9 Simple Tips You Need to Buy the Best EDC Flashlight

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9 Simple Tips You Need to Buy the Best EDC Flashlight They say the best flashlight is the one you have on you when you need it most. Problem is: how do you make sure you’ve bought the best flashlight to do what you need to with it? There are tons of posts out there …

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5 Things STILL Worth Doing Grandma’s Way (That Is, Without Gadgets!)

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5 Things STILL Worth Doing Grandma’s Way (That Is, Without Gadgets!)

Image source: Pixabay.com

No matter how many fancy little electronic gadgets I get, sometimes there is just no substitute for doing things the way your grandmother did.

I’m not going to bash gadgets in this article. I am a big, big fan of anything that makes my life less complicated. (Yes, I am forever grateful for dishwashers, video doorbells and washing machines).

However, some things just don’t seem to work out as planned once they go electronic. I have found that there are a few things that simply work out better when you do them the old-fashioned way. Yes, it might take a bit more effort, but you will find it is well worth it.

1. Use a real camera.

Of course, having a camera on hand for those spontaneous videos or spur-of-the-moment pictures is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but gathering the family around a cell phone or tablet to view Christmas photos just doesn’t cut it.

“The Big Book Of Off The Grid Secrets” — Every Homesteader Needs A Copy!

You don’t have to lug around an $800 camera and a box of lenses. A simple digital camera will do nicely for pictures you know you are going to take, including family photos, Christmas and other holiday photos, birthday parties, etc. Save your cell phone for times when you simply must send a picture of these shoes to your sister to see if they go with her new outfit.

2. Make a real photo album.

Again, there is nothing heartwarming about passing around a cell phone to view Susie’s first birthday party pics. It really is worth the effort to take pictures with a real camera (digital is great) and then order prints of the photos you think are the best. Put those photos (don’t forget to write who is in the photo on the back) in photo albums. When your family gets together, sitting around an album is much nicer than a cell phone. In addition, albums can be passed on to other family members throughout the years. I really cherish the pictures of my parents and grandparents, which would most likely be lost in a computer crash.

3. Keep a paper address book.

I only know three phone numbers now: my husband’s cell, my cell, and our home phone. Why? Because I don’t have to. My cell phone keeps track of all my phone numbers and addresses for me.

However, after losing my cell phone for a few hours one day, I realized that I would only have access to whatever backup I had as far as those names and addresses go. When was the last time you backed up your cell phone? Exactly! And what would we do if we had no way to access even our backup files?

For this reason, I now keep an old-fashioned paper address book in my home. I write in pencil and can make changes as often as needed. If I should lose all my contact information, even if it’s slightly out of date, my paper address book will still be there to help me out.

4. Use a paper calendar.

5 Things STILL Worth Doing Grandma’s Way (That Is, Without Gadgets!)

Image source: Pixabay.com

Phone calendars can be a great thing when you are on the road or away from home, but how many times have you relied on your Google or phone calendar, only to find that you forgot to set the alarm or that you put the appointment for 2 p.m., when it should have been 12 p.m.? It has certainly happened to me.

For this reason, I use a paper wall calendar in my kitchen to write big notes or achievements, as well as a small paper calendar in my purse, in addition to my electronic calendar. When I make an appointment, I write it in my paper calendar in my purse, first. Just a simple “John Dr. 12PM” will do the trick. Once I am home and not so rushed, I add it to my cell phone, then to the wall calendar. This way, my husband doesn’t have to ask me six times when his doctor’s appointment is and I have a backup I can check in an instant if my electronic calendar should fail, or if I should misplace my phone. Again.

5. Paper invitations and/or thank-you notes.

Yes, I’ve heard how e-vites and thank-you notes are all the rage because they are “greener” than using paper, but if you use sustainable paper sources, such as bamboo or hemp, that argument quickly falls by the wayside.

There is nothing more personal or sweet that you can send someone than a handwritten, paper invitation or thank you-note. If someone took the time to go to the store, buy a gift, have it wrapped, and show up at your event, is it too much to ask to write a three line thank-you note?! Invitations and thank-you notes are also great mementos to keep in your scrapbook or photo album.

There are plenty of other old-fashioned things that I like to do, but when it comes to electronic gadgets, I prefer my grandmother’s way to the Apple way.

What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

9 Tips to Avoid the Summertime Prepping Slump

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It’s so easy for the hot, lazy days of summer to just sort of run into each other in a haze of heat and laziness. Then the day arrives when it’s time once again to get the kids ready for school, and we ask, where did the summer go?

If your prepping goals have taken a break right along with your pledge to have the kids do daily math drills and read for at least 30 minutes every day, then here are a few prepping activities and tips to avoid the summertime prepping slump.

1.  Get the kids involved in prepping activities

If they’re sitting around the house doing nothing, then they can help you prep! Children can fill canning jars, mylar bags, and buckets with dry goods and oxygen absorbers. They can help weed the garden and pick ripe fruits and vegetables. They can wash and prepare produce for canning and dehydration. Kids can go through their closets and drawers and pull out toys they no longer play with and clothing that no longer fits.

Hey, every time they say they’re bored, give them a prepping related task, like the ones on this list! They’ll have something productive to do and you’ll accomplish your prepping goals more quickly.

2.  Learn something as a family

Check out online calendars for craft stores, REI, Cabela’s, gyms, and your city’s summertime offerings. Many of these are survival and/or prepping related, such as learning how to read a compass, learning how to crochet or sew, etc. and very often these classes are free.

If these resources aren’t readily available to you, then check out a how-to book or watch some how-to YouTube videos on something your family would like to learn and do it yourselves!

TIP: Browse through my Skill of the Month page for dozens of ideas that will appeal to all members of your family!

Or, ask around and see if there is someone in your circle of friends and acquaintances who has a skill you would like to learn and is a willing teacher.

3.  Turn a family outing or vacation into survival training!

Camping, hiking, fishing — those are all survival related, fun, and everyone can be involved. Check out these articles with more information about enjoying the great outdoors, as a prepper:

7 Summer Children’s Activities for Sowing Survivalist Seeds

25 Things I Learned From Long-Term Camping

A Camping Skill Basic: Safe Fire Building

Camping is More than Just Equipment — Here is a list of skills you need to have

Make This Summer a Family Camping Summer

Survival Mom Camping-Survival Secrets

And then there’s my series on family road trips. As a veteran of some 16,000 highway miles, I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert in this area!

Eating On the Road: A Family Road Trip Survival Plan

Survive the Family Road Trip With These 13 Tips

Surviving the Family Road Trip

4.  Check into summer day camps related to prepping

Two summers ago my kids learned rifle skills in a 2-day camp at a local gun range. Lots of towns and cities start the summer with directories of these day camps.  If your kids are in a day camp or have gone away to camp, learning some sort of practical skill, then you’ll have time to either take a nap, read a relaxing book (just for fun!), or do anything else you like! Free time for mom is necessary!

5.  Amass produce in quantities and begin canning and dehydrating

Summer is prime produce time. Even if your garden was a flop or you didn’t get certain items planted, there are probably local gardeners and farmers who would love to share their bounty. Some might even be willing to trade a portion of their harvest for a portion of yours.

Bountiful Baskets is a large produce co-op that operates in many states. Do an internet search for “produce co-ops” in your area and you may end up finding a source of delicious, fresh product that you can then preserve for later.

Here are a few resources I’ve accumulated here to help you with canning different foods;

Once you have a good amount of green beans or tomatoes or whatever, make a simple plan for canning, dehydrating, and/or pickling. If your kids are whining about being bored, then you know who your helpers will be!

6.  Get away from the electronics!

Nothing zaps energy faster than sitting in front of a TV or computer screen hour after hour. Not only is time wasted but our minds and bodies become accustomed to inaction and it becomes even hard to get up and start doing something!

Allow yourself and the kids only a certain number of minutes per day in front of a screen.

7.  Take a few minutes to make lists to organize your prepping activities

A lot of time we find ourselves in a slump because we’re unfocused and are not sure what to do next. I’ve found that when I have all my scattered goals written down, it helps immensely.

Three lists that have helped me stay organized and focused on my preps are To Learn, To Do, and To Buy. From my book, Survival Mom:

List #1: To Learn
On this list you’ll keep track of skills and knowledge you realize will be important. A few examples on my own list are: Learn to tie various knots and know when to use them; work on creating recipes from my food-storage ingredients; and push my knitting skills to a higher level and knit a pair of socks.

Interestingly, many items on this list won’t cost a dime. If your budget is already strained, and buying even a few extra cans of tuna is a stretch, put more time and energy into learning skills, gaining knowledge, and seeking out other Survival Moms as resources.

List #2: To Do
Here’s another list that doesn’t have to empty out your bank account. Have you been meaning to compile all your important documents or inventory a garage filled with tools? Do you need to prepare your garden for the spring season?

There are simply dozens of things we intend to do, but they flicker in and out of our minds and are then . . . gone! As you read this book, start adding tasks to a To Do list and keep track of what you accomplish. It’s very empowering to see progress, although you will likely never have an empty To Do list!

List #3: To Buy
Although Lists 1 and 2 will keep you busy, there’s really no way around List 3. Stocking up on food, extra toiletries, good quality tools, and other supplies requires money. However, the good news is that a master To Buy list will help set priorities, keep you on budget, and even provide a shopping list when hitting the garage sale circuit.

Without a To Buy list, you may very well find yourself (a) spending money on things you later discover tucked away in a back cupboard or (b) snatching up purchases in a panic. This list helps save money as well as time.

8.  Assess whether or not the emotions that started your prepper journey have changed

If we begin a project or set a goal based mostly on emotion, when that emotion fades, and it will, very often our motivation fades as well. If you began preparing out of fear or panic, it’s likely that you’re not as motivated as you once were.

That’s all perfectly normal. However, if the logical part of your brain is convinced that prepping is important to the well-being of your family. You’ve just entered a new level of motivation based on rational conclusions. This is where lists come in handy: To Do, To Learn, To Buy. They’ll help you stay focused on what is most important regardless of the current state of your emotions.

9.  Start making plans and goals for when the kids are back in school

Summers are wonderful but let’s face it. When the kids return to school, so do routines. Having a predictable schedule once again will help you set priorities, focus on achieving small prepping goals, continue with prepping activities, and become the Super Survival Mom of your dreams!


Emergency Cell Phone For Bug Out Bag or Car Kit

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Emergency Cell Phone For Bug Out Bag or Car Kit Freed from the need of power outlets, you can use the amazing AA battery-powered SpareOne anywhere within range of a GSM cell tower. Even without a SIM card, SpareOne has one-button emergency dialing (911, etc.), and can be geo-located in an emergency. Waterproof bag is floatable and …

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Calling Professionals Versus DIY

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Calling Professionals Versus DIY No one can do absolutely everything, no matter what kind of lifestyle you are living! When it comes to living green, self reliant, and frugally, you tend to try and do as much as possible all by yourself. There are some things, however, when you should really ask yourself if you …

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Six Things Every Prepper Should Do With Arduino

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Over the years, I’ve given a lot of thought to just how much I should try to avoid modern electronic devices when it comes to prepping. I have also sought, wherever possible, to end or reduce reliance on electricity and anything else that requires a major social or commercial effort.

There are some devices that I feel cannot be done away with, at least in the final stages of a major social collapse and during the first few years after.

In this case, I refer to Arduino computer controllers. These small devices are very easy to customize and can be used to increase your odds of survival.

Arduino is a combination of mini, solid state computers housed on a circuit board, and the programming required to make them work

For preppers looking for low cost and easy methods to achieve certain goals, Arduino can be an ideal means until you are able to build systems that do not rely on solid state electronics.

Modern Challenges That Complicate Disaster Scenarios

Smog, weird colors in waterways and horrible smells coming from the ground all point to high pollution levels – you go deep into the woods, and still won’t be aware that upstream or upwind pollution has found its way into the plants and animals living there.

If a major disaster occurs, you will wind up coming into contact with even more dangerous forms and levels of pollution.

Here are some sources of toxins that are somewhat contained now and may increase the problems in the aftermath of a disaster:

  • You may not want anything to do with modern electronics, but thieves and other rouges might take advantage of your lack of interest in this area. From radar surveillance to RFID bugs and other devices, criminals can easily figure out where you are, what supplies you have on hand, and how best to get everything of value from you.
  • Once sewage systems aren’t maintained anymore, clogs and pipe collapses, which will make every city street a disaster zone as the sewage backs up into the streets. It will be impossible to live in any home attached to the community sewer system because backups will occur through the pipes.
  • Right now there are thousand to millions of barrels of toxic waste sitting in dumps, underground, and in the oceans. These barrels are leaking and causing massive problems that require millions of dollars to clean up. When nobody will control or limit these problems, there will be no such thing as a safe location to live free of these poisons.
  • Factories, commercial farms and other large scale operations also work with extremely hazardous toxins on a routine basis. These toxins require careful storage and monitoring so the people wouldn’t be exposed to them, but the chemicals may escape their containment, and no one will be available to stop the situation or remedy it. In fact, even if you come across a toxic spill, you won’t have the gear or the skills to restore order.
  • As different chemicals merge together, there will be an increased risk of fires that push smoke filled with toxins into the air, affecting people for miles around at a moment’s notice. While these explosions do happen right now, they are the exception, not the norm that you will see in a major collapse scenario.
  • Given the number of nuclear reactors and the number of people required to keep them safe, it is a given that exposure to nuclear radiation will happen in a large scale after disaster. If you don’t have the means to detect the presence of nuclear radiation, you won’t figure out what is going on, let alone get to a safe location underground.

GREEN ENERGY – Click Here to find out how you can build your own energy generator.

What is Arduino?

Basically, Arduino is a combination of mini, solid state computers housed on a circuit board, and the programming required to make them work. The IC chips used to power Arduino are not as complicated as the ones that control your computer, however they can keep up with some tablets and smart phones on the market today.

Arduino systems are also very easy to customize in the sense that you can buy all kinds of add-ons and accessories that are controlled by the main board.

Here are just a few things you can use Arduino for.

Building Robots

Even though these robots may not be very big, they can be used for all kinds of things. For example, if you need to probe an underground tunnel, you can always send in a wireless camera on wheels.

The Arduino controller will act as an interface between the vehicle and the controller that you use to steer it. The Arduino main board can also receive information sent back from the camera so that you see it onscreen.

Chances are you would be truly amazed at how useful small, wheeled vehicles can be in a survival situation.

From mobile cameras used for scoping out an area to testing for land mines and traps, these robots can be true life savers. You can also use these robots to detect unsafe radiation levels, or to help you avoid toxic ground, air, and water.

Hazardous Air Indicators

Have you ever gone out of your local area, only to discover that other locations smell very different? When you returned home, did you notice that smells that bothered you early on have returned? If so, then you can readily understand why hazardous air indicators are so important.

No matter whether you have become accustomed to the smell of smog, waste dumps, natural gas, or other odors, they indicate the presence of gasses that can be dangerous to your health.

During and after crisis, these air toxins are bound to reach levels that will make you much sicker, or even kill you.

Since you can buy several different kinds of air quality sensors to use with an Arduino controller, you could to detect the presence of, or increase in toxic gas levels. From there, you can take appropriate steps such as wear a respirator mask, or employ other means to clean the air circulating in your home.

Detect Electronic Surveillance

As a prepper, you are always going to be concerned about your privacy or the number of people that know about your stockpile, it’s contents, and where it is. More than a few products you are storing away may have hidden RFID chips in them.

While these may be referred to as innocent inventory tags, there is no telling what those chips can do when activated. If you try to buy a pre-manufactured RFID sniffer, it can cost hundreds of dollars and still miss out on some of the more stealthy chips.

There are many frequency detector accessories that can be purchased to use with Arduino controller boards. Not only will you save money on the RFID detector, you will also be able to customize it to detect both older and newer sensor types.

This can also come in very handy if you need to find out if these kinds of chips are hiding around your property, in your vehicle, or in other areas.

Tools and Knowledge You Need for Building

To build complex systems using Arduino, you need very little in the way of tools and skills. The basic tools you will need include:

  •  a computer (even a tablet or smart phone can be used to transfer programming to the Arduino controller);
  • the actual Arduino controller and accessories (kits that include the main board and accessories run around $30.00 USD);
  • access to Open Source code for the controller and Add-Ons (this is free and accessed through your computer);
  • a solder iron (used very rarely);
  • any attachments that you may want to add to the controller.

For example, if you want to build a robotic camera system, then you might purchase a kit that includes these parts, plus others that can be used to expand on your main application.

Insofar as knowledge required to use and build Arduino systems, you should have at least a basic understanding of electronics.

Even if you don’t know the difference from a resistor or capacitor, however, there are plenty of instruction guides filled with pictures that will tell you exactly what needs to be done.

At the beginning, you will not need to know anything about computer programming because there are many excellent sources of code that can be used with the main controller and any accessories you want to attach to it.

That being said, as you expand into more personalized applications, you may want to learn how to write your own code.

Video first seen on I Like To Make Stuff.

A Caution About Videos and Tutorials

Over the years, I have searched through thousands of videos and tutorials as I worked my way through different DIY tasks. In many cases, I have seen hundreds of videos showing the exact same mistake, yet the “results” shown on the video were astounding.

For me, the most memorable occasion for this is when I decided to build a pen gun. Just about every video and tutorial on this subject showed using a wad of paper to push the spring into position.

What I quickly found out is this would never work for two reasons:

  1. If the wad is big enough and adheres to the walls of the pen enough to hold the spring in place, then the spring will never have enough power to eject it, let alone propel the payload forward.
  2. If you use a wad that is too small, the spring and everything else will come out and fly all over the place. Let’s just say that the vast majority of videos on this topic lead to creating something completely useless.

In other cases, I have found videos that offered contradictory, and often dangerous advice. Unless you actually take the time to build something yourself and test each stage out with care, there is every chance that the advice in these videos will do more harm than good in a time of need.

Now, if you go online and look for videos on Arduino, you will find thousands. While they may give you the basics on how to insert wires and parts into a breadboard, do not assume that the actual wiring details are correct. It is truly best to explore on your own and take the time to check your work carefully.

Even if hundreds of videos show the exact same thing and the exact same results, remember what I learned from the pen gun explorations – no matter how many times something wrong is repeated – it is still wrong and can never be made right.

What to Beware Of

As someone that has worked with building electronic gadgets and programming computers, I tend to be a bit cautious about an interface that combines both.

In particular, I’d hate to plug in my Arduino controller to the USB port on my computer, and not realize that there is a short somewhere in the breadboard attached to the Arduino.

For this reason, I advise taking the following precautions as a beginner, and even later as you become more confident of your skills:

  • Load programs onto the controller without other accessories attached. This will help reduce the risk of shorts and other mistakes being in an electrical connection with the rest of your computer.
  • Use an old tablet or old computer for programming. Try to avoid using anything expensive until you are sure it is safe to do so. Today, there are plenty of tablets that cost less than $100.00 that you can add Arduino related apps to.
  • Never rely on the computer or tablet for powering the Arduino while accessories are attached. Unless you built your own computer and know that the power supply can take the added load, never assume that the computer can handle even a small additional load. After programming, it is best to power the Arduino board with a dedicated power supply. In many cases, this may be as simple as a AAA or 9V battery pack. You can also purchase regulated power supplies that are designed to attach to the Arduino controller board.
  • Follow Basic Safety Precautions – in most cases, you can do more damage to the Arduino controller and accessories than they can do to you. Never handle the controller or accessories without wearing an anti-static grounding strap. It is also important to avoid touching the circuit board itself or any metal parts. Always handle the controller from around the edges. When you set the controller or other parts down, make sure they are not on a surface that can conduct electricity. Finally, always store the controller and parts in a case that will keep it safe and free of moisture and dust.
  • Never combine the controller with parts it isn’t designed to work with. During the process of selecting an Arduino controller, you will find several variations on the market. While most sensors and accessories will work with all boards on the market, others will not. Study the data sheets for the accessories carefully so that you know which boards they will and will not work with.

Six Things Every Prepper Should do With Arduino

When it comes to meeting a wide range of survival needs, Arduino can fit into just about any scenario and make things easier.

Here are six things that you should know how to build and operate.

1. Environmental Pollution Detector System

As mentioned earlier, being able to detect air pollutants and toxins is and will be crucial after crisis. If you suffer from breathing problems, you may be amazed at what a few simple sensors will reveal about why you are sick and how best to get on the road to being well again.

Arduino controllers can also be used to power water pH and and other aspects of water quality. Since water is usually at neutral pH (7.0), levels significantly higher or lower can point to the presence of dangerous toxins.

If you find water that has an unusually acidic or alkaline pH, you can use that information to determine how to clean the water.

This meter can also tell you how effective your methods were. Without a question, if you thought boiling water is the “end all” cure all for water quality problems, seeing the pH skew even more in the unwanted direction will reveal problems with that idea; and may just save your life.

In a similar way, you can use other sensors to test soil quality. This will help you choose the best areas to grow food crops as well as help you figure out which additives will make the soil more suitable for your plants.

Video first seen on The Suburban Hippie Experimentalist

2. Mobile Surveillance Systems

Also mentioned above, there are truly endless ways to use Arduino wheeled robots, cameras, and recording systems for surveillance.

No matter whether you want to know what is happening near a distant fence or even some location within your home these wheeled systems can meet all your needs with ease.

3. RFID Detectors

RFID detectors are absolutely necessary since chips are planted in everything from razor blade packages to children and pets. Knowing where RFIDs are can help you understand all the possible locations where spies can find out where you are and what you are doing.

You can always upgrade the Arduino sensor system for a fairly low price instead of spend hundreds of dollars on pre-fabricated systems that come out in response to newer stealthier RFID technologies.

4. Radios and Receivers

You can build everything from Foxhole radios to transmitter systems, but they may not be as strong as what you can make using an Arduino controller. If you take advantage of the wireless sender and receiver kits, you can also communicate more easily over short distances using much lighter equipment.

Video first seen on David Watts

5. Alarm and Safety Systems

Why should you sit up day and night worry about if thieves are going to get into your campsite? Have you been hoping a deer was going to come your way? There are literally hundred to thousands of ways that alarm systems can be used to enhance safety and survival goals.

With Arduino, you can build all kinds of systems that will generate invisible beams that will alert you to the presence of something you should know about. When combined with wireless signal systems and cameras, you can have real time intelligence about everything going on around you.

6. Nuclear Radiation Detection System

Although often overlooked, nuclear radiation risks are truly going to be much higher regardless of whether nuclear bombs are deployed. While you can always use a Kierney Fallout meter, it never hurts to have a Geiger counter onhand.

You can purchase an add-on for Arduino controllers that will do this job with ease. Remember, if you don’t want to dedicate a controller just to this task, just unplug the sensor from the Arduino controller and use it for some other task!

In fact, you may even decide to use one board for all your prepping tasks until you decide which ones you want to build as permanent applications.

Even though most of your prepping must involve tangibles like food, water, defense, and transport, it may not be a good idea to ignore all forms of electronic devices.

Arduino controllers and their accessories are highly customizable and can be used to help you navigate through a crisis more easily than expected. As you think about each area of your survival plans, consider that these systems may be of far more value than you realized.

Feel free to share other ways your prepping efforts might benefit from using an Arduino interface. I have built several for my own current and prepper based needs and would love to discuss them with those who are interested in learning.

If you are looking for low budget options to bridge the gap to more expensive devices, or ones that don’t rely on electronic devices, Arduino can fill that gap, and may you didn’t even realize existed in your current plans.

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia. 

DIY Emergency Lights From Solar Yard Lights

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DIY Emergency Lights From Solar Yard Lights Being able to see when the sun is down and the power is out is usually not a big deal. Emergency lighting in most buildings and the flashlight feature on millions of smart phones around the globe is enough for the general populace. The main problem with that …

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Emergency Lighting Under 9 Bucks

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Emergency Lighting Under 9 Bucks Affordable emergency lighting is now at your fingertips! The Luna LED Light is an awesome, very cheap prepping item I would highly recommend to have not only for the home, in case of a power cut, but to keep in a bug out bag and for camping! As you can see …

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Turn Your Smartphone Into A Satellite Phone

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Turn Your Smartphone Into A Satellite Phone We all know how cell phones can work on one street and then have no signal on another part of the same street. This makes cell phone not the best option for survival if you get lost in the desert or dense woods. I found a product that …

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Why You May Want To Buy A Blackphone If You Are a Prepper

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Why You May Want To Buy A Blackphone If You Are a Prepper Many of you may have heard about this device recently. I think it’s a great phone for us preppers to have. Check out why I think this below. What is blackphone? The Blackphone on it’s own is an Android 4.4 smartphone with …

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Survival Gear Review: LaCrosse NOAA Weather Radio

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NOAA_Weather_Radio_2There are pieces of emergency gear that preppers and survivalists simply have to have.  A multi-functional, multi-powered weather radio is one of them.  One of these radios should be extremely high on your “to buy” list if you do not have one now.  It needs to be kept easy to access and ready to go out the door, too. Undoubtedly there are numerous such weather radios on the market and I have had two or three over the years that all eventually died.  I have an old model sold by L.L.Bean that still works but the station dial is so crude it is difficult to zero in on a station with clear reception.  It also eats batteries like popcorn. Enter an intuitive, energy efficient rebuttal to older inefficient radios: the LaCrosse Model 810.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

This LaCrosse model has it all.  In fact its features are darn near too many to mention, but here is a rundown on the essentials. First of all, the radio is small and compact.  Out of the package it appears to be well made in a black matte finish in ABS plastic.  The grill or speaker front is silver matte chromed.  Had it been bright chrome, it could have been used as a signal function.  The ‘control’ panel is centered on the front with simple, intuitive buttons to manage all the radio’s functions.

The LaCrosse Model 810

NOAA_Weather_RadioTo begin activation of the LaCrosse 810, pull the battery seal out of the back to activate the LIR123A recharge battery to initially power up the unit.  Backup power sources also include a built-in solar panel on top that can recharge the radio in 10-12 hours of sunlight.  Also available is a hand crank on the back to recharge the unit.  About one minute of cranking gives 30 minutes of radio juice to hear anything that is being broadcasted.

Related: Surviving Alone

A red charging crank rate light will shine as you crank.  It will turn green when fully charged.  As you crank, you can get into a sort of rhythm, but one minute of cranking seems an eternity.  It occurred to me during the process what a great job for the kids to do.  

The radio itself can be set to AM-FM for standard stations for music, news, and local weather.  One more button push switches the radio to the NOAA weather bands for fully detailed weather reports from an official government weather source.  The LaCrosse 810 picks up seven weather band frequencies, so something should be available and live no matter where you are.  

Other Features

NOAA_Weather_Radio_4Besides the more or less regular features of a weather radio, the 810 unit also has a built-in LED flashlight with focused fresnal lens, a blue back light flashes red during weather alerts around the digital read out panel, a digital station tuner, volume buttons, and a digital clock reading AM-PM time readouts. There are two stainless steel bars on the ends of the front panel which go through the case to reinforce the internal framework of the radio to make it more durable.  On the side is a telescoping antenna that can be pulled out and rotated to isolate the best radio reception.  There is also a 3.5 mm earphone jack if you want to listen via headphones.  

Read Also: Survival Radio: What Will Work 

Also built into this unit is a mini-USB port that can be used to charge the radio via a computer or any other USB power source.  Users can also utilize the hand crank feature to charge a phone or other external mobile device. The LaCrosse NOAA Weather Radio is very simple to self-use, but directions are printed on the bottom of the radio in case the paper instructions become lost.  The included directions come printed in three languages, English, Spanish, and French.  I guess the Russians will have to hack in.  

As a final footnote, I plan to find some kind of soft-sided slip case or bag to store the LaCrosse radio to offer extra shock protection and safety from any outside elements.  For now the radio sits on my work desk ready for the next weather event or to listen to talk radio or music.  The LaCrosse 810 retails for just under $50 and is well worth the investment.

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Communication After an EMP

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Communication After an EMP Do you know how to communicate after an EMP? What kind of gear will you be needing? What will you use after the electronics in your location have mostly all gone down? Have any idea how to protect your electronics from a potential EMP? If you’re interested in finding out, today’s …

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Solar Powered Bike That Could Get You Out Of Dodge

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Solar Powered Bike That Could Get You Out Of Dodge This solar powered bike could get your ass out of dodge and without the sound of a gas engine. This quiet beast could be your saving grace. I have been toying with the idea of a second vehicle for my prepping for years. I just …

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How Will You Communicate in an Emergency?

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How Will You Communicate in an Emergency? Are you planning on using your cell phone to send texts? While that may be more reliable than making calls, the communication grid is not especially reliable. You have certainly experienced small outages not just on landlines and internet connection, but cell phone connection as well. History will …

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The Perigee Power 401 Renewable Portable Solar Power Generator

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The Perigee Power 401 Renewable Portable Solar Power Generator The 401 “Carry-On” is a portable power system that produces household electricity for products rated at 600 watts or less. A clean and quiet alternative to a generator, the 401 “Carry-On” integrates a 42Ah battery (additional battery supported via interconnect) with a 600-watt pure sine wave …

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17 Free Kindle Books for Preppers

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17 Free Kindle Books for Preppers While it may be hard to pass over freebies, sometimes they are free for a reason. Free books, in particular, have a reputation for being pretty bad. So we combed through the free books available for the Kindle and found a few good resources. Whether you are looking for …

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Electrical Grid Down – No Power in a Canadian Winter

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Electrical Grid Down – No Power in a Canadian Winter What would happen in your area if the power went out in the dead of winter – not for minutes but for days? How would people behave if they didn’t have any idea when the electricity would come back on? What would happen to you …

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How to Hack a Radio to Pick Up Different Frequencies – Including Law Enforcement & More

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How to Hack a Radio to Pick Up Different Frequencies – Including Law Enforcement & More   The only thing you need for this project is an AM/FM transistor radio, an older model that has a physical adjustment for tuning rather than digital. This will be a wheel or slider that changes stations. The only …

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Introducing The Multi-Purpose, All-Terrain Electric Locomotive

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Introducing The Multi-Purpose, All-Terrain Electric Locomotive Finally an electric All-Terrain power horse to help you out all year long. No matter what the weather gives you, this could be one great investment for daily use or emergency’s and SHTF. The fantastic  like a mix between a snowmobile, a dog sled and a miniature World War …

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The Multi-Purpose, All-Terrain Electric Locomotive

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The Multi-Purpose, All-Terrain Electric Locomotive Finally an electric All-Terrain power horse to help you out all year long. No matter what the weather gives you, this could be one great investment for daily use or emergency’s and SHTF. The fantastic  like a mix between a snowmobile, a dog sled and a miniature World War I …

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6 Gadgets to Generate Electricity

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6 Gadgets to Generate Electricity As we grow more and more reliant on our electronics for information and communication, electricity is necessary for emergencies. Electricity generating gadgets come in many forms and the way they generate electricity varies between them. Having multiple options to generate electricity and charge your electronics can help keep you prepared. Having …

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8 Exit Plans Every Serious Prepper Should Have In Place

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exit plans preppersMatt Drudge created a bit of a stir a couple of years ago with this Tweet:


I’ve been a Drudge Report reader for over 20 years and have often said a prayer of thanks for Matt’s consistent dedication to exposing corruption. That Tweet, though, that has been stuck in my head ever since I saw it. “Have an exit plan…”

As a prepper, I suppose I have a number of exit plans. Some are quite thorough and have become reality with marked up maps and a few bug out bags. However, Matt’s warning has recently caused me to think twice about my preparedness. Is there only one type of “exit” — one that involves hitting the road, or should I be considering other types of exit plans for preppers?

After giving this some thought, I’ve come up with 7 exit plans that every serious prepper needs. Ultimately, the plan is to get out of the matrix by as large a margin as possible.

8 Exit Plans for Preppers

Physical location

This is the type of exit we preppers know all about — bug out locations, bug out vehicles, bug out bags, etc. Here you can read some best tips for selecting a bug out location.

There’s nothing wrong with planning for this type of exit, and hopefully, you have this fairly well covered, even if it’s just simply getting out of an unsafe neighborhood, an apartment complex that is going downhill, or moving from one area of a city to one further out along the edges of that city. They are are all examples of exit strategies. That remote cabin in Montana isn’t your only choice and for many, not advisable.

Your job

I’m not suggesting that everyone quit their job, but you definitely need to have an exit plan in place — other ways of earning an income. A economic collapse, EMP, massive civil unrest, war, and other devastating events could make it impossible for you to continue with your job. For most of us, no job equals no money. Earlier this year I made the effort to get a license so I could legally work, using skills from a previous trade. I believe everyone should have a backup when it comes to earning money, so get at least one in place (preferably more than one) should everything hit the fan and your job disappears.

Here’s a good combination of streams of income:

  1. A blue collar trade, such as plumbing, home construction, laying tile, carpet repair, electrical work, etc.
  2. Learn technical skills, such as coding, website or app design. Sites such as UpWork make it possible for freelancers in computer related skills to work for people all over the world.
  3. Working the land skills. By raising chickens, goats, and/or bees, you can earn an income selling eggs, milk, honey, and homemade cheese. If you have a growing garden, you can sell it at farmers markets. One urban homesteader we know raises goats and chickens and has a super-productive garden growing on her small city lot. She earns money by delivering what she grows to upper income families who want organic, locally grown produce.
  4. Whatever job you’re doing now.

If you maintain your current job and income and begin adding other skills, such as the ones I’ve listed, gradually, you may be able to wean yourself off that full-time job, if you want. If you stay with that job, at least you’re developing other income sources — that all-important exit plan.

Besides setting up another income source or two (more is always better), your exit plan could also involve saving money like crazy and having that as a safety net. Funds from retirement and investments and the sale of property might also allow you to exit a job.

Public schools

In a post-TEOTWAWKI world, your kids won’t be heading out the door to school every day. It will be up to you to homeschool them or join with other families and create a 21st century one room schoolhouse. It might be smart to stock up on school supplies when they’re really cheap (sales in August and September), textbooks (you can find them at used bookstores), books on Kindle (we have hundreds), and maybe even download instructional videos to teach advanced concepts in algebra, chemistry, and writing. The exit plan is either getting your kids out of the public school system now or having the supples to continue with their education if everything collapses. Just one more exit plans for preppers that makes sense.

Financial institutions

As I mentioned earlier, savings, retirement money, and investments can all allow you the option of exiting your job, but they also rely entirely on an electronic financial system. The safest way to exit this particular system is to simply not need it anymore.

This exit plan is the trickiest for nearly everyone. Since most of us now do banking online, receive our paychecks via direct deposit, pay our bills online, purchase just about everything with a debit/credit card, then how do you get out of this financial matrix?

It won’t be east, but do whatever is possible. If your employer only pays by direct deposit, then withdraw cash to pay bills and pay them in person. Go back to paying cash for as much as you can. You might want to cash out insurance policies, 501(k) accounts, and investments — taking the tax hit now and figuring that at least you have what’s left of the money. Use that money to buy tangibles, such as property for farming, developing a homestead, food storage, a water catchment system, etc. Not only will this step help you step away from the financial system, but you’ll be developing a more self-reliant lifestyle at the same time.

A severe financial crisis here in the U.S. could usher in capital controls, the government skimming money directly from your account, or certain accounts being frozen. In an economic collapse, your money will disappear overnight, anyway, so you might as well be thinking of what you can do now to preserve the wealth you have.

I’m not a financial advisor — I’m just mentioning this as a possible way to exit financial institutions.

The power grid

I’m convinced that sooner or later, our power grid will falter and fail. Hopefully, that outage wil last for just a few weeks, but between frequent occurrences of sabotage, the ability of multiple nations able to take out our grid via hacking and cyberterrorism, and coronal mass ejections, I’m kind of surprised that we still have a grid!

What ties you to the power grid? Keep track of things like how often you wash dishes, do the laundry, watch TV, listen to music, charge batteries — everything both large and small that requires electricity. Then, take steps to reduce that dependence. You won’t be able to disconnect entirely, but if/when the grid goes down and you have less reliance on it, the better you’ll be able to survive. It’s just one more exit strategy and can be done no matter where you live.

Electronics that can snoop on you

A few weeks ago on one of my job sites, I noticed that the high-tech programmers all had pieces of masking tape over the webcams on their laptop computers. What do they know that you and I don’t? They know how easy it is for some outside entity to watch YOU via the very convenient spyglass you have on your laptop computer. If you have a webcam connected to your desktop computer, it’s vulnerable, too.

I rely on my iPhone for work and, as part of my job, I have no choice but to use it, but I’ve been thinking of how I can exit the electronic matrix and take steps to protect my privacy and that of my family. On Facebook, I’m not even there, except to occasionally post an article on the Preparedness Advice page. I avoid all social media otherwise. I’m careful about my email addresses and my wife recently set up a secure email account for our family at Unseen.is.

I’m not sure it’s possible to disappear from the internet altogether, but you could always try these extreme ideas if you’re interested. At the very least, you’ll make it more difficult for anyone to track you down or harass you via the internet. This is one exit you should begin putting into place now.

Food supply

Government agencies regularly make decisions based on money and politics, not what is truly in the best interest of American citizens. This often happens with food. You’ve probably heard of the USDA’s insane decision to allow American-raised chickens to be shipped to China and then back here to sell to consumers. Then there was the time the FDA ruled that walnut producers couldn’t make the true and verified claim that their product has certain health benefits.

These same government people look the other way, though, when food producing corporations deceive the public. For example, high fructose corn syrup is now labeled by some companies as “isolated fructose,” in a blatant attempt to fool health conscious consumers — but God forbid that a suburban mom in Colorado purchases a gallon of raw milk. The purchase of marijuana — no problem, but raw milk? Nope. (You can check out your state’s raw milk laws here.)

Most grocery store foods are loaded with dozens of unhealthy ingredients, our population is fatter than ever, in spite of the half-hearted efforts by our government to guilt us into losing weight. It’s almost as if the government WANTS us fat and unehealthy. After all, that same government has, over the years, issued all manner of food “information” that has done absolutely nothing to make us healthier and in many ways, made us fatter and far less healthy than our grandparents.

Fortunately, we can begin to exit this particular matrix by growing as much food as we can, buying meat, eggs, and produce from local farmers, and stocking up on food storage items that are healthy, such as those sold by Thrive Life. Read the labels of the foods that are sitting on your kitchen shelves, and you’ll see what I mean. This is one exit you MUST make for your kid’s and grandkid’s sakes.

Exit the healthcare matrix

Do you have health issues? What can you do to exit our country’s healthcare mess? It’s become too expensive for most of us to afford the “insurance”, much less high deductibles, and cover fees we still have to pay for copays and drugs.

Learn about herbal healthcare. Sam Coffman in San Antonio runs an excellent herbalism course. Learn from someone like him and begin to minimize your dependence on our healthcare system.

Essential oils aren’t just for the ladies. When we diffuse lavender oil at night, I sleep more soundly than I would with an Ambien, and one oil blend, Raven, helps my breathing during allergy season. When my daughter burned her wrist with hot cooking oil, it was lavender oil that helped it heal quickly and with only the tiniest scar. Many essential oils have been proven in lab tests to be effective. There are dozens of brands out there, but we ususually buy Young Living, Sparks Naturals, and I just learned about Rocky Mountain Oils, which we’ll be trying.

Increase your own medical knowledge. Take a first aid class, know CPR, take wilderness first aid. Sign up for an EMT class at a community college. The more training you have in this area, the better off you and your loved ones will be. I have a handful of medical books written for preppers and rely on them — The Survival Doctor’s Complete Handbook, is extremely helpful and written for the non-medical layperson.

Even more exit plans for preppers

Think about the bills you pay each month and which ones can be eliminated or greatly decreased. This isn’t just about saving money but by becoming more independent. The water bill you pay each month represents total dependence on another entity for your water. Instead, can you set up a rain catchment system and bury a couple of large water tanks in your backyard? Less reliance in a single step.

What about gift-giving season? Rather than pour money into “the system”, get out of the retail matrix and begin crafting your own gifts — handmade knives, homemade soap, honey from your own bees, jars of canned produce, homeade jams, jellies and your homemade hot sauce, metal work, etc. The retail world is designed to suck you in and then drain you of your money. It’s a pretty easy world to exit, though, if you avoid malls.

What other exit strategies can you think of?

Thanks to Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom, for her assistance in writing this article.


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How To Bring Dead Ni-Cad Batteries Back To Life

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How To Bring Dead Ni-Cad Batteries Back To Life Stop having your Ni-Cad batteries stop charging and losing power and dying all the time. Save a lot of money over the year and have a way to keep your Ni-Cad batteries in peak performance in an emergency.  I love learning something new everyday. This is why …

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How To Convert an Old Washing Machine Into a Water Powered Generator

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How To Convert an Old Washing Machine Into a Water Powered Generator I am so thankful I came across this video. Buddhanz1 shows us how to take an old washing machine and turn it into a 600 watt water powered generator. This thing is so easy to do and costs so little to build. Buddhanz1 says he runs his …

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Yes, The Election Can Be Hacked – And The Result Would Be Catastrophic

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Yes, The Election Can Be Hacked – And The Result Would Be Catastrophic

WASHINGTON — Experts in the American voting process believe hackers have the ability to disrupt the upcoming presidential election, thanks mostly to electronic systems that have made everything vulnerable to cyberattack.

“If you can get at an election management system, you could potentially alter results, or muddy up the results, or you could even just shed doubt on the outcome because you make it clear that there’s been tampering,” Pamela Smith, the president of a group called Verified Voting, told National Public Radio (NPR).

If may sound like something out of a Hollywood film, but it’s more possible than you might think. A cyberattack in July penetrated the Illinois voter registration system, giving hackers potential access to a database of registered voters. It wasn’t clear if any data was stolen or tampered with, but the system was shut down a week later, the Times of Northwest Indiana reported.

Yes, The Election Can Be Hacked – And The Result Would Be Catastrophic

Image source: Pixabay.com

The biggest fear is that hacking would make it impossible to verify the outcome of an election – or even that a system would be hacked and no one would know it. That would create doubts and might lead to a recount and court challenges, as happened after the 2000 presidential election.

Discover The ONLY Way Back To True Freedom And Liberty In America…

But a 2016 scenario could be far worse than the 2000 election. That’s because 80 percent of Americans vote either on a paper ballot or on a system with a paper backup, Larry Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice told NPR. That means that the votes of 20 percent of Americans potentially would be unknown.

Each of the 50 states runs its own voting system. To make matters worse, elections are often run by volunteers with little or no expertise in computers and cybersecurity.

Several recent stories should give Americans pause:

  • The FBI found evidence that Arizona’s voter registration database was hacked in June, KTVK-TV Malware was able to penetrate the system by going through a county election official’s computer.
  • Virginia’s Board of Elections banned the use of touchscreen voting machines in April 2015 after it was discovered that 20 percent of them were vulnerable to hacking via wireless signals, NPR reported. 
  • Security analyst David Levin was arrested in May after he posted a YouTube video showing how easy it was to penetrate the election site of Lee County, Florida, NPR Levin was trying to show how vulnerable the system is. “Yeah, you could be in Siberia and still perform the attack that I performed on the local supervisor of election website,” Levin said. “So this is very important.”
  • The Democratic National Committee’s system was hacked this year.

“Wherever there’s a fully electronic voting system, there’s potential for tampering of some kind,” Smith said.

Perhaps most disturbing, a hacker named Andrés Sepúlveda told Bloomberg in March that he fixed or tried to fix elections throughout Latin America for eight years. He is now in prison.

“My job was to do actions of dirty war and psychological operations, black propaganda, rumors—the whole dark side of politics that nobody knows exists but everyone can see,” Sepúlveda told Bloomberg.

Yes, The Election Can Be Hacked – And The Result Would Be CatastrophicThe hacker claims he was paid tens of thousands of dollars to steal campaign data, install spyware, hack smartphones and spread false information through the Internet, social media and email. One of his specialties was to create fake Twitter accounts and send out false tweets, to convince voters that political propaganda was actually news.

This Cool-To-The-Touch Lantern Provides 100,000 Hours Of Emergency Backup Lighting

“When I realized that people believe what the Internet says more than reality, I discovered that I had the power to make people believe almost anything,” Sepúlveda told Bloomberg.

He said he has few regrets.

“I worked with presidents, public figures with great power, and did many things with absolutely no regrets because I did it with full conviction and under a clear objective, to end dictatorship and socialist governments in Latin America,” he said.

Sepúlveda worked in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela, according to Bloomberg.

He once tricked computers into calling voters at 3 a.m. – when they are asleep – to listen to a recording message for a candidate. The goal was to make voters mad at the candidate and vote against him, and it worked. He lost in a close election.

Asked if he believes similar things are being done in the United States, Sepúlveda replied, “I’m 100 percent sure it is.”

What is your reaction? Do you believe the election can be hacked? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Tired Of Losing Freedoms — And Looking For Another Country? Read More Here.

How To Make a Powerful Modern DIY HDTV Antenna

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How To Make a Powerful Modern DIY HDTV Antenna Are you paying hundreds of dollars a month for cable or satellite TV? Chances are you probably are. Or, are you struggling to pay for TV and can’t afford to buy a HDTV Ariel?  Sit back and think about this… do you really watch all of …

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Why You Need A Faraday Cage And How To Build One

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Why You Need A Faraday Cage And How To Build One We all know am EMP strike could render our electronic devices useless. Did you know that you can actually prevent damage to your electronics by building a Faraday cage? They are really easy to build and actually won’t cost you a lot to make …

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How To Build A Swing Set that Generates Electricity

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How To Build A Swing Set that Generates Electricity See how to build a swing set that generates electricity. Fun and practical all in one. We have all seen the DIY solar and wind projects on the web but I have never seen any quite like this. It is a swing set that generates electricity …

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Protect Your Most Valuable Documents with an Encrypted USB Flash Drive

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Protect Your Most Valuable Documents with an Encrypted USB Flash Drive An encrypted flash drive is a must have for any serious prepper; put this in your emergency binder and keep scanned copies of your most important documents secure from prying eyes. This USB flash drive will Encrypt 100% of your data in real-time with military grade …

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How To Build A Tin Can WiFi Antenna

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How To Build A Tin Can WiFi Antenna Are you looking to extend the range of your current WIFI network? See How To Build A Tin Can WiFi Antenna for around 5 bucks! This is so frugal it may just put Belkin out of business if we all made one of these bad boys! Use an old …

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60 Awesome Reasons to Get a Ham Radio

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60 Awesome Reasons to Get a Ham Radio Disclaimer: Operating a ham radio with out a license is illegal. Please be sure to get one before purchasing a ham radio. Ham radios are one of the most reliable ways of using and operating radio frequencies. Used by amateurs, they may not be the most high-tech …

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Post Disaster Communication for Newbies

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Post Disaster Communication for Newbies During and after a disaster, information is at a premium. The chaos that disasters bring can make getting any solid information almost impossible. Disaster communication is very different from when you were a kid, playing on walkie talkies or maybe CB radios in your vehicles. The rules are different, the …

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11 Ways To Light Your Home When The Power Goes Out

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11 Ways To Light Your Home When The Power Goes Out When the power goes out, the only lights most people have are candles, flashlights, and perhaps an oil lamp. These are fine for short power outages, but for extended outages (24 hours or longer), you’ll need lights that are safer, brighter, and longer-lasting. Fortunately, …

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10 Clever Ways to Reduce Energy and Save Money on Utilities

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10 Clever Ways to Reduce Energy and Save Money on Utilities See how these clever ideas can save you money right now and get you in good standing if you have to live off the grid one day! We all know that that our bills are going up and up every year and they probably …

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Here’s What a National Electricity Shortage Looks Like

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Here’s What a National Electricity Shortage Looks Like Did you ever consider that the SHTF might not be a dramatic total blackout, like the kind caused by an EMP or a direct hit from the sun? What if the SHTF is actually an incremental electricity shortage that changes our very way of life? That’s exactly …

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DIY Scalable Solar Power System – On a Budget

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DIY Scalable Solar Power System – On a Budget Get a DIY scalable solar power system on a budget…. I recently discovered a website that has lots of great info, I have spent a few days now looking at articles and hand picking awesome tutorials and great info we all, including for my own use. …

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How To Make a Penny Battery

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How To Make a Penny Battery See how to make a penny battery today and always have a quick source of power in an emergency. Perfect for small projects like powering a small clock or LED’s. I will start off by saying… obviously, this is not going to be powering anything significant, but I want …

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Trouble Sleeping? Here Are 6 Tips That You Need to Know

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sleepThe modern world has done a number on our sleep cycles. While surely there have always been sleep disorders, living in a high stress world filled with lights, gadgets, and on demand entertainment has turned many of us into sleepless zombies. About 10% of the American population has chronic insomnia, and between 45% and 55% of us experience it infrequently.

Clearly this is a widespread problem. Calling it an epidemic would be an apt description, since it’s so common and incredibly bad for us. Sleep is like food and water. If you don’t get enough of it, every function in your body will be hindered in one form or another. And that of course, can put you into an early grave.

Fortunately there are a few simple (though not always easy) things you can do to finally get a good night’s rest. If you don’t want to be among the sleep deprived masses, consider the following:

Tobacco, Alcohol, and Caffeine

Everyone knows that caffeine can keep you awake and shouldn’t be ingested before going to sleep. Tobacco is another stimulant that can keep you up, and not just because of its brief energizing effects. If you smoke once or twice every waking hour, then that’s what your addicted brain is used to. But when you try going to sleep, all of sudden you’re going several hours without smoking. This often leads to restlessness and waking up in the middle of the night.

And finally, alcohol is one of the worst substances you can ingest before bed. Initially it will help you fall asleep fast, but like tobacco it hurts the quality of that sleep. You’ll get less REM sleep, and it may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.

Light and Dark

It’s common knowledge that a dark environment is ideal for a good night’s rest. Even the slightest speck of light can hinder melatonin production (even with your eyes closed too) and throw a wrench in the gears of your circadian rhythm. It could be the numbers on your alarm clock, the lights on your TV, or the street lamp outside your window. Anything can throw you off. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy a sleeping mask and/or blackout curtains for your bedroom. Most people don’t even realize how much these tiny lights are ruining their sleep until they try out these options.

What most people don’t know however, is that experiencing daylight is just as important for your sleep. Research has shown that seeing and feeling more sunlight throughout the day helps you sleep better at night. When you stay inside all day under artificial light, your body doesn’t really know when it’s day-time and night-time. Thus, it doesn’t know when to sleep.


And while we’re on the subject of how light affects your sleep, you should avoid all contact with electronics for at least an hour before bedtime. As I said before, any form of light can hinder your sleep to some degree, but computers and cell phones are the worst. The light from these devices, as well as LEDs and fluorescent bulbs, is often tinted blue. That color actually induces wakefulness and focus, and it can hinder your sleep for several hours after you see it.

Skip the Snooze Button

The problem with hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock is that it interrupts your sleep cycles, which typically lasts about 90 minutes and consists of 5 stages throughout the night. Hitting the snooze button causes that cycle to restart unnecessarily as you drift back to sleep. You would feel more restful if you had just set your alarm clock a few minutes later. Not only that, but the snooze button has a tendency to disrupt your hormones and your circadian rhythm.

And when you think about it, you shouldn’t need an alarm clock either unless your work schedule changes from day-to-day. If you need an alarm clock to wake you up every single morning, then you’re not getting enough sleep. Set it every night anyway just in case something disrupts your sleep, but don’t rely on it. If you’re really getting plenty of consistent rest, and you’re disciplined enough to go to bed at the same time every night (which your body loves), you’ll wake up at the same time every morning a few minutes before that alarm clock goes off.


One of the best remedies for occasional insomnia is a workout. If you sit on your butt all day, your body will have an abundance of energy that it wants to burn off, and that will keep you awake. If you really want to conk out fast, then you need to feel exhausted at the end of the day, and obviously exercise can do that. Even moderate exercise like walking and jogging can help take care of your restlessness. Keep in mind however, that this works best for the majority of the population that doesn’t have a sleep disorder. If you have chronic insomnia, then you should know that exercise may not have the same effect on you.

Find the Perfect Temperature

We all know that a hot muggy evening or a freezing cold night can make it difficult to sleep. However, the temperature range that provides the best sleep isn’t as broad as you might think. Anything between 65 and 70 degrees will put most people to sleep the fastest, and help them feel more restful when they wake up. To fall asleep, the temperature of the human body needs to decline slightly, and that aforementioned temperature range helps your body maintain that state. If the room temperature drifts too far from that range, then your body will have to work extra hard to maintain the lowered temperature, and you’ll struggle to sleep.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

How To Make A Solar Shrub Charger

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How To Make A Solar Shrub Charger I know, this looks freaking awesome right? I saw this and had to share it with you. How many times have you been in your yard working on your garden or just soaking up the sun to find out you phone is dead or needs to charge? I …

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How to Cheaply and Easily Extend Your Wi-Fi Network at Home

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How to Cheaply and Easily Extend Your Wi-Fi Network at Home Learn how to extend your Wi-Fi Network at Home so you can enjoy the internet in your garden or garage. This may not be a top priority project for everyone but how many times have you been in the garden or wanted to do some …

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How To Make An Earth Battery

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How To Make An Earth Battery With something as simple as an old ice cube tray some soil a few bolts and copper wire you can get about 5 volts of electricity. This is enough to power a few LED lights, calculators and if you are really tech minded even a mobile or USB device. …

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Wireless Burglar Alarms can be Easily Hacked

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wireless burglar alarmsCrime has been increasing in my area since the state legislators changed the laws to lessen the penalties of various crimes.  Home burglaries have been increasing.  As a result, the alarm business is booming as more people have both hardwired and wireless burglar alarms installed.

Good alarm systems can prevent your home from being burglarized and provide you with a lot of security.  But it needs to be a monitored system so that the police are called automatically by your service provider.  In addition, it should have the windows covered by either switches or motion detectors and preferably by both.

I have been talking to a couple of security people who have been looking at many of the new wireless burglar alarms.  They have provided me with information on how easy it is to hack these alarms.  Now I have decided to warn you about this problem, but I am not going to share the method that is being used.  It can be done easily with products that are currently on the market and are inexpensive.  It is becoming common knowledge amongst many of the burglars.

This applies to all but the most expensive of the wireless alarms.  It also includes all of the inexpensive wireless driveway alarms sold by companies like Harbor Freight. This is only one of the down sides to wireless alarms.  The second is that they require you to replace the batteries on a regular schedule.  It has been my experience and the experience of my friends that a large number of people fail to replace the batteries on schedule and therefore their alarms are not working.

Hard wire alarms are harder to install, but once they are in take no maintenance.  They are the most reliable and much harder to hack.  The same problems also apply to wireless surveillance cameras. Beware of the simple wireless burglar alarms that are becoming more popular.  I suspect that with time some of these problems may be solved but the time is not now.


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How to Obtain Solar Panels For Free

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How to Obtain Solar Panels For Free I saw this article and thought it very obvious but it’s one of those articles where you say to yourself, ugh, why didn’t I think of that! In order to obtain the solar panels for free you will need to have your people skills and politeness in check, …

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How Dependent are You on Electricity?

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electricityNow I like to think that I can get by without electricity.  So this week, I took the time to do a survey of our home to see how much we depended on electricity.  The idea being how much would a long-term loss of electricity affect us.  This study revealed some interesting results.

  • Clocks – I realized that all our clocks were electric with the exception of one older wristwatch.
  • Lights – here we had plenty of backup. We have a couple of small solar systems and kerosene that would supply adequate lighting if the power is out.
  • Heat – here we are a bit weak, but it doesn’t get very cold here for extended periods of time. If we dressed warmly, we would be fine.  We should work to improve this area
  • Freezer – We have generator backup for our freezers. This would give us time to use some of the food and preserve the rest.  However we need to improve our system for preserving meat from our freezer.  Because we would be dependent on salting it, I want to build a good smoker for preserving meat.
  • Garage door openers – We have an alternate system for securing our garage door, if we have to open and close it with the power out.
  • Phones – We have the capability of charging our cell phone, if they are still working. For landlines, we keep an older dial phone that is not dependant on the power in our home, but will work off the power in the phone lines, if the system is still functioning.  Power Outage Caused Phone Failure can Often be Prevented
  • Cooking – This not a problem for us, we have solar cookers, a kerosene stove and a rocket stove.
  • Communication – Battery operated ham and MURS radios can be charged by small solar panels.
  • Radio – We have a good solar and crank powered radio.
  • TV- I figure we will be better off without it.
  • Kitchen appliances – We have hand operated mixers and grinders. The rest we will do without.
  • Power tools – Electric power tools especially the battery operated ones are nice and handy and we will use them as long as we can. But when they fail we will go back to the old methods.  A Good List of Hand Tools You Need to Work Without Electricity.  Hand Tools for Carpentry After TEOTWAWKI
  • Well pump – we don’t have a well, our water source is municipal water, but we have a stream across the street and some water storage.

Now I know that we have not covered everything.  Transportation and gardening both will require separate posts.  Take a look around your home and see what you will miss if the power goes down for an extended period of time.



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How To Convert An Electric Water Heater To Solar

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How To Convert An Electric Water Heater To Solar A water heater can consume a lot of electricity and is one of the appliances in your house that costs you the most money. I personally have a tankless water heater which only heats up the water when I need it. I have saved about 33% …

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Maintaining Lead Acid Batteries to Get the Most Life Out of Them

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maintaining lead acid batteries

Here are two of my homemade battery packs being charged.

A friend Ed sent me a lot of information on maintaining lead acid batteries.  It is good information, but a bit technical for many people so I am going to split this post into two parts.  First, some simple guidelines to keep you from making the biggest mistakes and then the part that he sent me.  I suggest that you take the time to read both.

For an example, I will use the two types of lead acid that I store.  My homemade battery packs  contain the 12 volt sealed lead acid batteries. (Homemade Battery Packs Are Inexpensive and Easy to Make)

Several times a year I get the battery packs out and check everything and make sure they are fully charged.  Sealed lead acid batteries are a good choice for many uses; they are rugged, will not leak, easily rechargeable, and offers a good amount of energy in a convenient form.  However, like most batteries they will slowly self-discharge over time.  Remember a 12 battery should not be allowed to go below 10.5 volts at which time it is considered 100% discharged. This is the reason that lead acid batteries should be stored charged, as self-discharge will eventually completely discharge the battery and damage it.  Thus these batteries should always be charged after use and charged every few months if stored unused for extended periods.

My 12 volt 100 amp gel cells are kept on a smart charge all the time.  This keeps them fully charged.  To tell when your battery is fully charged, use a voltmeter to measure the battery voltage.  Look for a reading around 12.5 volts or higher depending upon the temperature of the battery.  If the battery was just removed from a charger, the reading may be high and will take a few minutes to drop to the open cell voltage.  A discharged battery will read lower than this, usually around or just below 12 volts with no load on it.maintaining lead acid batteries

I use two different types of chargers, my 100-amp gel cells are on a Duracell 2 amp charger which can be left on all the time.  This is a maintenance charger, when the battery is fully charged; it will then reduce the voltage it supplies to the battery.  This keeps the battery from overcharging and overheating, the charger can be left on all the time.

For the battery packs, I use the Delran Battery Tender Jr.  This can be left on the batteries indefinitely, since it is a maintenance charger.  As a safety precaution when I recharge the battery packs, I always make sure that the lids are open and they are vented.  No lead acid batteries should be charged in a sealed space.

If the power is out here is a link to Turn Your Homemade Battery Packs into a Solar Generator.  With a little planning any battery can be charged with solar.

maintaining lead acid batteries

Duracell 2 amp charger

Now read the technical stuff that will give you more detailed information on maintaining lead acid batteries.  It explains the difference between deep cycle and starting batteries, The best batteries to use with your radios and information on NiCd and other batteries.



Battery Power 101

Batteries are only temporary power unless you have reliable, sustainable means of recharging when the AC mains are down.  Solar or photovoltaics (PV), when combined with a well-designed battery bank and appropriate charge controller provide sustainable DC power which can be used to power an AC inverter. This can serve modest emergency power needs at much lower life-cycle cost than a portable generator and fuel storage.

Attention to POLARITY is important for safety. Correct connection sequence is vital to avoid sparking or damage to system components.  An arc caused by wiring a connection in the wrong order may ignite hydrogen given off by a battery, causing an explosion!  High current flow at low voltage can still be lethal. ALWAYS disconnect all circuits before working on any power system.  Follow the correct re‑connection sequence: 

  1.    positive connection to battery
  2.    positive connection to load
  3.    negative connection to battery
  4.    negative connection to load

Typical 12‑volt lead‑acid batteries have a voltage of about 14 volts when fully charged and 11 volts if fully discharged.  Marine radio, Land Mobile Radio, aviation and amateur radio equipment doesn’t operate properly below about 11 volts.  For best battery life avoid full discharge (1.7 volts per cell or 10.2 volts for a 12V battery) Avoid any depth of discharge at which the battery voltage under working load drops below about 11 volts.  Battery systems are current-limited and their capacity is finite. Loads greatly exceeding their design capacity or excessive duty cycle cause rapid depletion of battery capacity.  Battery systems must be sized appropriately to the anticipated load.

Cranking amps tell nothing about how long a battery will run household equipment loads.  Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) represent the current an automotive “start­ing” battery provides continuously for 30 seconds at 0 degs. F before voltage is drops to 1.7 volts per cell (Vpc) or 10.2 volts for a 12 volt battery, at which it is then fully discharged.  In MCA or Marine Cranking Amps, this measurement is taken at 32 degs. F.

Reserve Capacity is the time that a starting battery can sustain a continuous 25Amp load before its cell voltage drops to 1.7vpc. This is a more useful measure, but less than perfect, because the starter in your pickup may not crank the engine enough to start in freezing weather with only 25A.

Performance measurements used for rating deep cycle batteries are amp‑hour capacity and depth of discharge (DoD).  Amp‑hour capacity is total current available over time, measured at 80 degs. F.  DoD is the percentage of capacity available during a charge‑ discharge cycle.

Amp-hour ratings of deep cycle batteries are based upon a discharge rate at 1/20 of  battery capacity. This is commonly expressed in the trade as “C over 20″.  A Battery Council International (BCI) Group 921 marine battery rated 200ah at C/20, discharged continuously at 10 amps, at 80o F., will sustain that load for 20 hrs.

Engine starting batteries are designed for 20% DoD, gel cells 25%, and “deep cycle” industrial batteries from 50% to 80%.  Starting batteries perform poorly in powering wheel chairs, computers or communications because they are designed only for short periods of  intermittent high load with periods of rest in between, not for continuous duty.

Deep cycle batteries are better for emergency backup.  A 100w HF-SSB marine or ham radio draws 20 amps on full key-down CW or data transmit and  requires a 100ah BCI Group 27 battery to stay within a C/20 discharge rate.  At lower temperatures available capacity is reduced.  Lead-acid batteries lose 50% of their rated reserve capacity at 32oF!

More rapid rates of discharge, (such as using a too-small battery for the load) further reduce available capacity and the number of charge‑ discharge cycles the battery will provide.  A BCI Group U1 (25 lb., 31ah) gel cell is well balanced for a wheel chair, 2-meter ham FM mobile or Marine VHF radio at 25% duty cycle. A transmitter output of 25w, typical of a Marine or airband VHF radio requires 6A, approximating the C20 rate of discharge.

A land-mobile or ham 2-meter radio which transmits at 50w, draws a current load of about 10 amps at full FM carrier, a mildly oversized load approximating C/10. This is OK for intermittent “surge use,” such as 20 percent duty cycle with 30 seconds of transmit time to 2 minutes of listening, but stressing a battery frequently in long, full-power radio transmissions of over a minute without sufficient idle time of at least 4 minutes between transmissions shortens battery life. Deep-cycle, flooded lead-acid batteries tolerate C/10 loads with moderate life cycle loss. A battery pack intended for continuous C10 discharge rate as for a portable repeater should be of “deep cycle” type rated for 50% depth of discharge, such as AGM-fire resistant, valve regulated types used in portable AEDs, fire alarms and light aircraft.

A good rule for sizing battery systems for a C/20 discharge rate for landmobile, ham, marine or general aviation communications is one amp‑hour per watt of transmitter output. Estimate the amp-hour capacity required to run your station equipment for 24 hours by summing all loads: transmit current times total operating time times duty cycle, plus receive current with squelch open times standby time and repeat for each piece of equipment.

Then multiply the total loads by 150% safety factor.  If you are too lazy to run the actual current requirements numbers, use the amp-hour per watt rule for each 12 hour operational period.    

Lead‑acid batteries consist of lead alloy grid plates coated with lead oxide paste, immersed in a solution of sulfuric acid.  In manufacture the plates are subjected to a “form­ing” charge which causes the paste on the positive grid plates to convert to lead dioxide. The paste on the negative plates converts to “sponge” lead.  Both materials are highly porous, allowing electrolyte to freely penetrate the plates.  Plates are alternated in the battery, with porous, nonconduc­tive separators between them, or with each positive plate surrounded by an envelope, open at the top.  A group of negative and positive plates with their separators makes up an element. When im­mersed in electrolyte, an element comprises a battery “cell.”

In lead acid batteries each cell is nominally 2 volts.  Multiple cells are connected in series to increase voltage.  Larger or more plates increase amp‑hour capacity, but not voltage. Thicker or fewer plates per cell allow more cycles and longer life for the battery.  The lower the antimony content in the plates, the lower the internal resistance and the less resistant the battery is to charging.  Less antimony also reduces water consumption through electrolysis 

Pure lead plates may break during transportation or service operations requiring removal of the battery.   More antimony allows deeper discharge without damage to the plates and longer service lifeThe plates in most automotive batteries are 2‑3% antimony and deep cycle batteries 5‑6% Sb.  Calcium or strontium used in sealed lead-acid batteries offer the same benefits and drawbacks as antimony, but reduce self discharge when a battery is stored without being used.  Do not exceed 25% DoD with Pb-Ca batteries, (gel cells).

Cells in lead‑acid batteries are vented to permit hydrogen and oxygen to escape during charging. This also provides an opening for replacing water lost due to electrolysis.  Open caps are common in marine batteries, but modern automotive and DOT approved batteries used for commercial vehicles are of flame arrester type to prevent a flame outside the battery from entering the cell.  “Recombinant” caps contain a catalyst which causes hydrogen and oxygen liberated dur­ing charging to recombine into water, reducing the need to replace water lost from the battery.   These are recommended for stationary batteries in seasonal equipment left for long periods on a maintenance level float charge or to be used in photovoltaic systems.

The percentage of acid in battery electrolyte is measured by its specific gravity (Sg).   Only batteries which use acid electrolyte can use specific gravity as a measurement of the state of charge.  A hydrometer is used to mea­sure how much the electrolyte weighs compared to an equal quantity of water.  The greater the state of charge, the higher the specific gravity of the electrolyte. The lower the state of charge, the weaker the acid and the lighter the electrolyte.

Differences in acid density are measured by the float in a hydrometer, which rises higher in an electrolyte sample of high Sg than in one with a lower Sg.

Measuring Sg of a wet, lead‑acid battery during discharge is a good indicator of the state of charge.  A fully charged battery has an Sg of 1.265 grams per cubic centi­meter, at  75% charge 1.225, 50% charge 1.19 and fully discharged 1.120.  During charging of a flooded battery Sg  lags the charge state because complete mixing of the electrolyte does not occur until gassing commences near the end of the charge cycle.   Because of uncertainty of mixing, this measurement on a fully charged battery is a better indicator of the health of a cell.  Therefore, Sg is not the absolute measure of capacity, but is considered in combination with load testing and open circuit voltage.

Lead‑acid batteries accept only about 1/10 of the charging current at 30 degs. F which they will accept at 80 degs. F.  

Lead-acid batteries at normal ambient temperature should be charged current from 1/10 to 1/20 of capacity. When not in service, all lead‑acid batteries self‑ discharge at rate of about 5% per month.  The rate of self-discharge increases with temperature.  If  a lead‑acid battery is left in a deeply discharged condition for a long time it becomes “sulfated” as sulphur in the acid combines with lead from the plates to form lead sulphate.

Standby auxiliary batteries require a charge controller to provide regulated, low‑level current to compensate for self discharge and protect against sulfation.  They also require regular testing, inspection and replacement of lost electrolyte.  If water is lost during charging and not replaced, the process of sulfation is accelerated in those plates which are partially exposed to air.  “Treeing” is a short circuit occurring between positive and negative plates.  This may be caused by manufacturing defect or rough handling resulting in misalignment of the plates and separators. “Mossing” caused by circulating electrolyte bringing particulates to plate tops can also cause a short.

Sealed, flooded (wet) lead‑acid batteries are also called “maintenance free” and experience less self‑discharge.  They contain lead‑calcium or lead‑strontium plates to reduce water loss and usually have catalytic recombiners to reduce water loss and sealed, valve regulated vents.  Sealed-flooded lead-acids tolerate the same temperatures as unsealed batteries, but because Sg isn’t readily measured, some sealed-wet batteries are provided with a captive float hydrometer in the electrolyte.  Sealed-wet batteries are very common for automotive starting, but should not be discharged below 25%, or their life is greatly curtailed.

Sealed lead‑acid (SLA) batteries include gel cells and absorbed glass matt (AGM), have stabilized or “starved” electrolyte, are valve‑regulated and completely sealed.  Because there is no free liquid electrolyte to spill, the battery can be used safely in any position.

SLAs are safer than flooded types for indoor use and in sensitive equipment such as computer uninterruptible power supplies, which would be damaged by exposure to acid fumes.  Any sealed battery will vent if overcharged to the point of excessive gassing, because the valves are designed to purge extreme pressure building up inside the battery case.

Automotive chargers intended for flooded batteries must not be used to charge gel cells unless they have voltage limiting circuitry to preclude their exceeding 14V during charging.  Self discharge of gel cells is minimized by storing them in moderately cool areas of 5 to 15 degs. C.

Gel  cells are NOT deep cycle.  A DoD of greater than 25% significantly reduces their life. Gel cells must not be used below ‑20 degs.C, in engine compartments of vehicles or in use subjecting them to temperatures above 50 degs. C.  Absorbed glass matt (AGM) batteries are deep cycle, can be quickly‑recharged with no current limit and provide a broad operating temperature range.  

The depth of discharge of AGMs equals industrial flooded NiCds, but with virtually no maintenance and low life cycle cost.

Marine or public safety, emergency vehicle AGMs such as Lifeline or Optima are not prohibitively expensive, have aviation type cell construction and are recommended as auxiliary power for emergency communications systems.

Dry NiCds cells used in power tools, cameras and portable radio transceivers require care to avoid deep discharge, which causes cell reversal or over­charging. This results in irreversible diminished capacity due to heat damage.  Users are overly concerned about dry NiCds developing “memory” from being stored in a charged condition for a long time.  Most dry NiCds do not fail from “memory,” but from prolonged over‑charging.   Always bring a discharged dry NiCd pack back at a slow controlled rate, but don’t charge it for more than 14 hours.  A cell which has developed memory or which has been overcharged can usually be restored by one deep discharge/recharge cycle as long as it doesn’t out-gas.

A weak NiCd must never be used without recharging, as irreversible damage occurs inside a discharged dry NiCd when a load is applied to it.

Use of adequately sized wire and appropriate connections is important in DC power systems.  DC polarity must be maintained throughout the system, as must color coding conventions of wire insulation: positive‑red, negative-black and equipment ground‑green or bare, following the wire color conventions used in automobiles.

DC Wire gages are much larger than in AC systems, because undersized wiring causes excessive voltage drop which results in loss of available power.  This causes some equipment to work poorly, or not at all.  If too small a wire gage is used between a charge controller and battery bank, the voltage drop measured during full charging rates reduces the set‑point the battery is recharged to, reducing operating capacity and life cycle.

To minimize the effects of voltage drop, keep cable runs as short as possible.  For instance, in a 12‑volt system with a 10A load, such as an LMR business mobile transceiver, the AWG #14 wire normally provided results in a 5% voltage drop over 11 ft.  AWG #10 has a 2% drop over the same  distance and 5% drop over 18 ft.  If you must extend the battery leads to reach a trunk-mounted transceiver, use wire 2 gages larger for as much of the distance as possible.  

Splice connections must be secure and able to withstand vibration, moisture and corrosion.  Splices up to AWG#8 should be overlapped for a length not less than five times their diameter, spiral wrapped at least three turns, soldered, covered with shrink wrap or electrical tape and then waterproofed.  Larger gage wires should be overlapped and connected with split bolts, soldered, covered with electrical tape and then waterproofed.

Batteries are connected in series to increase voltage or in parallel to increase their amp‑hour capacity.  These interconnected groups of batteries are called “battery banks.”

To determine the size of the battery bank needed, determine the daily power requirement in watt-hours times the number of  “days of autonomy” that the equipment must operate the loads without re-charging, plus a 30% safety factor (to ensure the batteries are not damaged from exces­sive discharge).  To convert watt-hours to amp-hours, divide by the voltage. 

Be careful around battery banks!  Even when partially charged, an interconnected battery bank can de­liver sufficient voltage and current to arc weld!   Keep sparks and other ignition sources away at all times.  Never allow tools to fall onto terminals or connections.  Never permit construction or use of shelves above the batteries.  Battery banks must always be adequately vented.

When paralleling batteries, reduce the effects of voltage drops which cause unequal resistances between parallel  branches, so that all batteries in the system operate at an equal current and voltage level.  Use the same length of cable from each battery terminal to a central junction point.  Positive and negative do not necessarily have to be of the same length.  This eliminates uneven voltage drop between batteries.

Cable size is calculated based upon the peak charging and load current demands of the system multi-plied by the resistance of the wire.  Marine grade or multi strand welding cable of AWG #8 or larger is recommended.

Most battery problems are caused by oversized loads or equipment operating at excessive duty cycle for too long. When batteries remain in a low state of charge, check the load as well as the batteries and charging system!

The four ways to determine the charge state of lead‑acid batteries, in declining order of accuracy are:

  1.    hydrometer / refractometer
  2.    actual equipment load test
  3.    artificial load test
  4.    open circuit voltage

When using a hydrometer you are working with strong acidWear eye and face protection and rubber gloves.  Have baking soda and plenty of fresh water ready to neutralize spills.  To use a hydrometer, squeeze the bulb while the inlet tube is still above the electrolyte level.  Then lower the hydrometer into the electrolyte and slowly release the bulb to draw in the electrolyte.  At the first cell being checked, fill and drain the hydrometer three times before removing a sample.  This brings the hydrometer to the same temperature as the electrolyte.  Take a sample and allow the bulb to fully expand.  The sample must be large enough to completely support the float. 

Hold the hydrometer straight up and down, so that the float does not touch the sides, top or bottom of the tube.  Look straight across the electrolyte level to read the float.  Ignore the curve of the electrolyte on the sides of the hydrometer.  Be careful not to drop the hydrometer or allow acid to drip out of it. After reading the hydrometer, to empty it slowly squeeze the bulb again with the inlet inside the cell, but just above the electrolyte level to reduce risk of spills.  Record    the Sg of each cell on a work sheet.  After use, rinse the hydrometer with fresh water at least five times to flush out any acid.  Allow it to dry completely before using it again.

Temperature compensation is required for batteries not at 80 degs. F.   Use an accurate glass thermometer and immerse only the thermometer bulb into the acid, leave it for 5 minutes, read it and then rinse in clear water.  For every 10 degs. F above 80 degs. F a factor of 0.004 must be added.  Subtract the same factor for each 10 degs. below 80 degs. F.  As an example, if  a battery at 30 degs. F has an Sg of 1.240, the battery is 50 degs. below the standard, so the compensation is subtracted from the specific gravity.  The compensation to be subtracted is .004 x 5 = .020; so 1.24 – .020 = 1.220.  A refractometer is the most accurate way to measure electrolyte Sg, requires only a small amount of fluid and is automatically temperature corrected.  Refractometers are recommended for ongoing maintenance of large battery banks.

To test the no-load, open circuit voltage an accurate DC voltmeter is required.  Operate the loads from the batteries for five minutes to remove any surface charge the battery plates may have.  Turn off all loads and disconnect the batteries from the rest of the system.  Now measure the voltage across the terminals of every battery.  Open circuit voltage without any load is a good preliminary indicator of  the state of charge.  The open circuit voltage of a fully charged 12-volt battery is over 12.72 volts, whereas it is about 12.6 at 75%, 12.48 at 50%, and 12.12 at 25%.

To perform a load test, after recording no-load voltage, re-connect the system, but leaving float chargers, charge controllers or solar arrays disconnected.

Operate the equipment at normal duty cycle for an hour, disconnect the batteries and measure the battery voltages again.  If any battery indicates a voltage of 10 percent higher or lower than others, it should be serviced or replaced.

An automotive load tester can be used, although you must be aware that this places a large artificial load on the batteries for a short time rather than waiting for a small load to slowly discharge the batteries.

Because available capacity is reduced at faster rates of discharge, this test is not as reliable for communications use as one at operating load.

Accurate trouble shooting requires that all batteries in a bank and individual cells of unsealed, wet-type batteries be numbered.  Recording a system history identifies patterns and trends and is a great time saver for others who may service your system in an emergency, because they can focus first on the most frequent problems and can anticipate the proper tools and materials to bring.   Battery systems not used on a regular basis, such as recreational boats and RVs must be checked in spring and fall, at minimum.  Monthly is recommended.

First disconnect all loads.  If battery tops are wet or dirty, remember that fluid on top of the battery is highly acid electrolyte! Clean battery tops with a cloth or brush and a baking soda and water solution.  Rinse with clean water and dry with a clean cloth.  Remove the caps from all cells, check the electrolyte level of every cell in every battery and add distilled water to the fill line on the battery, or 2″ above the top of the plates.  Determine the battery’s state of charge with a hydrometer.  Discolored, odorous electrolyte indicates contamination caused by adding other than distilled water, which results in battery failure.  Inadequate charging without adding water can result in lead sulfate shorts between the plates, cracked partitions between cells and leakage which require the battery to be replaced.

NEVER hammer cable connections onto terminal posts! This breaks fragile spot welds between terminal posts and plates, causing shorts, which could cause a spark and ignite free hydrogen gas, causing an explosion!   Inspect all caps for sound good condition, replace and tighten securely by hand only.   Tighten battery tie-downs securely, but not so tight as to distort the case.

Batteries that will not accept a charge may have had their electrolyte boiled off from prolonged overcharging, or become sulphated by being left at a low state of charge for too long or have suffered  physical damage and should be replaced.  Inspect and repair any corroded, loose or burnt connections and blown fuses.  Cartridge fuses don’t look different when they are blown, so remove them and check continuity with an ohmmeter. A blown fuse shows an infi­nite reading, a zero reading means it is still intact. 

Always determine why a fuse blew before replacing it. Proceed logically, check the most obvious things, such as  r excessive voltage drop at the load. Knowing what failed is necessary to avoid repeating the condition causing the failure.

If the same fuse blows again, don’t consider the system operational  until everything has been checked out.


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Turn Your Homemade Battery Packs into a Solar Generator

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A couple of days ago I showed how to make a simple 12 volt battery pack Homemade Battery Packs Are Inexpensive and Easy to MakeToday I am showing how simple it is to charge the battery packs. Now this is the same thing that you pay a lot of money for if you purchase a commercial solar generator.  I use these packs for running lights, charging batteries and running my ham radios.  There uses are only limited by your imagination.

The one weakness in them is that the batteries are sealed lead acid and need to be replaced every few years.  The ones I am currently using are from 2012 and they still hold a good charge.  I have one of the commercially manufactured solar generators and when it quit, I took it apart and found a lead acid battery which I replaced.  If you shop on the internet you can find the batteries for good prices.  In a few days I will put up a post on the best way to maintain sealed lead acid batteries.

For charging the battery packs one of the solar panels that I use is a Powerfilm Solar R14 rollable solar panel that produces an operating voltage of 15.4, at 14 watts and 0.9 amps. This is quite adequate to charge the battery packs.  Because I sometimes use different solar panels, I have a 7-amp Sunforce controller between the panels and the battery pack.  This prevents the batteries from overcharging or discharging.  This setup with the Powerfilm panel will take about 14 hours to recharge both batteries if they were completely drained.  However by having the controller you can use almost any solar panel, the more wattage it puts out the faster it will charge the battery packs.

solar generator

A simple solar charging hook up you can do anywhere.

solar generator

Sunforce controller

Because I use the battery packs with LED lights and other low voltage equipment,  I try to stay with the same kind of connectors whenever possible. I use cigarette lighter plugs for connectors as much as possible; this allows a lot of versatility.  They come premade in all types of configurations.

This is a very simple set up and doesn’t take a lot of work to duplicate.  It is also quite portable and does not take much room in a vehicle.  The whole system weights less than 20 lbs.   It will do all the work of a commercial solar generator of the same size for a lot less cost.



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Homemade Battery Packs Are Inexpensive and Easy to Make

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A few years back I made some 12-volt battery packs following a design made by a friend.  Since then I have used these batteries on different occasion with great success.  So today, I am going to post the original article with some additional suggestions that I have learned from practically experience.

Here is the first article on battery packs

A Simple 12 Volt Battery Pack.

You can make your own

battery packs

50 cal ammo can, notice cigarette charger

A friend of mine made some battery boxes using 50 cal ammo cans and 12-volt burglar alarm batteries.  They are very nice compact units that will provide 14 amp hours of power.  I have built a couple of them and they work well.  I have used them to power 12-volt lights, but they have many other potential uses.

What they consist off is a 50 cal ammo can in which you drill a hole for the female half of the cigarette charger.  The hole should be about 1 ½ inches from the top of the can.  You then take two 12 volt 7 amp hour batteries and wrap them in Saran wrap.  Place the Saran wrapped batteries in the can next to each other.  Fill the can with spray foam insulation.  It comes in a spray can and you can get it at Home Depot.  You don’t want it to cover the batteries, just hold them in place.  The reason for the Saran Wrap is so that in the future you can exchange the batteries without removing the foam.

Now complete a simple parallel circuit running from the two batteries to the cigarette charger.  Place

battery packs

12 volt charger

a 15-amp fuse in the hot side (the red wire) just before the charger.  There are a couple of different ways in which you can charge the box.  One way we have used is to take an old 12-volt wall charger and attach the male half of a plug that will fit the cigarette charger.  The second way is to use a solar charger.  To preserve the maximum life of the batteries the rule of thumb is to never charge more than 10% of the charge of the battery.  In other words, these two batteries total 14 amp hours, so you should never charge at a rate of more than 1.4 amp hours.  This is about a 20-watt solar panel.  If you are using a bigger panel, you will need a controller.

battery packs

In this view you can see the entire simple circuitry

We are currently working to improve these units, if you have any suggestions they are welcome.


Since then we have made a few changes although I am still using the original design, some friends are using the improved versions.

  • The new plastic ammo cans work well and are lighter.
  • I always crack the top open when using or charging the battery pack.  The friend who uses the plastic ammo box has drilled small vent hole in his so that he can use it or charge it with lid closed.
  • Soldering makes a better wire connector than the blade connectors.
  • You can use different size batteries such as the UNIVERSAL POWER UB12220 12 VOLT, 22 AH SEALED AGM BATTERY which provides more amp hours.
  • I used a standard spray foam insulation which will burn..  I suggest that you use Fireblock Insulating Foam Sealant 

These battery packs work every bit as well as some of the very expensive ones currently being sold on the market.  With a little bit of thought you can make these in larger sizes.  In a few days I will post more information on how I have been charging these battery packs with solar panels.




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How To Repair An Old Beat Up Cordless Drill Battery Pack

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How To Repair An Old Beat Up Cordless Drill Battery Pack I am so glad I came across this article, I always have to get a new power drill set just because the batter looses power or is no longer powerful anymore. The question many of us should be asking is Do I Fork out …

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What Is The Best SHTF / Disaster Communication?

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What Is The Best SHTF / Disaster Communication? Just what is the best form of communication if all hell breaks lose or we lose all power? I found a very in depth article about communication from our friends over at graywolf survival. Like always with graywolf survival, they cut to the chase with no bull. They …

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EMP… Lights Out!

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EMP… Lights Out!
DJ Cooper “Surviving Dystopia

EMPMost of us have heard of this thing called the EMP, but what exactly is it?  E.M.P. is short forElectro Magnetic Pulse, in essence a surge of electricity capable of frying modern electronics.

nuclear_power_01There is some history behind the EMP, it was discovered as a side effect of nuclear detonation.  However, that is not the only thing that can produce an EMP and modern electronics are not the only thing possibly effected.  In 1859 a solar storm, also known as the Carrington Event produced one of the largest geomagnetic storms ever recorded.  A coronal mass ejection also known as a CME hit earth’s magnetosphere producing this geomagnetic storm which also had the E.M.P. effect.  This was so large that U.S. telegraph operators reported sparks leaping from their equipment some were bad enough to set fires.

nuclear blast125x231An EMP can also be produced by detonating a nuclear explosion at extremely high altitudes, when striking the upper atmosphere the intial gamma ray burst creates high energy electrons that become trapped in the earth’s magnetic field generating a pulse of electromagnetic energy.  An EMP was discovered as a side effect of the Starfish Prime nuclear test on July 9, 1962.  All it took was a 1.5 Megaton bomb that blew up street lights and tv sets in Hawaii 1,000 miles away, even destroying a number of satellites including the Telstar I.

The findings of the EMP commission report of 2008 clearly shows we are indeed vulnerable to an EMP attack.  If something similar happened today with all the high tech equipment that maintains and runs even our most basic of services the world would come to a screeching halt.  Our power grid is seriously in need of upgrade and even our vehicles today have susceptible computers that keep them running.  Power, internet, phones all would disappear.  Your water would cease to flow and even the trucks that bring food to your local stores might cease to run.

Join me as we discuss EMP issues and find out how you can win a copy of Ted Koppel’s book titled Lights Out that is an excellent example of what might happen in this country if the power grid was to fail.
Up Next Week: Protecting your preps
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How To Make Faraday Pockets

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How To Make Faraday Pockets In all my years in survival / prepping industry I have never thought about doing this, faraday cages protect your electronics from electromagnetic energy so they will still be functional after a pulse has passed. Wouldn’t it make sense to have at least one pocket which works the same way for …

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$5 DIY HDTV Antenna! Get FREE TV!

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How To Make a $5 DIY HDTV Antenna! Get FREE TV! Are you paying hundreds of dollars a month for cable or satellite TV? Chances are you probably are. Or, are you struggling to pay for TV and can’t afford to buy a HDTV Ariel?  Sit back and think about this… do you really watch …

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Lights Out, The Vulnerabilities of the Power Grid to Attack

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lights outTed Koppel has never been one of my favorite news people, as a long time anchor for Nightline; I have always felt that he was part of the liberal media that has so hurt this country.  However, he has recently earned a bit of respect from me, because of his new nonfiction book “Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath”.

Ted Koppel who is an investigative reporter investigated the vulnerability of the US power grid to an attack.  In Lights Out Koppel makes the case that the U.S. electric grid is extremely vulnerable to collapse due to cyber warfare, EMP attack, or solar flare (CMP).  He came to the conclusion that a major attack on America’s power grid is not only possible but also likely.  He found that the U.S. Government is completely unprepared due to a variety of economic and political reasons.

Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months.  Millions of people over many states are affected.  For those without access to a generator, there is no refrigeration or light.  The sewage systems will cease to function.  Gasoline is not available and even if it is, your car may not run.  Food and medical supplies are running out.  Cell phones and electronic devices have ceased to function. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before.  If you have read the novel One Second After, Koppel agrees that this is a likely scenario.

Lights Out is organized into three parts.  The first part looks into the vulnerability of our power grids to a catastrophic attack.  The majority of the experts interviewed by Koppel conceded that someone who has the right skills and knowledge can damage our power grids so that multiple states and their millions of residents can be simultaneously knocked off from the grid for a very long time.  This could be a year or more, depending on how quickly replacements for damaged grid components can be manufactured.  Many of the large transformers are no longer manufactured in the U.S. and a number are manufactured in China.

Part Two, Lights Out poses the following question : What has our government been doing to deal with this possibility of a catastrophic cyber or other attack on our power grids?  While a few in our government seem to be aware of the problem, no one seems to be doing anything to prevent it.  “It’s not a question of if,” says Centcom Commander General Lloyd Austin“, it’s a question of when. Koppel makes clear, the federal government, while well prepared for natural disasters, has no plan for the aftermath of an attack on the power grid.  FEMA is not prepared to respond to such a attack.  Do not expert help from the government when one occurs.

Part Three examines the efforts of individuals and some communities to become self-reliant when it comes to disaster preparedness.  In Lights Out he discusses the efforts of the nation’s approximately 3 million preppers and some community and religious organizations.  Koppel spent some time in Salt Lake City studying the Mormon Church preparedness plan.  Koppel said of his visit to Utah. “Quite literally, you have an organization that is capable of producing food, processing food and transporting food to the degree that it really amounts to an almost governmental-like organization — except more efficient.”  He suggested that we could all do some of the basic things that the Mormon’s do, including “establishing a minimum of a two- to three-month supply of food and water, setting aside extra money for an emergency, and building relationships with the community where people could share their skills and resources”.

Now I know that most of you are aware of the problem and are working on preparing yourselves to deal with it when it occurs.  But Lights Out may be a good nonfiction book to share with your friends and relations that still have their head buried in the sands.  If you look at the right hand side of this page you will see a list of categories.  Open the one called EMP and it will take you to everything I have written on this subject.  Hopefully this information will help you, your friends and families.



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