Solar/crank powered radio

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

  1. Jeff Brackett

    Jeff Brackett Monkey+++

    FWIW, I have a pair of Ambient Weather WR-088s that I keep stored in separate containers. Combo AM/FM/NOAA/Flashlight/Cellphone charger with hand crank, solar charger, and external cable charge. Cost now is just over $30. I got mine in a two pack for a slight discount (just under $50 for the pair). Ambient Weather WR-088 Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio, Flashlight, Cell Phone Charger (Red) with Cables: Electronics
  2. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I have two solar/crank radios. I have an Eton and a Wilson P3. The Wilson wins hands down. The Wilson doesn't have weather bands but it is a work horse. I have found that the Eton eats batteries and the solar almost worthless. The Wilson is older and it is durable, batteries last, solar strip works as it should. I bought the Eton a few years ago, new and expected new quality... maybe that says it all. The Wilson I picked up at a yard sale for $2 and it has exceeded my expectations.

    Wilson P3 Solar Dynamo Power Emergency Flashlight Radio Siren Works | eBay

    Eton ARC FR360 Solarlink Weather Radio / Emergency Crank Radio
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2015
  3. Brokor

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

    Make sure you try to get the SW option (shortwave) to increase your chance of picking up transmissions, especially in an emergency situation since FM and AM broadcasts could be compromised.
    ghrit likes this.
  4. Brokor

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

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2015
  5. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

  6. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I have a Kaito Voyager. Double your food rations if you intend to use the crank to recharge, you'll be spending a lot of time cranking, and the solar feature is odd since the instructions tell you to keep from direct exposure to sun. That said, I use it for weather. Yes, it has SW capability, but wants the long wire antenna for much in the way of SW listening. I have not properly tested it yet on the ham bands.
  7. Brokor

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

    Yes, I had an Eton, and it broke. My Kaito hasn't broken yet, and it definitely works, but in my opinion I would like to see the radio be more rugged (although it is sturdy). The radio runs on standard batteries or the rechargeable batteries, and has a decent solar recharge ability, but the best way is to crank it. I got the additional external antenna in a wind up spool, and THAT makes it far superior to any other SW portable crank radio on the market I have found yet.

    I also have a Grundig M400 AM/FM/SW radio, very small, thin and lightweight that I use standard for bug out and hiking. Grundig Mini GM400 Super Compact AM/FM Shortwave Radio with Digital Display - Black (NGM400B): Electronics

    The Grundig M400 is superior in some ways, but the trade-off for the size is that it is not solar or crank, and requires standard AAA batteries. I suppose if you had a solar kit and rechargeable batteries it could prove to be an excellent addition. For these reasons, I find the Grundig M400 to be an excellent preference of mine.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2015
    Motomom34 likes this.
  8. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I have an Eton. It rides in my work truck and provides job site music or news. Being solar, it never needs batteries, and will recharge USB if needed. It has all 7 weather bands and the hand crank, will charge a cell phone or the internal battery pack. (It has been used, and it works well enough. However, the plastic case does not like sunlight and is getting ugly, and the antennae is useless. (Less than useless really. I opened it up and found it had never even been attached to anything but plastic, and it's attachment screw was never installed.)
    Motomom34 likes this.
  9. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    My Wilson doesn't have an antenna which makes it hard to get my favorite stations. For some reason NPR comes in clear as a bell, no matter the location.

    @kellory is your Eton like mine? We were cranking it yesterday and still within a minute or so the radio would go off. Plus if I run it on solar it gets real weak. Could I have a wire lose?
  10. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    @Brokor I have never thought to pack a radio in my hiking bag. I have my Wilson in the car. I guess a little radio should go in my day pack.
    Brokor likes this.
  11. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned Customer Reviews: American Red Cross FR150 Microlink Solar-Powered, Self-Powered AM/FM/Weatherband Portable Radio with Flashlight and Cell Phone Charger (Red)
    A couple of reviews. Ad to your questions, it sounds like weak batteries to me. In full sun, it will run all day, and by hand crank it is good for an hour or two with about five minutes of cranking.(for radio). For charging a CELL it takes about a minute and a half at two cycles per second to charge enough for one minute if talk. There is an improved model now out the 160.
  12. Brokor

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

    Does it have SW, Kellory?
  13. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Short wave? No, I think not. I know it is receive only.
    But for @$30. I doubt you can do much better. It is quite small, and pretty light.
  14. Brokor

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

    I know Nutnfancy did a review on it a while back, and the solar portion of it is poor, but the crank function serves it well. It's a common issue with most, if not all solar radios. If it had shortwave, it would be rock solid, but I won't go without SW capabilities.

    If anything were to happen, NOAA, FM and AM would be important, but under certain civil unrest, it won't stop the FCC from hitting the switch or for the Federal Emergency teams to implement continuity of government procedures, which include taking over all broadcasting communications within their control. Since SW is worldwide, it would serve to be a valuable asset.
    ghrit likes this.
  15. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    That would be why I also have a baofang 3 ham radio in the truck. Options and possibilities.
    Brokor likes this.
  16. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    The kids love the SW. 'Hey dad, what language are they speaking?'

    It's like stump the chump.
    Brokor likes this.
  17. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    This topic is four years old, and the guy who started it has not been seen in about a year and a half. But it's still a worthwhile subject, so ok, I'll bite.

    As someone who is known as an "electronics guy" I get asked a lot about survival/emergency hand crank radios.

    My take on this is that you should never select a radio based on whether or not it is manually powered. Most of them are no more than a cheap $10 radio with an even cheaper hand crank dynamo added. Slap a Red Cross logo on it or use the words "survival" or "emergency" on the box and you can suck a good $40 or more out of the sheep.

    I suggest buying a battery operated radio with performance and construction quality as the main factors. You can go to Costco and pick up a mega-pack of batteries for $15-$20 and have enough electrons banked to run that radio for months. Or, get a small 5-8 watt solar panel (less than $50) and a few rechargeable batteries and roll with that. Added bonus: The batteries/solar can be used for other stuff if needed.

    If a hand crank is the main consideration then you are missing the point. Do not limit yourself to a small selection of radios that, but for a gimmick add-on, would have nothing going for them and no one would want.

    Choose a radio on its attributes as a radio first.
    Power source should come in second, or even lower than that.

    Brokor and Motomom34 like this.
  18. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Alright, the latest on the Eton microlink fr-150. It is no longer made. 160's and 170's are still available, though at this point, I would suggest buying something not connected to Eton. (French)
    They will do, absolutely nothing without a receipt. Even with a receipt, it it covered for only one year, and this one is 6 years old. And even though there is physical proof that the attennea was not properly installed (no marks or screw threads) they will not even admit responsibility. I informed the manager, I would no longer deal with their company. You may , of course, do as you please.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  19. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    No, I would not buy from Eton either. I was within 1 year when I started calling them. It is a Red Cross radio- or as @Tevin said it has their logo on it. I guess I was a sheep, I expected a certain quality. I guess Red Cross is not the same as a Good Housekeeping seal.

    Q: where do CB radios fall into people opinion of good to have or not?
  20. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    CB's clearly have their uses while traveling. I have two handheld three channel units for use with more than one car trips. I have called for assistance more than once while traveling, and have been met with helpful people, and willing assistance.
    Brokor likes this.
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