Saturday, December 18, 2010

Get Cranky with your Radio

Cranky? Windup radio? Get it? Yes, you are probably sighing and rolling your eyes, too. Actually with teenagers you begin to believe that people respond that way to everything you say. Well, anything that YOU believe to be clever anyway. It IS the big gift-giving time of the year (seemingly regardless of your religion, or lack thereof...), so why not take this opportunity to get something cool (gadget-wise) AND useful...The crank or wind-up radio!

Recently there have been reviews of a few different models. Generally, they all seem to be pretty good and reasonably priced. Originally these were designed for emergency situations, but they are good general tools to have around – in your car, tool or sewing kit – so you can have a flashlight that works without having to hunt around for fresh batteries. The power comes from you!

Two qualifiers, however. One, cranking means that. You have to crank. The more times around, the more power you generate. If you want time to pass slowly, or get a good arm workout, just try to crank one of these guys for a couple minutes. I was surprised how tired my arm was. Forget the gym - just crank your flashlight for a few minutes a day! Oh, I can just see the Info-mercial...

Second qualifier is that you need to crank them a few times once every few months. I found this out the hard way. I had one sitting for over a year and when I tried to get some light out of it, I nearly wore my arm out getting only a small flicker of light. Future models may improve, but for now that is just another thing to add to your “Quarterly House Duties,” like checking your smoke detector batteries.

Some Crank Devices (I will call them) can do a whole lot more. Most are also flashlights, often with a flashing emergency light, too. I would choose LED types, as they require less energy to work. Mine, an Eton Microlink FR160, has the AM/FM radio, with an additional NOAA weather band. It also an USB cell phone charger (which I have not yet tested), and can be powered with solar energy. It’s a cool green color and cost me $30 a year ago, but I am sure there are others out there that have similar features and could cost less. Especially now that practically every place has everything on sale.

So consider getting a Crank Device soon. For a present, or just because. And, believe it or not, Santa IS watching, and in this case, cranky is OK.

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