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Thread: Small Portable Radio's?

  1. #1

    Default Small Portable Radio's?

    Small Portable Radio's for preparedness and disaster planning?

    http://www.etoncorp.com/product_card...uctDbId=545912

    Looks really cool! I like Buzz. Unfortunately? I freely admit that I know jack about radio's.

    What might be a good small portable radio to grab? What kinds of bands might I want in one?

  2. #2
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    That ones alright...

    i would go to HRO or the like and get an all mode all band reciever myself....

    being a ham im pretty much already set up for this purpose

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    Flashaholic* HoopleHead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    i have the "GP-4L" from countycomm.com

    i went for the sealed gov't one (they have a regular one too), just remember you need to have batteries as well since none are included inside.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    $100 for an emergency radio seems excessive and the shortwave feature, not too useful since what you mostly want is local news and info. If it's for use at home I recommend a small boom box, since that is loud enough for several people to listen simultaneously, and they usually hold a lot of batteries (like four D cells) for very long runtime. For portable use I'd just go to Walgreens and buy a small portable radio for under $10.

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    Flashaholic* Omega Man's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    I have one of these little guys:
    http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/4244
    Check the reviews, they're back on Ebay still for cheap, check it out:
    http://search.ebay.com/search/search...fsoo%3D2&fgtp=
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    I have a Grundig Mini 300 AM/FM/SW-2xAA which is pretty darn sweet. I picked it up at Radio Shack for 30 bucks. Sound and volume is very good. The only real short coming (and this one really is) is that it's digital display with an analog tuner dial on the side, well, the knob is very sensitive. Just barely touch it and it goes flying up/down the dial.

    The radio would be great if it had a lock feature like the smaller Sony SFR-M37V, for instance, (Which I also have. Weather band is so-so at times.) Another downside is that there is no local weather/civilian alert band. If Grundig addressed a couple of these shortcomings the radio would be an out of the park homerun in a pocket-sized radio. But until those issues are addressed, I just can't recommend it as an emergency radio. That sensitive knob really sets it back which is a shame. Antenna is REALLY long for a radio of this size too so be careful when retracting as not to bend it.




    Next, I have the aforementioned
    Sony SFR-M37V




    Reception is about average with Weather Band being quite weak at times, in this area at least. Not too bad for a personal solution overall. The downfall here is if you're with a group, there's no external speaker. It's a headphones only proposition outside of a pair of ipod external speakers or something similar attached to it, but that would be a bit too cumbersome for an on-the-go radio. Takes 1xAAA battery.

    Next, I have a
    Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio



    Average/OK for a pocket radio. Shortcomings are there is no weather band and the speaker gets distorted with higher volume levels.
    Another that you can't see from this picture is that the antenna, instead of telescoping inside into the unit, actually folds behind the unit instead and only swings out.

    No swiveling and it could be exposed to some bumps and dings. That little metal nub you see at the top is where the screw is that attaches it to the body on the back of the unit. The upside to this radio is of course the analog dial which will offer you better battery life than the previous radios above that have digital display with a clock running. Also has a tune indicator as shown on the front in this picture. This would be an OK solution if you can count on AM and/or FM to give you all the necessary details in a local emergency where you live. I paid 10 for it from the Sonystyle website. They had free shipping at the time.
    Takes 2xAA batteries.

    Lastly, if you don't mind moving up to a power cord/4xAA battery solution, I just today picked up a Sony ICF-36.



    AM/FM/TV/Weather. Keep in mind the TV channels won't work after the digital takeover in 2009. At least that's what I've heard anyways.

    I've seen these priced for 70-99 bucks on the net. Why? I have no idea. Picked mine up at K-Mart for 25 bucks. Maybe I stumbled on a bargain. Weather band is OK. It's become my experience that the closer you are to a window with some of these weather band radios, the better the reception. FM sounds good and the speaker has decent volume. Only begins to distort towards the last quarter or so before reaching max volume. Haven't played with AM reception much yet so can't comment there. Also, there's not much in the way of local TV here so not picking up much on the TV bands other than a local station I already get on the FM band.
    As mentioned, it has a built-in power cord or can take 4xAA batteries.

    These are a few of the cheaper solutions out there. None are absolutely the be all end all solution, but doable.

    I'll leave the more technical and pricey aspects of choices available out there to the real radio enthusiasts here.
    Last edited by Lit Up; 05-17-2008 at 12:01 AM.

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    Flashaholic* Black Rose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    For an emergency radio, I have a Sony ICF-380 that I've had for years. It's a nice and simple 2xAA AM/FM analog radio (no LCD to eat batteries).

    I also have a Uniden BC95XLT scanner that can pick up the weather broadcasts.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    I was always a big fan of Sangean's DT300VW ... AM (above average reception too!), FM (stereo thru headphones), WX Band and TV 2-13. A great feature of this radio is the built in speaker so you don't need headphones. Another great feature is the 90 minute auto shutoff. That way, if you're huddled in your cold dark house during an emergency, listening to the radio and you fall asleep, you won't drain the 2 AAA batteries for nothing. Battery life is great by the way.

    Unfortunately, this radio sells for about $80 thru C Crane, and the warning of previous posters is correct: TV Audio on this radio will NOT work after the switch to digital in Feb 2009. Because of this, you may want to consider a cheaper version that has AM/FM/WX but without the TV audio. I'm hoping that newer radios will come out that can decode the new TV audio, but haven't seen anything like it yet.

    One radio I really like is the Freeplay EyeMax Weather Band version. There are two versions of this radio, if memory serves, and the 'yellow' one is the one with NOAA Emergency reception(the other is SW, I think). This is a wind up radio, from the company that makes the very best wind up radios in the world (far superior to the meager offers of Sony or Eton in this specific genre). If it's been sitting on the shelf for several months, a 30 second wind will give me about 11 minutes of comfortably loud audio ... subsequent windings will result in longer play times as the battery returns to full charge. After several windings, mine played for almost 45 minutes on a 30 second wind-up. I really like the way the WX band selection works. You can 'set' it, then switch back to AM or FM and your WX setting is still available by pushing a button. This is particularly useful since most areas only receive one or two stations, and you won't have to 'search' for it in a pinch after you've been listening to Rush on AM!

    By the way, I'm not associated in any way with Freeplay, but I also own their Summit Digital wind up radio. Another fabulous product, IMHO. It has programmable auto shutoff, and receives AM/FM and some shortwave. Haven't tested it on SW extensively, but AM/FM reception is good. One caveat: if it sits on your shelf and the battery slowly depletes, it loses all your preset stations. Not a big deal for me, since I only listen to a few. No WX band on this one, but it's a nice looking rig. Same story about playing time versus winding time applies as above. In regular use (or after several consecutive uses), play time seems to increase for the same wind up time.

    Lit Up's post has some of my radios too! The small Sony '37 had great AM reception for such a small unit, in my opinion. No speaker though; try googling Sony's SRS-TP1 folding speaker. It's really small, doesn't need batteries and is great for applications where high volume is not necessary (Like Art Bell's melodious voice on AM lulling me to sleep while talking about the latest bigfoot sightings or goings on in Area 51!). And the ICF-36 I found on sale at Target for $15. It's not worth more than $25, you can do better for that much, but for a plain (albeit large) analog radio, I thought $15 was a good price. Also ... I got a couple Coby CX-17's at Big Lots ... AM/FM/WX, speaker, battery powered. Reception ...eh, not the best, but they were like $5! Radio gadget freaks like me can't resist prices like that. CountyComm.com's small shortwaves have been reviewed to be a fair radio for the price as well.

    Good luck, and let us know what you get and how you like it!

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    Flashaholic* Omega Man's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Ha, got ya both beat, I found the Sony ICF36 at my Goodwill unmarked, and talked the guy down to $6 I can get some of my local broadcasts with it, but no weather. On FM it's really good, better than I expected. I wouldn't use the word "small" for it though, it's more the size of a table top radio to me. Small and portable implies it should fit in a pocket or even a shirt pocket, and the ICF36 is too big for that. I would only consider it portable if I were taking it car camping or maybe fishing, but until this thread I thought it ran on C cells, from it's size. I didn't know it had a cutout compartment in the back for storing the power cord either!
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    So... . . all these are receivers. In an emergency what are you going to use to communicate OUT to people?

    I was just thinking about this today - whether trucker's still use CB.

    I'm sure it's just media and hollywood hype whirring around in my head, but it would be ironic that with all our technology, in a real emergency the analog TV's, CB radio, FRS and GMRS and Ham radio is going to be our communication means. Telephone landlines, DSL etc will likely be out of commission or overloaded to the point they cannot be used.

    Receivers for me?
    I've got my Realistic DX-440, my Pro 2026, Pro 2004 and Bearcat 200XLT, some FRS radios, a couple of Sangean UHF radios, 3 - 55 gal water containers, 2 generators, a few inverters, and 4 vehicles to tap from

    Quote Originally Posted by HoopleHead View Post
    i have the "GP-4L" from countycomm.com
    That is a pretty sweet looking radio. How well does the shortwave work in your experience?
    Last edited by Probedude; 05-18-2008 at 03:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    So I placed my GP-4L radio, and a few other goodies from CountyComm (neat stuff there). Later I googled and found this review - not so good results.

    http://www.radiointel.com/review-2005digital.htm

    I should get mine tomorrow to compare with my DX-440, and my cheap Coby SW radio receiver.

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    I really think that portable AM DX radios with with long battery runtimes are the best for any disaster planning short of Armegeddon. A good rig will pick up stations 800-1,000 miles away after dark.

    At the house in New Orleans Mrs Umbra and I listened to AM constantly during our waking hours for six weeks after Katrina. She used a CCRadio (250 hour runtime) and I used a GE Superadio III (400 hours runtime).The day after the storm THERE WERE NO LOCAL STATIONS ON THE AIR -- it was like a bad SciFi movie. The GE and CC had no problem pulling in regional stations even in the daytime. After dark we could get Detroit, Chicago, Denver and many others regularly.

    In six weeks we never fired up the:
    • Sony 2010 with tricked up Kiwa filters
    • Sony Pro 80
    • Sony SW55
    • Kiwa Pocket Loop antenna

    The above gear will all get SW on battery power and even though the Kiwa Pocket Loop has gotten kind of pricy it is a truly great addition to any rig -- AM or SW. It is definately the best portable antenna for use with portable rigs I've used in decades of SWLing with portables.

    As I said in six weeks we never fired up a SW rig but when it was all over we bought another CCRadio and another GE SRIII -- so now we've got two of each set up all the time -- and we use them.
    Last edited by Sub_Umbra; 05-21-2008 at 11:32 PM.

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sub_Umbra View Post
    The above gear will all get SW on battery power and even though the Kiwa Pocket Loop has gotten kind of pricy it is a truly great addition to any rig -- AM or SW. It is definately the best portable antenna for use with portable rigs I've used in decades of SWLing with portables.
    WOW, that is an expensive antenna!

    I was just thinking on the way home from work a couple of days ago about satellite radio. I've got XM radio in my commuter car - it's sort of portable (it's the XM Roady). They advertise an emergency channel on there but I've never switched over to hear what's on it.
    Last edited by Probedude; 05-21-2008 at 11:50 PM.

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    It wasn't nearly so much when I bought mine ~15 years ago.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sub_Umbra View Post
    I really think that portable AM DX radios with with long battery runtimes are the best for any disaster planning short of Armegeddon. A good rig will pick up stations 800-1,000 miles away after dark.

    At the house in New Orleans Mrs Umbra and I listened to AM constantly during our waking hours for six weeks after Katrina. She used a CCRadio (250 hour runtime) and I used a GE Superadio III (400 hours runtime).The day after the storm THERE WERE NO LOCAL STATIONS ON THE AIR -- it was like a bad SciFi movie. The GE and CC had no problem pulling in regional stations even in the daytime. After dark we could get Detroit, Chicago, Denver and many others regularly.

    In six weeks we never fired up the:
    • Sony 2010 with tricked up Kiwa filters
    • Sony Pro 80
    • Sony SW55
    • Kiwa Pocket Loop antenna
    The above gear will all get SW on battery power and even though the Kiwa Pocket Loop has gotten kind of pricy it is a truly great addition to any rig -- AM or SW. It is definately the best portable antenna for use with portable rigs I've used in decades of SWLing with portables.

    As I said in six weeks we never fired up a SW rig but when it was all over we bought another CCRadio and another GE SRIII -- so now we've got two of each set up all the time -- and we use them.
    Better hang on tight to those Super Radios. They we're rebranded as RCA a little while back and now they show "Sold Out" and/or "Discontinued."

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lit Up View Post
    Better hang on tight to those Super Radios. They we're rebranded as RCA a little while back and now they show "Sold Out" and/or "Discontinued."
    That's really too bad. It was unique. Aside from the great AM side it was also the only real FM DX rig I've ever heard of. Lots of people really found that radio useful. Over the years I've bought five of them.
    Last edited by Sub_Umbra; 05-22-2008 at 11:12 AM.

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sub_Umbra View Post
    That's really too bad. It was unique. Aside from the great AM side it was also the only real FM DX rig I've ever heard of. Lots of people really found that radio useful. Over the years I've bought five of them.
    Never had the GE SuperRadio III, but do have two of the previous models. I heard that the III bunches the AM too close together. Non the less they are good radios. I do use the CC Radio more because it is more convenient to use. The speaker on the GE's is excellent. I guess we digress here in that the thread is about small portable radios. Worth another thread on larger format AM/FM's.

    Bill

  18. #18

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    >>So... . . all these are receivers. In an emergency what are you going to use to communicate OUT to people?

    Good question. It would be really cool if you could combine both into a small pocketable device.

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by bmstrong View Post
    >>So... . . all these are receivers. In an emergency what are you going to use to communicate OUT to people?

    Good question. It would be really cool if you could combine both into a small pocketable device.
    I'm only taking this one on because I've seen this question/statement twice in 24 hours.

    DISCLAIMER: I'm not a HAM. I've never been a ham. All of my info, for whatever it's worth, comes from my association on the edge...

    Let me lay out a rationale that has held up for decades in the HAM community -- any HAMS out there just jump in any time and set me straight if I get this wrong. In a nutshell the old doctrine goes like this: recievers are much more hard to fabricate than transmitters are soooo... anyone who has their act together should be able to make a transmitter out of almost anything... That same guy probably couldn't make a reciever...out of almost anything...so...there is an emphisis on having recievers handy.

    RE-READ my above disclaimer before reading any further:

    OK, I'm no expert but think about this -- if you have a reciever and you know that folks are out there and you know they are close you may transmit SOS on RF as simply as hooking wires to each pole of a car battery -- and then just brushing them together in a pattern that sends out an SOS -- or anything else you want to send. It will send out a very broad, inefficient RF signal -- but who cares? The idea is to get the message out and IT WILL DO THAT if help is close enough -- you know that because you do have a reciever, right?

    If the power grid is up there are bunches of ways to inject an emergency RF sigmal into the works with nothing more than your mind and a penknife to cut and strip some wires. BUT YOU REALLY NEED A RECIEVER HANDY TO KNOW WHEN TO SEND YOUR CRUDDY SIGNAL.

    Read my disclaimer again. Do some research. This ain't rocket science. We live in an era where you can mess up so much sensitive equipment with kludged, improvised RF signals that you really never have to worry about having a "disaster transmitter." OK, so now you know.

    DISCLAIMER #2: Everything mentioned above would probably be illegal unless you were faced with an actual emergency. I don't mean to suggest otherwise.
    Last edited by Sub_Umbra; 05-22-2008 at 05:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sub_Umbra View Post
    In a nutshell the old doctrine goes like this: recievers are much more hard to fabricate than transmitters are soooo...
    True, but I was thinking of intelligible communications vs static spelling out S.O.S.

    Probably a moot point in the US to be able to communicate out since if you're really in trouble, someone is going to notice or be within walking distance.

    I commute, been doing it since 1986. There's been a few 'disasters' that has kept me from getting home in a timely manner (landslide, earthquakes, floods, traincars with hydrazine derailed). A few of those times landline and even cellphone communications were down for most of the day.

    I was thinking more of communicating with others not so much for emergencies but to reach family.

    Anyone see "Sudden Impact"? That movie makes me want to buy an off road motorcycle so I can get out or into town in an emergency when all the freeways are gridlocked.

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Probedude View Post
    True, but I was thinking of intelligible communications vs static spelling out S.O.S.

    Probably a moot point in the US to be able to communicate out since if you're really in trouble, someone is going to notice or be within walking distance.

    I commute, been doing it since 1986. There's been a few 'disasters' that has kept me from getting home in a timely manner (landslide, earthquakes, floods, traincars with hydrazine derailed). A few of those times landline and even cellphone communications were down for most of the day.

    I was thinking more of communicating with others not so much for emergencies but to reach family.

    Anyone see "Sudden Impact"? That movie makes me want to buy an off road motorcycle so I can get out or into town in an emergency when all the freeways are gridlocked.
    In that case use your cell phone. When the crap gets really deep use text messages on your cell phone as they will get through when voice won"t. I've already lived through this to the Nth degree -- trust me on this.

    If you want to 'just reach family' in a casual manner in a real emergency you're heading in the wrong direction -- no matter what happens. Casual just won't work.

    If connecting with family in an emergency is your concern you must set up a network where you call (or text) just one relative and then have them call all of the rest of them and tell them that you are OK. Set that network up now. Trust me, I've already been through a catastrophy that overloads the phone networks for weeks. Set up your text net before it hits the fan. Text will get out when nothing else will.

    My stuff about expedient transmitters was for...expedient transmitters. Don't go there if you don't have to.
    Last edited by Sub_Umbra; 05-22-2008 at 11:30 PM.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bullzeyebill View Post
    I guess we digress here in that the thread is about small portable radios. Worth another thread on larger format AM/FM's.

    Bill
    True. Also another thread on what I just started to look into: HD-Radio.
    The HD portables are still not efficient enough with battery life. The chipsets just won't allow it at this time. In any event, pretty cool concept with possibility of one station having multiple streams to offer different genres of music.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sub_Umbra View Post
    That's really too bad. It was unique. Aside from the great AM side it was also the only real FM DX rig I've ever heard of. Lots of people really found that radio useful. Over the years I've bought five of them.
    It's just hard to find a really great radio. You can find a decent or doable one, but it's like everyone just forgot how?

    With JVC; Pioneer; Sony; Alpine; Kenwood and all the others out there, you'd think there's still someone doing it right.
    I looked at Grundig's site the other night and didn't even see the Mini 300 listed on there. All I saw was what looked to be cheap plastic, uninspired radios.
    It seems to be that one or two models of cheap radios along with bookshelf stereos and AM/FM alarm clocks is all you see on store shelves much anymore.

    I guess it's all about the MP3 and iPOD hard drives these days. Which DOES kick the crap out of a portable CD player, I just want more choices out there for portable radios.

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    I think a easy, cheap transmitter could be nothing more than an FRS. They've been around long enough, that I found one 2 years ago at a yard sale for $0.50. And in the same vein, why not CB? You can't find them as easily or cheap in retail stores as FRS, but you have a good chance of being heard in my opinion, I still see signs in my area stating "Police Monitor CB Channel 9".
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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    There's decent chance many of the National Guardsmen responding in the event of a disaster are carrying FRS radios. An FRS radio with good scanning capability will let you find the probably less military sounding chatter then on their official networks.

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Check out this Kaito model. Small, multiband, great reception, and about $35 buy now on ebay.
    Here's a review: http://www.radiointel.com/review-kaitowrx911.htm

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    May I be the only one to mention that the plural of radio is radios, and that the posessive form is radio's (the radio's reception is horrible). OK?

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lit Up View Post
    It's just hard to find a really great radio. You can find a decent or doable one, but it's like everyone just forgot how?

    With JVC; Pioneer; Sony; Alpine; Kenwood and all the others out there, you'd think there's still someone doing it right.
    I looked at Grundig's site the other night and didn't even see the Mini 300 listed on there. All I saw was what looked to be cheap plastic, uninspired radios.
    It seems to be that one or two models of cheap radios along with bookshelf stereos and AM/FM alarm clocks is all you see on store shelves much anymore.

    I guess it's all about the MP3 and iPOD hard drives these days. Which DOES kick the crap out of a portable CD player, I just want more choices out there for portable radios.
    Yes. Big changes in radio...in many ways. I've used tiny Walkman type AM-FM radios since the start of the 80s. I used to really like them. You could even DX with them. For years now I haven't been able to find one that runs on AA cells and it's getting harder and harder to find them equipped for AM. We're still using the tiny Sony SFR-M37Vs and they're good radios but I don't like them as well as the Sony SRF-M40-W, which they replaced.

    The M40 was huge by today's standards but it ran forever on two AAs and had such great ergonomics that I could search, tune and jump from preset to preset without ever taking it out of my coat pocket.

    I'd buy another in a heartbeat...if I could find one. :-(

    Omega Man,

    We use FRS/GMRS radios every night. When our old FRS radios started to poop out I looked long and hard for replacements that would let me use AA NiCD/NiMH cells. I finally bought a pair of Motorola T9500XLR FRS/GMRS radios. I highly recommend them for daily or emergency use. Since they run on AAs they may be used by battery freaks months after the power has gone down. We have ours set up on some of Motorola's own extended paging codes so in theory we should almost never get a page from anyone else -- in our use we haven't. They also have the weather freqs and alert. WX wasn't a factor in the purchase but it is nicely implimented and it doesn't get in the way so that's a plus.

    They were ~$85 for the pair at Rat Shack and I'm pleased with them even though I'll never use the NiMH packs and charger that were included in the price.
    Last edited by Sub_Umbra; 05-23-2008 at 12:42 PM.

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    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    Quote Originally Posted by baterija View Post
    There's decent chance many of the National Guardsmen responding in the event of a disaster are carrying FRS radios. An FRS radio with good scanning capability will let you find the probably less military sounding chatter then on their official networks.
    That's really interesting. That's a good thing to know. Thanks.
    Last edited by Sub_Umbra; 05-23-2008 at 12:35 PM.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Small Portable Radio's?

    A new one from Sangean expected around the middle of June:
    http://www.universal-radio.com/catal...alty/4400.html

    No FM antenna, however.

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