Photo of Matt Lawrence

Matt Lawrence

Professional Preparedness Expert

Wind-up Gadgets

Featured On:

  • MSNBC
Go green! That’s the call heard around the world as carbon emissions, oil prices, and global waste production continue to increase. Self-generating or wind-up gadgets have been on the market for years but now more than ever their uses are growing beyond the emergencies for which they were designed. Many of these multi-powered units can be charged with AC adapters, car adapters, or solar as well as being supported by hand-cranked power. One things for sure, with these units you’ll never be out of the loop.

One product still available in some markets, although I’ve chosen not to feature them, is the crank-powered televisions popular with outdoor enthusiasts and folks in the thirteen states that make up the hurricane belt. That’s because they will all be obsolete when the U.S. makes the switch to digital broadcasting in February 2009! That being said I did include one review of a radio that receives television signals for those of you that just can’t miss your favorite “soap.”

Best Emergency Wind-up Gadgets by Matt Lawrence

The Best You Can Get

  • Eton Grundig NFR1000B

    Matt says: Don’t get caught out of touch or power with the NFR1000B. It’s a complete communications station for your family! Tune into AM, FM, and weather band frequencies for the most up-to-date information in the event of an emergency. Add to that, the nifty Voicelink feature that allows GMRS two-way walkie-talkie communications with family members; and a built-in cell phone charger and you’ll have it all covered! Other cool features include a flashlight, a siren, and a beacon light that can function as an SOS signal. Best of all, you can crank up the music with just a twist of the crank.


    • Self–Powered Hand-Crank AM-FM-NOAA Weather-2-Way GMRS Radio with Flashlight, Siren, and Cell Phone Charger
  • Eton Grundig ARCFR500

    Matt says: Whether your outdoor adventures take you way off the beaten path, or the weather beats your electrical path, you need a device that can fill multiple needs. This compact unit is one you can toss in your rucksack and depend on anywhere. Featuring AM, FM, and a shortwave radio tuner, the ARCFR500 also has NOAA weather bands as well as a flashlight, an emergency beacon, and an emergency siren. It will also charge your cell phone or MP3 player while powered with the hand crank, or via solar panels making this a very “green” device. Optional battery power and AC power are available for this neat packable radio.


    • Self-Powered and Solar-Powered AM-FM-Shortwave Radio with NOAA Weatherband, Flashlight, Siren, and Cell Phone Charger
  • Midland ER-102

    Matt says: Midland is known as a manufacturer of weather radios and the ER102 was designed to be the perfect severe weather survival tool. A Dynamo crank allows you to recharge the radio and flashlight when no other power is available so you can stay informed with NOAA All Hazard Weather Alerts or local AM/FM broadcasts. The optional USB connector allows you to charge other electronic devices such as cell phones (USB cable not included).


    • Emergency Crank Radio with AM-FM and Weather Alert Radio
  • Eton Grundig FR300 Silver

    Matt says: Just gotta have your TV? The Grundig FR300 is for you! Like many other units in this class it features a terrestrial radio, NOAA weather channels, flashlight, and cell phone battery charging capabilities but the FR300 goes one step further and lets you tune in to TV shows as well. Besides being hand crank powered, the unit can also be recharged with an optional AC adapter. Toss it into your backpack or carry it in the car, this portable has enough power and features to keep you safe and informed.


    • AM-FM Radio with NOAA Weather, TV VHF, Flashlight, and Cell Phone Charger

You will be happy with any of these

  • Wind ‘N Go TimeMinder

    Matt says: The Wind 'N Go TimeMinder takes the travel alarm clock one step further by transforming it into a self-powered travel accessory. The Wind 'N Go feature a replaceable battery that operates the clock, alarm, and LCD features.

    There’s also an internal rechargeable battery that can be charged by using the hand crank or by using the USB adapter (included) via a USB port of your computer. The internal rechargeable battery powers the three-LED flashlight, AM/FM radio, and high decibel siren.

    The TimeMinder can also provide emergency charging for your cell phone. Simply crank the unit about three minutes to charge your cell phone battery sufficiently to make an emergency call. (This method is not capable of fully charging your cell phone.) A Nokia adapter is included with the TimeMinder with additional tips available at electronic and mobile phone stores.


  • Life Gear Personal Safety Device

    Matt says: The perfect glove box tool kit featuring a magnetic 6-Bit Tool Kit tucked inside a hand held AM/FM radio/flashlight. One minute of cranking yields approximately one hour of flashlight power. Generate power anywhere, anytime. The Life Gear PSD Provides a reliable source of light boasting five LEDs, a flashing emergency signal, 130db siren, AM/FM radio and a reliable method of recharging your cell phone with free adapters from Life Gear.


    • PSDTOOLS
  • SideWinder Emergency Cell Phone Charger

    Matt says: The SideWinder emergency is a small handheld unit weighing only 2.5 ounces that doubles as an LED flashlight and cell phone charger. Simply unfold the hand crank and start turning it as you would a fishing reel. Thirty seconds of cranking will yield about five minutes of light. Output from the SideWinder is a steady 6.2 volts, and while it won’t bring your cell phone battery back “from the dead,” it will give you a good enough boost from the need to charge stage for you to make an emergency phone call.


  • Life Gear Water Light Pro

    Matt says: The perfect wind-up light for boater or jet-skier in the family! This floating waterproof flashlight is submersible to one ATM (33’). The unit has a four-position switch that goes from one LED, to five and then seven flashing as an emergency beacon. One minute of cranking creates approximately 45 minutes of life saving light - a must-have for anyone on the water or in an emergency.


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