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Communications Hardware

Emergency Gadgets Reviewed 422

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the powerless-to-resist dept.
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.'"
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Emergency Gadgets Reviewed

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  • by Silverlancer (786390) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:43PM (#13615181)
    Fire extinguisher. You know, for when the servers catch fire during the slashdotting.
  • by east coast (590680) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:44PM (#13615183)
    It doesn't have a handcrank but it has a pump and a trigger.
    • by TykeClone (668449) * <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:50PM (#13615253) Homepage Journal
      And a point & click interface!
    • by Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:51PM (#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.

      • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @01:11PM (#13615435) Homepage
        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.

        • by evilviper (135110) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @02:11PM (#13615964) Journal
          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.

          How does 'respect' enter into it? I don't care if it's a 90lb homosexual transvestite dressed in a pink tutu that's pointing the shot-gun at me; I'm damn sure going to get the hell out of their way, and find cover.
          • You might do that as an individual. But I don't think you've ever been in a situation where you were part of a large group of people doing anything if you think that two men with guns would be able to stop them.

            Mobs don't stop to think, even if the front of the mob broke up and ran, the ones behind them still have to, and the people behind THOSE ones are pushing them forward because the people behind THEM are pushing....

            Once a mob forms about the only way to deal with it is to rout it, break it into pieces
        • I can corroberate your statements about the police. My stepfather was a cop, and growing up I would periodically pepper him with annoying questions about his job. Once I asked him something about stopping fights and he said that he usually waited a few seconds before stopping the fight. When I asked him why he said it was because they would be too tired from fighting each other to fight him :)

          Of course this is the same guy that had this conversation with me:

          Little Me: "What would you do if you cornered a ba
      • by RapmasterT (787426) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @01:25PM (#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.

        • Private citizens were stripped of their ability to protect themselves by the very people who admitted they were unable to protect anyone.

          How could they be stripped after they shot the police?

          I'm not advocating violence or shooting in general, but if anybody comes on my property to take my constitutionally protected rights to bear arms, then they will be leaving in a body bag.

          I guess this was a test to see who was really prepared to protect themselves from the government. Another victory for the government.
          • by Anonymous Coward
            How could they be stripped after they shot the police?

            Indeed.

            I'd go further.

            The second a government representative tries to violate one's constitutional rights, one should be entitled to use whatever force is necessary to preserve them against anyone.

            That's right, the second Joe cop tries to take your legally owned firearm, you can kill him and nosey neighbor Frank across the street.

            You see, Frank is either "with you" or "against you" (i.e. with the state), and, until proven otherwise, you're enti

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

        Yep, that's human nature for you. We think we are all above animals and civilised with our flushing toilets, designer jeans with embroidered button fly and multiple-choice driving theory tests, but all that crap's just a thin veneer which is whipped away by a hurricane, flood or even someone yelling 'bomb' in a movie theatre. The notion that people can be trampled to death in scenes of panic a
      • There was an article in the NYT a week or two ago. I wish i had the link. But anyway, it talked about what to have for an emergency. The last sentence said something about how most people don't know enough about firearms, and thus shouldn't have one. It didn't suggest people learn how to operate them safely, just that they not have them.
        Here is my point: Person A plans ahead, is considered a bit nutty perhaps, but he has enough water to last his family months, food stores, seeds, candles, matches, flashlig
      • by composer777 (175489) * on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @03:35PM (#13616680)
        In short, it never ceases to amaze me how humanity devolves during disasters and make a bad situation even worse.

        The devolution and degradation of humanity happened long before the riots. It started several hundred years ago when the first slave was taken to America. That's not an excuse for the violence that was inflicted on Reginald Denny, but we should look in the mirror at our own savage behavior, that happens every day when we ignore poverty in our own country, before pointing at the relatively brief amount of "savage" behavior that happens during riots. Quite a bit of their anger is righteous.

        There are still pockets of slavery in the South today and the racist tradition is alive and well. Sure, technically they're free, but poverty and social roles still enforces behavior that is very similar in functionality to slavery. My Mom was raised by a black woman. I met her a few times, and she still lives on property owned by my Mom's family (as far as I know, I try not to think of the situation). When I was growing up, my mom referred to her as grandma any time she would speak of her. She was paid a weekly stipend and lived in servant's quarters. My grandparents weren't rich, certainly not well-off enough to pay someone a decent wage. But, this type of arrangement was common, because after slavery was abolished, many black people fell into familiar roles of servant and laborer, and never managed to climb out of them. She is still alive, and while technically free, the woman has never owned anything of any significance in her entire life. I grew up in Missouri (my mom's family lives in Georgia), far enough away from the south to gain perspective on how strange the situation was, and only met her twice (my Mom was estranged from her family a large part of my childhood), but I can't help but think that this strange situation is a common thing. When she talks to anyone white, she calls them Mr. or Ms., to this day. I saw her 3 years ago at my grandfather's funeral, and I was 28, and she was around 90, and she referred to me as Mr. Jon! What year are we in?

        So, it's pretty easy (for me) to understand the anger that black people feel, in light of the fact that there are still some who are living the life of modern day slaves. Note that this isn't the kind of legacy that people talk about, and I would like to believe that only having visited my Mom's family in GA twice in my 31 years absolves me of responsibility, but does it? How exactly do I pay her for what she has lost, 90 years of lost opportunity?

        This is part of the problem, is that racism is an embarrassing legacy for whites, so it often is not talked about. This is the first time I've written about this part of my family legacy, and I hesitated, even though I am pseudo-anonymous, but stories like these need to be told more often, so that people understand what is really going on. It's similar to the story of the teenage girl that is raped and has an abortion. As compelling of a case as it makes for abortion, the story is not told, often because people are embarrassed and ashamed. So, the injustice remains hidden.

    • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @01:00PM (#13615338) Homepage
      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?
      • ...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).
        • 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.
      • 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=
      • 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'r
        • My bad :( Oh well.

          Many UPSs use 12-13 V batteries. For example, here's a UPS battery retailer's listing page [firstlogistex.com] - out of almost two dozen batteries, only one isn't 12-13 V. Most are 12, some are 12.84. Do you think the extra alternator voltage would make that big of a difference?

          but a commonly available power inverter

          UPSs are commodity items, found in many households. UPSs with dead batteries are often treated like trash (I myself had one taken to be disposed of about a year ago, when I found that I could
      • 1. Plan on being out of power for at least a week. Do you have enough gas to run the car for a week?
        2. Worry about water, food, flashlights, batteries, and a good battery powered radio. Right now this think is a STRONG cat 4 storm. Don't trust any strength projections that past 24 hours.
        Plan on this being a cat 4 storm. The kind of storm that can KILL people.
        I.E. losing their reef tank maybe the lest of your parents worries. I hope not, but I live 5 hours north east of Key West and we got 40 mph gusts from
      • Buy an inverter. You can use the car battery or have a spare marine battery on hand for use with it. The next level though is to get an actual generator and install a transfer switch in the house. I did that a couple of years ago and used it last year when three hurricanes hit Orlando.

        In your case a battery and an inverter would be the short term solution for the reef tank. Then you crank up the generator after the storm has passed and you use that for power and to recharge the batteries.

        The good
      • You'd be much better off using a inverter, rather than an old UPS. Most low cost UPS units are designed for limited run time, not continuous duty operation. As designed and delivered, its output inverter will not over-heat before the internal battery runs down. This way they can use smaller heat sinks, omit cooling fans, etc. and sell a 500VA UPS for under $100. The inverter is for continuous duty use, so it needs better cooling and more rugged components--but it doesn't include the battery, charger, and p
    • 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 statio
      • 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.
      • 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 blo
  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:44PM (#13615189) Homepage
    After thirty seconds of cranking I'm usually asleep for thirty-five minutes!

    Sorry, I couldn't resist ;)
  • TV on Radio (Score:4, Informative)

    by minus_273 (174041) <aaaaa@[ ]M.yahoo.com ['SPA' in gap]> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:45PM (#13615194) Journal
    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.
    • 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.
      • Of course what they don't mention is the crank requires you to be able to benchpress 350.
        • Of course what they don't mention is the crank requires you to be able to benchpress 350

          I know you're just joking, but I'll jump in and mention I have the FR300 (got it as a thank you gift for pledging to my local public radio station [kqed.org]) and the crank is so easy to turn, it feels flimsy. In fact, at first I unfolded the crank and started turning it agressively and discovered it doesn't provide any charge when moving too quickly. One-pinky operation at the optimal speed is a piece of cake.
    • Re:TV on Radio (Score:5, Informative)

      by Phreakiture (547094) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @01:16PM (#13615475) Homepage

      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! (Score:4, Funny)

    by CorruptMayor (915031) <CorruptMayor@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:45PM (#13615199) Journal
    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!
    • 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.
    • 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.

  • by Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:46PM (#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?"

  • Anyone? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:46PM (#13615212)
    Anyone have a hand-crankable EMP?
  • by smbarbour (893880) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:47PM (#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.)
    • by Chairboy (88841) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @01:11PM (#13615440) Homepage
      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.)
    • (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.
    • Not Useless (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It will still receive AM
      It will still receive FM
      It will still receive NOAA Weather Channels
      It will still recharge your cell phone
      It will still recharge AA batteries
      It will still function as a flashlight

      That's an odd definition of 'useless'.
  • Emergency (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:47PM (#13615221) Homepage Journal
    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
    • 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

    • Re:Emergency (Score:3, Informative)

      by dr_dank (472072)
      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.
    • "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.
    • Re:Emergency (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lilmouse (310335)

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

      No, but when you're sitting around for a week in the Superdome waiting for evactuaion (sorry, did I say a week, I mean longer :-P ), it'd be pretty damn nice to listen to something besides misery.

      Unless you're one of those who believe people should get all their inspiration from praying or singing gospels, then you've got to worry about feeding the spirit in some way as well. I'd rather have a hand-cranked laptop for playing CS, but that's

  • by katana (122232) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:49PM (#13615233) Homepage
    A hand-cranked device that could produce 3-5 days of food and water would probably be popular.
  • by salzbrot (314893) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:49PM (#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.
  • by jakedata (585566) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:49PM (#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...
  • by jnadke (907188) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:50PM (#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? (Score:5, Funny)

    by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@keirste ... minus physicist> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:50PM (#13615249) Homepage

    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!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:50PM (#13615251)
    I can get 35 minutes of pleasure from a 30 second crank.
  • by tgd (2822) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:50PM (#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.
    • by CompuSwerve (792986) <jarizzo@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @01:07PM (#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.
  • How long before the crank Victrola returns, so that you can share your music while waiting to be rescued from your roof?
  • Standalone? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Krast0r (843081)
    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.
  • by anandpur (303114) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:54PM (#13615289)
    Copies of Slashdot screenshots printed and laminated.
  • HAM RADIO OPS! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bgardella (132855)
    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? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) <shadow.wrought@gmail . c om> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:57PM (#13615316) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:5, Informative)

    by stefanlasiewski (63134) * <slashdot&stefanco,com> on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:57PM (#13615317) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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.
  • by wsanders (114993) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:59PM (#13615328) Homepage
    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.

  • 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 br
  • To talk about self-reliance...

    Gebyy zl oruvaq...

  • by TheNucleon (865817) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @12:59PM (#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.

  • by Yrrebnarg (629526) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @01:11PM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

    by b1t r0t (216468) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @01:15PM (#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.

  • 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. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phliar (87116) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @01:22PM (#13615528) Homepage
    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.

  • 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

  • For many reasons, otherwise completely sensible people are not prepared for a disaster to hit. Like social security providing a safety net for those who do not make enough to afford a 401K, perhaps we could also provide a safety net for those who can't or won't prepare for disasters.

    Would increasing a state's sales tax by .01% provide enough revenue to send each household one of these emergency radios as well as 2 weeks worth of MRE's, water, and a first-aid kit, every year?

    What better way to help preve

    • People who can't bother to prepare themselves are only going to eat their emergency food and sell their radios.

      Like it or not, there is always going to be a large part of the population that is going to expect the government to bail their ass out of every mess they get themselves into.

That does not compute.

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