Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)


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A few months ago, after admitting to ourselves that while my wife had a decent stash of preparedness stuff in her car, we were pitifully under prepared in the Get out of Dodge scenario, we spent some money to jump start ourselves.  One of the things we purchased back then was an Eton Microlink FR160 American Red Cross Radio.  I've been wanting to do a writeup on it for a while, and finally put in the homework this weekend to make it so. 

Yes, Eton's website has better pictures, but mine give it scale.  I guess I could have used something more menacing for scale, but the pudding is what was handy.  Weight on their website is listed at 8.5 ounces, or just slightly more than 2 pudding cups.  

My wife and I previously owned a larger Eton, the FR 500 I believe it was.  I was very happy with the quality of the FR 500, and had great trust going with a more compact model for our bug out kit.  

I was not disappointed.  Quality and ruggedness seem to be good for this radio.  The speaker works fine...your not going to use it for hosting a block party, but it's fine for listening to music while playing on the computer.  If you are worried about keeping it stealthy while listening for the news during a more...fluid situation, there is a jack for ear phones. This particular model has AM, FM and the 7 NOAA Weather Channels. 

The flashlight feature when fully charged, is a decent flashlight.  It's not 'tactical level' brightness, but it works for lighting up a room or a stairwell, reading a map, or finding something else in your backpack. 

For power options, the radio has both a solar power, and a hand crank dynamo.  If I could change one thing about this radio, I would add a power jack.  The FR 500 didn't have the solar power, but it had a DC Adapter Jack.  I miss it.  

Yesterday, I set the radio out on my daughters southern facing balcony, and moved it twice to keep it pointed at the sun.  That adds up to right around 8 hours of direct sunlight on the solar panel.  With the radio on a moderate volume, that juice lasted about 4.5 hours.  

Today, I sat down and cranked the dynamo handle for a timed 5 minutes.  I can't even begin to estimate what RPM I was going at...it was a comfortable, not-break-a-sweat pace...for a WAG let's say 180-240 R.P.M.  For this effort I was rewarded with 64 minutes of sound from the speakers.  

One thing I have noticed, and I'm not sure it's a voltage issue of the charge or what, is that when using the solar panel, you do not get 100% flashlight brightness.  It's bright enough to keep you from tripping over something, but it isn't light up the room bright. 

All in all, for the $35 range, I think this is a good item.  However, for $10-15 more, you can get the Eton Scorpion, which looks even more rugged, has a BOTTLE OPENER FOR BEER, AND has a DC power jack, meaning I don't need to make the girls crank the dynamo just so I can listen to the NOAA weather channels while I try to fall asleep. 

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