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>From Gutsy's trail update:

>...I called Dan from the visitor's center and told him to bring almonds,
>3/4 Ridgerest, dental floss, and the smallest radio he can find.  At night
>it's good company, but the signal fades in and out while hiking.  He
>brought me a radio last week but it's having problems....

I've heard several long-distance hikers report a craving for music.  (Are
any guitars available for temporary use along the AT?)

One quickly gets fed up with AM/FM programming, but I think it's especially
pleasant to listen to BBC, Deutche Welle, Radio Moscow, VOA and other
shortwave broadcasters in a tent (the proliferation of super-powerful
religious shortwave stations notwithstanding).

Sony makes several AM/FM/Shortwave receivers smaller than the average
Walkman.  These have broadcast-band sensitivity far superior to that of
generic transistor radios.  See ads in _Popular Communications_ magazine.
Don't buy any shortwave receiver from Radio Shack:  They lie about them
being made by Sony.

For backpacking applications I recommend radios with analog tuning:  They
are generally smaller, less expensive, less battery-hungry, and more
sensitive then their digitally-tuned counterparts (the latter reason
because they produce no microprocessor noise).  The little Sonys which use
two AA-cells will run on batteries that are too weak to power flashlights
and tape players, therefore, you may be able to obtain enough discarded
cells "in the wild" to run a radio indefinitely.

Those liquid-crystal battery testers that come with Duracells (tm) are
nice because they weight nothing and provide a true under-load test.
(They're designed to work at room temperature and will indicate erroneously
if too hot or cold.)

Weather information acquired by radio can be valuable.  I prefer to get it
from VHF NOAA weather broadcasts (which are slightly less watered-down, so
to speak, than AM/FM weather reports).  NOAA broadcasts are useful despite
being of "consumer grade:"  If they use words like "synopsis" they get
complaints from people with limited vocabularies.  Real aviation-style
weather information is difficult to obtain without a telephone.

Ham-radio transceiver:  Standard's model C-108A ($215) is smaller than a
pack of cigarettes, runs on two AA-cells, has a wide-range receiver that
includes the aircraft band and 162MHz NOAA weather freqs.  Speleofoot
(WB9TLI) says he only made a couple of ham contacts during his '95 thru-
hike, but listened to NOAA most days.


Frank    reid@indiana.edu    W9MKV