Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Emergency Gadgets Reviewed

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 9 years ago | from the powerless-to-resist dept.

Communications 422

Carl Bialik writes "When power lines go down, hand-cranked radios and standalone cellphone chargers could come in handy. Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg reviews emergency gadgets, including a $50 radio that picks up TV audio and gets 35 minutes of power from a 30-second crank. Of course, Mossberg also offers the caveat that these gadgets could be rendered useless 'should the communications infrastructure itself go down.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Useful emergency gadget (4, Funny)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615181)

Fire extinguisher. You know, for when the servers catch fire during the slashdotting.

My Mossberg emergency item... (5, Funny)

east coast (590680) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615183)

It doesn't have a handcrank but it has a pump and a trigger.

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (5, Funny)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615253)

And a point & click interface!

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (4, Funny)

Ruprecht the Monkeyb (680597) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615406)

If it just goes 'click', you've got a problem...

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (3, Funny)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615511)

That's when you use plan "B"

If Dawn of the Dead is any good guide, then propane tanks and flares make a good plan "B"

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (5, Insightful)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615261)

Actually more insightful than funny. It disturbs me that during natural disasters, a few people go nuts and start robbing, raping, killing, etc... The cops can't or won't do anything - it really pissed me off during the LA riots when the cops just drove by the mob that was kicking the shit out of that trucker.

In short, it never ceases to amaze me how humanity devolves during disasters and make a bad situation even worse.

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (5, Insightful)

dougmc (70836) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615435)

it really pissed me off during the LA riots when the cops just drove by the mob that was kicking the shit out of that trucker.
I vaguely remember what you're referring to, but not the specifics ...

But it doesn't matter. Police, firemen and similar people are generally trained to take care of #1 first, not to be a hero. (Now, many people do disregard this and do dangerous things, but they're usually disciplined afterwards, assuming they live.)

If you've got two police officers in a car, and you see a very angry mob beating somebody, intervening immediately is not usually the smartest thing to do. You'd be putting yourself into extreme danger, and may in fact make things worse for the person being beaten.

A much smarter response would be to stay back and call it in and get lots of reinforcements, cops in riot gear, and THEN you can go in. When you're ready, not before. If you're going to enter a battle, make sure it's a battle you're likely to win. If you're not planning to win, don't enter.

Individuals respect cop's authority. Even large crowds generally respect police. But an angry mob? No way would two smart cops do anything about that on their own beyond getting reenforcements.

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13615469)

Yeah, clearly the only solution is to add more guns.

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (4, Insightful)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615544)

It disturbs me that during natural disasters, a few people go nuts and start robbing, raping, killing, etc..
It should disturb you that the mayor of NOLA sent the police and national guard door to door confiscating all the legally owned firearms in an extremely misguided and probably illegal effort to quell the violent outbreak of anarchy.

Private citizens were stripped of their ability to protect themselves by the very people who admitted they were unable to protect anyone. And since it's been very popular to blame racism for everything else that's gone poorly in NOLA, it appears that the local government doesn't think poor black folk can be trusted with guns.

Emergency item: power generator (3, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615338)

When searching for info for my parents who were concerned about losing their reef tank when Rita hits and takes out the power, I ran into a page discussing how you can hook up a car battery to run an old UPS. It got me wondering - couldn't you hook up, in the same manner, a UPS to a car battery that is still hooked up inside a car, and run the car so that it's alternator basically acts like a generator and your UPS as the inverter? Sounds like it might be an easy way to make a portable generator. Aren't alternators usually capable of up to 800 watts or so?

Re:Emergency item: power generator (3, Funny)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615383)

...or you could just buy an inverter for about $50.

If you have a Pontiac Vibe or Toyota Matrix (same car, different shell) you have a 110V outlet on the dash already (100W Max).

Re:Emergency item: power generator (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615436)

An entire UPS will cost you that much, which contains an inverter in addition to a battery ;). UPSs with their battery dead are often treated as little more than trash. Plus, a UPS is a reasonably common household item, and can be bought at your local Best Buy/Circuit City/Radio Shack/et al.

What percent of people have a Pontiac Vibe or Toyota Matrix? Most cars just have the cigarette lighter.

Re:Emergency item: power generator (2, Informative)

Riddlefox (798679) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615564)

Most of those places sell power inverters, too. I bought a 400W one at Wal-Mart for $20, I think. Just plugs into your cigarette adapter.. I use it to run my laptop during cross country road trips.

Re:Emergency item: power generator (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615408)

Heavy duty alternators can dump upwards of 200 amps. 200 amps at 12 volts DC gives you 2.4kW. So yeah, 800W is feasable. Just don't forget all the other crap your car's electrical system is running.

I have seen some adventurous people use the alternator in their Jeep/Offroad vehicles as DC welders to make emergency repairs.

Anyway, if the UJPS uses a 12v battery system then I don't see why it couldn't work. I've thought about it myself... just fuse it at 25A to be safe.
=Smidge=

Re:Emergency item: power generator (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615473)

Perhaps you missed it - the parent was talking about a gun, not a UPS. I think you clicked "reply" instead of the "new post" link at the top of the page. :)

I suppose I'll respond anyway, though, since I mustve marked you as a friend for a reason... The alternators are typically rated at 60 to 120 amps at 14.4 volts and a few thousand RPMs, and therefore are capable of 800-1700 watts. An easier way to make a portable AC power source would probably be to just buy a commonly available power inverter - they're not really expensive anymore. If you wanna make X-treme To The Max power, look at the same places that cater to the four-wheel off-road crowds (the real ones, not the poseurs who buy an SUV because they prefer to have extra mass making it even harder to get their can't-drive-in-the-snow butts out of the ditch they inevitably end up in, since four spinning tires are even worse than one or two, or because they don't realize that SUVs are just minivans with a truck hood). The same people that make engine-driven welders also make engine-driven generators that produce actual useful levels of A/C power.

Using a UPS wouldn't be such a great idea, mostly since the UPS batteries inside aren't neccesarily 12V (or 14.4V, which is what your alternator *should* be putting out normally). Running the input side of the UPS with screwy voltages is apt to produce undesirable results. Nevermind that a typical UPS costs more and is generally not rated for a whole lot of output...

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13615382)

Let me guess... a penis pump? Hmm, yeah... I can see why that would be an emergency item.

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615403)

How does that old saying go?

I may not like guns, but if everyone else in the neigborhood has one then I want the biggest one I can get (or something like that).

I don't hunt and am not a gun fanatic, and my feelings on gun control are pretty lukewarm either way. But I could see myself buying a good ol' shotgun at some point if for no other reason than self protection.

As another posted mentioned, the whole Katrina fiasco goes to prove how vicious people can be. Rioting, murdering, assaulting a police station, raping... it was "nucking futs" out there.

Lord knows I wouldn't be one of the aggressors, but a guy's gotta protect himself.

Fortunately I live in a geographically stable region and in the suburbs. So god willing I never have to go through what they did.

So the most I'll ever probably get is a gas-powered generator

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (1)

FatRatBastard (7583) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615451)

I don't hunt and am not a gun fanatic, and my feelings on gun control are pretty lukewarm either way. But I could see myself buying a good ol' shotgun at some point if for no other reason than self protection. ...

Fortunately I live in a geographically stable region and in the suburbs. So god willing I never have to go through what they did.


Unfortunatly (in the case of a disaster) I live in the District. Think of it as "all of the corruption of NOLA but with none of the parties." And to top it off they've banned handguns for "the citizen's protection." Thankfully, you can still own a shotgun (although its supposed to be stored broken down, with the shells in another location), even if you have to jump through a million hoops to get one.

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615496)

I feel the same way you do. There are alot of people who fetishize guns but I don't discount them out of hand.

One bit of advice would be not to focus on getting the biggest gun so much as taking some time to practice with it so you are comfortable firing it and could actually hit something if you needed to.

Re:My Mossberg emergency item... (1)

the arbiter (696473) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615515)

Living in the suburbs merely means you are a stationary target, one who has goodies and resources that the bad guys might want.

A Mossberg 500 with the 18" "riot" barrel is a mere $219, and that's here in California where the prices are highest. It's not that much money (a lot less than that generator you've been eyeing). Some good old-fashioned OO buckshot runs about 4 dollars for five rounds. Get fifty rounds and go down to your local range and have someone show you how to use the thing so you won't blow your own head off. Get another fifty rounds and put them with the shotgun in a locked case. Take the gun to the range twice a year so that you don't forget how to use it.

I hope as well that you would never need it, but you just don't know these days. For me, it was a bit of money and time that was well worth the investment.

That's revolutionary! (5, Funny)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615189)

After thirty seconds of cranking I'm usually asleep for thirty-five minutes!

Sorry, I couldn't resist ;)

Re:That's revolutionary! (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615363)

After thirty seconds of cranking I'm usually asleep for thirty-five minutes!

Just wait until you see the Emergency iPod, with a crank!

hear your favorite tunes under the most dire of circumstances

TV on Radio (4, Informative)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615194)

As anyone who has lived in the 3rd world can tell you, you can pick up TV on ordinary FM radios it is a matter of tuning it to the right frequency. I have seen these things in Asia for years.

Re:TV on Radio (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615209)

The TV over FM isn't what's important. It's the hand crank that is. Thirty five minutes of power from thirty seconds of hand cranking is a pretty good deal.

Re:TV on Radio (1)

Proc6 (518858) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615464)

Of course what they don't mention is the crank requires you to be able to benchpress 350.

Re:TV on Radio (5, Informative)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615475)

As anyone who has lived in the 3rd world can tell you, you can pick up TV on ordinary FM radios it is a matter of tuning it to the right frequency. I have seen these things in Asia for years.

This is 100% dependent on the frequency structure in the country in which you are located. To do this with an "ordinary" FM radio in the US, you can only pick up channel 6, at 87.75MHz (with 87.7 being close enough). If you have one of the Japanese radios that has extended coverage to do both the Japanese 72-93MHz FM and the American/European 88-108MHz FM bands, then you can also get audio from US TV stations on channels 4 (75.75MHz) and 5 (81.75MHz).

There are other radios out there that have got TV audio capability on them. They frequently only cover channels 2-13 because it is easier to build a VHF than a UHF radio.

For reference, the frequencies are as follows:

Channels 2-6: 59.75, 65.75, 75.75, 81.75, 87.75 (note the gap betwen 3 and 4 is 10MHz, not 6MHz as elsewhere)

Channels 7-13: 179.75, 185.75, 191.75, 197.75, 203.75, 209.75, 215.75

Channels 14-69: 475.75, 481.75, 487.75, etc, every six MHz up to 805.75

Note also that frequencies within any vacant TV channels in the channel 14-20 range (470-512MHz) may also be licenced to business or public safety two-way radio users, especially in larger metro areas.

Last note, which I am providing to explain the huge gap between frequencies: the structure of a TV channel is this: It is 6MHz wide. The audio is 5.75MHz from the bottom of the channel, and uses the upper .5MHz of the channel (that is, 5.75MHz +/- .25MHz). The video is at 1.25MHz from the bottom of the channel to 5.5MHz from the bottom of the channel. Below the 1.25MHz point is cruft called a Vestigial Side Band. For example, on channel 2, 54.00-55.25 is cruft, 55.25 is the video carrier, 55.25 to 59.5 is video, 59.5 to 60.0 is audio, 59.75 is the audio carrier.

Of course! (5, Funny)

CorruptMayor (915031) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615199)

Compact Power Systems also introduced a product called the iRecharge, a rechargeable portable battery that fits snugly around your iPod, iPod mini or iPod shuffle giving the iPod and iPod mini 12 hours of extra play time and the iPod shuffle 40 extra hours.

I mean, in an emergency, I want my iPod recharged!

Re:Of course! (1)

kkek (916245) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615260)

Compact Power Systems also introduced a product called the iRecharge, a rechargeable portable battery that fits snugly around your iPod, iPod mini or iPod shuffle giving the iPod and iPod mini 12 hours of extra play time and the iPod shuffle 40 extra hours.

"The iRecharge for iPod and iPod mini is sold for $80 in a Value Pack with a disposable iPod Cellboost, belt clip and a leather carrying case."

So during a hurricane, I can spend $80 to listen to my iPod for another 12 hours. Thats $6.67 an hour to listen to music as I watch my house and city getting destroyed in front of my eyes. Sounds like a great product, I'm sure it will sell!

Re:Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13615380)

Well duh! You listen to the podcast of the last major emergency that hit your area.

Re:Of course! (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615558)

Well if I'm going to die, I want to die listening to my favorite songs.

But that really puts it in the same category of "emergency" gear as cyanide tablets and peril sensitive sunglasses.

Re:Of course! (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615560)

A friend of mine is currently working in Afghanistan. Before he left, a bunch of us put in money to buy him an iPod for the trip.

Since going there, he has been through some rough moments during some car trips (seeing parts of the road blow up, for example) and has been very thankful for the iPod as a way to escape these moments.

How difficult can it be? (3, Funny)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615208)

The crank radios were pretty easy to set up and use, which is a relief for anyone who might buy them and not learn how to use them until actually necessary

I don't see many people during a disaster, finding the manual, and trying to find out how to use the power switch - "Hmmmm, now how do use the on switch?"

Re:How difficult can it be? (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615525)

I don't see many people during a disaster...

Come on. Everybody has their priorities, especially under duress like an emergency.

1) Electronic gadgets must be powered on.
2) Food
3) Water
4) Safety of yourself and others

Get with the program!

Re:How difficult can it be? (1)

Fancia (710007) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615531)

They're talking about using the cranks to generate power, not pressing the on switch.

Anyone? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13615212)

Anyone have a hand-crankable EMP?

Limited Usefulness Lifespan (5, Insightful)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615218)

The $50 radio that picks up TV audio will be useless when the mandatory switch to digital OTA broadcasts occurs. (Unless something interesting will be broadcast on those frequencies after that point.)

Re:Careful what you post... (1)

Gramaton Cleric (853219) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615415)

Be careful what you post on Slashdot. 1 bad post and there goes your karma.


Don't I know it, I did 1, just 1 post of a "First Post, and eventhough I have written a bunch more comments that actually had merit, I am DOOMED to have a -1 Terrible Karma!!!!!

I mean what's the point to post if noone will ever see it..... Just like this reply I am typing won't be seen by anyone.


Thanks a lot Slashdot!

Re:Limited Usefulness Lifespan (5, Funny)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615440)

Breaking news: Some of the other emergency supplies you purchase (food, medicine, batteries) may also become unusable sometime in the future because of a limited shelflife.

Because of this, I recommend holding off on purchases of emergency supplies until a few days before the emergency happens, that way freshness and technological protocol compliance can be assured. Alternately, don't schedule any emergencies until after a digital television compliant emergency radio is available for purchase.

(PS, the radio also picks up... radio.)

Re:Limited Usefulness Lifespan (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615456)

(Unless something interesting will be broadcast on those frequencies after that point.)

I think the FCC intends on auctioning off the old TV frequencies, and most of the frequencies will be used by private companies for digital transmissions.

It's doubtful that your analog radio will work with any of the old TV frequencies anymore.

Mossberg also offers the caveat... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13615220)

Mossberg also offers the caveat that these gadgets could be rendered useless 'should the communications infrastructure itself go down.'"

He doesn't even mention what would happen if your arms fall off. Myself, I'm setting up a nuclear-powered radio station/TV studio so if the communications infrastructure goes down I'm covered.

Re: Mossberg also offers the caveat... (4, Interesting)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615283)

That is why I have a CB with sideband. Even if everything else goes down, I can still talk to others who have CBs and find out some info. I can broadcast and receive from my truck. I always keep one of my fuel tanks on my truck full, and don't usually let the other go below half.
Also, shortwave is always a good bet. And finding a way to listen the Hams is always good, even when you aren't in an emergency.

Re: Mossberg also offers the caveat... (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615497)

And finding a way to listen the Hams is always good, even when you aren't in an emergency.

For that matter, it also doesn't hurt to become a ham [arrl.org] . It isn't that hard.

73 DE KC2IDF

Re: Mossberg also offers the caveat... (1)

Anonym1ty (534715) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615547)

nd finding a way to listen the Hams is always good,

Being able to talk to hams is even better!

Contact the ARRL to find out how. http://www.arrl.org/hamradio.html [arrl.org]

Emergency (5, Insightful)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615221)

If you're charging your iPod you aren't having a fucking emergency.

A radio could be quite useful, but not nearly as useful as a couple of cases of bottled water.

-Peter

Re:Emergency (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615447)

If you're charging your iPod you aren't having a fucking emergency.
I actually can imagine a few circumstances where having an iPod could be important. If you have language lessons on the iPod, and are travelling to a variety of foreign countries, you may be able to quickly consult the language tapes for the local country as a refresher to figure out how to say, "my hair has become a fiery thing. I shall need water to respectfully make it less so."

Past that, if you have Linux on the iPod, you may use it for all sorts of useful things which could come in handy, but I agree that those circumstances would be extraordinarily rare.

Mostly, an iPod is useful in an emergency because you can listen to music. You can pump yourself up if you need to get to work, or mellow out with some classical if you need to wait for rescue. I would dig that.

Re:Emergency (2, Informative)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615479)

A radio could be quite useful, but not nearly as useful as a couple of cases of bottled water.

If the situation is properly run, not like the NOLA fiasco, the radio could prove to be more useful, directing you to shelters, food/water canteens, and evacuation points. You can't get all that from a bottle of water.

Re:Emergency (1)

travail_jgd (80602) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615520)

"If you're charging your iPod you aren't having a fucking emergency."

It could be useful for keeping a child quiet and calm*... or at least prevent them from wanting to explore as much. Hell, it could be useful for keeping an adult calm if there's nothing else to do.

* A splitter can let two kids listen, if there's two sets of headphones.

The simple things (1)

MatD (895409) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615225)

I haven't been paying that much attention to what happened with cell service in Hurricane Katrina, but AFAIK, it was 'down' for quite some time. I think the infastructure 'going down' is a lot greater possibility than people think.

Probably your smartest move is just to have a lot of canned food and water and some medical supplies available so you can wait out whatever disaster should come your way.

I'm sure most of the people in N.O. weren't thinking, damn, I wish I could watch the latest INXS rockstar on my vcast phone :)

Re:The simple things (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615292)

Might also be useful to have some canned smokeless powder, topped off with some lead. I suspect that if you have firearms it's easier to get food, water, and medicine than it is to get firearms if you have food, water, and medicine :)

Re:The simple things (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615568)

I'm sure most of the people in N.O. weren't thinking, damn, I wish I could watch the latest INXS rockstar on my vcast phone :)

But I think they wish they could have called for help, to tell relatives whether they were alive, to arrange for an alternate place to stay, or to have the phones up so that the relief efforts could be coordinated.

Why do people starve in Africa? It isn't because of a lack of food. International efforts have given many times what was necessary to countries that were hard off. It was the logistical effort of getting the ample available supplies to the people that needed it. The same was the case in New Orleans. The people in charge claimed that there wasn't a problem. Either they were lying, or they didn't have communication necessary to convey the state of affairs.

Judging by recent events (5, Insightful)

katana (122232) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615233)

A hand-cranked device that could produce 3-5 days of food and water would probably be popular.

Re:Judging by recent events (2, Insightful)

dancpsu (822623) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615322)

Do hand-cranked can-openers apply to this?

Re:Judging by recent events (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13615325)

"Tea. Earl Grey"

Re:Judging by recent events (1)

flagstone (464079) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615424)

You mean, like one of these [wikipedia.org] ?

The least problem (5, Funny)

salzbrot (314893) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615235)

[...]these gadgets could be rendered useless 'should the communications infrastructure itself go down.'

If you can no longer get shortwave signals on your radio because the communications infrastructure itself went down, listening to the latest news is the least of your problems. You should be looking for the stone ax and the closest cave to move into.

Re:The least problem (4, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615526)

If it got that bad I'd also suggest getting yourself a bright red mohawk, some leather biker gear, and then forming a gang of post-apocalyptic outlaws.

Baylis generator = no batteries at all (5, Informative)

jakedata (585566) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615238)

I have been using my original Freeplay radio for about 8 years now.

Unlike the more recent models, it operates on a spring driven generator for about 45 minutes, or in sunlight. It has no internal batteries at all.

The lack of batteries is a Very Good Thing. Rechargable batteries die, and sometimes they short out. If so, you got no radio - cranked or solar.

The downside is that the radio is the size of a loaf of bread. The upside is that it has a very large speaker and very nice sound.

I toyed with the idea of adding an external power tap, but there are dire warnings about opening it up and releasing the giant spring. Someday perhaps...

Re:Baylis generator = no batteries at all (1)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615306)

The free play is awesome. You can also get a solar panel for it... CCRADIO.com
Also, plant potatos so you can run one of those clocks like we all had in 3rd grade.

Re:Baylis generator = no batteries at all (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615398)

As faar as i can see it from their site it has rechargeable batterys inside. You know: they are only recahrable some 1000 times and then you're done. So what then?

Re:Baylis generator = no batteries at all (1)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615400)

It's also possible to build radios that don't use any sort of power supply at all - that is, radios that are able to function on only the power received from the radio signal.

Not sure anymore how to do it, but I did build one of these when I was a child, and it worked.

Re:Baylis generator = no batteries at all (1)

Roger_Wilco (138600) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615541)

This is possible, yes, but only for AM radios. FM radios are considerably more complex. To make an AM radio you need only get an antenna, to pick up the signal, and a bandpass filter, to remove everything you don't want to hear (almost everything).

Re:Baylis generator = no batteries at all (5, Informative)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615416)

Freeplay still makes an AM/FM/SW1/SW2 windup & solar powered (no battery) radio [freeplayfoundation.org] , but it's mostly intended for rural African communities. But you can buy one and donate a second radio [ccrane.com] for the Freeplay Foundation.

It's the size of a loaf of bread, and it's ugly, but it's not really aimed for American gageteers.

Does it get cable? (4, Funny)

jnadke (907188) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615247)

Sweet, now I can listen to the Playboy channel when the Apocalypse comes. Nothin better than a little porn to calm those nerves.

iRecharge? (4, Funny)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615249)

Compact Power Systems also introduced a product called the iRecharge, a rechargeable portable battery that fits snugly around your iPod, iPod mini or iPod shuffle giving the iPod and iPod mini 12 hours of extra play time and the iPod shuffle 40 extra hours. It has an on/off switch, so you can charge your iPod as needed, as well as a charge-level indicator that glows to tell you how much juice is left.

My house is destroyed, I have no food and water, but thank god I can still listen to U2 - Vertigo!

sounds like me (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13615251)

I can get 35 minutes of pleasure from a 30 second crank.

Only of limited use anyway (4, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615252)

While there may be value to hearing whats going on in an emergency, I'd be able to actually call for help should I need it.

A technicians-class FCC license is very easy to get, and small handheld tranceivers are not very expensive.

Thats MUCH more useful in an emergency than a TV. I can hear the weater broadcasts, radio, and emergency bands and much more usefully, I can actually transmit.

Hand cranked ham radio... (1)

n3umh (876572) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615385)

You should get one of the hand-cranked radios anyway, to make sure you don't run out of power.

$50 and it even has a built in cellphone charger, which could likely be easily adapted to charge your handheld.

I think most of the HT's out there accept a pretty wide range of voltages for charging purposes.

Having the recieve capability is useful too, and it seems that you've got most of it covered in your handheld, but it doesn't hurt to have a backup. Someone on the ham emergency net needs to keep up with whatever (if anything) is coming over broadcast.

Incidentally, I have three 7 amp-hour gel-cell batteries I keep on float charge all the time. I can run my HT for a week, probably. I can even run the HF radio for short periods of time on these batteries (probably only low power CW operation though, my old Kenwood TS440s is not very good at converting DC to RF, efficiency-wise).

Need an excercise bike with a 12V 10-20A generator on it for battery charging, I think...

Re:Hand cranked ham radio... (1)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615410)

If it was really bad, you could also start looting car batteries and charging them on any car you could hotwire, right?

Re:Hand cranked ham radio... (1)

n3umh (876572) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615438)

Probably a good idea to fill up your gas tank before a storm that would kill the power... you can pull a lot of juice off of a running car. (This is what I would do with my HF radio right now, but I should really have a dedicated emergency power solution for it.)

Re:Hand cranked ham radio... (1)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615477)

...now if the FCC would just post my callsign I'd be happy. Passed the technician exam on Saturday... Am waiting ever so impatiently for my callsign and radio to show up...

73!

Re:Hand cranked ham radio... (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615498)

It'll probably take a bit longer than that. The oldies at the local ARRL club which administered the test when I got mine clearly took their merry time submitting the paperwork. It was a number of weeks before I got mine.

I've barely used my license. I have my Yaseu 5R but none of my local friends or family have their licenses, so it doesn't get used much. Mostly when working races, or if I'm going somewhere I know there's no cell coverage (like my basement, thanks Cingular!) I'll bring it with me just-in-case.

Or use your own... (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615478)

I have two cars. One doesn't go out even when it rains, much less some emergency going on. There's pleanty of power sources around to keep a little Yaseu radio powered.

If civilization itself is melting down, I think I'll have other concerns...

Re:Only of limited use anyway (4, Insightful)

CompuSwerve (792986) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615395)

Amen! Luckily for non-hams, most hams are thoughtful enough to help their neighbors in an emergency and not just themselves. The more hams we have, the better off we would be in an emergency. It's not that expensive, and it doesn't take that much time to do. Contact the ARRL [arrl.org] for more information on how to get your license. Handheld 2m/73cm radios can be bought very inexpensively in many places. Brands include Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood, Radio Shack, Alinco, ADI, and others. Check out eBay, lots of inexpensive radios and batteries to be bought there.

Re:Only of limited use anyway (1)

chamblin (914866) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615411)

Actually, in the case of an emergency, you don't even need a Technician class. You can transmit without any license at all.

How long before...? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615271)

How long before the crank Victrola returns, so that you can share your music while waiting to be rescued from your roof?

Re:How long before...? (1)

fandog (900111) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615348)

Hey, I have one of those as decoration in my living room! Never thought of it as emergency preparedness before...

Standalone? (2, Insightful)

Krast0r (843081) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615275)

What are "standalone cellphone chargers"? Surely it would be just as good to have a spare, fully charged battery rather than something running from batteries charging the cell phone battery.

Unless, of course, the charger ran solar power. Maybe they should just make a solar cell cellular phone for just this situation.

Slashdot screenshot (2, Funny)

anandpur (303114) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615289)

Copies of Slashdot screenshots printed and laminated.

HAM RADIO OPS! (2, Insightful)

bgardella (132855) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615303)

You know, those weird dads that have the big antennas on their roofs? Every suburb has at least one. Go talk to them and learn how it works. It will be the only reliable way after a real catastrophe hits.

Review? (4, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615316)

They review two crank radios and then extra battery cells for your cell phone and iPod? How 'bout an actual review of several hand crank radios. At the local Radio Shack they had three different ones, as does Sharper Image and other stores. Just because it says "Wall Street Journal" doesn't mean its useful.

Multiband radios (4, Informative)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615317)

Look around for other [amazon.com] reviews [circuitcity.com] of the Eton FR300 (Formally Grundig). While many people like the features, this radio is NOT as reliable as the legendary Grundig FR200. Go find one and play with it-- many pieces feel like they will snap off after a couple uses.

It's a cheap gizmo for the beach or a day outing, not a sturdy radio for emergencies. Of course, an iPod charger isn't exactly an "Emergency Device" either.

What I'm really looking looking for:
  • Power: Radio Hand-crank power, Solar power, DC or AC input, LED light, replacable batteries
  • Receives most available radio frequencies: AM, FM, audio for VHF TV (Channels 2-6) & VHF TV (Channels 7-13), audio for UHF TV, NOAA Weather Band and Shortwave.


There are several radios which use which have some of this feature set, but it seems like there is a market for a radio which has all of these features.

To be truthful, I want a pony.

Re:Multiband radios (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615510)

audio for VHF TV (Channels 2-6) & VHF TV (Channels 7-13), audio for UHF TV,

Strike that... someone else pointed out that the analog TV broadcasts for these frequencies is being shut down.

I guess I just want a radio with AM/FM/SW1/SW2 and NOAA weather band.

Texas (1)

Newt-dog (528340) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615324)

Then, pray you don't have to use any of these things.

I hope the people of Texas are prepared! http://www.redcross.org/services/prepare/0,1082,0_ 253_,00.html [redcross.org] Hurricane Rita http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/storm_graphics/AT18/refres h/AL1805W+gif/084857W_sm.gif [noaa.gov] is sporting 140 mph winds as of today!

Newt-dog

Buckets, it's all about buckets. (2, Insightful)

wsanders (114993) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615328)

I staffed the Emergency Preparedness booh at out local Bad Art and Overpriced Wine Street Fair last weekend. People love to show their tech-savvy gadgets - but are you really prepared?

Buckets. Emergency tech is low tech. You are going to care less about whether your Treo works and more about clean water and a warm place to take a dump. (Store your water in jerry cans, obviously, not buckets.)

And don't wait. The entire Houston area was all out of plywood by Monday night, according to a friend of mine there.

Sealed Lead Acid Batteries and Ham Radio (2, Informative)

kb1cvh (88565) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615331)

For connecting between multiple 12 volt DC powersources and 12 volt loads - a frequently recommended connector is the Anderson Powerpole.

I have a few sealed lead acid batteries for emergencies -
  portable - 12v 2.5Ah SLA with blade connectors for the battery and a choice between Anderson Powerpole and a connector for my VX5 handheld tri-band transceiver - can get WX, FM, AM, and transmit on 2m 70cm, and 6m.

for base station - a 12V 75Ah SLA with Anderson Powerpole connectors and a connector that can bridge the Anderson powerpoles and the power connection for my base or mobile transceivers - a Yaesu FT-1500M, a FT-857D, and a FT-7800.

Info on the Anderson Powerpole connector is at http://www.scc-ares-races.org/hardware/andersonpp. html [scc-ares-races.org]

The Boy Scout Motto - Be Prepared

Leave it to the Cons at Wall Street Journal (1)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615334)

To talk about self-reliance...

Gebyy zl oruvaq...

Make friends with a ham radio operator (3, Informative)

TheNucleon (865817) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615335)

If the communications infrastructure goes down, being friends with a ham radio operator would be a very good idea. Hams use both short and long range radio gear, and both types of gear can operate independent of the power grid and relays/repeaters when needed. Failing that, as another commenter noted, having a battery-operated AM or shortware radio is good too. Be sure to have fresh batteries! AM travels a long way at night. Signals in a 100-200 mile radius are typically not difficult, and would be the most useful, as they would be close to home but probably outside the disaster zone.

My comments are mine alone, and do not represent the views of my employer, friends, family or cats.

Re:Make friends with a ham radio operator (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13615444)

Funny, it seems like I remember a thread here a few months ago telling all of us HAM radio operaters that HAM was outdated, and why bother since we have computers, etc. etc. We all claimed it was useful in emergencies and were all ignored and insulted. How times change.

When my power goes out... (1)

parasonic (699907) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615346)

I put the hamsters to work. Still enough to power an embedded Linux device.

iPod as emergency gear? (2, Insightful)

mc900ftjesus (671151) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615378)

Wow, that's getting your priorities in order.

I need to voice my opinion (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13615387)

This fucking article sucks dick. Barely any items were reviewed...what the fuck slashdot? try again.

cheaper, better hand-cranked radios (5, Informative)

Yrrebnarg (629526) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615437)

Take a look at http://www.radios4you.com/ [radios4you.com] or http://www.kaitousa.com/ [kaitousa.com] and invest in a radio that also does shortwave if you're looking for an emergency radio. For far less than the $50 you'd spend on the yuppie crud in TFA, you can pick up a solar/crank/charger model and a decent antenna reel, which would let you pick up broadcasts from europe, cuba, the USA, the caribbean (BBC news), or just about anywhere else. All you lose is _local_ broadcasts when the communication infrastructure takes a nose-dive.

"Hummer" flashlight (4, Informative)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615471)

The Hummer branding of it may be a bit cheesy, but the Hummer Shake Flashlight [sharperimage.com] that you can get at Sharper Image works great. 20 years ago my mom got a flashlight which ran with a squeeze grip geared into a toy motor. Last year we got a couple of these and it is so much better.

First of all, it's a linear generator, so each time the weight inside crosses the center it makes power; second, it uses an LED which is much lower power than old incandescent bulbs; and third, it has a supercapacitor which can power the LED for a few minutes with 30 seconds of shaking. Just be sure to shake it horizontally, as the instructions warn that you might break it if the weight hits an end too hard on a vertical downstroke.

The best part is you never have to worry about the batteries running down or leaking when you don't use it, and you never have to avoid using regularly for fear of running the batteries down. It has a power switch, so you can shake it up and use it as needed, then just shake it again when it runs down.

Slashdot readers would be recommended to get the "red" model, as that is translucent and you can see the guts of it operating, for higher geek value.

70 mph with the top down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13615487)

But will these devices work well enough to be heard perfectly, going 70 mph in a convertible with the top down?

Wow wish I had one of those. (1)

capitalj (461890) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615504)

Considering I live in houston and I'm about to be hit by hurricane rita. This would be pretty nice right about now. Thanks for whomever posted this.

Of course (1)

SlayerofGods (682938) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615521)

Those of us who are really prepared don't both with the 'gadgets' and just cover all our bases at once. We buy a gas powered generator (I live in Florida)

The only real problem is that the noise will attract all the neighbors who aren't prepared and come looking for cold food...... =/

Water. (2, Insightful)

phliar (87116) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615528)

Screw the hi-tech gadgets, think about water. You can go a week without food or listening to your iPod, but you won't go more than a couple of days without water.

Remember your water heater -- lots of clean water there. Turn off the input valve in case the water supply gets contaminated.

Get a good water filter, and possibly something to kill viruses, like iodine.

Security lessons from Katrina (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 9 years ago | (#13615540)

Talking of infrastructure interdependencies, Security Focus ran this excellent piece [securityfocus.com] by Mark Rasch about the lessons of Katrina for info-sec (OK, a lot of it is about BCP / DR stuff, but it's generalisable to other aspects of the subject IMO.)

In the corporate Security Dept. where I work, we take it in turns to do a shotr 20min presentation at our weekly meetings - the subject is up to us, but obviously computer security subjects. I did my first one on the Columbia and Challenger shuttle accidents, and the accident enquiry board's reports into each (they're both absolutely fascinating, if you can find the time, highly recommended.) And both accidents have a lot of lessons for security. "Don't use powerpoint to communicate technical information to managers", for starters ;)

Rather to my surprise the feedback was that it was excellent and very interesting... only the second time I'd stood up in front of Powerpoint in my life.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?