This is a somewhat belated review of the Eton E5 shortwave radio which has been my faithful campanion for the last 10 years. Purchased for the one and only purpose of outside use this little workhouse has seen action on some of the UK’s highest and most beautiful mountains.
On the lookout for a new portable shortwave receiver that had at least a basic SSB function I wandered into my local electronics shop and spotted this E5 at a great price in the discount section. Always one for a bargain I grabbed the nearest shop assistant to find out exactly why the radio was so cheap fearing that there might be something functional wrong with it.
After giving me and the radio a blank look the first shop assistant walked away vowing to find the one person who actually knew about all the technical things which left me wondering just where the line is in an electronics shop between non technical and technical “stuff”.
Turned out that the only problem with the E5 was that it had been stuck in the shop window for some months and someone had thrown away the box and manual making it impossible to sell at a good price. No complaints from me as the radio itself was it great condition. After a bit of haggling the shop added a power adapter to the deal for a total cost of 80GBP and I headed home to try out my new toy.
For those not familiar with the E5 here is a quick run down of the basic specifications.
- Coverage : AM 520-1710 KHz, FM 87.5-108 MHz, LW 150-510 KHz, Shortwave 1711-29999 KHz
- Single Side Band operation with fine tuning
- Proper headphone socket
- 3.5MM external antenna socket
- Line out for recording
- Keypad lock feature
- 700 memory presets
- Tuning modes Auto-Scan, Manual-Scan, Direct input and Manual
- Powered by 4 x AA batteries
Tough Little Radio
During the summer months me and my partner spend a good deal of time climbing and camping on top of the UK’s mountains and the E5 has been with us every step of the way for the last 10 years. Even though we have done our best to look after it sometimes circumstances have been out of our control meaning the radio has picked up some damage in its outdoor life but has never stopped working.
Apart from good performance for me a quality shortwave radio is one that’s not going to stop working after a few little knocks and the E5 passes that test with flying colors.
How to Break a Telescopic Aerial
Telescopic aerials are a great invention but there design does make them easily damaged and are usually the first thing to get broken on a field radio.
The destruction of the aerial on this E5 was a joint effort between me and my partner. My part was forgetting to attach a 3.5MM jack plug to the 40 Meter wire antenna that was meant to be used for a bit of mountain top DX which left me with no choice but to tape it to the telescopic instead and my partners role was falling into to rucksack that the radio was sitting on resulting in the nice shiny telescopic being ripped out of the E5 and snapped like a twig.
Never got around to replacing the aerial and as you can see from the first photo on this page opted to use a piece of wire instead.
Loss of the Tuning Knob
As the E5 is loud enough to be used to listen to FM radio stations while hiking it is usually slotted into the webbing on the side of my backpack putting it in harms way. In the summer months bracken grows to leave a springy carpet on large open spaces in the UK and even though it looks flat it does a very good job of hiding surprisingly big holes in the ground. Making camp after a few humorous hours falling over countless times while walking from one mountain to another we released the E5 had suffered a further injury.
Luckily there was still enough of the stem sticking out for us to use the radio and managed to find a rough replacement when we returned home.
The scarping on the front panel is the result of me losing my footing while walking on mist covered rocks and taking a 30 meter slide down a mountain. The E5 was in its usual spot in the backpacks side webbing and got crushed against some rocks on the way down.
I lost some skin off my face and arms along with destroying an expensive digital camera but the indestructible E5 didn’t stop playing music all the time I was tumbling over sharp rocks.
Having always tried to protect all the personal electronics we take climbing from water there have been times when things have gone wrong. The E5 once suffered from a build up of water behind the display but like a rabid zombie refused to stop going.
What we like about the E5
Having dragged this radio over countless miles of countryside some of its features make the E5 perfect for a hiking radio.
For use when on the move the keypad lock completely shuts off everything including the volume and tuning dial so there are no accidental changes will you are climbing or walking.
Used as a source of motivational music on the long hikes the E5 has a good level of volume when listening to FM stations with very little distortion even at full blast but at this level it will easily eat through a set of batteries every 5-6 hours (defiantly pack some spares).
A Hard Act to Follow!
I don’t expect every portable shortwave receiver to go through the sort of punishment that my little E5 has over the years but it does go to show what a great field radio it is. The fact that this Eton product is still working means that when this E5 does eventually meet its maker on some wet mountain top the next radio will have a lot to measure up to and with some poorly constructed sets on the market at the moment it has really limited my buying choices.
As the summer crawls to a close the E5 has done us proud yet again and hopefully will be with us for many years to come.
The Eton E5 can still be bought new and for full details, customers reviews and pricing Click Here