Snowstorm Relief

Four snowstorms in the past three weeks, accompanied by two multi-day power outages, solidified my resolve to be more prepared next time. Power can go out during summer t-storms just as easily.

We already had the usual camping gear, tac lights, solar powered gadgets, etc.  What we only had one of was a battery powered AM/FM transistor radio, which I used to bring with me to summer camp in the early ’70s.  It was left out in the barn last summer with its batteries in.  Although I managed to clean off enough of the corrosion on the contacts with vinegar to get it going with new batteries, it reminded me that we really could use another radio, or two, that don’t depend upon AC to run, but can use it as long as the power’s on.

We can deal without TV, but being without radio is wrong, considering that the first radios both of us owned that were our own (when we were kids) were crystal radios we assembled ourselves from $3 kits, and plugged into a metal fence with an alligator clip for reception.

Sure, a basic AM/FM battery operated transistor radio can be had for under $10, delivered, but we wanted something bigger than a pocket model, and it had to be able to use AC power as well.  A portable tabletop model that had an AC cord, and a compartment for batteries was in order.

You would not believe what a joy it is to have a five band one out in the barn, where all maintenance/repairs are done on the tractors, and other equipment.  Got a used Emerson for super cheap, delivered, that works like a charm, has great reception, and pretty good sound quality.  Emersons from that era were pretty good.

For other applications, so to speak, I also got Eton/Grundig field radio model for roughly 1/2 the going retail price, although some people try to sell them for 50% over retail.  It’s not nearly as good as my 20+ year old Icom rack model receiver that weighs as much as a bag of wet mulch, but can get almost anything with a proper antenna — AM, FM, SW bands up the wazoo, police, marine, aviation, old cell phone frequencies, etc., but the Eton suits our needs for something portable.

Radios ROCK!

2 thoughts on “Snowstorm Relief

  1. That post reminded me to check the batteries in my emergency radios. A radio is like a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, lantern, you can live without it until you need it, and if you need it, you need it really, really bad. Don’t forget to keep the batteries fresh in your smoke alarm!

    My son gifted me a radio scanner that I leave tuned to National Weather Service. That radio was a big comfort the night of a tornado alert I spendt with my wife camped out in the hallway of the house (we lost a few shingles but one house was destroyed in her sister’s neighborhood).

    Earlier he gifted me an L.L. Bean portable radio with an internal battery recharged from a hand crank generator which can also run from 3 AA batteries. AM/FM/shortwave. Nothing serious but It was a good companion on trips to the old family place on the mountain for camping, ATVing, BBQing, target practice. Bear Hollow is a cell phone dead zone, but we could pick up AM FM and hear weather and NASCAR reports.

    • Three of our camping lanterns have three power options — solar, AA batteries, or hand crank dynamo. The handle broke on one of them, but it still works. The Emerson for the barn has an instant-on weather frequency, in case we need it. Mostly, it’s so my other half can listen to the radio while he chops wood, or does maintenance work on one of the tractors. There are radios that can take input from solar, AC (or AC/DC adaptor), dynamo, and batteries, but from what I’ve read of the reviews, the quality sucks, so I passed on one of those.

      The Eton field radio arrived yesterday. Yikes! When I tuned it to my local 50kw talk radio AM station, I had to turn the RF Gain way down to kill the distortion, but when I did, the sound quality was remarkably good for a portable radio. I bought it used, but the seller shipped it in its original box, with the user manual, which was nice, because setting the clock wasn’t intuitive, like everything else was. I’ll probably bring it with us to Cape May, because our favorite B&B that doesn’t charge extra to bring our dog, doesn’t have clock/radios in any of the guest rooms, and I don’t want to miss filming a sunrise at the lighthouse.

      My only complaint with the Eton, if you can call it that, is that it uses D batteries instead of AA, when it’s not plugged into the AC. Nobody seems to sell D cells in 30 packs like they do AAs for 50 cents apiece, so the cost adds up when you need Ds for several things. Therefore, I’ll only use it on battery power when the AC is out. *shrug*

      Radios are great. I never bothered taking the test to get a ham radio technician’s license, but I did study the training manual cover to cover, and still have it on a bookshelf somewhere. Not much point getting licensed if the only transceiver you have is a handy-talkie, all you want to do is listen, anyway, and don’t want to bother building a tower Yagi in your backyard. For camping, a pair of decent Motorola walkie-talkies with pretty good range can be had for about $35.

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