“Daddy, why is the lights off?” – Ryan, age 3.
Coming home to no power from a long day’s work wasn’t how I expected the evening to go. High rains knocked out power to my town, but luckily my family didn’t have to endure the flood waters of Toronto. After waiting an hour it looked like we were going to have to hunker down and survive the evening without electricity and while we were pulling out candles I managed to find the Eton FRX1 Radio that my wife gave me for Father’s day. A combination emergency radio, flashlight and USB power for electronics the evening entertainment was going to be saved by music and talk radio, or so I thought…
Turn the radio up for that sweet sound… or not 🙁
When I first received the radio I didn’t give it much thought. It was interesting gadget and my wife wasn’t very impressed that I dismissed it so nonchalantly. Why on earth would I need an emergency radio? Compared to my iPad Mini or my rooted Android Nook Color, the Eton Radio was very much outclassed… that is until you’re faced with no power. Unfortunately I left it on and it was as dead as just like my other gadgets. However luckily the Eton FRX2 Radio has 3 ways to charge its batteries.
- USB DC Power – which was no good in this situation.
- Solar Power – sun was setting so no use here.
- Hand Crack – according to the instructions, 1 minute of cranking produces 15-20 minutes of glorious radio.
Cranking until the cows come home
Cranking the the Eton FRX2 Radio with the pull out plastic handle is easy. Close to the manufacturers word, about 1 minute produced about 10 minutes of music, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt as my kids were getting impatient wondering what in the world I was doing. I almost was able to turn them into little power generators, but they realized too quickly that it was more fun watching me crank away. The plastic crank is surprisingly sturdy managing to withstand being turned frequently without any signs of wear or tear.
Besides an emergency AM/FM Radio, the FRX2 supports the NOAA weather band which I thought would actually come in handy as the thunderstorms were going through my area, but no matter how I angled the antennae I’d only get a station broadcasting in French (and now I’m kicking myself I didn’t pay enough attention in High School French class).
Between cranking every 10 minutes and entertaining the kids and the dog there was enough activity to fend off boredom until bedtime!
Charge and Light up the night
Besides being an emergency radio, there is decent LED flashlight which is powered by your hand cranked radio. It isn’t blindingly bright, but it does allow you to venture into the basement to grab the tub of ice cream that will keep the kids quiet for a few minutes. Cranking for 1 minute gives about 5 minutes of light which is more than enough for the quick jaunts and much safer than running around the house with candles.
There is a a USB port where it could charge small power electronic devices, but it would take a lot more cranking to get enough juice to recharge my cellphone, or iPod. So for one glorious evening I didn’t have to be worried about my Blackberry going off – work would have to survive without me for the evening.
I’m Jammin the Eton FRX2
There are a couple of lessons using the Eton FRX2 Radio:
- Trust the wife even when it comes to gadgets.
- Emergency Preparedness gadgets like the Eton are not just gimmicks but actually work quite well. For $15 if I had it fully charged could have powered my cellphone and stayed connected to the Internet (the Eton website has the MSRP at $39.99 USD).
Having a hand cranked radio like the Eton FRX2 is a must in everyone’s emergency kit. Safer than candles for the kids to handle and not having to worry about batteries being drained equates to a much happier family.