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Show all reviews of the COMMRADIO CR-1 COMMUNICATIONS RECEIVER
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of the COMMRADIO CR-1 COMMUNICATIONS RECEIVER.
Apr 16, 2014 10:20
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An Evolutionary Success Story!
Time owned: more than 12 months
I have been a CR-1 'Owner Operator' for over a year now and find it appropriate to do an update review to outline the changes which have taken place during the past year and the recent evolutionary development, the release to the field of the CR-1a.
My original review was posted on May 14, 2013.
When released during February 2013, the CR-1 was truly a work in process. The receiver was functional, but had numbers of rough edges, numbers of features needing improvement. Through the diligent efforts of the CommRadio team
and the patience and persistence of the 'early adopters' the software bugs were squashed one by one, and the features were honed made fully functional and supplemented.
One of the early complaints was regarding the functioning of the AGC. The time constants were not selected or implemented in a manner which provided easy listening. During CW reception, the AGC decay was too long which produced
a receiver de-sensitization for a few seconds after the signal stopped. This was fixed. The CR-1 now comes with three AGC speeds, Slow - Medium and Fast. The Attack and Decay rates are symmetrical at each speed, and I find them to work
fine for CW, SSB and AM / FM modes under good and also unfavorable conditions.
The tuning knob, when rotated, in addition to changing the frequency produced an audible click in the audio output at each step. I don't know the cause or what was done to correct it, but that problem was solved also.
The numbers of bandwidth filters available for selection has increased dramatically.
Presently there are: CW:500 Hz, 1.0, 1.8, 2.2 & 2.6 kHz; SSB: 1.8, 2.2 & 2.6 kHz
AM: 2.6, 5, 7.5, & 15 kHz; NBFM: 15 & 25 kHz; and FM Broadcast: 200 kHz.
Filter performance has been improved with better shape factor across the board.
The Specified HF Minimum Discernible Signal (MDS) is -130 dBm at 500 Hz bandwidth. That translates to 0.071 microvolts!
Optional software selected Rapid Tune was added, where the tuning knob provides 100 Hz (slow) stepping increment until the knob is continuously rotated a user defined (OFF, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10) number of rotations, after which it automatically increases the step size to 1KHz.
Sixty Four memories are available to scan / step through pre-programmed frequencies with adjustable dwell times at each frequency. Eight banks of eight frequencies can be stored and selected. I have one bank set sequentially on the WWV frequencies running in the background continuously to give me an idea of HF propagation conditions.
HF Squelch has been added in addition to the pre-existing VHF / UHF squelch.
I've taken my CR-1 on business trips and vacations, in my checked luggage and my backpack.
It has never failed me or had any hardware or performance issues. My only micro-gripe
is that I have to wrap a turn of insulated wire under the ON/OFF knob to keep the
receiver from turning on while packed, and arriving with a discharged battery. Oh, and
by the way, how many similar radios have built-in, user changeable rechargeable
Li-Ion batteries? It'll run the radio for at least 8 - 10 hours using the internal
speaker, and it now comes free, pre-installed in all radios. It used to cost ~$25.
CR-1a: It's a little over a year later, and CommRadio has introduced the evolutionary
offspring of the CR-1, the CR-1a. It's still the same basic radio. The front plate has a different legend to reflect the new nomenclature. The OLED display has changed color from an easy-on-the-eyes Yellow/Green to a more contrasty Orange color. The USB controller, internal to the radio on the circuit card, only one real circuit card, has changed to a device which allows USB IQ, true digital output, and also allows software upgrades to be made as a one step vice two step process like the CR-1.
The RF, DSP, all the rest are exactly the same in both radios. The software images used to upload into the radio are the same. The CR-1 must still be upgraded by installing two 'chunks', the CR-1a can be upgraded by uploading one 'chunk'. The hardware design has matured, the software has matured. There are still enhancements which can always be added to any radio, but I believe the CR-1 / 1a's potential has been realized.
Demonstration, proof-of-concept software is provided with each CR-1a which allows spectral
display on a host PC using FFT routines being executed by the internal DSP (which, at the same time, is performing demodulation as well as all of it's other jobs). The frequency of the CR-1a
can also be commanded by the host PC over the USB port. The real magic will occur when third parties produce PC based application for the CR-1a, similar to Spectra-Vue for the SDR-IQ family of SDR's. Then we'll be able to have all the functionality we want,in the shack, or while hiking in the mountains.
Thank You CommRadio, Thank You Don!
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