Emergency AM/FM radio

justsomeguy

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Ladies and gentlemen,

I agree with all who have recommended the Grundig crank radios. I have one of each.

I also have an Eton (grundig) S350DL that I keep by my bed and use at bedtime. It has great sound either via it's large speaker or over phones.

What makes it good as an emergency radio is that it can run on wall power or using D cells or AA cells. Both sets of batteries are in the radio at the same time. The D cells will run it for way over 6 months. If it happens that they are going dead just as an emergency comes....just switch to the AA batteries. I use Lithiums for the long shelf life, long runtime and because they don't leak like Alkalines sometimes do. The AA's will run the radio for months.

Prices have been coming down, shop around and find it for somewhere between $50 and 100.

http://shop.npr.org/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10051&storeId=10051&productId=12876&langId=-1

For pocket size I like this one. Uses AA...

http://www.cabelas.com/prod-1/0031812619752a.shtml

Although not shown, it comes with a padded case and earbuds.

Steve
 
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paulr

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Alkalines seem most likely to leak in hot weather, so I'd say leave your block of them in the fridge.

Solar chargers are nice for remote setups but probably useless for bad-weather emergencies (not much sunlight).

Crank radios use rechargeable batteries which eventually crap out.

I think your best bet is a regular battery-powered radio and spare cells in the fridge.
 

TinderBox (UK)

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more for UK, CPF members.

nice little FM-AM 2xAA radio with headphones.

cannot be robbed for only £3.49 each.

I bought two, one silver and one black.

06_5298_b.jpg


http://www.lidl.co.uk/uk/home.nsf/pages/c.o.20060904.p.Pocket_Radio.ar10

regards.
 

LowBat

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I decided I want to see all of natures fury on the color screen, so I have a splash proof pocket LCD TV that takes 4 AA's which I can recharge with solar if nothing else is available. I'd also have to exhaust my supply of over a hundred AA alkaline cells before all my electronics relied solely on rechargeable cells. I'm assuming that television will still be broadcasting of course. Maybe I should keep an AM/FM around as a backup.
 

Sharpdogs

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I keep a Grundig in my box of power failure/emergency supplies. I have not used it much but they have a good reputation.
 

Phaserburn

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I have one of the Countycomms, the one with the manual tuning and SW. The FM isn't bad, but the AM reception is terrible. Anyone know a radio of similar size that can actually recieve AM stations? Might as well forget about the SW in this one. I just want decent AM/FM reception.
 

eluminator

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paulr

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I have the manual tuning Countycomm and the AM seems to work ok in mine (i.e. about as well as normal for a pocket radio). Maybe something is wrong with yours. Or if you're in the boonies and need super-sensitive AM reception, try a GE SuperRadio with an external antenna.
 

roknrandy

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I've had a sony ICF-M410V for many years and it has never failed me. Good sound and great reception. AM/FM/TV/NOAA. It uses 3 AA's and has a head phone jack.
 

Sub_Umbra

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robertl999 said:
We all have plenty of light for emergencies and blackouts. But what about AM/FM radios. Any use AA batteries that we all have available?
<OT>
Forgive me. IMO it's a mistake to base your emergency radio choice on cell type alone. If things get bad enough your radio(s) may be your only contact with the civilized world. There are only two really serious contenders for emergency AM/FM radios: The GE Superadio III and the CCRadio Plus. It is nearly impossible to buy better DX rigs at any price. ~$60 and $165 respectively. Either one will put you in good stead.

If you wake up one morning and find that you have been hit by something so bad that it knocked out every single local AM and FM station in your area you will be glad you thought about that ahead of time. I was. Just get the best -- it doesn't cost that much. The GE SR III will run +400 hours on one set of batteries -- no big deal. The CCRadio Plus will run +250 hours on one feeding. We're not talking about stocking a whole room full of D cells...

When the going gets weird, the weird DX.
</OT>
 
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justsomeguy

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

Making any cheap AM radio into a DX (long distance) monster is easy with an easy to build Tuned Loop Antenna. A pocket size one can be made using several ferrite antenna rods and the tuning capacitor from some junk AM radios and a couple of feet of wire. The antenna inductively couples to the small ferrite rod antenna in the radio you are using.

To learn how loop antennas work, read the loop articles at Werner Funkenhausers Whamlog site....

http://www.dobe.com/wts/funk/page6.html#simple

Steve
 

Sub_Umbra

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...Making any cheap AM radio into a DX (long distance) monster is easy with an easy to build Tuned Loop Antenna. A pocket size one can be made using several ferrite antenna rods and the tuning capacitor from some junk AM radios and a couple of feet of wire. The antenna inductively couples to the small ferrite rod antenna in the radio you are using.

To learn how loop antennas work, read the loop articles at Werner Funkenhausers Whamlog site....

http://www.dobe.com/wts/funk/page6.html#simple
Just adding an antenna to any old AM radio can only produce limited improvement. The key to DX reception in the Medium Wave band is not more powerful signal but the ablility to null out unwanted signals so you may discern what you actually want to hear. A radio with a built in crappy antenna coupled to a bigger antenna sounds like it should work but the problem is that no matter how good the add-on antenna is, it's always going to be fighting the crap that the radio's own antenna is picking up -- and it won't really work that well. It's not so much that you always need more signal as much as you need to dump the interfering signals. The folks selling add-on antennas won't tell you that.

What is needed is a good ferrite antenna in the neighborhood of 8" in length ( like the GE SR III or CCRadio Plus. These antennas may provide the deep nulls necessary to notch out interfering signals for superior DX reception.

Sad but true.
 

justsomeguy

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Well....Sub Umbra, I guess I agree with some of that but not with most. People have been using inductively coupled air core loops like most of the ones at the Werner Funkenhauser site since the beginning of radio.

Many, maybe even most, serious MWBCB (midwave broadcast band = AM radio) radio DX listeners use them regularly. Most are homebrew and cost very little but some are expensive and amplified like the Kiowa and Palomar ones. The commonest commercial one is the Select-a-tenna I guess.

All loop antennas are directional. All loop antennas attenuate (reduce) the signal on the sides of the loop and bring in most signal from the direction the turns of the loop are pointing.

All portable MWBCB radios I know off use an internal ferrite loopstick antenna. That's why the radio will get louder when you turn it so the antenna faces the signal. The longer (and fatter to a lesser extent) the ferrite rod and winding, the more sensitive it will be. I think the maximum practical length for a rod is about 12-15 inches, depending on details of construction.

Since this thread is about small portables, I suggest making a bundle of ferrite rods from junk radios bound together with tape so that the rod is made of enough rods to be 3 rods "thick" and about 6" long. The inductor (coils of wire around the rod) should be spaced to cover the whole rod and the number of turns should be enough to make the required inductance to match the junk tuning capacitor that is being used. That takes some trial an error. The whole thing can be put into some plastic tubing to make a neat job. PVC with end caps works OK. The tuning knob can be on one of the end caps. This will be a much more sensitive antenna than one 1-2" long ones like most small portables have and still be able to fit into a backpack or pocket.

Antennas like I describe have the most benefit during the day because MWBCB signals propigate better at night.

I have a GE Super Radio and it is very good; however, even it can benefit from a larger loopstick or aircore loop. The internal and external antennas can be placed at different angles to one another to achieve improved nulls. Since the loops are inductively coupled they can be placed further apart to decrease coupling in case of overload.

Anyway....just some ideas.

BTW, I was spelling everything out instead of using jargon so that other readers could get it better not specifically for you.

Steve
 

Sub_Umbra

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justsomeguy said:
...Many, maybe even most, serious MWBCB (midwave broadcast band = AM radio) radio DX listeners use them regularly. Most are homebrew and cost very little but some are expensive and amplified like the Kiowa and Palomar ones. The commonest commercial one is the Select-a-tenna I guess.

All loop antennas are directional. All loop antennas attenuate (reduce) the signal on the sides of the loop and bring in most signal from the direction the turns of the loop are pointing....
I've bought or built most of the antenna types you mention and used them for years. My all time favorite is the Kiwa Pocket Loop.

Of course they are directional -- I said as much in my post. What makes them work are the deep nulls they provide for blocking signals. The truth is that the cheap antenna on most radios is not very directional. That means that it picks up many things that you don't want to hear. Any add-on antenna will do nothing to reduce the noise brought into the radio by it's own cruddy antenna, no matter how good an add-on antenna it is. The only way to get the most out of an add-on antenna for AM is to use it with something like a car radio that has no antenna of it's own. I've done that with fairly good results, but there are very few AM radios without built in antennas. I know of none in the class you mention.

Another reason that just any cheap AM radio with an antenna added can not perform like a GE SR III is because of the latter's design which incorporates multiple tuned IF stages in both AM and FM. That is nothing to sneeze at.

For the price of a GE SR III (or even quite a few times the price of one) there is no way to equal it's performance with an ordinary AM radio and ANY add-on antenna and there's no reason to except for hobbyists, but this isn't a thread about the hobby. It is about emergency radios and I'll have to stand by my advice in my first post to not choose an emergency radio based on cell type alone. We can disagree on this -- It' OK. :D
 

Icebreak

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I was reading this thread last night and decided to take apart a 40 year old radio I found at my parent's house and see if I could make it work again. I didn't have contact cleaner so I used rubbing alcohol to clean things up.

It works. Panasonic RF - 590. 4 C cells or AC. Been having some fun with it.

P1010043Medium.jpg


Now I want to get one or two that have been discussed here.
 

Colinaty

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We all have plenty of light for emergencies and blackouts. But what about AM/FM radios. Any use AA batteries that we all have available?
 

LEDAdd1ct

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A great 1x AA radio is the Sony SRF-59 FM/AM Radio Walkman (with headphones) around $16-$18. Battery is supposed to last (I would say, at least) 100-140 hours.


The '59 is a bare bones basic 1x AA analog radio that is very similar to an earlier version that I have used for around 10 years while mowing lawns and working. I have gone through a dozen worn out (and torn out) head phone cords and finally had the headphone socket simply wear out. Radio is sensitive and sounds good. I purchased three more for emergencies.

-Bill

As has been mentioned earlier, if you can use a radio that requires headphones, the Sony srf-59 pocket radio can't be beat. Good AM and FM reception and excellent sound, and it runs a long time on one AA cell. The Sony pocket radios use a proprietary IC and they won't give it to OEMs.
http://www.circuitcity.com/rpsm/oid/55289/rpem/ccd/productDetailReview.do
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00006JQ06?v=glance

I would like to add to this by stating the Sony SRF-59 would be my choice for an emergency AM/FM radio. One of my other hobbies is FM radio, and because of its diminutive size, long battery life, and high sensitivity, the SRF-59 gets my vote as well. Three caveats:

1) Selectivity on this unit is not the best, so in crowded FM markets, you will have trouble separating stations. However, in an emergency, you want to get something, and most likely will not care what or from where.

2) The tuning dial is very, very small, and can be difficult to place precisely where you want it. Patience and a steady hand, though not required, are recommended.

3) Never put an alkaline battery in your SRF-59 for long-term storage! You will return to a leaked cell and potentially ruined receiver. An Energizer AA lithium will work beautifully in this application, protecting your unit from alkaline puke and giving a very long runtime off one single AA battery.

Google "SRF-59" and you will find plenty of places to buy them. Do not pay more than $15, or you are getting ripped off. At this low price, there is every reason to pick one up and keep it handy for work, travel, play, or "you never know..." type situations. The fact it requires just one AA is truly icing on the cake.

Enjoy!


LEDAdd1ct
 
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PhotonWrangler

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If you're using a smaller analog transistor radio, you can power it with this solar panel from Harbor Freight. It provides just enough current in bright sunlight to power a radio using headphones. Two of these wired in parallel will provide enough current to drive a small loudspeaker with decent volume.
 

lunchboxtheman

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I've been considering purchasing a good emergency radio. I had one back in the day that had TV bands on it but I've since misplaced it.

Something I've been thinking about that I can't find any solid information on is emergency radios that can receive the new digital TV stations. The old analog bands no longer work and I can't find an emergency radio that will pick up the new digital signals. Maybe I'm looking for the wrong thing though. Can any of you radio gurus shed some light?
 

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