Kaito Voyager KA500 good in an emergency

Kaito KA500This Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me a Kaito Voyager KA500 radio. This radio tunes

  • AM,
  • FM,
  • two shortwave bands:  3.2-8 and 9-22 MHz,
  • and the seven weather band frequencies: 162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.50, 162.525, and 162.55 MHz.
It’s not the most sensitive SW receiver on the market, but it does pick up the big broadcasters, and I’ve had some fun playing around with it. There’s only a short whip antenna, and no external antenna jack, so that might be one reason the sensitivity is lacking. I haven’t yet tried clipping a longer wire onto the whip antenna.
I also wish it had a BFO, so that I could tune CW and SSB signals, but what do you want for $50 (at Amazon). There are several projects out there on the Internet for add-on BFOs, and TenTec even makes a kit, so I might be adding that on later.

One of the cool things about this radio is that there are six ways to power it:

  • dynamo cranking,
  • solar panel power,
  • three AA cells,
  • built-in Ni-MH battery pack,
  • optional AC adaptor, or
  •  from a computer via the USB port.

I played around with the cranking feature, and you get about a half hour of radio operation for each minute you crank. Having said that, you probably don’t want to do this all the time. Not only will your arm get tired, but I don’t think the dynamo was made for heavy-duty use.

Other neat features include a five-LED reading lamp on the rear panel and a LED flashlight on the side. The radio can also charge other electronic items. It has a bi-directional USB jack that can connect with many standard USB enabled items like iPods, cell phones, etc. It comes with six cell phone tips that charge many cell phone models.

Overall, this radio has been fun to play with, and in an emergency, it could prove to be very useful. For more information, there are a couple of YouTube videos showing off the features of the KA500. Here’s one from UltraTechLife.Com.


  1. Been looking at getting one of these myself. I like the hand-crank radio idea for power outages. We get at least one outage a year during the winter time, and when that happens we can be cut off from the rest of the world for at least several days.

  2. 1/2 hour of radio for every one minute cranking is very good – most I have seen are closer to the opposite – 1 minute of radio for every half-hour cranking!

  3. I have an old Freeplay Plus emergency radio with essentially the same features and performance. It’s great during our relatively frequent power outages, and is also very useful outdoors on sunny days. It will run all day on solar power. Cranking works fine, too.
    Very handy radios to fall back on when away from commercial power for any reason.

  4. David N8SRE says:

    My experience with small, whip-antenna shortwave receivers is that connecting a longer antenna usually results in front end overload.

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      Hmmmm. I hadn’t thought about that, but that’s certainly a possibility. I’m going to give it a go, anyway.

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