Emergency Radio Choices From Sangean, Midland, & C.Crane

best-emergency-radio

Do you have an emergency radio?

I own radios from all three of the following companies.
Each of them has proven to be quality choices.

– Sangean
– Midland
– C.Crane Co.

While there are portable emergency radios in various price ranges, you may need to spend around $50 to get one into the realm of quality (generally speaking). While the $100-$200 range buys top-of-the-line, I thought I would look at the $50 range in this article…

 

What Is An Emergency Radio?

They are designed to be used during a power outage or any other such time of emergency to gather information.

An emergency radio is battery operated (internal battery). The battery may be charged by a number of mechanisms including a wall charger, solar panel, hand crack, or external USB power sources.

The radio will have the ability to tune in the AM band, FM band, and the Weather bands. Some radios include additional bands (e.g. shortwave) although you’ll generally pay more for them.

During a general emergency situation (power outage) you will typically tune in AM or FM to discover local information regarding the situation. Additionally, since many emergencies are caused by weather, naturally you may also tune in the weather bands for latest National Weather Service information.

 

 

Sangean MMR-88 Emergency Radio

sangean-mmr-88-emergency-radio

Sangean has a worldwide presence and have been around for more than 40 years.

Sangean MMR-88 (CHECK IT OUT HERE)

Product Manual

Sangean Emergency Radio (major) Features

Dimensions, Width,Height,Depth (6″ x 3.25″ x 2.75″)
AM/FM bands (plus 19 Presets)
Public Alert Certified Weather Alert Radio
Charging modes (Hand Crank, USB, or Solar Power)
Charge external devices through USB connection
Rechargeable / Replaceable 850maH Lithium Battery
Built-in LED Flashlight (Hi, Low, Blinking, SOS Morse Code))
Loud Emergency Buzzer
Built-in Clock
90 Minute Auto Shut Off

 

 

Midland ER300 EMERGENCY RADIO

midland-er-300-emergency-radio

Midland is an international industry leader in radio communications and they’ve been around for more than 50 years.

Midland ER310 (CHECK IT OUT HERE)

Product Manual

Midland Emergency Radio (major) Features

Dimensions, Width,Height,Depth (8″ x 3.5″ x 2.5″)
AM/FM bands
NOAA Weather Band w/siren alert & flashing LED alert
Charging modes (Hand Crank, USB, or Solar Power)
Charge external devices through USB connection
Rechargeable / Replaceable 2000 mAh Lithium Ion Battery
Additional Battery Backup Option with 6 ”AA” Batteries (Not Included)
Bright Cree LED Flashlight 130 Lumens
Ultra Sonic Dog Whistle for emergency canine rescue

 

 

C. Crane Solar Observer EMERGENCY RADIO

c-crane-emergency-radio

I have had (still have) several C.Crane radios over the years. They are known for not only great quality, but also their audio quality compared to other similar size radios.

C. Crane Solar Observer (CHECK IT OUT HERE)

Product Manual

C. Crane Emergency Radio (major) Features

Dimensions, Width,Height,Depth (7.25″ x 5.5″ x 2″)
Simple to operate (dial tuner)
AM/FM
NOAA Weather Band
Charging modes (Hand Crank, Solar Power, plug-in wall charger)
Additional Battery Backup Option with 3 ”AA” Batteries
Phone charger USB socket

 

 
Once in awhile I post about ‘radios’, which I believe to be an important preparedness essential to have on hand. Given the number of models and manufacturers to choose from, I hope this short list will help some of you who may be interested in this price range to get a few ideas…

What do you have for an emergency radio?

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33 Comments

  1. I have two of the Sangean MMR-88 Emergency Radio, one for everyday (weekend) use and the other in the Faraday Cage. very nice unite, have had Zero Problems with them.

    Also have a
    Kaito KA600L

    This is my Work Radio, runs 9 hours a day with no problems at all.

    Have a BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174Mhz VHF & 400-520Mhz UHF) Includes Full Kit. This sits in the Faraday Cage, comes out on weekends when I just want to hear what’s going on, FYI not illegal to listen without a license, just keep your finger off the trigger.

    1. NRP
      I have the last of the three pictured above. Mostly it sits in a Faraday cage. It seems to work perfectly whenever I test it.

      I too have a baofeng, the uv-5r. I would strongly, no very strongly suggest getting at least the longer duck antenna. One can also attach a 19 inch wire to a screw which grounds it to the case, to further “better” your antenna.

      I’m still new at ham radio and will readily defer to NRP and/or Chuck Findlay. Right guys?

        1. I would offer my help with Ham Radio questions. I have been a Ham for more years than I want to admit. I had a badass station set up when we had our house. I still operate in the field with my HF rigs and solar power…FUN!

          1. Doc Jackson
            I think the reason the 19 inch wire added to the grounded screw works is; The length of the longer duck antenna plus the 3 inches of the interior of the little radio equals roughly 19 “. By adding the wire it makes the antenna a 1/2 wave on 2m. 19 Plus 19 equals 38”, roughly 1 meter. That’s the way I understood it. Please correct me if I’m mistaken. Don’t want to put out bad info.

          2. You are correct sir. I have a baoufing dual band and the 16″ antenna works great. Good luck Friend. You can make a “J pole” antenna with a few feet of copper tubing, look for it on Google or on QRZ.com. Stay safe…..Doc

          3. Hello Doc
            I have never used HAM radios. Could you advise on a set up ? This world is going to shit and I want to do what I can to protect my family from all possible threats.

            Thank you for your time

            Troy

      1. Ken (or anyone with a BaoFeng) a question.

        I have numerous friends with duel band BaoFeng’s and 2 of them notice that the radio at times goes death on 2 Meters. It will make a repeater full quieting when transmitting but for some reason not hear a repeater that is 3-miles away. One of them said others have noticed the same thing.

        This is not a problem on 440 MHz. BaoFeng’s seem to work very well on 440.

        The question is have you noticed this? and if so have you found a fix for it or is it?

        My Dad has a 2 meter 440 BaoFeng and while he doesn’t use it a lot (He like me is an mostly an Icom person) it seems to work well on both bands.

        I did a search on the problem and found nothing.

        PS: not an attack on BaoFeng’s, more wondering about a potential problem.

  2. In this mountainous area, there is little to no reception of AM or FM. I hesitate to lay out the funds for a good shortwave set and antenna etc. because I fear I will have limited reception with this equipment as well. I currently use a satellite radio service but even that gets blocked and many areas as I travel around. Guess I’ll just have to rely on the old fashion method between neighbors “whats the news?

    1. I too live in a mountainous area. There isn’t anything local on the AM band (‘medium wave’) here. I can eek out a few long distance stations (~ 200 miles away) that are broadcasting at 50,000 watts (although not very clear during the day). During the night however I can pick up AM radio from hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles away (atmospheric skip).

      Short wave radio frequencies will also ‘skip’ off the ionosphere and are not affected by mountains. These include some commonly used HAM bands such as 20, 40, and 80 meters (and others).

      Higher frequencies though are generally line-of-sight. This is where mountains definitely get in the way… (e.g. VHF, UHF). I have too many mountains in the way to pick up any terrestrial TV broadcasts too.

    2. hermit us;
      I agree with Ken, direct line of sight is ok for the “normal” stuff and listening to Frank Sinatra
      But the real fun is listening in on the Nighttime Chatter, Tis amazing the comments and “Pizzed-Off-Ness” of a LOT of the country and world.
      Get Yarself a GREAT Antenna and the BaoFeng. Fun stuff for sure.

      1. Just to be clear regarding NRP’s comment (which I’m not entirely sure what’s being said), the referenced BaoFeng handheld 2-way radio operates on frequencies which are direct line of sight. This is not anywhere near the AM radio band (which may be playing Frank Sinatra on one of its stations…)

        Direct line of sight communications up in the UHF and VHF frequency regions actually make up the majority of emergency 2-way radio communications all across the world (Fire, EMS, Ambulance, Police, Commercial radios, Marine, and others).

        That said, the radios referenced above in the article do not transmit. They only receive. They are designed to receive AM/FM bands (some of them include short wave bands) and NOAA weather radio frequencies.

        What makes them “Emergency Radios” (a marketed phrase) is the fact that they will typically function on multiple power sources (battery, solar, hand crank, etc..). They are intended to simply provide a method of getting news, weather, and information during a power outage.

        Some of them include other bells and whistles (built-in LED light, USB charger, or other such gadgetry).

        1. Ken,
          Might want to include, along with these receivers, say a 100′ piece of wire with an alligator clip to attach it to the extendable antenna of the radio. This wire could be put out a window to a tree, or even strung inside the house to get better reception. No need for a specific length as you do not need to be ‘tuned’ to the radio because it is a receiver. (note; transmitters need to have an antenna that is ‘tuned’ to the specific frequencies to transmit properly. ) Doesn’t have to be any special type of wire and could be rolled up on a small fiber tube and put with the radio. I think I would help reception immensely.

          1. You are exactly right. It doesn’t matter the diameter (gauge) of the wire either (for receiving). Any length will assist.

            I have two of the following convenient ‘portable’ wire antennas. One I keep in the camper with one of my portable shortwave radios and the other I keep in the house with my various radio gear. It’s nice because it rolls up.

            Sangean ANT-60 Short Wave Antenna

            Note though that clipping a wire on to the telescopic antenna typically will not assist the AM band reception. Why? Because that band is typically ‘hard wired’ to a built-in (specific) AM band antenna – which is different.

        2. Ken;
          Sorry bud, my incoherent side is showing again.
          Was referencing the Ham Side and listening in to some of the comments and discussions.
          It’s sometimes even listening to foreign radieo the different views.
          As far as Police Scanners, most departments use a scrambling system that makes it hard to follow them.
          On the subject of Antennas I like the one you listed, very compact and easy to use.
          Lastly, there is no reason everyone should not have an Emergency Radio they are cheap and valuable to know whats going on, especially the Weather Stations.

  3. Hermit us,
    The biggest part of radio reception is the antenna. You can have the most expense radio set, but if you have a poor antenna, it will be worthless. You might research ‘long wire’ antennas for starters. You might be amazed at the increase in reception that you get. Maybe Chuck Findlay or NRP can weigh in here on this, but I think they will agree. I realize in deep mountain valleys there will always be reception issues, but hams have been working to overcome these for years, hence the myriad of different types of antennas out there that work to varying degrees. Don’t give up, adapt and overcome. good luck.

    1. Minerjim;
      I agree on the Antenna, Hence the 50′ fixed Mast.
      I do hang a American Flag that’s lite 100% of the time
      Also It’s a heck if a Lightening Rod with a “Flared Arrester” at the top with full 100′ radius grounding.
      Also it’s got a separate pulley and rope for dragging up a Antenna for all sorts of play-toys :-)
      Also makes a heck of a fun Halloween Pole for “stuff”
      AND I use it for making a HUGE and I do mean HUGE Christmas Tree with strings of Lights
      Gata have Fun Ya know???? :-) :-)

      1. NRP,
        I have been wanting to put up a mast for several years, but have to figure out where to put it so that the ag spray plane that makes early morning runs does not hit it. He sprays the neighbor’s sweet corn field 850′ from our house to the north, and frequently comes in pretty low. (He used to really buzz our place and freak the DW out, until I had words with him over the phone. He was apologetic about it, but the way the field sits, he pretty much has to come in over the house. He just pulls up sooner now, and tries to give us a wide berth.)
        I think if people just attached say a 100′ wire with an alligator clip to the metal extendable antenna on these receivers, and maybe hung it out a window to a tree, they would see a dramatic difference in their reception. Would have to ground that antenna during lightning storms for safety, but I think it would be a big help.

  4. I have the Midland model above. It’s great for picking up local stations. I love the hand crank, flashlight, solar panel, and being able to charge devices via USB. I store with it’s main battery unplugged, and a set of new AA’s next to it, all in an ARK Protector bag with my car camping gear. It comes with me on road trips. Once I bought the radio, I couldn’t get it to tune in a weather station. I found out that I live in an area with no coverage. I can’t get alerts at home, but I can when I travel. You can check for coverage by state and county at the NWS site.

    nws.noaa.gov/nwr/coverage/county_coverage.html

  5. Can anybody chime in on what would be some of the best Police scanners?

    Would be great to listen in even if the chatter is scrambled. At least by the volume of chatter compared to “normal” you can tell if things are getting “Interesting” or the police have gone home to protect their families.

    Advise? Thanks

      1. Ken sounds good aside from the likelihood that my internet will be down? Goodness Ken I can lose internet in an ice storm and I would still want to hear what’s going on Police/EMS.

        Thus a dedicated bit of Hardware is my Faraday Cage request.

        BTW I don’t use an GPS App (No Smart Phone) I use a GPS unit and on the Kankamagus Hwy I have stopped to give GPS information to I-Phone folks.

        1. NHM
          Check out
          Uniden BC125AT 500-Alpha Tagged Channel Hand-Held Scanner
          Less than a Franklin

  6. NHM
    I once had a nice handheld Bearcat. It was analog. The X destroyed it knowing I liked it.
    Seems now they are changing to digital…and the price is wow. And most cops have been using their cells now to communicate with central.
    I have a scanner app on the cell for now. Will send alerts when listener numbers are high.
    Hope this somewhat helped.

    I do have an El-cheapo emergency radio, in the cage. I’d tell ya the brand but I’d have to dig it out. (Starts with a G. How’s that for knowing what I have?) Has the crank, solar, USB, etc. It seems to work pretty good. Reception does work better with an extension.

  7. My two centavos, FWIW….

    AM radio stations, in this country, are all vertically polarized. Using a horizontal longwire antenna adds 30 dB of attenuation to the signal. The better type antenna is a vertical. Several good projects for simple, but effective, vertical antennas can be found at the ARRL dot com site. Don’t get me wrong……horizontal antennas do work. I have several. BUT, they are not the most efficient for AM radio stations. Amateur Radio Operators use horizontal polarized dipoles and beam antennas, to talk to other Amateurs using similar polarized antennas. They also use circular polarized antennas. The type antenna you need depends on what you want to do. Just remember, to listen to a vertically polarized signal, use a vertically polarized antenna.

    You can also use a sloper antenna. As the name suggests, it slopes. Generally at 45 degrees. It works fairly well for vertical and horizontal signals. Inverted V’s work fine also. They are dipoles that have the feed point elevated above the end points.

    So, with all this info…….what’s the solution for the general public? Make a vertical and a horizontal antenna. Switch between the two to see what works the best for the signal, time of day, and atmospheric conditions. You might be surprised. The cost? Minimal. Just wire. Go to a big box store, look for a 100 ft. roll of steel wire, make two 50 ft antennas. If you want to get fancy, look up feed points, impedance matching, termination methods, etc. Or, just hook the thing to your radio.

    What kind of antenna do you think the first commercially available Atwater Kent radios used? A loop. It took advantage of both vertical and horizontal polarization. Not the best, but it worked. You can make one of those too! A wooden frame, 100 ft of wire, carefully wind the loops, and hook it up. What else ya got to do while waiting on FEMA to bring you a bottle of water?

    1. “Hot wire” wire works great. It is generally used for containing horses or cattle. It can be purchased for 10 or 12 bucks for a 1000 feet. (maybe) the price is a little higher…Good luck Guys

      Doc.

      1. That’s a good idea, Doc. An antenna doesn’t have to be copper. Insulators don’t have to be ceramic. Steel wire works nicely for the antenna and PVC works well for the insulators. For an unbalanced antenna, just plain ol’ wire works fine and dandy. After you make a few of this type and few of other antennas, make a tuner, match the impedance, do all that stuff that people that think they know what they’re doing do! You won’t learn unless you try. If you are using the antenna for receiving, you’re not going to burn up anything. Well,maybe your fingers soldering the connections, but they’ll heal. And you will be amazed how a simple wire antenna can make a ton of difference.

        Take a challenge…….try to hear WLS 890 Chicago. (OBTW….WLS meant “Worlds Largest Store (SEARS!)) We listened to WLS on a 30 ft vertical wire in Tan Son Nhut AB, Saigon in 1968 on Collins aircraft radios. You won’t know until you try.

  8. – I have been guilty of using an 18″ insulated jumper wire intended for car repairs (the kind with the little clips on each end) to attach to a barbed wire fence to increase the sensitivity /range of FM and SW radios. No, it doesn’t work for AM radios.

    What AM radios are good for, provided you have a few stations you can pick up during the day, is Land Navigation. If you have a radio with the antenna in the handle sitting around, you will find you can turn it on and listen to a station while rotating it until you cannot pick up the station, shoot an azimuth along that direction, then find another station on a different frequency and repeat the process. Move off a mile or so, repeat the process with both stations.

    If you are familiar with intersection and resection with map and compass, you can locate where you are and establish a baseline for future location and/or range finding even in heavy woods/jungle/ fog or other limited visibility locations Sometimes a handy trick to know..

    – Papa S.

  9. All very interesting. Seizing on the discussion regarding HF, and the “pizzed off” chatter from around the world that one of the posters is talking about, and in no way intending to hijack this discussion, I believe it would be very interesting at some point in the future to do a topic of long distance (DX’ing) for the scenario where all the short range 70cm, 2M, VHF and UHF goes dark. Hitting the usual topics like radios, antennas, best bands to concentrate on, etc. would be very informative IMO.

    A slightly separate but related topic is shortwave listening, where you can tune into radio stations from around the world. No transmitting, just receiving.

    By way of background, I started listening in on shortwave (mostly BBC and Voice of America) on a Zenith Transoceanic over 50 years ago when our family lived in some far flung places (Africa, Latin America), but that was just listening, not transmitting. And I still have a “boom box” short wave radio that I bought in the Middle East back in the 1970’s – still works great. And there was no TV either, at least not in English, so that’s where we got our news.

    Just a thought….

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