trade. I bought the radio used and never had a manual or thought to look for one. I appreciate the info!

Search for "D battery adapter AA" Here is the version I use: https://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-BQ-BS1E4SA-eneloop-Adapters-Rechargeable/dp/B00JRF2GHO . I use 2800 mAh AA NiMH cells in them and the last long enough. I only have a charger and cells for AAA and AA so i went this route to avoid having to buy D cells and a charger.

I'll trade you . . . Here's the exact recipe for getting your 2E to display frequency all the time and only display the clock when you press the button:

From the manual: "To change the display to show Frequency -- turn on the power, and press and hold the Clock/Freq button. Then quickly press the Memory 1 button until you hear a beep. Release. You should now see the frequency displayed unless you push the Clock/Freq button, in which case you will see the clock displayed for approximately 5 seconds."

Now, tell me more about those AA cells in D-sized holders. How do they work? Where did you get them?
 

Patch42

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Joined
Feb 14, 2008
Messages
309
Now, tell me more about those AA cells in D-sized holders. How do they work? Where did you get them?
Check ebay for the AA-to-D adapters. They have them very cheap. There are ones that can use two AAs in parallel to get longer run time. I'd swear I've even seen one that can use three AAs though a quick check on ebay didn't turn up any this time.

Over the decades, I have been captured by the magic of the airwaves multiple times. It all started when a kid. I was given a germanium diode radio.
I remember one time when I must have been about ten. I was in the basement doing a paint-by-numbers painting and listening to the clock radio I'd brought down from the bedroom. Not exactly a DX magnet. The local station went to commercial so I turned the dial until I found something I liked. Some minutes later I realized this was a station out of Boston, 900 miles away. It was just as clear as the locals. I think that's when my fascination with long distance radio reception began.

The ultralight radio fad has always struck me as looking for a mountain you can climb without a lot of technical gear. Then, of course, they immediately started using a lot of technical gear -- replacing the antenna, using giant air core antennas many times the size of the radio, building multiple ferrite rod tubular antennas, etc. Some of those little radios can do some amazing things. Others are basically junk. Buyer beware.

Glad to hear you're happy with the CCR2E.
 

WA8ZTZ

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Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
784
Lastly, like many of the latest portables, the radio exhibits a soft mute (or something similar to a soft mute) as you tune from one frequency to the next across the AM band. I wish it did not do this but it really doesn't bother me on this radio.
That was also my original impression, thought it was doing the soft mute thing. However, after awhile it occurred to me that as the frequency is changed the radio is probably taking a moment to tune the internal twin coil ferrite antenna or so it seems to me. It is not like the typical dreaded soft muting. Wish that the tuning were smoother like an analog set but can live with it given the superb performance of this radio.
 

Patch42

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Joined
Feb 14, 2008
Messages
309
Wish that the tuning were smoother like an analog set but can live with it given the superb performance of this radio.
You do get 1kHz tuning when you use the rotary knob. It's not quite analog, but not too far off.
 
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