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Solar/crank powered radio

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by Huntinbull, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. Huntinbull

    Huntinbull Monkey+

    I am interested in getting a solar powered and/or crank powered radio. I would like to go a little better than an am/fm radio. Maybe something with at least the weather service or possibly side band? Interested in any recommendations, and especially hands on reviews.

    I am on a very STRICT budget. My wife is not very convinced of the necessity for preparation, so getting approval for anything expensive is trying. I have to pick my battles. Of course she pays medical insurance every month and definitely car insurance, but safety and comfort insurance is "whacko".
    kellory, Alpha Dog and TwiceRetired like this.
  2. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Well here is what I just purchased from Sportsmans guide. Kaito KA500 Voyager. 11 bands total, am, fm, 2 shortwave, 7 weather. multiple power options. Hand crank to restore charge to NIMH rechargeable battery pack, solar to same, 3 "AA" batteries, has an AC adapter port, but AC adapter is not included. Headphone jack for private listening (earbuds included), built in USB port allows you to charge cell phones, black berry, ipod, mp3 and more, multiple power tips included to meet special adapter requirements of most cell phones. This thing has more functions than a good swiss army knife. It's from China of course. Seems fairly well built. Hand crank doesn't seem flimsy. I plugged in the internal battery pack, cranked the heck out of it for about 90 seconds. Turned it on and quickly acquired an area fm station. Satisfied for the most part, I unhooked the internal battery and restowed everything including and 8 pack of fresh new AA batteries. $49.95 ... Kaito Voyager Solar Dynamo Radio, Woodland, Electronics, Kaito, Kaito Voyager Solar Dynamo Radio Woodland Camo Design Color Pattern Easy Use Electronic Device 199470 at Sportsman's Guide
    BTPost likes this.
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Brokor and Cephus like this.
  4. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    I have had good luck out of my Grundigs. Give them a look.

    Eton has good reviews too.

    Get as much coverage as possible freq wise- SW/AM/FM/TV and NOAA as you indicated

    ETA: some now have integrated solar charging too. A lot have power output for charging your cell phone or other electronic devices. Another thing to consider is the size. Cranks are generally large. If this is a EDC item, you may want battery powered for a more compact size.
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Googled Grundig, just for s&g, to see what that guy was referring to. (FR200) Looks like ETON and Grundig are either the same outfit, or cooperate rather closely.
    I've been looking for something in the way of a BOB radio, but not too much effort :oops: thus far.
  6. wags_01

    wags_01 Monkey+

    The Eton FR160 seems to be the most popular model at the moment: Amazon.com: Etón American Red Cross ARCFR160R Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger (Red): Electronics

    Amazon and Radio Shack usually sell them for $30. They're small and light, but lack shortwave bands. They do have the NOAA bands though.

    Another option is the Eton Mini GM400: Amazon.com: ETON Mini GM400 Super Compact AM/FM Shortwave Radio with Digital Display: Electronics

    It is battery powered and lacks a hand crank, but is tiny (about the size of an Ipod) and is also $30 on Amazon. Haven't seen this model at Radio Shack.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2015
  7. Huntinbull

    Huntinbull Monkey+

  8. wags_01

    wags_01 Monkey+

    The differences between the FR160 and the FR360 are pretty small; the larger radio has a digital tuner, an alarm clock and a 'flashing beacon'. It also has a DC in, but I'm not sure if it comes with a car or wall charger.

    I do have the FR160 and am happy with it for a bug out radio. If I were shopping for a bug in radio, I'd look at something like the Midland XT511:
    Amazon.com: Midland XT511 22-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio: Electronics

    However, it's twice the cost.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2015
  9. Huntinbull

    Huntinbull Monkey+

    that looks like a great set up wags. Definitely goes into the mix for consideration.
  10. c0nspire

    c0nspire Monkey+

    I researched a ton of the hand-cranked radios but couldn't find one that seemed durable enough for my liking (I haven't handled a crank/dynamo item yet that didn't seem flimsy). So, I went another route: a good packable solar panel to charge hi-cap AA's... and to make sure all my gear takes AA's!

    4-Band Shortwave Receiver ($28): Gp4 Pocket Shortwave w/ light (saw a ton of positive feedback on another forum)
    Solar Panels ($100 on Amazon): Guide 10 Adventure Kit - Goal Zero | Portable Solar Power

    ...and the new AA Sanyo Eneloop batteries (1500 recharges)!
    Hispeedal2 likes this.
  11. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    You can use the cheap solar lights sold at walmart to recharge your AA batteries... total cost 2-3 bucks... i have two i carry in my BOB to charge batteries and provide lite if necessary ... The only issue it the length of time it takes to recharge your batteries...
    Hispeedal2 likes this.
  12. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Adventure Riding Monkey Founding Member

    I have a few different 'crank radios', including the FR160R. I have yet to find one with a robust crank handle - all are flimsy with a very small pin holding it together.
    The FR160R also doesn't last too very long on the rechargeable battery pack, and it takes a LOT of cranking to charge it for more than a minute of use. Nice thing is, it can be recharged by USB device. I often do it from my PC. Needs a LOT of cranking to charge a cellphone too!
    Reception is fairly good, even within a car body. I keep mine in my van's BO bag.

    Search on this forum a bit more - we have discussed these radios before!
  13. LogOut

    LogOut Monkey+

    Midland ER102 hand crank am/fm weather radio

    I just returned from a four day car-camping trip with my son and we brought along this radio. The plastic case seems sturdy and the telescoping antenna locks firmly into place when retracted.

    Most of the features worked as advertised. I say "most" as we didn't get a chance to test out the freeze alert or any weather warnings, since we had nice warm weather and clear skys.

    The radio came without batteries (3 AA required) but it does have a rechargable battery pack. Once connected I gave the crank about twenty quick winds and torned it on. It started to fade out after five minutes. The manual does state the rechargable pack needs to be on the adapter for a good 12 hours before using so maybe my test wasn't fair. I installed a set of Energiser AA's before we left on our trip.

    I did pull the 3 AA batteries and left the unit on overnight and it was still working the next morning

    Link to product here. <--- No need to copy the specs, just go read for yourself.

    The controls are large and easy to use the display has a soft orange backlight which times out after a few seconds and it will show you the time, temp and station of whatever you are listening to.

    We were using this in what was pretty much the geographic center of New England and while the weather bands all came in OK, reception of FM and particularly the AM band were a bit spotty. Most likely due to terrain more than anything else.

    The "flashlight" feature IMHO isn't very usefull but it will give sufficient light to poke you way through a dark room.

    I need to look into actually recharging a cell phone with this and once I do, I'll be back to update this review.

    As for the sound quality well, this ain't no HI-FI. Thin and tinny describes what you'll hear. Then again this isn't something intended for more than casual entertianment. I bought it for weather and news. and it's acceptable to me.

    List price is sixty bucks on Midland's website, found it locally for fifty three. You might do better if you're willing to do some legwork.

    All in all, a nice radio which does what it's expected to.

    No solar cell though.
  14. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Adventure Riding Monkey Founding Member

    Use headphones, and it sounds MUCH better! I use headphones that pretty well cover my ears, not the 'ear buds'. Sounds more like real 'stereo'. I use mine sometimes in bed to drown out noisy neighbors......
    Had this radio at work once, and accidentally hit the 'alarm' button - WHOOWEE, that thang will wake the dead! [LMAO]
  15. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Check out some of the radios on County Com

    I like mine pretty well and I have this little solar charger about the size of a cell phone that charges the batteries.
  16. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

  17. TwiceRetired

    TwiceRetired Monkey+

    Huntinbull, I can relate to being on a budget especially when neither my kids nor my wife seem overly concerned about being prepared even for a bad storm much less anything worse...like a power grid failure. Good luck on forward progress, it's kind of like pushing a loaded wagon uphill at my place.
  18. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

  19. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    Then again, there are the ICOM radios

    ICOM R2 or the R5 models can be had used at a good price point.

    Cover DC to daylight as AM. FM and FM wide. Great for SWL. With headphones, they offer pretty good battery life from the 2 x AA cells.

    I use the eneloops @ 2700mAh each. These can be recharged via a number of ways.

    6 oz and the size of a pack of butts.

    Worth a look, eh?

    Strong Signals - Icom IC-R2 Review

    IC-R5 - The RadioReference Wiki
  20. xspecimen

    xspecimen Monkey+

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2015
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