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Eton FR 170 - Give me your tests!

Discussion in 'Electronic Devices' started by subneural, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. subneural

    subneural Loaded Pockets

    I've had a larger, crank-only Eton radio as part of my in-home emergency kit for a few years now. It's never let me down, so I picked up the smaller Eton FR-170 to try out and see if it should become part of my second line EDC get home bag. In addition to an AM/FM/WX radio and flashlight, the FR-170 sports an internally rechargeable battery. The internal battery can:
    - be fully charged in 10-12 hours via the solar panel (in direct sunlight)
    - be fully charged in 3-4 hours by connecting it to any USB charger (include a computer).
    - be charged by the hand crank, but no rating is given on how long that will take....

    The real kicker for me: the FR-170 can also CHARGE any USB device, including iPhones and BlackBerrys. This is mainly why I bought it. It has a standard USB port on it, so it will work with custom cables like those on the iPhone. It has whats called "cell dump charging mode", which allows the device being charged to draw its needed amount of current.

    So I figure this is the perfect opportunity for some empirical research! I have already run down the internal battery by leaving the radio and LED lights on. The FR-170 is currently being recharged by an AC-USB adapter, and once it's full, I want to run some tests:
    - I want to see how much an iPhone can be charged, and the resulting talk/usage time.
    - If/how much a BlackBerry can be charged, and the resulting talk/usage time.
    - Repeat these tests after a solar recharge, as opposed to AC adapter recharge.
    - ??? What else ???

    Please give me some input on what I/we should test. I will keep posting results in this thread.
  2. Lannister
    • In Omnia Paratus

    Lannister Loaded Pockets

    I'd be interested in:
    The amount of time it lasts while listening to the radio (Full Charge) and maybe in-betweens.
    From "empty" what autonomy do you have with cranking for X amount of time.
    That is all. Thanks
  3. riot

    riot Loaded Pockets

    I've been eyeing the same radio for the same reasons. I will be anxiously awaiting your findings!
  4. reppans

    reppans Loaded Pockets

    I don't want to burst your bubble, but I think you will be disappointed. You should read the manual for what this thing is capable of on it's "solar panel" and/or hand crank. It is nowhere near fully charged in 12hrs (2 full days btw) of sun.:


    It's using 3xAA NiMh and so should be fine for fully or near fully charging a smartphone.... but only if it's been charged from the grid. Not sure if they use LSD NiMh, but I doubt it, so the batts will likely be flat when you need to use them. Hand cranking might be OK for a few text messages, but I wouldn't count on that minuscule solar panel for charging any USB device.... surface area means everything in solar. The internal radio and flashlight, both of which use very little power, can be reasonably useful just on the internal generators though. My kid has one.
  5. subneural

    subneural Loaded Pockets

    Reppans called it :(

    As an emergency/backup power source for keeping a smartphone going, the FR-170 comes up very very short.

    I repeated each test twice, just to validate the results:
    After recharging the FR-170 from an AC outlet overnight, it was only able to increase a smartphones' battery by 5-7 percentage points.
    My iPhone went from 10% charge to 15% charge in about 30 minutes. After which, the FR-170 was completely drained.
    My wife's BlackBerry did about the same, going from 13% to 20% over half an hour. Again the FR-170 was completely drained afterwards.

    Again, between each iteration of the test, the FR-170 was charged via AC, not solar or crank.

    I am going to do radio and flashlight runtime tests next. I'll keep ya'll posted.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. reppans

    reppans Loaded Pockets

    Bummer Subneural...but that really surprises me, I would thought its 3xNiMh (at least fully charged from AC) would easily charge an iPhone or BB. I EDC an iGo PowerXtender and with 2xNiMh I can get ~ 80+% into my 3G iPhone.

    In any case, I use a Powerfilm 4xAA solar charger, Eneloops, Sangean DT-400w, and Quark AAX or D25A clicky, and of, course the iGo cellphone charger, all in probably about the same weight and volume... except this stuff really works. Not quite as cheap though.
  7. MacTavish

    MacTavish Loaded Pockets

    I concur with previous posters...avoid and invest in "real kit".
  8. ericjohn

    ericjohn Loaded Pockets

    I got mine with Christmas money in 2012. It was on clearance at Radio Shack. I enjoy it and now I keep it in my car for emergencies. I know that it has pretty good AM DX for a radio of its size and class.
  9. 11C1P
    • In Omnia Paratus

    11C1P Loaded Pockets

    I have one of these and a larger FR-300. I've used them a few times now. I've had the larger one for several years and the the 170 for about 2 years now. I like the small one, but I wish there was some sort of battery back-up, as even just listening to the radio I had to crank it every 5-10 minutes during a power outage. However my daughter took it to camp and sitting in the sun she said it ran fine on just the solar cell. So if it's sunny, it's not a problem. Funny thing is this small one gets better reception than my large 300, even with an extension on it. Go figure.
  10. 11C1P
    • In Omnia Paratus

    11C1P Loaded Pockets

    I had always thought you would have to crank it or leave it plugged in while in the sun to charge a cell phone or an external device. While I wouldn't want it to be my primary method for charging a cell phone, I think in a pinch being able to charge it (by crank or solar) if even just enough to get a call for help off is better than having a radio that can't charge the phone, or needs an outlet to charge.