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Ultralight AM/FM radios
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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Antennas on 04/01/2013 12:35:17 MDT Print View

Try the County Comm with some wire clipped to the antenna and see what happens. Using the ferrite bar, simply turning the radio will make a difference. That is counter-intuitive as we want the speaker pointed toward us.

The passive am loop antennas are a coil of wire that sits next to the radio and feeds signal to the ferrite bar in your AM radio via inductance. I've played with commercial versions, but they are much too large and heavy for hiking. I have one on the AM antennas that come with a home stereo. I'll try putting more windings on that light plastic frame and see how it does. The commercial versions have a variable capacitor to tune to various frequencies. I'm not going there, but even a simple loop should help.

robert van putten

Locale: Planet Bob
RCA MP3 on 04/01/2013 13:13:18 MDT Print View


I’ve almost never bothered with a radio or music but I remember one five day backpacking trip back around 1981 when one of my friends brought along a tape deck and a few Beatles cassettes. It was the old kind of flat tape deck with one speaker that took six D batteries!

We didn’t use it much but one night I camped in a cave while my friends hiked a few miles away to sleep beside a lake. They had found a pine grove beside the lake with a very deep carpet of pine needles and wanted to try sleeping on a soft surface for once ( of course, back in those days we knew nothing of sleeping pads. I didn’t even have a sleeping bag on that trip! ).

It poured rain that night – My friends didn’t have so much as a ground cloth to pull over them and spent a miserable night lying under dripping trees in sodden sleeping bags. I was snug in the cave and sat for long hours listening to the rain hammer down while making a pot of tea over a candle and listening to my favorite Beatles tape over and over.

I think the next time I had music on a trip was in 2010.
Just before I went on a cycle tour of Iceland my wife gave me an inexpensive RCA MP3 player from Walmart, the type with a flip out USB connector on the side, loaded with my favorite music.
It ran on a single AAA battery which was also what my bike lights ran on.

It had a radio built in that worked surprisingly well and the tiny light of the display was bright enough to find things in the tent at night ( what little night there is up in Iceland!).
It could also delete songs with the press of a button instead of having to hook it up to a computer, which I quite liked.
I used up two AAA batteries in two weeks, and used it every night to fall asleep as I was having allot of trouble sleeping because the sun just wouldn’t go down, and I also used it a good bit during the day when riding.

Probably not the safest thing to do when riding along a road but I find the tiny thing has become a standard bit of kit for bike riding! Very lightweight and not a bad idea for music on the go, if you don’t mind ear plugs anyway.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Ultralight AM/FM radios on 05/08/2013 12:28:39 MDT Print View

The Kaito KA200 is about the lightest decent sounding radio with a speaker that I have seen reviewed. I'm sure the reception and quality can't compare to the 4oz or heavier radios, or the headphone only models, but if your radio must have a speaker and be UL, it weighs 2.2oz.

It would not be that often that I would use a radio, but I do remember not seeing a human for several days on one trip and really wished I had one for news, weather and some talk.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Ultralight AM/FM radios on 05/09/2013 10:03:10 MDT Print View

For those that need mp3 player, digital recording, rechargeable, AM, FM, SW, speaker, ...
Only 3 oz:
Kaito Electronics Inc. KA801

scree ride
kmet on 05/09/2013 10:08:16 MDT Print View

Find me a radio that will pick up the mighty met and I'll buy it.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Kaito KA801 on 05/09/2013 10:12:55 MDT Print View

Nice! Not cheap, but lots of bells and whistles. It takes swappable rechargeable batteries too. I like that.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
LW on 05/10/2013 03:09:35 MDT Print View

Rather an English thing this of course. I nearly always carry a long wave radio around with me, because that's what I can get the cricket on. The tempo suits long days walking in fog!

They don't come very small though.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: LW on 05/10/2013 07:49:39 MDT Print View

You want a Tecsun PL-360 and now I do too! Looks like a cool little radio and it has a speaker. 128g/4.5oz.

Tecsun PL-360 radio

PL-360 Specifications

Speaker 40 mm
Audio Output 350 mW
Earphone Jack 3.5 mm stereo
Antenna System AM Ferrite bar and FM/SW telescopic whip
LW Band 150 - 512 kHz
AM Band 520 - 1710 kHz
SW Band 1 2.3 - 21.95 MHz
FM Band 87 - 108 MHz
Memories 450 (FM 100, MW 100, SW 250)
Sensitivity MW 1mV/m (S/N=26dB)
Sensitivity SW <30uV (S/N=26dB)
Sensitivity FM <3uV (S/N=30dB)
Selectivity MW >60 dB (BW=3 kHz, ± 9 kHz)
Selectivity SW >60 dB (BW=3 kHz, ± 5 kHz)
Selectivity FM >60 dB (± 150 kHz)
External USB 5V DC
Battery AA x 3 (not included)
Size 2.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches (53x159x26mm)
Weight 128 g.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Ultralight AM/FM radios on 05/10/2013 07:56:25 MDT Print View

Re: The Tecsun pl-360,
Wow and the size of a TV remote control.

It's a bit much for me, but I could see this for many situations.
A review:

Troy Hawkins
(ollyisk) - F - MLife

Locale: Germany
re: on 05/10/2013 08:15:08 MDT Print View

I really hate that the phone market is killing/has killed the mp3 player market...

I want an MP3 player that runs on a single AAA battery, has a microSDHC slot, plays AM/FM, has no speaker, and has a simple grey and black LCD display

I wish I knew more about electronics because I'd try to make my own.

I think that it would be a perfect solution for hikers and people who want music outdoors without wanting the reliance of electricity for a recharge.

It would be small, extremely light, have decent battery life (in the realm of 15 hours play time), it would be easy to find replacement batteries wherever you were, and you could put a ton of music on a 32GB microSDHC card.

Edited by ollyisk on 05/10/2013 08:17:37 MDT.

Mike In Socal
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
Sansa Clip on 05/10/2013 15:43:53 MDT Print View


Edited by rcmike on 05/10/2013 15:44:38 MDT.

Loren B

Locale: London UK, Greenville USA
Re: re: on 05/10/2013 16:17:15 MDT Print View

+1 on that Troy. If anyone has found an aaa powered mp3 player with sd slot and am/fm, then please share it with us all :). AM is obviously crucial if you are anywhere away from cities etc. I would see radio function as more of a bonus though in an mp3 player. If I was really planning to listen to any radio while hiking I would bring a dedicated unit which would work better.

I've also been interested in am/fm radios to bring hiking, but am also interested in shortwave radios too. Anyway here are the models I've found which look good

The Kaito a200 is great and is so small it makes you fee a bit like 007 when you use it, but with batteries the weight is 3oz.

Granted, this much more expensive, but for 3 ounces you could instead take a Degen DE1127 which has am/fm/sw and a 4gb mp3 player (I think the recorder functions are useless though).

Edited by ljamesb on 05/10/2013 16:21:18 MDT.

Loren B

Locale: London UK, Greenville USA
Re: Re: re: on 05/10/2013 16:23:30 MDT Print View

Or you could bring the Sony SRF-S84, which Dale suggested at the start, and a YooMee BEAT51 (Lightest and cheapest for the sound quality it gives you that I have found 2.2oz and $16) portable speaker for a total weight of 3.8oz (with batteries). This would provide much better sound than the kaito and would be more versatile since you could also hook it up to an mp3 player.

If you want a VERY good signal for the price and weight, then the TECSUN PL-380, at 7oz is an excellent option. Then for stereo sound and slightly better signal look no further than the Tecsun PL398BT, Tecsun PL390, or Tecsun PL398MP depending on the features you want. Kinda heavy at 11 ounces, but for some (including me) it may be worth it.

Edited by ljamesb on 05/10/2013 16:29:05 MDT.

Fitz Travels
MP3 with AM/FM on 05/10/2013 16:49:29 MDT Print View

Loren, this radio does not have aaa batteries but an internal rechaegeable..

I, like you, have been on a quest to find the same type of radio you seek, but i have yet to come across one, perhaps one but it looked cheapo and crappy. I emailed CCrane once to make sure that radio above has annexternal speaker which i think it does, but they never returned my email.

Considering that Black Diamond now has their headlamp ReVolt which by itself can charge aaa batteries, i saw this as an opportunity to find a radio with mp3, am, fm with aaa and thus have no need for extra charger for AA

Its really hard to find any radio (with external speaker) and am fm that takes aaa IME

By the way, for what its worth to anyone, do not ever buy the Grundig radio REI sells. It takes aaa, but the stations creap on you up or down, making it insanely aggrevating, if not worthless.

Edited by fitztravels on 05/10/2013 16:54:26 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: MP3 with AM/FM on 05/10/2013 20:42:57 MDT Print View

The Degen DE1123 runs on AAA batteries, receives am/fm/sw and has 2gb flash memory for mp3's, or voice/radio recording. I too would rather have SD card capability, but this is close. It has a speaker as well. 81g/2.9oz without batteries.

Troy Hawkins
(ollyisk) - F - MLife

Locale: Germany
interesting on 05/11/2013 03:27:10 MDT Print View

There's another post on this currently--it seems extremely interesting to me.

It's not really ultralight or anything at 10 oz, but it's about as multifunctional as it gets. I currently carry a Kindle anyway, which only weighs a few ounces less.

Loren B

Locale: London UK, Greenville USA
another option on 05/11/2013 13:40:00 MDT Print View

Fitz, that does look good, but is a little pricey. Would be great though if you wanted to be able to record some radio shows.

Sorry for going slightly off topic here, but I don't know how many of you carry a cell/mobile phone with you while hiking. I carry it for the same reason that will sometimes carry my car keys and that is that I have no choice. I need these things for the return journey home. I've decided to forget about finding a radio with an inbuilt mp3 player as it seems most of them compromise on the radio aspect in order to jam an mp3 function in there. I've instead decided instead to just buy a lighter cellphone with good battery life, mp3 player, sd slot etc. Replacing my cellphone makes more sense for me than bringing a separate mp3 player mostly because it will save weight overall and is likely to have a small inbuilt speaker to boot. I may as well save some weight and get a new one which allows interchangeable batteries (which my battery hungry iphone does not). I will then take a dedicated lightweight radio also.

If anyone needs it, GSM Arena has a good database which includes all the weights. I've pretty much decided on the Samsung S5690 which is waterproof and pretty light for its functionality at 3.5 oz.

Back to radios, here is a rundown of the fm/am/shortwave options which I am considering for hiking:

Tecsun PL-360 - 6.93oz incl. 3xAA - seems to be by far the best the best overall for detecting weak signals. From what I have read the ETM mode works very well also.
Degen DE1126 - 6.3oz (maybe 4.3oz) - not sure if the smaller weight includes the removable li-ion battery which weighs 2oz
Degen DE1127 - 5oz (maybe 3oz) - again, not sure if this includes the removable li-ion battery
Degen DE15 - 4.1 oz incl. 3xAAA - has some bad reviews, but is one of the lightest.

From reviews it seems that the Tecsun pl-360 is an absolutely excellent radio, but is the heaviest. So good in fact that I would probably end up using it at home sometimes coupled with a better antenna. For the tecsun or the degen de15, may be possible to save some weight by sharing batteries with another device you already bring with you.

Edited by ljamesb on 05/11/2013 13:49:41 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Ultralight AM/FM radios on 05/23/2013 07:19:53 MDT Print View

I recently took the Kaito KA-200 radio on a trip and was very impressed with the reception. It was picking up stations that my Bose car stereo couldn't reach in the same area. Far better than the Grundig pocket radio that the outfitters always sell.

It is small, light and has a speaker, but it is only AM/FM mono.
There is no bass response because of the small speaker, but the mid-range on up has good fidelity.

I don't need bass response in the outdoors and really only need it for news, weather and maybe NPR.

This is good for those people who can't or don't like to wear headphones. Otherwise, you can go smaller and lighter on the no speaker radios, but I wonder if AM reception would be as good with the smaller ferrite antenna required for a smaller radio?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Ultralight AM/FM radios on 05/23/2013 08:28:46 MDT Print View

$20 with free shipping is good

I'm skeptical of the analog tuner

How much does it weigh?

2 AA batteries is normal but a little heavy. Is it big enough for NiMH batteries which are a little bigger? How long does it run?

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Re: Re: Ultralight AM/FM radios on 05/23/2013 09:12:02 MDT Print View

Re: Kaito KA-200,

Analog tuning can be better for tuning remote/week stations. I think this is why my other radios do so poorly in the mountains.

I don't have an accurate scale with me. I seem to remember it being about 2.5 oz empty.
It uses AAA batteries. So if you use Lithium batteries, it should be around 3.5 oz total.

NiMH batteries do fit. There is a little extra space.

I have yet to run out of juice on my first set yet so I can't review battery life.

I do wish it were waterproof.