Category Archives: Preparedness

Commercial Solar Oven Focus on Solavore

This Sun-day’s Amazon product is also demonstrated cooking chicken and apple crisp dessert and holding them at temperature until dinnertime in a video by LDSPrepper, embedded at the bottom of this post.

. Sold by etailz and Fulfilled by Amazon in easy-to-open packaging. Gift-wrap available.
. #1 customer rated Solar Oven on Amazon – easy to use, portable, and durable
. 100% Solar: point the solar oven at the sun and you’re ready to go
. Made in USA: from design to manufacture
. Easy to use – cook, slow cook, and bake year round with included all-season solar reflectors
. The perfect solar oven, whether you’re baking cookies in your backyard or slow cooking a batch of our Solavore Chili while camping

Solavore probably gets its name from a play on locavore, eater of local food instead of stuff with lots of travel miles, which is already a play on the traditional carnivore, herbivore and omnivore terms.

On a day with frost on the ground in the morning and wind, the “pre-heated” Solavore is already at 225F without the reflectors, which he only uses when it’s below freezing temp outside.

Pre-heated Solavore about to receive chicken and dessert pots for cooking
Solavore Sport Solar Oven – Portable Solar Cooking Package Complete with All Season Solar Reflectors, 2 Granite Ware Pots, Oven Thermometer, and Water Pasteurization Tool

Other popular solar ovens include the All American and GoSun designs at similar price points. They have their advocates and we’ll look at them in future posts. But for now, LDSPrepper puts the Solavore to good use in the video, EASY Shredded Chicken Solar Oven Recipe, and demonstrates some indispensable extra items available for the oven in another video, The Two Hottest Items Since Solar Ovens.

AMAZING FLAVOR, CHEAP & EASY! This is the way to make a delicious dinner. Put three ingredients in a pot, set it outside in the Solavore solar oven and go about your day with no worries. Because dinner is being cooked while you take care of business. But don’t forget dessert! I also made my favorite Apple Crisp recipe. Our dinner guest loved the food and we had plenty of leftovers for a week.

RESOURCES:
– $40 Discount Code: http://SolarOvens.org Code: Prepared
– Mom’s Apple Crisp Recipe: http://ldsprepper.com/MomsAppleCrispRecipe

The video is also embedded below.

Using Satellites When HF (Shortwave) Is Down

This Sat-ellite-urday product ships from and is sold by Amazon.com. From the description ((with notes)).

Baofeng at eBay

High / Low Power Settings (4W/1W) Programmable Amateur Radio

Frequency Range: 65-108 MHz (Only commercial FM radio reception) VHF: 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx). UHF: 400-520 MHz(Rx/Tx)
((You can listen to FM while waiting for communications))

Customize Channel Names, the Boot Display and More by Using the PC03 FTDI Programming Cable

1500mAh Battery; Broadband (Wide) 25khz / Narrowband (Narrow) 12.5khz Selectable

AUTO Keypad Lock, Dual Band, Dual Display and Dual Standby

The radio works great on direct simplex, on local repeater systems, some of which may have Echolink and similar internet voice connections, and you can work satellites. All this on such a cheap device without a phone bill. Welcome to amateur (ham) radio.

Baofeng radio vhf/uhf transceiver
BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio (Black)

Last Sat-ellite-urday, we covered using HF (shortwave) when satellites were unavailable, and presumably phones and internet, too. This week, let’s say phones and internet are off, maybe simply because the power is down, but the “atmospherics” on the shortwave bands are also not favorable. This was a problem before satellites, mentioned in movies about Pearl Harbor, for example.

Even in an EMP scenario, if you wrapped protected gear in cardboard and aluminum foil (seriously!), satellites might have been safe on the other side of the globe and are just now passing overhead for you to use.

Description of the video, First contact via amateur radio satellite, also embedded below, from Christian Jacobs‘ YouTube channel:

“In this video I make my first amateur radio satellite contact via SO-50 (145.850 MHz uplink, 436.795 MHz downlink +/- Doppler shift, http://www.amsat.org/?page_id=1015).”

“The new Yagi antenna was made from aluminium rods (6 mm in diameter). Measurements were calculated using John Drew (VK5DJ)’s Yagi Calculator program (http://www.vk5dj.com/yagi.html), which runs fine under Wine in Linux. The radio is a Baofeng UV-5R, connected to the antenna by some RG-58 50 Ohm coax and a PL-259 plug.”

“The Gpredict program (http://gpredict.oz9aec.net/) was used to predict the satellite pass time.”
Interesting note: This is one of the few YouTube videos to select the Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed).

3D Printed Guns Not Protected Sez Court

The Amazon product this Free-day isn’t free as in beer, but frees you to put your phone in the one place in your dwelling that gets a good cell signal and lets you talk anywhere on the device acting as a portable speakerphone. Also, listen to music.

Our smallest portable speaker with a convenient silicon handle for hanging
Connects to any Bluetooth-enabled device from up to 30 feet (10 meters) away
Works with Bluetooth-enabled devices including Android and iPhone, iPad, tablets, smartphones, iPods, and MP3/MP4 players
Up to 6 hours of playback on a single charge; full charge takes 2 hours; Splash-resistant design
Built-in mic for making phone calls; power and volume-control buttons; USB charging cable included

AmazonBasics Nano Bluetooth Speaker – Blue. Or spend more money on a cell signal booster.

The speaker also comes in black or yellow optional colors, but since it’s bluetooth, here it’s blue.

Come and Take It by Cody Wilson
Come and Take It: The Gun Printer’s Guide to Thinking Free

Ars Technica reported that a U.S. court ruled that Defense Distributed’s 3D printed gun designs were not protected by the first amendment, Court: With 3D printer gun files, national security interest trumps free speech.

Other people are testing 3D printed pistols, including for example, “Guy in a garage”, Songbird 3D Printed Pistol – .357 Magnum REPAIRED!, also embedded below.

Solar Crock Pot and Mirror Progress Report

Last Sun-day’s post, Cheap Concave Makeup Mirror Fire Starter, promised a video of the Amazon product on order.

It arrived, and the first test, still attached to the package, was successful. A water bottle I brought outside as a fire extinguisher with the makeup mirror became the target of a brief, but devastating attack of concentrated sunlight.

The result wasn’t very dramatic. I didn’t notice any smoke, but the label on the Arrowhead bottle had no paper covering the plastic where the sun’s image was focused, however briefly. A silent killer.

The magnifying mirror still attached to its packaging fit into regular size pockets better than the magnifying lens, normally used for reading, because of its lens handle.



Swissco suction cup mirror. 20x magnification, 3 1/2” diameter Colors May Vary

I work weekends, so during my days off I’ll do the video I promised to make fire and smoke, and you can go to the Academy next year. Wait, what? Never mind.

I’ve tried solar cooking with found junk at the compound, such as a space blanket, black travel coffee mug, meat thermometer in the water and sometimes got OK temperatures near 160 F after sealing the mug from cooling wind inside a gallon double seal plastic bag thingie. Which of course soon fogged up and blocked the sunlight. I would not judge it to be the most convenient or effective solar cooking setup ever.

supergokue1 found a better way after some experimentation, still using found common items, Solar oven from dollar store items. (also embedded below).

HF Radio When The Satellites Are Unavailable

This Sat-urday, my selected Amazon product is one of several books about Arduino and ham radio. ARRL has some good recent entries into this subject, too.

This one includes automatic Morse code decoding that I’ve used in an earlier form, mutated, and built with an added keyboard to send signals as well.

The author of the program published in the book, Budd Churchward, has an elegant, easy to assemble kit available with all the parts, or you could order bare printed circuit boards from OSH Park, Smoke Testing the Morseduino 2.

I’m also looking at a Hackaday article by Al Williams published today, Wilderness Radio Build, which features a built from scratch 20 meter transceiver, with video of its operation accompanied by a cat seeking attention.

Newer designs are using Software Defined Radio to control sending and receiving, sometimes standalone from a computer, such as this homebrew QRP (Reduced Power – usually 5 watts or less) transceiver QSO AE2B – PD5DJ/QRP with MCHF SDR Transceiver (embedded below). Shortwave (a.k.a. “HF” high frequency) can get your signal out of the local area when satellites are inaccessible for any reason.

When Outdoor Water Is Your Only Source

The Thirst-day product from Amazon is one of the Sawyer water filters described in the embedded video below about how to purify water while hiking.

Here’s a doomsday scenario that might motivate you to action. If the money went bad in your nation, a portable filter and outdoor source might be the only safe water when your stored supply is used up.

In that case, unpaid government workers will have something better to do with their time than trying to cater to your needs–they’ll be scavenging food and stuff for their own families. You might have an extended time trying to secure water, power, waste removal of all types, and groceries with your worthless currency. Clean air, shelter from excess heat or cold, and drinking water are your most urgent needs to survive.

Good luck if you live in a desert environment like much of Southern Nevada, USA. Maybe you’d have to drill a well by hand and manually pump from an underground aquifer. That takes some tools and skills beyond most people. Right now, you might want to investigate rainwater catchment and more storage capacity if you have room on your land, while you still have some purchasing power.

Perhaps the easy water for strapped desert dwellers without a functioning market would be squeezing fluid from wild plants. That’s something I’ll look into for a future post.

For now, I’m assuming you have a natural water source within a reasonable travel distance. Of course, fuel is another commodity that would get scarce and water is heavy. No money, more problems. “You won’t be on welfare and heck, there’s no health care.” Maybe getting safe water when there’s no doctor doesn’t seem like such a frivolous activity with the proper paranoia. Here’s a recent YouTube video from Outdoor Adventures titled, “Beginner Backpacking Part 6 – Water Treatment and Storage.”

EMP Resistant Wind and Solar Power System

The Winds-day product from Amazon to the left is an educational wind power demonstrator that will let the little scientists in your life experiment with energy from thin air, if it’s moving a bit.

The Solar Ark company has systems of varying sizes to keep most of your appliances going, even after an otherwise devastating EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) attack. A high altitude nuclear detonation wouldn’t cause much damage to buildings and people, but could take out your nation’s electrical grid.

Don’t expect the Solar Ark system to handle your washer/dryer, but it supports some heating and air conditioning. (As Paul Wheaton pointed out in the 2013 video from yesterday’s post, just using an old style incandescent light bulb can heat you up while it gives off light.) A fan uses a tenth of the energy compared to a window air conditioner.

These days an EMP attack could be accomplished by any number of adversaries, such as Iran, North Korea, or even ISIS. Here’s a dramatic, well produced video series about the electrical grid vulnerability in the U.S. from NRA News, “The Fight For Light.” It’s narrated by Lt Col Oliver North, well known energy expert (just kidding), but credible military fellow: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. This series has the most detail about the threats to the grid and attack aftermath scenario that I’ve seen. Physical attacks have taken place, multiple times at the same location, even after security was beefed up, leading analysts to assume that a disciplined group was at work, especially since they’ve never been caught.

In case you think a pro-gun-rights source is making it up, here’s a report from MSNBC and USA TODAY working together, advocates of gun restrictions, noting a similar threat, “The Threat Against America’s Power Grid.” They suggest getting prepped with information from FEMA.

Getting back to wind power, and on a big scale, the embedded video below, from The Daily Conversation, is described at YouTube, “Offshore wind farms can stop hurricanes, according to a recent study. We could also use them to power all of America.”

Paul Wheaton Preaches Permaculture (Explicit Language)

Paul Wheaton preaches it in this 2013 keynote talk to the S. California Permaculture Convergence (video also embedded below).

The Self Reliance Mastery book from Amazon here contains a contribution by Wheaton. He also has DVDs and books for sale at Richsoil.com.

The talk introduces dozens of permaculture related applications, presented to a good crowd in an actual church, where he nonetheless throws out expletives with abandon. (Some call him “The Bad Boy of Permaculture.”)

I’ve been a fan for years. He’s been a frequent guest on Jack Spirko’s The Survival Podcast. Paul’s own empire includes Permies.com (information and forums) and Richsoil.com (more media and products).

For libertarians, the talk includes how to build durable homes for hardly any money, which in itself avoids taxes, and avoiding “suck minimum wage jobs,” and if you don’t like Monsanto, frackers or other bad actors–he strongly suggests you don’t give them money!!! Forget idiotic protests. Wheaton gets a lot of hate comments for some of his controversial positions including his emphasis on permaculture techniques instead of the religious and political cult associated with it. He expresses the heretical hope permaculture farmers make more money than the ones that follow Monsanto.

Let Paul Wheaton’s sermon begin. Try not to laugh and amazingly, you might learn somethin’. Again, trigger warning! Explicit language and new ideas.

Cheap Concave Makeup Mirror Fire Starter

Today is the 15th anniversary of the 9-11 attack, so airplanes in trouble are on my mind. It’s also “Sun-day” for this blog. Before I get to the practical fire starting benefits of a cheap makeup mirror, here’s a video answer to a common question to GREENPOWERSCIENCE about parabolic mirrors melting airplanes or blinding pilots, “GIANT parabolic SATELLITE solar dish cannot blind a pilot.”

(Spoiler alert: You’ll cause more problems with a flat signal mirror, and probably go to jail messing around with a laser pointer, although in putting together yesterday’s post about getting rescued with updated PLB radios, I discovered that special laser flares are legal.)

Now to the title subject of starting a fire with a cheap makeup mirror. A fire in the wilderness is useful to survival. It can keep you warm, purify water (if done properly, see Does Boiling Always Make Water Safe To Drink?), or cook your food. Here’s David West, an expert in primitive fire starting techniques who nonetheless realizes that some regular EDC (every day carry) items make it more possible for n00bs like me to get a fire started. In the following video, he accomplishes it using a makeup mirror he found at WalMart, Solar Ignition With a Concave Mirror aka Makeup Mirror (embedded below).

I ordered the Swissco product from Amazon shown above. The Sun-day after it arrives I’ll post my own video reporting its success or failure for fire starting.

Get Found if you Get Lost

I’ve previously posted about the virtues of using the aviation guard band rescue frequency of 121.5 MHz VHF, Non-Ham Radio Options for Being Rescued.

While I mentioned 406 MHz in passing, it turns out there have been important developments in recent years. The 121.5 channel is no longer monitored by satellite because of false alarms caused by inadvertent activations and interfering signals from a number of consumer appliances. So if you’re stranded somewhere without overhead air traffic and can’t move far, you can look forward to facing your final destiny.

The 406 MHz personal locator beacons are monitored these days, as described in this top viewed video (embedded below) while searching YouTube for the term “PLB.”

Signal mirrors during the day are great (the right ones are, if used properly), but they don’t work very well at night. Maybe during the full moon? Probably not. It seems that there are legal laser rescue flares that create a vertical line instead of a blinding dot for search and rescue pilots to see at night or even during the day.

All this information is demonstrated with excellent advice that reminds me of the first rule of gunfighting, “Have a gun.” In a safe or drawer somewhere isn’t going to help much if you’re suddenly confronted by an attacker. Similarly, in the context of a plane forced landing, the laser flare, mirror, and PLB won’t do you much good in an inaccessible or destroyed cargo hold. These are items to have on your person.

Buckets of Life of Death

Wikipedia:CambridgeBayWeather
A Modern Honey Bucket.
I heard about food grade storage buckets and alcohol fermentation and distillation in buckets on The Survival Podcast, and got to thinking about The Bucket List after a recent memorial service.

You can kick the can down the road and achieve eternal youth, but not if you mistakenly kick the bucket.

Then I thought about how many of life’s needs can be met by the use of buckets until the final kick-off, including personal waste as reported in this Anchorage Daily News story, “Honey buckets remain a sanitation concern in Bethel.”

I found that story from Bethel, Alaska by chance. One resident, Tim Meyers, grows fresh vegetables in the permafrost there, and according to Mark Dowie, using heat from composting in a greenhouse. More info is linked from my post at PermaKent, “Better Than The Best Idea.”

The Meyers Farm website tells the story and has a link to an audio interview on the Press page.

Rainwater can be captured in buckets, and plants grown in them when full of soil and allowing for drainage.

There are even “bucketponics” combinations of fish and plants able to feed the fish and the fish in return able to feed and fertilize the plants. Only sun and water agitation and filtration might be needed to keep the system going. And perhaps some added compost as fish and plants are consumed.

Buckets might catch the wind or serve as part of a water wheel generator. A bucket brigade can deliver a steady amount of water if no hose or pressure is available to fight a fire.

Other writers on the web have explored the multiple uses of the typical 5-gallon bucket, including Wikipedia, “Buckets–Types and Uses.”

Other uses include as a musical instrument, seat, and trash can.

Congress Tells FCC to Remove EmComm Impediments

I received an ARRL legislative alert email with some good news for ham radio operators like me and perhaps not so great news for property owners who want antenna restrictions.

Congress has directed the FCC to conduct a study of the uses and capabilities of Amateur Radio Service communications in emergencies and disaster relief. The FCC was directed to identify

“impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications, such as the effects of unreasonable or unnecessary private land use restrictions on residential antenna installations.” Finally, the study is to make “recommendations regarding the removal of such impediments.”

Driver Cell Phone Ban Exemption for Ham Radio

I received the following in email from Nye County, Nevada Hams:

Here is link to the amendment that added the ham radio exclusion:

SB 140 in PDF.

Read it carefully.

The law is primarily concerned with hand held wireless devices, further the law avoids discussing communication/electronic equipment mounted to the vehicle.

A ham radio mounted in a car with a microphone is not a hand held wireless device.

A handi-talkie is a hand held wireless device.

The follow are the exemptions passed in senate bill 140

2. The provisions of this section do not apply to:

(a) A paid or volunteer firefighter, emergency medical technician, ambulance attendant or other person trained to provide emergency medical services who is acting within the course and scope of his or her employment.

(b) A law enforcement officer or any person designated by a sheriff or chief of police or the Director of the Department of Public Safety who is acting within the course and scope of his or her employment.

(c) A person who is reporting a medical emergency, a safety hazard or criminal activity or who is requesting assistance relating to a medical emergency, a safety hazard or criminal activity.

(d) A person who is responding to a situation requiring immediate action to protect the health, welfare or safety of the driver or another person and stopping the vehicle would be inadvisable, impractical or dangerous.

(e) A person who is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission as an amateur radio operator and who is providing a communication service in connection with an actual or impending disaster or emergency, participating in a drill, test, or other exercise in preparation for a disaster or emergency or otherwise communicating public information.

Please note paragraph 2e the amateur exemption, the final statement of “or otherwise

communicating public information” exempts all amateur communication as amateur radio by design is only communicates public information.

It also makes handi talkies legal. Get a Ticket and argue the point with a judge.

Also note exemption does not include CB Radios, but again a mounted radio is not a hand held wireless device. Get a Ticket and argue the point with a judge.

Mon., Aug. 29: “Kill Switch” @ O.C. KHCTF

J. Kent HastingsKarl Hess Community
Technology Forum

On a Fifth Monday in a Month

August 29, 2011

Schedule:
Pre-meeting: 6:00 p.m.
Dinner 7:00 p.m.
Announcements: 7:45 p.m. Howard Hinman, Master of Ceremonies
Presentation: 8:00 p.m. J. Kent Hastings:
“Surviving the Phone and Internet Kill Switch”

Questions: 8:45 p.m. Q&A via written cards for at least the first round of questions.
Close by 9:30 p.m.

Location: Asian Buffet (Oriental buffet)
23552 El Toro Rd., Lake Forest, CA 92630
At Raymond, behind a bank, near the public (gov’t) library branch.


View Larger Map
Tel: (949) 206-9988 – Fax: (949) 206-9098

Howard Hinman of Orange County, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the event and will offer a Toast to the evening’s festivities.

J. Kent Hastings is a writer, video editor, audio and film producer, computer programmer, agorist and ham radio hobbyist.

Hastings wrote columns about RSA encryption, spread-spectrum radio, and secure privacy-protected off-grid banking transactions in his regular “Techtics” column for SEK3’s Tactics of the Movement of the Libertarian Left during the 1980s.

Kent also wrote an article for the first issue of Agorist Quarterly, published in 1995, titled “The Information Underground Railroad,” after attending the RSA Data Security conference in 1994.

Kent has returned to an early interest in tinkering with homebrew electronic gear, partly because he finds it fun, and also thanks to recent threats that have resurfaced from government authorities worldwide to cut off private communications on the Internet and cell phones “for our safety.”

He will have equipment on hand to demonstrate various ways around the Internet and cellphone outages that have been imposed during protests (just when you might need rescue from violence the most).

If the power grid goes down, many would lose phone and Internet service because of their reliance on cable company devices. A portable battery with AC inverter will also be demonstrated at the meeting. Solar recharging in the field and other preparedness resources and activities in case of evacuation will be discussed.

Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are being more closely scrutinized by police with each passing year. Users have been jailed for organizing relatively harmless “flash mobs,” including celebrities simply inviting fans to the local mall.

Hastings will share his thoughts on how watchdog groups like Cop Block could avoid trouble by using stealthier recording devices and immediate streaming to remote undisclosed storage media, even if Internet access is being blocked.

For the first round of questions, audience members are asked to submit their questions in writing to the Master of Ceremonies, so that they may be presented to the speaker most effectively.

Cost is dinner (approximately 15.00 FRNS) plus a 5.00 room charge per attendee. (Cash only for the room charge please.) MasterCard and Visa accepted by the restaurant. Beer and wine available at an additional charge.

Good food. Some vegetarian dishes available.

For this meeting, leave a reservation message with the subject “OC KHCTF” on the web at http://permakent.com/contact/ or email: permakent@gmail.com

If you have additional questions contact Kent Hastings toll free at 1.877.867-8209 or leave a voice mail message.

Future dinner talks at the Karl Hess Community Technology Forum are still to be determined. We will keep you posted.

Resilient Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization. Its mission is to support a resilient community, including respect for personal rights and responsibilities.

For information about this event (other than reservations) and/or future events, please contact Howard Hinman, Director of Communications, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Legal Researcher, at (714) 244-2291. His email is: Howardhinman1234@yahoo.com.

Canned Food Rotation Systems

FIFO Can Tracker- Food Storage Canned Foods Organizer/Rotater/Dispenser: Kitchen, Cupboard, Pantry- Rotate Up To 54 Cans
FIFO can rotation system
Having a supply of canned goods is the easiest way to prepare for a market supply interruption due to an earthquake, maybe a hurricane, or perhaps flood water or snow blocking the roads.

There are plenty of examples in the news about people forced to stay in their homes without power and water for weeks or months. If you were in that situation, what would you do?

It will take some time to grow a garden for food self sufficiency under the best conditions, and it’s not easy even then. You’ll need food and water to get you through the planting process, which would be great if the ground isn’t frozen or flooded. You might have to wait to plant. Hence the need for storing food. And do you even have the seeds for edible plants on hand? Just asking.

If you stick the newest cans from the store at the front of your cupboards, you’ll be tempted to just grab the last ones you put in, neglecting the ones in the back, perhaps beyond their expiration dates, thus wasting food or taking a risk of eating spoiled stuff.

I heard about can rotation a few times on The Survival Podcast, and am ready to jump in and get a system myself. Shelf Reliance’s CEO, Steve Palmer, was interviewed about his company. Listen here: “Steve Palmer of Shelf Reliance on Food Storage and Global Events.”

Food prices are going nowhere but up, faster than most anything else. If you buy now cheap while you have the money and it still has its full purchasing power, you’ll eat better later.

Looking around Amazon, I see can organizers for any shelf size, with some that are designed just for smaller soup sized cans. The one shown here, like most of these kind of systems, makes it easy to take cans out in the order they were put in.

To put it another way, a “first in, first out” system. For canned goods if not Christian souls, the first should be first and the last should be last.

Radiation Map and Potassium Iodide

L.A. Times and KTLA TV Channel 5 have published an online report about the run on Potassium Iodide at California drug stores and the Surgeon General’s recommendations for appropriate use.

See CBS video “Radiation fears spark panic buying of potassium iodide in U.S.” at YouTube.

To get around price gouging, perhaps potassium iodide is still available at cost directly from Anbex, the manufacturer of IOSAT.

A network of volunteer remote Geiger counters is organized on a handy map display of the continental U.S., online at Radiation Network.

Arduino Chip does Morse Code at 300 wpm

  Karl Hess, Sr. 1975 edition

Karl Hess, Jr. is the speaker scheduled for Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at the 200th meeting of the Karl Hess Club (named for his father, the late Karl Hess) at Dinah’s in Culver City. (UPDATE: Due to airline trouble, rescheduled to September 19, 2011.)

Karl Hess, Jr. encouraged me to buy shortwave ham gear when he spoke to our libertarian supper club at the 100th meeting a few years ago, citing its usefulness during an emergency when a colleague was injured in Africa, where he was working in the field.

Since then I’ve put together some kits in custom enclosures with more powerful ones on the way. Alternative communication methods to the phone and Internet grid are always in the news, most recently in Egypt.

See the complete meeting announcement at the club site for more information about Karl Hess, Jr.’s topic, “Wither Conservation in the 21st Century: More Government or More Liberty?.” Excerpt from site:

“The world changed in 1970. Although the first Earth Day called for more aggressive State involvement, over the past forty years conservation has evolved into a movement increasingly characterized by volunteerism, cooperation, network governance, and entrepreneurship.”

Karl Hess, Sr. mentioned ham radio in passing in his book, Community Technology, and even in his 1975 book, Dear America which followed his 1969 “Death of Politics” article in Playboy.

Karl Hess, Sr. was a speechwriter for Barry Goldwater, then later became an anarchist hippie proponent of alternative energy, off-grid food production and local industry who made a living as a welder for cash, famous for not paying taxes. Goldwater was a ham radio operator who promised to put an antenna farm on the White House if he got elected (he wasn’t). Hess’ autobiography was edited by his son and is titled, Mostly on the Edge: An Autobiography.

Okay, see you at the KHC if you’re in Southern California.

Now, this video from 2008 shows two Arduino boards sending and receiving Morse code to each other acoustically at the same time (full duplex) at 300 words per minute. You could get a 140 character tweetish message out in a few seconds at that rate. Even at just 30 wpm over the shortwave radio the same message would take less than a minute.

Beats walking if the phones or Internet are down.

Egypt ham radio beats Internet outage

The oldest radio signaling method was used to send messages between people in Egypt according to this article at the Huffington Post. The link was in a Democratic Underground post that J. Neil Schulman forwarded to me in email.

Quoting HuffPo:
“These messages weren’t coming from mobile phones or computers, but from an amateur radio sending out Morse Code somewhere amidst the chaos in Egypt.”

Hundreds of miles range with a few watts using a wire thrown over a tree branch for an antenna can beat the government kill switch.

Meanwhile, on the political right side of survivalist prepping, Alex Jones InfoWars published a credible list of alternative communication methods from Liberty News Online, “How to Communicate if the Government Shut Down the Internet” (also forwarded to me by J. Neil Schulman).

Just one point of clarification. During a political upheaval, checking the call sign of amateur radio operators won’t be the State’s top priority and effectively jamming all signals might not be possible, especially if one were to use spread spectrum techniques.

Let’s say for example you were to transmit thermal noise in one band and the noise mixed with the message in another (transmitted reference). It would appear to be noise as well.

Perhaps if you have some programming skills you could use the digital “direct sequence” method to mix several pseudo random “chip bits” with each bit of your message while you quickly hop the center frequency of your signal using a fast digital synthesis chip and a secure software spreading code.

And just to be safe you might use a stealthy hidden antenna that looks like a clothes line, basketball hoop, bird feeder, flag pole or other disguise so your neighbors don’t rat you out. Out of sight, out of mind. Morse code and texting can be done silently with earphones. QSL?

Victory over censorship!

Hot Temperature Shuts Down L.A. Power

Chromasun’s solar thermal process cools buildings
Chromasun solar thermal process cools buildings.

You wouldn’t know that there were power outages by listening to radio so-called news reports, but the L.A. Times admitted that thousands were without electricity all afternoon and into the evening: “Record heat brings power outages, fire and light-rail delays

“Southern California Edison reported 11,000 customers without power Monday evening in cities including Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Diamond Bar, Alhambra, Glendora and Rosemead.”

You can include parts of Culver City. No lights, no fan, no news report, not a watt of energy. Maybe the shutdown was a drill for survivalist preppers.

Air conditioning and refrigerators account for most electricity use, but in these lean times strapped utilities aren’t prepared to meet the heavy peak loads they’ve handled in the past.

Sometimes it seems that Valley Electric in my home town of Pahrump, NV has planned weekly power outages. I’m sure that’s an exaggeration. When I traveled to the Los Angeles area this week, Vegas style hot weather must have tagged along with me and overwhelmed L.A. DWP with record high temperatures.

Speaking of off-grid power, Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast published a timely video a couple of days ago, “Wagan 400-Watt Power Dome EX – Power Inverter Test One.” That would certainly keep a fan running for longer than the ten minutes the computer’s “uninterruptible” power supply lasted here. A similar outage happened to me a few L.A. visits ago, “Power and Water,” after a small earthquake, but it was transient and much less traumatic.

Ever since I watched the video of Adam Grosser giving a TED talk in 2007 about absorption cooling, I’ve wondered if a similar process could cool buildings without all that grid electricity used by our typical refrigerators and air conditioners.

A simpler, already deployed low tech “pot-in-pot” refrigerator is described at my blog with the headline “Non-Electric Zeer Refrigerator Transforming Life.”

There are several different kinds of absorption chillers, such as ammonia, lithium bromide (seen above), and silica gel.

There are also other recent advances in air conditioning efficiency, including the m-cycle indirect evaporative system, magnetocaloric refrigeration, and thermoacoustic cooling to name a few.

Bumble Bee Transceiver Experiment

Bumble Bee transceiverI’ve been getting back into the ham radio hobby because of my belief that off-grid communications capability will be needed in the rough times ahead.

The good news for the ham recruit is that all that’s required these days is to learn enough basic electronics to pass a test and some radio operation rules. Morse code is no longer a requirement for any level of the Amateur Radio Service “ham” license.

If you still have some cash, new equipment has some great features and is easy to get on the air. Used equipment can be purchased cheap on eBay or Craig’s List, but there may be some challenges getting it to work. Or you can go crazy and assemble your own lightsaber, I mean, radio gear. I’ve got even more ambitious kit building planned.

What you won’t be doing with new, used or homebrew equipment is paying a monthly bill to some telco or cable company for the privilege of using the public airwaves. A comforting thought if you’re concerned about the devaluation of currency, further job losses, business bankruptcies or other economic disasters.

I hooked up a QRP Mini-Watt board to connectors drilled into the back of a Bumble Bee tuna can last night. It’s a transceiver, thus it can send and receive Morse code signals as designed. The 40-meter band it’s on reaches up to 500 miles during the day and extends worldwide at night. It runs off a 9-volt battery. Here’s an mp3 of one minute of audio received on the 7.030 MHz frequency the tuna can is tuned into.

MP3

The audio is actually coming from the tuna can circuit via the ear bud output, not another receiver! (The catch is that instead of the rubber duck antenna shown as a dummy load to test things indoors, the antenna for the audio recording, and for communications use generally, is more than 25 feet of random wire outside, connected to a grounded MFJ-904H travel tuner. The tuna is tuned, man!)

Wait a minute. Didn’t I just say that Morse isn’t used anymore? Nope. Morse is more popular than ever, it’s just that the FCC doesn’t test licensees as a requirement now. It’s still one of the allowed digital modes in the amateur radio spectrum.

Don’t worry, there’s plenty of handheld, mobile and base station FM voice gear on VHF and UHF, as well as SSB voice on shortwave, computer modes that don’t need the Internet and even television.

We’re likely to see extended water and power outages in the near future for a number of political and economic reasons, a few of which are described in my personal blog post, “Power and Water,” with links about each point linking to major news source headlines.

Not covered in that post is the continuing drought threatening water supplies and hydroelectric power generation, or short term disruptions due to earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters. With more subscribers relying on Internet based phone service and cell phones, most people will be out of touch if the power goes out for an extended period.

You can try to use CB (11-meters), FRS (UHF) walkie talkies or those 49 MHz models for kids if you just won’t get a ham license. Or you can be prepared as a fully trained Jedi, er I mean, licensed ham operator and actually find competent help within range when you need it.

Amber Alert GPS Upgrade Nov. 1

Amber Alert GPS 2G
Abductions of children are increasing thanks to more idle hands not otherwise being employed. To address that risk, and for many other reasons such as simply being lost or having an outing schedule change, kids have a new safe way to talk with parents without the user interface complexity of a cell phone.

The Amber Alert organization is taking pre-orders for their November 1 release of its new line of “panic button” devices, called “Amber Alert GPS Armor.”

Armor is the next version of their popular alert device that looks like a toy gizmo, but actually uses sophisticated GPS and cell networks to call for help with the location already known and to provide safety information. (And you don’t have to surgically implant RFID chips in your wee rascals’ skulls.)

Here’s an excerpt from the information I just received from them via email. You can subscribe to updates at their site, http://www.amberalertgps.com/

“It will be a bit bigger in size than our famous 2G device, but
it will pack one heck of a punch. Here is a list of things that
are going to be different this time around (I’ll give a brief
description of each feature here, but I’ll go into them in more
detail in another email)…”

“1. Bigger battery = longer battery life! (this is a big one that we really struggled with in the 2G). We even will have an extended battery option.”

“2. Predator Alert – be alerted when your child goes near the home of a registered sex offender (VERY powerful!).”

“3. “Raised” SOS button – now your child can feel for the raised button on the device in their pocket or backpack without having to take the device out, when they are in danger.”

“4. 2-Way Voice – actually talk with your child, not just listen in.”

“5. E-mails, not texts, this time around…save battery life (more about that in another email).”

“6. Live, up-to-the-minute tracking on your web-enable SMART phone or computer (oh yeah, this new device is set up to work off your computer or your web-enabled SMART phone…which means you will need the internet on your phone to use the device with your phone).”

“7. Locate your child via our new phone APP or your computer.”

For video about the original product, see this local San Francisco TV news report. It’s also been featured on Oprah, Good Morning America and other major network shows.

Disaster Preparedness for the Family

Arthur Bradley, PhD
Arthur Bradley, of DisasterPreparer.com web fame, has a new book available, Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family.

Preparedness legend James Talmage Stevens, who is most famous for his perennial best-selling book, Making the Best of Basics, and also a popular web personality at DoctorPrepper.com, endorsed Bradley’s Handbook:

“A great introduction to disaster preparedness in a single volume, both scholarly and easy to read! Provides practical information for families seeking to organize their preparedness efforts.”

I LOL’d at the droll first line of the description of the new work at Amazon, “Ninety-nine percent of the time the world spins like a top, the skies are clear, and your refrigerator is full of milk and cheese.”

But alas, as any comics fan can tell you, Milk and Cheese have gone bad.

If you think things are going well, maybe you should read “10 Signs the U.S. is Becoming a Third World Country” and get prepped.

The description at Amazon describes other risks and lists the contents of Bradley’s book.

“But know with certainty that the world is a dangerous place. Storms rage, fires burn, and diseases spread. No one is ever completely safe. Not you. Not your children. We all live as part of a very complex ecosystem that is unpredictable and willing to kill us without remorse or pause.

This book will help you to establish a practical disaster preparedness plan for your entire family, covering all 14 basic human needs.

Additional information is also presented for those with special needs, including the elderly, children, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and pets.

Every topic is well researched, with over 240 references cited, and is presented in a clear, easy to read format.”

So get Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family today, or get it today, but GET IT TODAY!!! When “the end of the world as we know it” arrives, the bookstore shelves may be empty. Then what’ll you do?