Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Items to keep you alive in the event you must evacuate: discussions of basic Survival Kits commonly called "Bug Out Bags" or "Go Bags"

Moderator: ZS Global Moderators

Post Reply
Aim2Maim
* *
Posts: 162
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:17 pm

Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by Aim2Maim » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:27 pm

Hey all,
Looking to upgrade my crank weather radio and wanted some input. I'm in the process of updating some of my gear and am looking radios right now. I have a cheapo one I bought on sale at Gander a while back and its just not going to cut it long term. I am currently looking at a Kaito KA500 Voyager and Eton Solarlink fr360. This is more for the home and not going into my BoB. Voyager looks like it has pretty good reviews from what I have found while the solarlink seems good but reviews are definitely mixed on it. Anyone use either of these or have better suggestions? I'm looking for something that has small electronics charge capability (even if it takes a while) as right now a good quality solar charger is just out the budget. Would like to keep it under $75 for any other suggestions. Thanks guys.
Behold the pale white horse, the man that sat on him was death, and hell followed with him.
If you prepare for the impossible, you can survive the inevitable.

User avatar
111t
* * * * *
Posts: 1864
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:55 am
Location: OLEAN NEW YORK USA EARTH

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by 111t » Fri Feb 10, 2012 6:59 pm

I have both of those and I'm generally pleased with both. The voyager takes aa batteries and the eton takes aaa. They both have the cordless phone battery charged either by the crank (pita) or by solar. The voyager has shortwave reception in addition to the am fm NOAA bands. I took the voyager and stored it in a .30 cal ammo can. It fits just about perfectly inside the bubble wrap bag it came with.

The eton line are pretty good quality I particularly like the crisp sound quality and ease of the digital tuner.
All the best!
-Paul

"A rifle behind every blade of grass?"
"No, but any blade of grass"

Ferrocerium...You know how to spell it... This is how you pronounce it...[fer-oh-seer-ee-uhm]
Bushcraft/Dayhiking Kit
Three season 72 Hour Kit
Ledmark alcohol cookset!!!
New Production Kerosene Pressure Stoves!!!
Car Emergency Preparedness Kit

User avatar
majorhavoc
ZS Donor
ZS Donor
Posts: 7024
Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 10:06 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later, ZombieLand, Dawn of the Dead
Location: Maine

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by majorhavoc » Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:58 pm

111t wrote:The voyager has shortwave reception in addition to the am fm NOAA bands.
I'm an Eton fanboy, but if the Kaito has both NOAA and shortwave, then all other things being equal, I say that tilts it in favor of the Voyager.

User avatar
TacAir
* * * * *
Posts: 8013
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:01 pm
Contact:

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by TacAir » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:49 pm

I will just chip in that any crank radio you store should be pulled out every other month and 'changed for two ro three minutes.

The rechargeable battery packs are not the world best and I have had them go bad for lack of charging.
TacAir - I'd rather be a disappointed pessimist than a horrified optimist
**All my books ** some with a different view of the "PAW". Check 'em out.
Adventures in rice storage//Mod your Esbit for better stability

connecticut_yankee
* * *
Posts: 356
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:13 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Location: Connecticut

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by connecticut_yankee » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:06 pm

I have a Kaito KA009. It has a solar panel but it will only run constantly on solar power in direct sunlight and on a low-ish volume setting. The plastic crank handle does not feel sturdy, but I've actually used it for five-ish years now. Most recently I used it every day during an October snowstorm for about two weeks.

TacAir makes a good point about making sure a radio's internal battery pack doesn't get too low on juice. I just leave mine on the window with the solar panel facing outside.

Aim2Maim
* *
Posts: 162
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:17 pm

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by Aim2Maim » Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:27 am

Thanks for the input guys, I am leaning towards the Kaito I think. My buddy has had the one I was looking at for a few years and really likes it as well. Again appreciate the input!
Behold the pale white horse, the man that sat on him was death, and hell followed with him.
If you prepare for the impossible, you can survive the inevitable.

Aim2Maim
* *
Posts: 162
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:17 pm

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by Aim2Maim » Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:46 am

While were at it, has anyone given the Goal Zero Adventure kit (Nomad 7) a try? Might be able to get the kit with AAA recharger as well for a good price. Looking at it I question its durability. Found a couple of posts that referenced it but no real solid field tested reviews. Basically what I am looking for in a solar kit is charging cell phone, gps, two-radio, possible 18v power tool battery. As I stated earlier I'm not in a position to shell out a ton on a solar charger but I may pick this one up if its worth it.
Behold the pale white horse, the man that sat on him was death, and hell followed with him.
If you prepare for the impossible, you can survive the inevitable.

User avatar
111t
* * * * *
Posts: 1864
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:55 am
Location: OLEAN NEW YORK USA EARTH

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by 111t » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:40 pm

Just one point about charging cel phones and devices with the eton radios... I have the one listed here as well as the fr 160. I've only ever tried to charge my iPhone with the 160. When you switch the selector over to the "cel" option the manual is very specific that you turn the crank at 2revolutions per second and that if you stop for any reason you should wait 5 seconds before starting again. The dynamo has a completely different 'feel' in cel mode. I suspect the current is going directly from the dynamo to the phone. In between is the phones on onboard charging hardware and software. It needs things to be just so.
All the best!
-Paul

"A rifle behind every blade of grass?"
"No, but any blade of grass"

Ferrocerium...You know how to spell it... This is how you pronounce it...[fer-oh-seer-ee-uhm]
Bushcraft/Dayhiking Kit
Three season 72 Hour Kit
Ledmark alcohol cookset!!!
New Production Kerosene Pressure Stoves!!!
Car Emergency Preparedness Kit

User avatar
majorhavoc
ZS Donor
ZS Donor
Posts: 7024
Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 10:06 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later, ZombieLand, Dawn of the Dead
Location: Maine

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by majorhavoc » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:52 pm

Forgot to mention: we expect a full review on whatever you buy!

User avatar
Caffiend
* *
Posts: 155
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:05 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by Caffiend » Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:37 pm

I have the Voyager as well. Overall I like it, and being able to charge it from wall AC before heading out is nice. The internal battery isn't the greatest, and I make a point of disconnecting it if I'm not going to be using the radio for any long periods of time. The hand crank IS in fact quite flimsy, as I broke it off the 4th or 5th time I was camping with the Voyager, however I dropped an e-mail to Kaito and they were very supportive, telling me to send it back and they'd fix it. I never bothered, just slapped a little metal plat over the two pieces to hold the handle together.
I also like the somewhat rubberized shell, this thing has seen some weather and not been bothered by it which is a plus in my book.

Aim2Maim
* *
Posts: 162
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:17 pm

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by Aim2Maim » Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:17 pm

Thats what kind of worries me is that a lot of the cranks seem that way. I was doing some shooting drills today with my buddy and he brought along his nomad 7 so I could toy around with it a bit and I am thinking about picking this solar kit up and holding off on buying new radio. Charging wise it seems capable of doing everything I want it to and I like the added AA/AAA pack without having to spend extra on buying it separately. It might be a week or two before I am able to get it out and play some more but when I do I will definitely get a review up. Thanks again guys for all the input!
Behold the pale white horse, the man that sat on him was death, and hell followed with him.
If you prepare for the impossible, you can survive the inevitable.

User avatar
majorhavoc
ZS Donor
ZS Donor
Posts: 7024
Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 10:06 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days Later, ZombieLand, Dawn of the Dead
Location: Maine

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by majorhavoc » Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:50 pm

Yeah, the build quality of these hand crank radios leaves something to be desired. I'd love to see a solid aluminum dynamo crank arm (and honest to gosh gaskets and seals to add water resistance). But with the consumer market these products are sold in, those features aren't demanded enough to justify the higher price point.

I have an older Eton FR 250 shortwave that has seen a lot of use and is still going strong, and it has a plastic crank arm. The one thing it has going for it I suppose is that it does NOT have a USB port for charging accessory devices. My suspicion is that wailing on the dynamo to charge a cell phone is the kind of usage that just might cause one of these units to fail. Cranking to power to the radio itself is a fairly low intensity usage.

Of course, if someone with some decent mechanical skills were to "ruggedize" a consumer grade hand crank radio and report on the results, that would make for an interesting read. I'm sure someone here at ZS has the maker/product hack skills to do just that.

User avatar
angelofwar
* * * * *
Posts: 1856
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:55 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: The Walking Dead, I Am Legend

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by angelofwar » Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:43 am

Aim2Maim wrote:While were at it, has anyone given the Goal Zero Adventure kit (Nomad 7) a try? Might be able to get the kit with AAA recharger as well for a good price. Looking at it I question its durability. Found a couple of posts that referenced it but no real solid field tested reviews. Basically what I am looking for in a solar kit is charging cell phone, gps, two-radio, possible 18v power tool battery. As I stated earlier I'm not in a position to shell out a ton on a solar charger but I may pick this one up if its worth it.
I just picked one up at the BQM store at our exchange for $119. Here's my 5 minute run-down:

-Immediately replaced the Made In China with my Japanes "Duraloops" (Rebranded Eneloops)
-Battery Case; Seems pretty solid. Has a steel cable attaching point, mini flashlight led built into it. Nice chart on back that explains operation/charge cycle, etc.
-Panel; Again, pretty solid; A pouch on the inside that holds the battery or cable, but not both. The power port is well designed, and the hubs are separate, which is nice, cause you can leave two plugs plugged in even if you only need to charge one.

I'll bust it out this weekend and let you know how well it actually charges, etc.

Edit: Just did a quick indoor function check...it generates almost 1 volt indoors, which means it's pretty effecient at converting the solar energy it does get...
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts..."
http://www.zombiehunters.org/forum/view ... w#p2141127

Image

User avatar
weiss27md
*
Posts: 83
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:06 am
Location: Lockhart, TX

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by weiss27md » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:19 pm

I have the Eton Solarlink FR360 and it's great, pretty good for the money. I've used the USB charge and weather stations in a storm. Light is fairly bright and easy to crank.

User avatar
drewder
ZS Donor
ZS Donor
Posts: 601
Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:41 am
Favorite Zombie Movies: White Zombie (1932 Bella Lugosi)
Dawn of the Dead (new and original)
Day of the Dead
Night of the Living Dead
The Return of the Living Dead
Shaun of the Dead
Evil Dead
Evil Dead 2 (dead by dawn)
Army of Darkness
Grindhouse
Planet Terror
28 days later
28 Weeks Later
I am Legend
The FOG (original, the remake sucked ass)
Resident Evil (the Saga)
Silent Hill
The Phantasm (the SAGA)
Friday the 13th (from start to finish)
Pet Sematary
Night of the Comet
Location: STL, MO

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by drewder » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:53 pm

I had the Eton FR500. It had a sh!tty crank on it. Couldn't pick up some of the broadest signals in the area for the radio function. The tuner dial wouldn't stay put and moved around way too easily. It really wasn't worth the money I paid for it. So, my search continues to find a much better SHTF Radio. :cry:
The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.

*even the wise man dwells in a fool's paradise

Survived ZSC:001 Winterg(h)eddon X
Survived ZombieCon X
Stayed toasty warm at ZSC:001 Winterg(h)eddon Twenty Eleven
Barely survived ZombieCon 2011

Image

jt526
* *
Posts: 200
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 9:48 pm
Location: Dallas, TX

Re: Thoughts on solar/crank radios..

Post by jt526 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:25 pm

I have the nomad 7, and also replaced the batteries with eneloops. Works fine, I use it at home to charge up AA's for remotes, flashlights, headlamps, shortwave radio and to keep my kindle charged. Basically most of the stuff I would use camping or in a power outage. Admittedly almost meaningless in terms of power savings at home, but it makes me feel better about the purchase price, and I now use eneloops exclusively.

I was fairly impressed with the FR160 I bought as a gift for a friend though.

Post Reply

Return to “Bug Out Gear”