Emergency Radio Review: Eton FRX3 AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio

 

When the power goes out, the Eton FRX3 serves multiple roles, from receiving emergency broadcast and NOAA Weather Radio signals to recharging your cell phone.

When the power goes out, the Eton FRX3 serves multiple roles, from receiving emergency broadcast and NOAA Weather Radio signals to recharging your cell phone.

During times of disaster, you’ll first want to find out what’s happening. And today radio remains the most reliable way to do that when normal services are snuffed out. In our modern gadget-centric world, the Eton FRX3 fills a unique role. It’s a small, multi-use emergency radio ideal as a first line of defense for families.

The FRX3 is small, just 7.875″ high x 7″ wide x 3.5″ deep, but it’s packed with useful features, including a built in solar panel and rechargeable Ni-MH battery (3.6V/600mAh) for extended use when grocery stores aren’t stocking batteries. It also plays on 3 AAA batteries, for times when the sun isn’t out. I tested the solar panel and it took a full day — about 10 hours — to charge the battery. You can keep the radio near an open window, though, and the thing will charge automatically so it’s always ready to use. Another way to charge it is to connect to a laptop computer via the included USB cable.

The ETON FRX3 features a built-in solar panel, and requires about 10 hours in direct sunlight for a full charge. Leave it near a window and it charges automatically so it’s always ready.

The ETON FRX3 features a built-in solar panel, and requires about 10 hours in direct sunlight for a full charge. Leave it near a window and it charges automatically so it’s always ready.

The batteries can also be recharged with the big hand crank. It took me about two minutes of cranking to bring the charge up to full. The radio features an external, extendable antenna that pulls in broadcast AM and FM stations so you can get emergency messages through the Emergency Broadcast System. One thing to note: The FRX3 does not feature AM shortwave or single side band (SSB) reception.

Full NOAA Weather Radio

However, one of the most useful things about the FRX3 is its robust NOAA Weather Radio. It features pre-programmed frequencies so you can always find one NOAA signal in your area and an ALERT system that springs the radio to life when an emergency alert is issued. I found that the antenna was fine for the AM/FM broadcast station reception but only mediocre in pulling in the NOAA Weather repeaters — which operate in the 162.400- 162.550 MHz range, FM — out in the rural area in which I live. The signal was broken but readable.

If you live closer to a population center you should have no trouble in getting a strong NOAA signal. But just for comparison, I can receive the NOAA signal from a repeater station, which is located about 10 miles away, without any trouble using a small handheld amateur radio transceiver and minimal antenna. So the only improvement to the FRX3 would be to include a separate, internal antenna resonate for 162 MHz — it wouldn’t need to be large or even external, just matched to the right frequencies.

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Emergency Radio Review: Eton FRX3 AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio

  1. rb

    I didn’t know anything about the subject. I got this Kaito KA009R. It has all the features like yours, with all the chargers and sources. The only thing is that my Solar panel seems to have a very low output.

  2. rb

    I didn’t know anything about the subject. I got this Kaito KA009R. It has all the features like yours, with all the cahrgers and sources. The only thing is that my Solar panel seems to have a very low output.

  3. BRASS

    I have this radio and it is excellent. Small enough to be easily portable and big enough to be useful. I picked it not only for the features stressed in the article but also as it has a digital tuner. Experience with analog tuners has made digital tuners a must for me.

  4. retired75th

    Best Buy and some other large stores carry them. They run about $48. Check amazon.com might get a better price. However, reviews are not that good. On amazon do a sort according to best rated, and you should be able to find a better radio, but for $50, you get what you pay for. Another option is a micro ham radio for about $80 for a highly rated Bao Feng Transceiver. The later is a far better investment. REDUNDANCY is the key to survival here.

  5. terrydawe1@gmail.com

    Your article was very good. You did miss some key thoughts for us though. Who sells this radio? Where can it be bought and at what cost?(ARP) You mention a thought of an external antenna, is there a port for one? Is there an antenna available as a “add on” device? What about us that live 35+ miles away from a NOAA signal? How does this radio compare to a broad spectrum of other radios available? I would like to buy something but I do need more input. Thank you!

    1. gunslinger454

      I don’t have this exact model, mine is the more advanced FR-1000 model, but I got it at Sportsmansguide.com a couple years ago. As for the FR-1000, it has all of the features of the model reviewed here (except for the solar panel) and several others as well:

      -4 power sources: hand crank, rechargeable battery, AA batteries and a typical AC-DC adapter for household current.
      -LED flashlight that also includes a dimmer red LED for retaining your night vision and it can be set to blink SOS.
      -a very loud emergency siren
      -AM/FM/NOAA radio reception plus the ability to monitor shortwave (HAM) radio and to transmit on FRS/GMRS frequencies for 2-way communication.
      -alarm clock
      -and yes, it will charge my cell phone for me

      I’m not sure that this model is still available, but if not there will be something similar to take its place. I like it a lot and recommend that everyone get a radio with these capabilities.

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