Is Short Wave Necessary for an Emergency Radio in the US?

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by ED GEiN, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. ED GEiN

    ED GEiN Monkey+++

    I'm thinking of getting this small emergency radio below because of its small size but it does not have Short Wave Radio. Is that something that one needs to have in the US in case of SHTF or TEOTWAWKI?
    (Classic Creator) iRonsnow Solar Emergency NOAA Weather Radio Dynamo Hand Crank Self Powered AM FM WB Radios 3 LED Flashlight 1000mAh Smart Phone Charger Power Bank(Red)
    Bandit99 likes this.
  2. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey

    That doesn't look awful, and at $20 not a big risk. If you get one please do a review and let us know what you think. I'd be interested in the SW performance.
  3. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Not knocking receivers, but that is all it is.
    To get the best out of radio is to know radio.
    Half the radio is the antenna. Not merely a long one but the correct length for the frequency you are working.
    The more desperate the situation is the more critical the means to make things work.
    Like a matched pair of tuning forks, you ring one and the other rings as well. if they are mismatched that phenomenon will not work. The better they are matched, the better they perform.
    chelloveck likes this.
  4. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    The direct answer to OP's question is "No, at least not these days" However, it is possible that short wave will become a prevalent means of broad dissemination of information in an "event".
    As @3M-TA3 says, it's a cheap experiment. Doing some experiments when the chips aren't yet down is well worth the exercise, it will prevent fumbling about in the dark later.
    As @arleigh says, an antenna might make all the difference for one of these el cheapo receivers. Saying that, tuning an antenna for receive only isn't usually worth the effort; but having some wire around to make the onboard antenna longer will be helpful.
    I will add, the hand crank feature is of debatable value unless you have a monkey that can be trained to crank. It will take a LOT of turns over a LOT of time, to get a significant life from the rechargeable on board battery. (Or so my Kaito has taught me)
  5. Idahoser

    Idahoser Monkey+++ Founding Member

    reading through the comments, it appears most people have not really looked at what you're linking to - it does NOT have SW reception, it's just a AM/FM plus weather, and it has a crank.
    ok, so AM, FM, and Weather band. You have all three of those already and use them today, so you know what you're getting, right? You may not have weather already but you know what to expect from AM and FM. Weather simply repeats recorded (machine voice, usually) forecasts and notices. All short range stuff, from your local area only. The stations you'll have to listen to then are the same as now, on your car radio. From this, you'll get the official government line on any emergency info. As long as there's electricity in your area for the transmitter.
    You want to know what other choice there is when considering the purchase of a radio for TZA (The Zombie Apocalypse).
    Well, the one you vaguely remember hearing of and think might be a good idea is shortwave (broadcast) or high-frequency (amateur). These are two names for the same region of the electromagnetic spectrum, picked up by the same receiver. Voice Of America and such broadcasts are said to be transmitted into a shortwave band, while a ham using a very similar band says he is using HF. They both describe the (approx) 160m to 10m range which can do magical things in the ionosphere, depending on solar activity. Broadcasts are usually AM mode, while amateurs usually use a mode called Single Side Band (SSB) which doesn't come through on a cheap AM-only shortwave receiver, you need a somewhat nicer model with a feature that can play SSB as well as AM modes.
    NOW what you have is beyond your local gov't party line, you have broadcasts from outside your area, and individuals discussing things. Kinda like an internet forum :)
    NO radio can be expected to do you much good if you just buy and and stash it for emergencies. You need to actually use it, gain experience using it, and listening to what there is to hear. Setting up antennas, what works, what doesn't. Those measurements I used earlier, 160 METERS to 10 METERS, are wavelengths. Antennas to receive them should be about half that to work best. An 80 METER wire antenna isn't something to leave to figure out later! And it takes practice (for me, anyway) to get used to understanding what I'm hearing. Like anything, they have their own language, plus this isn't CD quality audio, it takes effort just to understand the words, tune for best reception, etc.
    You can almost certainly buy or borrow an inexpensive shortwave receiver to try before you decide what to buy. Get a hint of what to expect. You can find receivers on the internet that will let you get a free taste of what it can do.
    I don't think there is a lot of shortwave activity any more, but there certainly are hams on HF.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
    JediWoodsman and chelloveck like this.
  6. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    @ED GEiN I would agree with @3M-TA3 . It's only $20 so the risk is minimal. Besides, in ANY event you are mostly concern with what is happening locally, say 50 miles or so, and that radio should get you local news. Sure, if it is something worldwide then you would like to know also but the real intelligence you need immediately is "What is happening near me?" Also, it's a step in the right direction and will show you want you want in your next radio.

    I do own a small Shortwave Radio and I play with it from time to time but @arleigh point is an important one and cannot be ignored - 'your radio is only as good as your antenna.' In fact, I would go even farther and say the antenna is even more important! I don't care how expensive your radio is should it have a crappy antenna then it will be crappy.

    So, pay your $20 and play with it. See what it does and what it doesn't do. See what breaks. Get yourself a long piece of speaker wire, attach a alligator clip to it and then simply connect it to the antenna and notice the change in reception. How long a wire? Play around. Read a bit about simple 'long wire' antennas. Use this $20 as a learning tool to see what you need in the long run. Hell, it might turn out it's all you need...but I truly doubt it.
    chelloveck likes this.
  7. ED GEiN

    ED GEiN Monkey+++

    Thanks Good info to know and implement. Is there any small, lightweight emergency radio you would recommend? I'm getting a small one just to put in a bug out bag.
  8. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    At this point, you are thinking of a permanent addition to the bob. Think more in terms of trying something, anything, and see if it will fulfill your "needs", seeing what features you like vs. ones that you don't. Buy the one you linked and compare it with the specs on others. There are a slew of small, multiband so-called "emergency" radio receivers out there, and for the few bux you'll spend to make sure you don't get something that won't do what you need in a pinch, well, there ya go.

    For what it's worth, your research will show that there are few mfrs, relatively, to the brands you'll find. Meaning you'll find the same product under several if not many names. Do your research, that way your choice is yours, and no one here can be blamed for your expenses.
    Bandit99 likes this.
  9. Tempstar

    Tempstar Monkey+++

    I had a Sony ICF-7000 (I think) years ago that was one of the best receivers I ever owned. My wife bought me an Eaton SW and MW receiver a few years back and it is deaf as a post compared to any of my ham gear. The problem with trying a radio is comparison: If you buy one and it does not pick up a lot, how do you know what you're not hearing? Now to the original question: AM/FM has become useless in an emergency in my opinion. All of the stations are automated and receive their news from outside sources. In my AO, a hurricane can be howling outside and there is never a mention of it even on the talk radio station. On the other hand, one can always listen to some music as the world ends. So yeah, I for one consider SW and MW reception as imperative for any serious prepper.
    ED GEiN likes this.
  10. sdr

    sdr Monkey++

    I have a Grundig G4000A.

    Small relatively light shortwave receiver. Did a ton of research before buying it.

    Has a plug for an external antenna. Very important.

    I choose this receiver for a few reasons. Has sideband capability. Wide receive range and the antenna plug.

    The ability to gather info locally and internationally in a small package was what I was after. I have a few solar/crank am fm radios but needed something more.
    Brokor, Seawolf1090 and Bandit99 like this.
  11. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    "Is there any small, lightweight emergency radio you would recommend?"
    I think you are speaking about the small, hand crank radios and if that is the case then maybe someone here can recommend one. I cannot as I think they are about all the same, unreliable because they break so easy. I really don't know why some company doesn't produce a good one - I mean - the concept is a good one: multi-power sources, hand-crank if batteries go flat, led flashlight, pre-programmed weather stations (NOAA), external antenna input, waterproof, big speaker, etc... It must be the cost to produce vs. the profit margin so they make more by selling you junk, 2X, 3X, 4X...

    I have a Grundig/Eton Executive Satelit and it does everything but make the coffee, even recharges the batteries itself. Perhaps I expect too much but reception is not what I call good, more like average, but that is with its built-in antenna. It's on my Winter Do List to cut a long wire for it and mess around with it a bit more.
    oldawg likes this.
  12. ED GEiN

    ED GEiN Monkey+++

    Good info, thanks
  13. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    A person can also build their own crystal SW radio receiver using a parts kit, I did that as a kid. In a pinch, you can also modify an AM/FM radio to receive SW broadcasts using additional wire around the coil and knowing how to connect it to the tuner, then laying a long wire for an antenna. But, that's all well and good in a pinch, we've got plenty of SW radios out there to choose from on the market, even without Radio Shack. I like the Grundig radios and own a few that aren't made any more, unfortunately.
    There's not a lot of SW broadcasts these days, not like 30 years ago or so. The internet and other modern forms of communication, such as broadband and satellite kind of negates its usefulness. But, in a cataclysmic event, it may be handy.
  14. Merkun

    Merkun furious dreamer

    Well, maybe not so good.
    -That unit is no longer made.
    -It is AC which means the obvious. (the battery is so it doesn't forget the time so you get to work.)
  15. Tempstar

    Tempstar Monkey+++

    Correction: I need to spell check more. ICF-7600. It is battery, and can still be had.
  16. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Some here would do well to learn how to build a crystal set. they require no power and can be built to almost any frequency.
    Brokor likes this.
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