As we enter tornado season in the midwest and 2007 projected to be a big year for hurricanes on the east coast, Gibberish readers may want to investigate purchasing an emergency radio that does not require AC power or batteries to run. While we have a stockpile of batteries in the Gibberish HQ, it’s worth having an alternative means to power certain devices, a radio being one of them. I purchased and reviewed the Grundig-made Radio Shack emergency radio six months ago and am very pleased with the device.
Redundancy is a big keyword when it comes to disaster preparedness. The Radio Shack unit is in my Montero right now in my car-based readiness kit. That left the house itself without a radio. I figured that if we were in a big storm we’d be close to the house, but having more than one radio around is just the right thing to do. I considered buying some more Radio Shack units but they were back to full retail price. I have been lusting over one of those orange Grundig models, but couldn’t justify the price. Woot.com to the rescue: about a month ago they listed a Excalibur emergency hand crank dynamo radio flashlight combo for $9.99 before shipping. I bought three for $35 shipped.
There are a few interesting things about the Excalibur. It can be powered by four methods: battery, AC power (adapter not included), hand crank, and solar. I have yet to charge the unit via the solar panel. The Excalibur also has a variable-strength flashlight of three or five LED bulbs. It also has a water-resistant storage area underneath the flashlight section.
Unlike the Radio Shack emergency radio I own, the Excalibur does not receive shortwave. The Excalibur only has your typical single tuning knob, not two like the Radio Shack model. This is probably okay since the Excalibur only gets AM and FM. There is a headphone jack in the back of the unit should you need to monitor a SHTF situation while others are sleeping or listen to Nickleback without embarrassing yourself. Battery power is supplied by three AA batteries, not included.
The Excalibur manual said to expect a run time of twenty minutes for every one minute spent cranking. I turned the hand crank for the suggested minimum of three minutes. It was more work to turn the Excalibur crank than the Radio Shack crank. If you’re stuck in a bunker all day this might be the only exercise you get. Enjoy it. Like the Radio Shack unit, my actual runtime was a lot longer than advertised. Initial run-time was two hours and twenty four minutes, at varying volume from “indoor voice” to however loud was necessary to listen to the unit in the shower. The tuner isn’t as good as the Radio Shack unit and the speaker isn’t as crisp, but who cares when you’re in a hurricane, amirite?
I am pleased with the Excalibur units. Given their role to sit in my truck (so the RS can come inside) or hide in a go-bag, I think they were a bargain at less than $12 shipped each. You can buy these on eBay for a similar price if you’re willing to suffer through an auction, or for $30 from Amazon.com or similar reputable e-tailers.
I wish the crank was easier to turn and that the unit had shortband capabilities, but I’m not going to expect much from a $12 radio.
Excalibur Forever Flashlight emergency radio, I wind up
Four out of five STFU mugs!