Tuesday, 7 August 2012


We tend to take the accessability of electricity and battery power for granted here in the developed nations. When we want entertainment, we merely plug something in or buy batteries from a local store.

Imagine how it would be if you had no regular supply of electricity and batteries cost 3 or 4 weeks wages. That's how it is for many people in underdeveloped nations.

The BayGen Freeplay radio solves the battery problem very nicely. Without getting too technical about it, This radio works like the old gramophones. A large spring turns a small generator which, in turn, powers the radio section.

The BayGen Freeplay radio was invented by british engineer Trevor Baylis. He heard about the difficulties which various health agencies had in spreading AIDS-prevention information to people in Africa due to the cost of batteries. He realized that a wind-up receiver would solve the problem cheaply and effectively.

Baylis received funding from The British Overseas Development Administration (US$ 300,000( and funding from other major backers such as the Liberty Life Foundation and the Kagiso Trust. He set up a factory in Milnerton, about 12 miles outside Cape Town, South Africa. Staffed by disabled workers, the factory manufactured about 20,000 receivers per month in 1996 alone.

The Freeplay was ruggedly designed for remote locations. It has a hard plastic case and looks like an over-sized lunch box. It measures 40 by 32 by 18 cm and weighs 2.6 kg. Since the sets were designed to be as cheep as possible, the usual frills were left out. This no-gimmicks receiver is practical and easy for anybody to use.

So, how could this radio help us? The BayGen receiver is useful on camping and hunting trips. The radio is great for power failures, especially when all the batteries at home are dead. Though the price may seem steep, about $112 U.S. plus duty, some of this money provides radios to villages which are too poor too buy them. The best part is cranking the handle and listening to AM, FM, and Short Wave signals for free.

Along with freelance magazine articles, I've written two paperback memoirs. Please visit my book page to learn more about them.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bruce, we have a wind-up radio. I don't know if it's the same radio you talked about here, but it has a crank, and it'll run for about half an hour, more if you don't have the volume turned up too loud. My husband Bill used to sit on the front porch and listen to ball games. Of course, he had to wind it many times to hear the game in its entirety. I used to listen to NPR while using the treadmill, but when the station moved to a different location on the FM dial, I couldn't get it on that radio anymore. Now, it sits unused in our spare bedroom.

    Abbie Johnson Taylor, author of
    We Shall Overcome
    How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver


Please leave me a comment on this blog. All reasonable comments will be published.