Sunday, May 22, 2011

Old Time Radio

Even wonder if that old radio you threw into an ammo can and put in a corner of the basement still works?

Well that thought occurred to me the other day so I dug'em out and gave'em a try. There were two failures.

I'm not going to go into the features of these old radios beyond noting what did and didn't work after a dozen (dozens in most cases) years of storage in a cool dry place because none of them are manufactured today which means you couldn't buy one if you wanted to.

The point of all this being that if you store your preps properly (generally that means in a cool dry place) they'll be in condition to help you in an emergency.

My little test determined that even out of date equipment will work if it's been stored properly and IF you've provided the necessary accessories.

Suntech solar am/fm radio receiver model #810405 (no longer made)
( Suntech seems to have moved on from cheap handheld solar radios to "Commercial, Residential and Utility-Scale" solar panels. I could find no hand held radios on their site nor solar panels that looked to be less than three feet to a side.)

I dusted it off and took the old radio out into the back yard where the Velcro attached solar panel did indeed power the radio in both AM and FM. Of course it took me a minute to read the instruction sheet and figure out that the palm sized solar panel needed to be plugged into the radio before anything would work.

One other thing, this is a daylight radio only. The instant I covered the solar panel the sound died. Although I should note that the instruction sheet said the radio would work if a light bulb was held directly over the solar panel. It didn't say what wattage was required and I haven't tried it.

TEC Ranger-2 has a hand crank generator and an adaptor jack (not included) to charge batteries but I couldn't test that function. Dials on the detachable water resistant front cover allow "foul weather" control of power on/off, tuning, volume and flashlight and they all still worked. The AM/FM/Weather bands all worked when the crank was turned.

I didn't test to see if the built in battery would still hold a charge because that feature would only be beneficial if I intended to use the built in flashlight without turning the crank and I've no intention of using a two handed shoebox sized flashlight when I have a half dozen real flashlights.

DAK model MR-101S receiver with FM stereo, SW1 (short wave 2.3M Hz – 6.2 MHz, SW2 (short wave 7.1 MHz – 21.85 MHz and MW (medium wave band) 530 kHz – 1610 kHz

This is the only radio I'd stored with batteries. Wisely I'd put them in a plastic sandwich bag so the corroding of one of the three batteries didn't ruin this fine radio.

Unwisely I'd failed to remember that this radio requires four, not three, batteries.

Note to self: When storing batteries for electrical gear be sure to have enough plus spares and be sure they'll fit. Oh, and store the batteries in a separate container.

With four new batteries I tried the "Auto Scan" on. MW, SW1, SW2 & FM. All four channels locked onto stations although many were unreadable (probably do to distance and time of day).

TRS 455 40-Channel CB Radio Base w/ microphone and manual. At least one Internet source says this is a "tube type" radio so it might survive EMP better than the others. I've got the antenna for it but…

Unfortunately the case requires a six pronged power cord which I seem to have stored somewhere else and cannot now find.

Translation: It's a large heavy out of date doorstop. Last I heard CB'ers were going to Single-sideband and have probably moved on to something else by now so even though an investment in time and money might bring the old TRS 455 out of retirement I'll pass on this one.

Realistic TRC-427 mobile CB radio w/ microphone. I didn't get far vetting this one. Although I have two "whip" antennas and one antenna mount for it I'd forgotten one minor little detail – I'd sold the other half of the unit's under dash mount along with the pickup truck it had been mounted in. Someone with the right electronic skills might be able to jerry rig something together and make it work, but I ain't that guy. Also I couldn't find the wire that goes from the antenna to the radio so that's another bit of jerry rigging for someone to do.

The technology of both the TRS 455 and TRC-427 has been replaced with smaller, more portable units and I heard there were enthusiasts who like to play with these antiques so I took the old swaybacks down to a local radio club and gave them away.

So, as Shego the evil sexy sidekick on the Kim Possible show used to say to the evil Dr. Drakken after a (failed) mission, "What have we learned?"

1. Radios store well in a cool dry place.
2. Electronics become obsolete quickly but still may be useful.
3. Batteries don't store well.
4. Solar or crank powered radios can get along without batteries.
5. Solar charging units for batteries extend a radio's usefulness.
6. Be sure to store all manuals, parts and accessories with the main unit.
7. Periodically check your preps!

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

Contact Lenses in the Field?
The US Army forbids its soldiers from wearing contact lenses in the field noting that "Vision ready is mission ready."

(Translation from Milspeak to civilian: when you run out of cleaning fluid for your contact lenses a pair of current prescription eyeglasses could keep you from making a spectacle of yourself in front of that band of looters you mistakenly thought were the neighbors.

According to DA PAM 40-506 "Contact lenses will not be worn during basic training, field exercises, gas chamber exercises, deployments, or combat."

So what's bunch of Army red tape got to do with you, a civilian?

Just this: TEOTWAWKI & WTSHTF events are likely to be very much like basic training or combat.
As the US Army puts it: "Field deployment = Unfriendly environment" pointing out that the dirt, dust and mud of field conditions contribute to poor hygiene which makes it difficult to keep your hands clean during the extended hours of continuous operations.

"Extended hours of continuous operations" Hummmmm sounds like what you'd expect in the wake of a When The $#!t Hits The Fan event to me.

WTSHTF aside it's unlikely you'll be able to maintain and use contact lenses day in and day out in an EOTWAWKI situation. At some point you'll have to decide between bare eyes and eyeglasses.

That's assuming, of course, that you had the foresight to have a pair of current prescription spectacles made before the balloon went up.

Also remember one of the mantras of our beloved Navy Seals (Yay SEAL Team 6!) is, “One is none and two is one.” so I have a spare pair made and keep the old prescription glasses around.

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