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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:50 am 
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I've been compiling a bug out bag for a while now and seemed to have forgotten about a radio. I believe it is an extremely useful addition to a bug out bag because otherwise, in a disaster situation where it may be dangerous to venture back closer to civilisation, it would be very difficult to know what's going on.

My ideal bug out bag radio:
  • 1) Can receive AM/FM and shortwave
  • 2) Doesn't require batteries - crank powered/solar powered
  • 3) Is small and light
  • 4) Is a radio, and not a torch and an 'emergency siren' and a mobile phone charger combo
  • 5) Is less than $200AU ($185USD)

My reasoning for these qualities:
  • 1) AM/FM is a given, but shortwave is also a must because you may be either out of range, or no AM/FM station in range may be broadcasting
  • 2) If you're away from civilisation long enough (if the disaster is bad enough) you're going to run out of batteries eventually, and getting more could be difficult
  • 3) Has to be able to fit in your bag and be comfortably carried
  • 4) The whole multi-feature thing generally annoys me. A radio should be a radio. Any other features dilutes the quality, in my opinion
  • 5) Don't want to break the bank

Being able to communicate with others (2-way...) doesn't really interest me. I only want a radio to receive information about whatever the situation is.

I've spent a couple of hours Googling radios that suit my needs and have really only landed on one. The reviews seem decent, but I wanted to get some opinions here before I go ahead with anything...

The Freeplay Summit AM/FM/SW Radio
(This radio at Amazon)

It's a good price, and the only 'extra features' are a built in clock and alarm, which are simple and actually useful, unlike a flashlight, which you'll most likey have anyway, or an 'emergency siren', which just seems utterly, utterly stupid.

I was originally looking over the range of Eton radios, which seem popular, but none really suited all the needs I listed and also included the previously mentioned less than desirable 'extra features'.

Any thoughts you have are really appreciated.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:13 am 
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On 2, I would submit that rechargeable batteries should be considered as there are many solar chargers available for resonalbe prices.
Since I'm a HAM, I'd go with my trusty VX5R. Its internal battery is rechargeable, I have the AA adapter for it with rechargeable AAs and a very portable solar charger, it essentially tunes DC to Daylight, and it can transmit as well.
Look at full coverage recievers from Yaesu, Icom, etc... they're extremely full featured and some come in right around your pricepoint.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:31 am 
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I agree with the above post that you should look at something with rechargeable batteries. I'm betting you have other stuff in your gear that probably already uses AAA and AA batteries, so a decent solar charger would solve your problem and get you into a better, higher quality radio unit.

I have recently reconfigured my gear to all AA and AAA powered electronics, and purchased 2 portable Silva Tech40 solar chargers when they were on sale at Campmor for $10 a piece a couple months back:

Image

As for the radio, I purchased a Grundig Mini 300, it has all the features you are looking for minus the crank:

Image

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:24 am 
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This one does not perfectly suit your requirements as it is not a crank - type, but:

http://countycomm.com/KA202L.htm

150 hours of talk time on a couple batteries, which is significant. As others have stated, recharging batteries is pretty smooth these days. I'm waiting for a version of these radios that charges with USB so that I can use it with my backup power for my iPhone.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:48 pm 
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I've got an Eton FR160 "Microlink Radio" for emergency use. It was ..... $40 when I got it, so no where near your max price. There are better radios out there, I'm sure, but I guess it really depends on what you're hoping to do with it.

It has crank and solar charging, which is nice. It gets AM/FM/WB (so, no shortwave....), and has a USB plug. In theory, you can charge any usb device (cell phone) via the crank - although the instructions say it takes quite a bit of cranking to get any decent charge.

Its also got an 3 LED flashlight, which is all but useless compared to real flashlights, but its nice to have it all in one, if needed.

For the price, seems great.

It feels very solid, nice "rubberized" finish ....

Negatives: It doesn't get shortwave. It doesn't have the ability to charge/operate via AC power.

actually, Campmor has then for ~$30: http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___88887

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 4:57 pm 
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Don't get me wrong--I'm a sucker for a crank-up radio, and I own a few of them.

But as a practical matter, I'm not sure whether they're really worth it. On both of the ones I own, the generator itself appears to be rather robust, and I suspect it will last quite a while. But no mechanical device lasts forever, in my experience. But in particular, on both of mine, the little hand crank is made out of plastic, and I suspect it's going to eventually break. Also, the crank generally charges a set of NiCd batteries, which won't last forever. In an extreme emergency, I think you could probably listen to the radio (to a strong station, anyway) while actually turning the crank, even without the NiCd's. But it would be a pain, and the generator itself seems to cause some interference that might knock out weaker stations.

It seems to me that for most purposes, having a few days or weeks worth of batteries will serve you as well or better than the crank. For long-term use without batteries, it seems to me that some sort of solar panel is the best option. Even the solar panel could get broken, but it has no moving parts, so it seems to me that it's going to outlast a little mechanical generator.

The main advantage of the crank-up radio, it seems to me, is that you know you'll have something to listen to, even if you put the radio away and never bothered checking the batteries. But it seems to me that a more reliable choice is to keep a few sets of alkaline batteries stored, and replace them with new ones occasionally.

My main consideration in buying a radio would be how well it functions on AM. I can't think of very many scenarios where you wouldn't be able to get something on AM at night. It seems to me that somewhere on the continent, there would be some outpost of civilization still functioning, and it seems plausible that they would have an AM radio station. At the very least, the absence of AM stations that were previously there would provide very useful information.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:09 pm 
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Kenwood THF6A has all mode capabilities am/fm/wfm/usb/lsb/cw from 100hz to 600mhz. From 600mhz to 1.3ghz it is either am/fm/wfm. It has a built in ferite bar antenna for better reception on the am broadcast band. Tons of accessories for it. If you are a licensed ham/amateur radio operator it transmits FM on 2m, 440 & 220 mhz at 5 watts rf output.

Check it out:
http://www.kenwoodusa.com/Communication ... les/TH-F6A


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:55 pm 
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As for the radio, I purchased a Grundig Mini 300, it has all the features you are looking for minus the crank:

Image[/quote]


I actually bought this radio a few years ago. It worked great for about 6 months and then I had it drift horribly and had a really hard time getting it to tune to a station I wanted. Then the power button stopped working reliably so that I couldn't turn it on/off without pushing the button about 20 times. I used the radio about 5 days a week for a few hours a day.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:00 pm 
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I personally would stay away from all in one crank/solar radio's. I have yet to see one that was worth the asking price. The price is to high, the performance is to low and the quality is junk. Now I do have a couple, One of the orginal Baygen's, Big boombox sized unit. Nice runs about an hour on full crank and is rock solid. You however cant get them anymore. Disaster means a lot of things to different people. If you just want to hear something after a storm then a simple AM/FM radio is fine, If you want to hear whats happening in the world then a GOOD shortwave radio with an external antennas connection is a must.. DONT be fooled by these little SW radio, While they work now when there are MEGAWATT transmitters running the are usable, but how sensitive are they to a 2Kw station.
These MW stations are going to go away pretty quickly in a zombie disaster. If you get a shortwave radio, you want to evaluate the radio not on the BBC transmitting out of the virgin island or some other european with transmitter in Canada/Caribbean , but one that is actually broadcast from there homeland. Otherwise the radio will be a door stop when the SHTF.

I prefer to have a quality Shortwave (high end grundig) and an external crank and/or solar power device to charge the batteries. That way I can use the charger on many things not just one.


Last edited by gary in ohio on Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:01 pm 
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Reddington wrote:
As for the radio, I purchased a Grundig Mini 300, it has all the features you are looking for minus the crank:

Image


I actually bought this radio a few years ago. It worked great for about 6 months and then I had it drift horribly and had a really hard time getting it to tune to a station I wanted. Then the power button stopped working reliably so that I couldn't turn it on/off without pushing the button about 20 times. I used the radio about 5 days a week for a few hours a day.


Intersting, that good info to know. I don't use mine quite as consistently as you, but to hear that it may not hold up in the long run is great info..

Might have to look around for something else as a back-up.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:14 pm 
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I treid to find the link, but it looksl ike they changed the model... Red Cross was practically giving these away.
http://www.etoncorp.com/product_card/?p ... bId=517804

I picked mine up for $40 total with shipping. It has everything you want, stuff you don't and is a bit bulky, but it does everything I want from a radio especially for the cost.


Found it under the Bug out Gear deals section...

http://www.buy.com/prod/eton-american-r ... adid=17070

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 6:27 pm 
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I found the Yaesu FT-250R, which for a radio that transmits in 2M and scans everything else is hard to beat for the price. It can be found for about $120 or less at some places. You can probably find a better one like this, but I haven't seen anything this cheap in a handheld. Users at eham.net mostly seem to like this model.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:18 pm 
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Thanks for the replies, guys.
The suggestions to go for the option of using a solar panel to charge batteries for a normal shortwave sound good.

gary in ohio wrote:
If you want to hear whats happening in the world then a GOOD shortwave radio with an external antennas connection is a must.. DONT be fooled by these little SW radio, While they work now when there are MEGAWATT transmitters running the are usable, but how sensitive are they to a 2Kw station.
These MW stations are going to go away pretty quickly in a zombie disaster. If you get a shortwave radio, you want to evaluate the radio not on the BBC transmitting out of the virgin island or some other european with transmitter in Canada/Caribbean , but one that is actually broadcast from there homeland. Otherwise the radio will be a door stop when the SHTF. I prefer to have a quality Shortwave (high end grundig) and an external crank and/or solar power device to charge the batteries. That way I can use the charger on many things not just one.


Hi Garry,

What you said really interested me. I really don't know much (...close to nothing) about broadcast frequencies, or how radio broadcasting would work when the shit really hits the fan, but I gathered that shortwave will be the only lasting means of communication at large distances if everything happened to collapse, like in a zombie apocalypse-sized disaster.

Could you or anyone in the know suggest a radio in particular that can effectively receive transmissions in the previously mentioned zombie apocalypse-sized disaster?

I liked the look of the FT-250R (cheers, Reddington), but I was wondering about whether it was actually possible to charge such a battery - 1400 mAh - with a solar panel system?

Sorry for my ignorance. I'm quite competent with the 'keeping myself alive' side of the whole survival scene, but this area of electronics and communication is practically new to me. I'm quite a noob.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:02 pm 
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someaussie wrote:
Thanks for the replies, guys.
The suggestions to go for the option of using a solar panel to charge batteries for a normal shortwave sound good.

gary in ohio wrote:
If you want to hear whats happening in the world then a GOOD shortwave radio with an external antennas connection is a must.. DONT be fooled by these little SW radio, While they work now when there are MEGAWATT transmitters running the are usable, but how sensitive are they to a 2Kw station.
These MW stations are going to go away pretty quickly in a zombie disaster. If you get a shortwave radio, you want to evaluate the radio not on the BBC transmitting out of the virgin island or some other european with transmitter in Canada/Caribbean , but one that is actually broadcast from there homeland. Otherwise the radio will be a door stop when the SHTF. I prefer to have a quality Shortwave (high end grundig) and an external crank and/or solar power device to charge the batteries. That way I can use the charger on many things not just one.


Hi Garry,

What you said really interested me. I really don't know much (...close to nothing) about broadcast frequencies, or how radio broadcasting would work when the shit really hits the fan, but I gathered that shortwave will be the only lasting means of communication at large distances if everything happened to collapse, like in a zombie apocalypse-sized disaster.

Could you or anyone in the know suggest a radio in particular that can effectively receive transmissions in the previously mentioned zombie apocalypse-sized disaster?

I liked the look of the FT-250R (cheers, Reddington), but I was wondering about whether it was actually possible to charge such a battery - 1400 mAh - with a solar panel system?

Sorry for my ignorance. I'm quite competent with the 'keeping myself alive' side of the whole survival scene, but this area of electronics and communication is practically new to me. I'm quite a noob.


They actually sell a battery tray accessory that allows you to use regular batteries as well. Part number FBA-25A
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:48 am 
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someaussie wrote:
Thanks for the replies, guys.
The suggestions to go for the option of using a solar panel to charge batteries for a normal shortwave sound good.

gary in ohio wrote:
If you want to hear whats happening in the world then a GOOD shortwave radio with an external antennas connection is a must.. DONT be fooled by these little SW radio, While they work now when there are MEGAWATT transmitters running the are usable, but how sensitive are they to a 2Kw station.
These MW stations are going to go away pretty quickly in a zombie disaster. If you get a shortwave radio, you want to evaluate the radio not on the BBC transmitting out of the virgin island or some other european with transmitter in Canada/Caribbean , but one that is actually broadcast from there homeland. Otherwise the radio will be a door stop when the SHTF. I prefer to have a quality Shortwave (high end grundig) and an external crank and/or solar power device to charge the batteries. That way I can use the charger on many things not just one.


Hi Garry,

What you said really interested me. I really don't know much (...close to nothing) about broadcast frequencies, or how radio broadcasting would work when the shit really hits the fan, but I gathered that shortwave will be the only lasting means of communication at large distances if everything happened to collapse, like in a zombie apocalypse-sized disaster.

Could you or anyone in the know suggest a radio in particular that can effectively receive transmissions in the previously mentioned zombie apocalypse-sized disaster?

I liked the look of the FT-250R (cheers, Reddington), but I was wondering about whether it was actually possible to charge such a battery - 1400 mAh - with a solar panel system?

Sorry for my ignorance. I'm quite competent with the 'keeping myself alive' side of the whole survival scene, but this area of electronics and communication is practically new to me. I'm quite a noob.


You'll probably have to build or buy a cable adapter, but most amateur radio gear is built to run off of 12v. So get a 12v panel and you're all set. Now those little portable chargers... they don't run 12v. For that, I'd get the AA battery tray that reddington linked to, though it uses too many batteries, imho.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:10 pm 
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offcamber wrote:
I agree with the above post that you should look at something with rechargeable batteries. I'm betting you have other stuff in your gear that probably already uses AAA and AA batteries, so a decent solar charger would solve your problem and get you into a better, higher quality radio unit.

I have recently reconfigured my gear to all AA and AAA powered electronics, and purchased 2 portable Silva Tech40 solar chargers when they were on sale at Campmor for $10 a piece a couple months back:

Image

As for the radio, I purchased a Grundig Mini 300, it has all the features you are looking for minus the crank:

Image


+1 on the Grundig/Eton mini 300.. it is a great little radio... very reasonably priced and has just about everything you're looking for...

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:48 pm 
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I went with the Yaesu VX8DR, with the optional GPS ant of course. Does everything I would expect from a hand held. And with the solar recharger I built, no worries about carrying around spare batteries for it.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:37 pm 
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again on the mini 300 (now there's a mini 400)...if you write if off it would be good for a BOB since it works well when it doesn't get abused(and it's only 30 bucks). I would get a 2nd one to use around the house. The only thing I didn't like about it was I couldn't get weather channels with it. The SW is okay for a handful of strong stations, but you're not going to get much else besides the big well known stations. But for $30 it does a good job.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:11 pm 
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Reddington wrote:
again on the mini 300 (now there's a mini 400)...if you write if off it would be good for a BOB since it works well when it doesn't get abused(and it's only 30 bucks). I would get a 2nd one to use around the house. The only thing I didn't like about it was I couldn't get weather channels with it. The SW is okay for a handful of strong stations, but you're not going to get much else besides the big well known stations. But for $30 it does a good job.


Can you tune into weather channels on different radios or is it some kind of preset?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:50 pm 
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mtnfolk mike wrote:
offcamber wrote:
I agree with the above post that you should look at something with rechargeable batteries. I'm betting you have other stuff in your gear that probably already uses AAA and AA batteries, so a decent solar charger would solve your problem and get you into a better, higher quality radio unit.

I have recently reconfigured my gear to all AA and AAA powered electronics, and purchased 2 portable Silva Tech40 solar chargers when they were on sale at Campmor for $10 a piece a couple months back:

Image

As for the radio, I purchased a Grundig Mini 300, it has all the features you are looking for minus the crank:

Image


+1 on the Grundig/Eton mini 300.. it is a great little radio... very reasonably priced and has just about everything you're looking for...


I have this AA Solar charger and I like it! and as for Hand Crank Radio I have this http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/ngs/product/gear-%26-gadgets/radios/national-geographic-solar--and-self-powered-shortwave-radio also awesome $50 and charges my cell phone

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 6:22 pm 
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Samson101 wrote:
Reddington wrote:
again on the mini 300 (now there's a mini 400)...if you write if off it would be good for a BOB since it works well when it doesn't get abused(and it's only 30 bucks). I would get a 2nd one to use around the house. The only thing I didn't like about it was I couldn't get weather channels with it. The SW is okay for a handful of strong stations, but you're not going to get much else besides the big well known stations. But for $30 it does a good job.


Can you tune into weather channels on different radios or is it some kind of preset?


I meant that you can't tune to the weather frequencies 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:02 pm 
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hmmm I just got this

http://www.countycomm.com/KA202L.htm
guess no weather on it either


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:29 pm 
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For the house we have the Éton Voicelink FR1000 which we got off Woot.com for $50.

Image

It has AM/FM/NOAA/GMRS and has both crank and battery power as well as standard AC.

For my bag have a County Comm GP4L

Image

Which has AM/FM/Shortwave and then I also carry a little Motorola Walkie.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:37 pm 
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I'd say go Eton. I have an FR400 and absolutely love itImage It stays in my car with all my larger equipment.

But since you don't want multi-features why don't you take a look into the Eton scorpionImage. It's light, small, built in belt clip, rugged.
I keep one clipped to my pack for backpacking.
It picks up AM, FM, and NOAA weather channels(LOVE NOAA).
Has crank, and solar and a little tiny clock.
Only drawback for you is that it has 3 built in L.E.D.'s which goes against your torch rule although I think it's nice to have a least one backup flashlight in my BOB that does not run on batteries, even though I carry around a maglite all the time.

I gotta say Eton=Quality. Mine has been through hell and still works great and I think the fact that it has a torch is worth it for what it offers. I also normally agree that dual function equals less quality on at least one end of the spectrum.

I've dropped both my radios in rivers before and they continually work. My scorpion has been across about 300 miles of the Appalachian Trail and god knows what other trips and works like the day I bought it. I think it retails for anywhere from 30 dollars to 50 dollars.

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