While reading a National Geographic magazine, I noticed an advertisement for the Eton Scorpion emergency flashlight / radio unit. My current crank powered radio is large and old so I decided to try the new Eton Scorpion.
So here is my real-world experience with a Eton Scorpion production unit.
The Eton Scorpion comes packaged in a clear plastic shipping case. The instructions are not in a separate manual, but printed on the inside cardboard packaging material. The instructions are printed in fairly small type. Most functions of the Scorpion unit are straightforward, but one item that may cause some user problems is the USB charging because the instructions are not very clear on how the USB charging operates (more info on this item later).
Easier to read instructions for the Scorpion are available on the Eton website at http://www.etoncorp.com/product_card/?p_ProductDbId=1517029
Batteries and Charging
The battery capacity is shown on a small LCD display (just like on a cell phone) with 3 bars being a fully charge. The unit arrived with a charge of 1 bar. I powered on the flashlight and let it run until the power was drained to ensure accurate test results going forward.
To achieve a full charge on the batteries required approximately 500 turns of the hand crank. At a steady pace this took about 2-3 minutes.
After the batteries were fully depleted, I placed the unit outside in partly cloudy skies to test the solar charging.
The batteries were fully charged using solar power in about 5 hours.
The flashlight uses 3 white LEDs and provides good forward illumination up to about 20 – 30 feet. The flashlight is either on or off. There is no brightness selection or beam adjustments.
With the flashlight on (no radio) the batteries kept steady illumination for about 3.5 hours. The light continued to shine after this time, but the illumination dropped off quickly.
Of course a few turns of the crank would restore the flashlight to full illumination.
The radio is a standard AM/FM/Weather band radio. It is digital, so there are no dials to turn while dialing in frequencies. Just use the up or down arrows to select a station. The sound quality is about what you would expect for a single speaker radio. The external antenna can be used to improve reception if needed. Most of the stations (including weather bands) did not require the antenna to be extended.
With the light turned on and the radio volume set to 25 (top volume level is 30), the radio operated properly for a little over 2 hours. The flashlight continued to function even after the radio stopped. Again, just a few turns of the hand crank would recharge the batteries so that the radio would function again.
Clock and Display
The Scorpion’s display also doubles as a digital clock. The time is set manually and was still accurate after 7 days.
If the batteries are fully discharged, the clock will need to be reset since there is no battery backup.
Input / Output Connections
There is a standard earphone jack and when in use disables the external speaker.
AUX Input Jack
The aux input jack allows you to plug-in an iPod and use the external speaker instead of headphones only.
This requires a male to male cable that is not included.
Cell phones can be charged using the USB port on the Scorpion. To use USB charging, you must press the mode button until the display shows ‘cell’. If the unit is not set to cell mode, you can crank all day and there will be no power to the phone. Once the cell mode is enabled, and your phone connected (USB cable not included), you need to turn the crank about 1-2 times per second. If you try to turn the crank faster, a clutch type mechanism engages that lets you know to turn more slowly.
The only phone that I have that uses USB is a Droid smartphone.
For my Droid, 30 minutes of slow cranking only provided enough power to turn on my phone. As soon as I attempted to use the phone to place a call, the power was depleted.
If there was absolutely no power available, I could probably spend enough time turning the crank to get a couple minutes of talk time, but this would definitely be emergency use only.
Adapter tips are available for numerous cell phones (not included).
The Eton website states that 10-15 minutes of cranking can provide about 1 or more minutes of talk time. Since all phones have different power requirements and battery usage, your mileage may vary using the USB charging feature.
The solar charging feature does not work on the USB port. This appears to be a hand crank only option.
The unit has a DC power port that allows an external power source to be connected (DC adapter not included).
This feature was not tested during our review.
The Scorpion is rated as IPX-4 Splashproof.
In technical terms, the unit is protected against spraying water from all angles at 10 liters/min at a pressure of 80-100kN/m2 for 5 min.
In real-life terms, this means the unit can withstand splashes of water and some rain. It cannot be submerged or exposed to a constant spray of water.
During testing, while the unit was powered on, a steady rain hit the unit without causing damage.
A water hose was used to gently spray the unit while it was powered on and it also continued to function properly.
There is a rubber flap that covers the input/output ports. This flap must be kept closed when in use around water. Failure to do so can allow water to enter the unit through the various input/ output ports..
It does not appear that there are any gaskets to seal the unit, so I would caution that the Scorpion should not be used where it could be exposed to water or rain for long periods of time. The antenna and hand crank should not be used while exposed to water. Again, this unit is only water resistant, not waterproof and cannot be submerged.
Yes, it has a bottle opener integrated into it’s side. The bottle opener is sideways in the unit which is slightly awkward to use, but it does work.
The Scorpion appears more rugged than it actually is. It does have a rugged rubberized exterior, but the unit is plastic.
An aluminum carabiner clip integrated into the unit allows it to be attached to various items. It has flat sides that allow it to be stable when placed on flat areas.
The LCD display is small, but usable. A larger LCD would be nice, but this would also require more power.
The Scorpion is billed as being “Power Packed for Extreme Outdoor Condition.”
If it were waterproof, not just splashproof, I would be more inclined to agree. For what the unit actually is, a splashproof self-powered emergency flashlight and radio, the Eton Scorpion works well. The flashlight gives good illumination and the radio works well on all frequencies. Battery life is good and can always be extended by using the hand crank. The rubberized exterior protects the unit from accidental drops.
I wish the unit was fully waterproof and that the USB charging would use solar power and charge my smartphone.
Even with these issues, the Scorpion will find it’s way into our home emergency supplies and also into my vehicle.
Video Review of the Etón (Eton) Scorpion
Dimensions: 5.25” x 2.5” x 1.75” (W x H x D)
133 x 63.5 x 44.45 mm (W x H x D)
Weight: 8.5 oz. (241 g)
• Digital AM FM Radio Tuner
• NOAA Weather Band
• Built-In LED Flashlight
• Large Solar Panel
• Crank Powered
• USB Cell Phone Charger
• Audio Line Input
• Aluminum Carabiner
• Rugged Exterior Skin
• Battery Charge Indicator
• Bottle Opener
• No Batteries Needed
• DC Power