Let’s not get too excited about Doomsday. I know some people were disappointed when nothing happened in Y2K, but if doomsday really does happen, the initial excitement will wear off, reality will set in, and cold, heat, hunger, and thirst will become the new First World Problems. If you do have to bug out, eventually you’ll want to know when it’s over so you can go home; for that, you need a radio.
Kaito KA500 Voyager Emergency Radio
I have long been a fan of the Kaito radios, and I’m ready to recommend the KA500 Voyager. It is a dynamo and solar-powered radio with all the features you need in an emergency situation. You should note that it’s almost impossible to get a full charge from the solar panel alone, except in ideal conditions, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless — it will significantly extend the life of the built-in rechargeable batter pack.
- Comes with a high-quality AC-type brushless generator.
- A solar panel powers the radio by itself and charges the built-in Ni-MH batteries as well, which will run the radio for 12 full hours when fully charged. To maximize the sunlight’s rays, the solar panel is designed to tilt with the sun’s position to receive energy during the daytime.
- On the bottom side of the solar panel is a 5-LED reading lamp that you can use in poorly lit conditions.
- The radio is built with a multifunctional LED flashlight. The superbright LED on the side can be used either as a flashlight or as a red flashing emergency signal.
- The 7-band weather radio precisely gives you weather bands. The weather alert feature enables you to receive the alert signal when a disaster occurs.
- Comes with a number of adapters so you can recharge various cell phones or other small USB-chargeable electronics.
Works using any of six power sources:
- Dynamo cranking power: 120 turns per minute of cranking will power the built-in Ni-MH battery pack with strong current and voltage.
- Solar panel power: Under direct sunlight in ideal conditions, the solar panel will power the radio. Give it a good charge with the dynamo, then use the solar panel for an effective supplemental power source.
- AA batteries: You can use 3 normal AA batteries to run the radio for maximum reception.
- A built-in rechargeable battery pack.
- AC adapter charge from the 3.5 mm jack (optional).
- Charge from a computer via USB port.
- 5-LED reading lamp for camping and emergency use.
- White LED flashlight.
- Red LED blinking light for emergency alert. It’s labeled “SOS,” but that’s a misnomer. It doesn’t actually blink in the Morse pattern, but it’s still useful as a beacon.
- AM: 520-1710 KHz.
- FM: 87.00- 108.00 MHz.
- SW1: 3.20-9.00 MHz.
- SW2: 9.00- 22.00 MHz weather band, 7 standard bands for all stations, PLL crystal control circuit for stable reception.
- Weather alert: To be activated by weather alert signals.
Radio Antenna Hack
Running some wire into a tree and attaching it to your radio antenna can significantly improve reception. This radio covers a good portion of the amateur (Ham) radio band, and with a good antenna you can receive transmissions from thousands of miles away. I used speaker wire, but you can use lighter gauges with no decrease in performance, with the advantage that it’s lighter. I just used what was available. Your antenna will perform best if it is exactly the length of the radio wave at the frequency you’re tuned to, or exactly half or one-quarter of the wavelength. However, even it you’re tuning in to frequencies that don’t match that precisely, a long wire will help a lot more than the built-in antenna. For example, at 10 MHz, radio waves are 40 meters, so one quarter of that is 32.5 feet. I used a 30-foot wire, which is a little short, but still got vastly improved reception.