Archive for February, 2016

How to Build a Prepper First-Aid Pouch

Monday, February 29th, 2016

The following article has been contributed by Nathaniel Kincaid

Survival has evolved from a fight for man’s very existence to a business model. On sites such as Amazon etc. one can buy ready made kits and equipment that promise to protect an individual or a whole family. I am sure China is kept busy churning out disaster packs that include flimsy led lights, a couple of bandages, water packs and edible food.

While I buy some specific items, I prefer to research and come up with my own unique configuration to meet my needs.

For a first aid kit one can go to Wal-Mart and buy the bright red first aid pouch or the large clear car first aid kit but why not make your own? Pictured is my current kit which has evolved and changed quite a few times.

first aid kit

Before I begin dissecting this kit I want to clarify that this kit is designed for lightness and economy. It is not perfect, no kit will be. But when your leg is gashed and you’re alone in the woods, or your arm is splotched with crimson blood you will be grateful that you thought ahead and packed a first aid kit at all!

Putting the Kit Together

The Pouch

first aid pouchDesigned after the ALICE system the MOLLE pouches and load bearing gear have enjoyed wide spread popularity. Tactical gear and even hunters enjoy the modularity involved with the loops and straps that make this system so easy to mix and match.

My end result was to attach a pouch to my MOLLE hydration pack which will be attached to a plate carrier. So in my case of various oddball items I found this woodland camo, military grenade or flasbang MOLLE pouch. It’s small but just large enough to squash in a bunch of useful items. I love to surf on eBay for military lot deals where you can buy these cheaper than almost anywhere else. Now I’m going with an all black tactical look so down the road this MOLLE pouch will turn a darker hue.

The Blood Stoppers

Almost top priority in my mind for first aid is the job of aiding in clotting or stopping excess blood flow.

blood-stoppers

Band-aids

The most normal response is the humble band aid.

Yes you can go from Dollar Tree brand to the fancy types of more specialty types of Band aids, but just make sure you have some. Band aids with their small gauze pads and adhesive edges work great on small cuts. They not only aid in stopping blood but help obstruct ugly germs from crawling into your newly sliced open body wound. I tend to stash band aides not only in my first aid kit but also in my survival kit because these little guys are so useful! Things like they can double as tape or the pads can be fire tinder.

Military Bandage

Military bandages or field dressings again are different due to country origin and style.

The one pictured above is an older US Army style field dressing. Just as an extra tip, on youtube I ran across an interesting video showing you how to make a simulated one. With the right material I guess you could make one of almost equal quality. The field bandage is designed to stop more serious blood flow such as gunshot wounds. Thus for bad situations, one hopes never happens I also included it in here.

Super Glue-( Be Careful)

Not long ago I went to work and one of my friends had just cut himself pretty bad. But instead of stitches he used good old super glue. Now I know people will tell you its poison and there is a medical and non medical kind. After some surface research I felt comfortable enough to stick it in here just for those times when you might really need a homemade stitch! You research and see what you think.

Neat Blood Nabbers

One of the perks I suppose of war is that man learns how to stay alive. Thus even the civilian market now carries some newer technology perhaps pioneered in part on the battlefield.

WoundSeal is a powder that when poured on a wound is designed to clot the blood. CURAD Bloodstop is a gel bandage designed to gel over a wound and stop the bleeding. Both of these were about $7 a box which while a bit pricy I considered worth enough to invest in.

The Creams

first aid creamsIn this group I packed a Johnson burn cream. We have a Cortaid ant-itch cream and some Staphaseptic, more general purpose gel, billed as a first aid antiseptic and pain relieving gel. I got a box of these last packets of first aid gel, again on eBay, for very cheap. While blood stoppage gets the major attention in first aid even a burn or an infected untreated wound can be serious. Adding small packets like the ones shown just add a peace of mind for those long hikes or extended journeys away from civilization.

I also added a packet of alcohol wipes in here for sterilization purposes. These can also double as fire starters! Make sure these are tightly sealed because they tend to dry out fast! Also I put a couple tiny butterfly band aides in this packet.

Years ago I went in an old fashioned drug store and found these tiny pill baggies like miniature sandwich bags. I find them so useful for packing small survival gear I highly recommend them. If you can see in the picture that is what the alcohol wipes are snugged away in.

The Meds

first aid medsMedication tablets are easily carried and easily confused. I used to pack some in my pill bags but the writing seemed to wear off and little white pills are not good to just pop in your mouth when you don’t know what they are designed to cure!

I stole the ones pictured above from the car kit stashed in my bathroom closet. The Imodium is advertised as anti-diarrhea which you might need if you forgot to bring along a water filter. The Motrin and Tylenol can be used to fight general pain. One of the quickest ways to die is to stop making good decisions. Sometimes a little pain relief might help clear the fog if life outdoors takes a bad, bad turn!

You will notice I have no scissors, knives or scalpel blades in this pack. These are quite slim and easy to add, but since I already have them stashed in my survival kit elsewhere I decided not to worry about adding them here.

Summary

I have always remembered the adage that something carried is far more useful than the perfect gear left at home. I also remember the lessons of the Civil War when Union Cavalry packed so much they could hardly ride. A couple days or battles later they had stripped down to bare essentials.

Don’t be paralyzed by the fear that you can never pack an operating room in your pack. Maybe a band aid is all you need. Use foresight and study to find the perfect balance of what you need in your personalized first aid kit!

Rabbits: The Ultimate Homestead Animal

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

This article has been contributed by Anne Marie Duhon. Anne Marie is a wife, mother of six and a full time off-gridder. She and her husband currently live in a totally off grid 200 sq foot “tiny home” and are in search of (again) that elusive perfect spot to call home. Besides being a wife and mother she, and her family, have raised many different animals on their various homesteads and have lived and loved being off the grid and many miles from the nearest paved road. She would like to share her first hand experiences and help others to learn to live and love living off grid and being as self reliant as possible.

Most preppers include livestock in their preps, but not all preppers have acres of land to keep that livestock or the experience needed to keep some of the bigger farm animals.

I consider rabbits the perfect prepper animal. In a nutshell they are relatively small, quiet and easy to keep. Rabbits are dual purpose animals. From your rabbits you can get nutritious meat, wonderful pelts for clothes and manure that will have your gardens blooming. Fabulous coming from a ten pound animal! Also because of their small size and quiet nature they can be kept out of sight and raised pretty much anywhere!

I know of preppers that live in the city and raise a few rabbits in their basements or spare bedrooms. This is great for operational security! Another added bonus is that children can be taught to do all the care and maintenance of the rabbits and by taking one chore off your list teach the children a skill and give them something to do! So if you are looking to add animals to your preps consider adding a trio of rabbits.

Read on for more information…

Picking the right rabbits for your homestead

There are over 40 different breeds of rabbits not including all the mixed breed rabbits.

For meat purposes you are looking for rabbits that will be about 10 pounds at maturity and have a blocky build. Some of the desirable breeds are: American Chinchilla, New Zealand, Californian, and mixes of those breeds. Below are pictures:

New Zealand White

New Zealand White

An American Chinchilla

American Chinchilla

Californian Rabbit

Californian Rabbit

Besides these rabbits there are rabbits ranging in size from 2 pound adults to rabbits that are almost 20 pounds as adults. The three breeds pictured above are the best meat rabbits but you can eat any type of rabbit if you want to! Check out American Rabbit breeders association for pictures of all the breeds and types of rabbits.

These rabbits have the best meat to bone ratio and the largest litters. American Chinchillas have a beautiful salt and pepper pelt to work with. They are bred for meat purposes and have large litters and great mothering skills. These rabbits are also docile and easy to handle.

Make sure that you buy healthy rabbits with bright eyes, dry noses and clean ears and feet. The rabbit’s fur should be smooth and clean and its teeth in line.

Do not buy a mature female because you cannot always know how old she is. She might for instance have reached the end of her productive life and will be of no use. Long toenails indicate that the rabbit is older. Select your rabbits from parents which have a good breeding record. A female that does not perform well will also have poor offspring.

Buy breeding stock when they are about 6 months old. Replace your breeding stock every 3 years and get rid of poor performers.

Determining how many rabbits to get

The answer kind of depends on how many people you are planning on feeding.

The best thing to do is start out with a trio (one buck –male and two does –females) that are unrelated. This way if for some reason your family does not like rabbit meat you do not have a lot of rabbits to get rid of.

But if your family does like rabbit you can grow your herd by saving babies off the litters instead of having to buy more rabbits.

Watch out rabbits are addictive! We use to have over 200 ourselves! What you as a family need to do is figure out how much rabbit meat you want to eat. Average meat does (females) have litters of 6 to 8 kits and wean most. Those kits would be ready for slaughter by 12 weeks after birth so you are looking at roughly 4 months from breeding to eating!

If you say you want rabbit once a week and are feeding a hungry, growing family of four you would need 104 rabbits in the freezer for a year (two rabbits per meal). So that would mean you would need 18 litters of 6 kits a year. Five healthy, productive does could handle this. Each doe would have 4 litters a year. Six adult rabbits and their offspring is an easy, small start and do not take up much room or feed!

Caging rabbits

Rabbits can be kept quite simply. Most rabbit raisers keep their rabbits in an all wire cage measuring 30” x 36” x 18”. Rabbits do very well being kept this way. These cages will have to be provided some form of protection from the elements by either hanging them in a barn or some other sort of structure or making a roof and walls for it.

Typically, bedding is not used in wire bottom cages, but on some occasions, particularly on occasions of sudden extreme cold, either straw or hay may be used. Cages with solid bottoms will use wood shavings, wood chips, straw, etc. as contact bedding to help absorb urine within the enclosure. The size and type of wood shaving/chip needs to be taken into consideration in order to maintain healthy animals. Cedar chips should be avoided as it is known to cause upper respiratory issues in rabbits. Bedding can be made out of shredded up newspaper or raked up yard trimmings to keep down cost. Dry pine needles smell great and are good for bedding also.

caging

Colony cage raising

colony-cage

Now for the rabbit raiser that wants to get back to the basics, rabbits can be raised on the ground in a colony where they can forage for some of their food. In a colony cage you will need to make for sure that the rabbits cannot dig out by putting some wire covering the bottom of the cage but allowing the grass to come through.

The colony raiser needs to be sure that the rabbits have protection from elements and protection from predators.

Colony raising of rabbits does have its problems. These are for instance: high mortality of young rabbits caused by the free entrance of does to other does nest boxes, possibility of higher levels of aggression between rabbits, more work keeping colony clean, and lack of knowing when and who was bred. But for the dedicated rabbit raiser it is possible!

We did raise a few rabbits this way ourselves but I highly prefer the individual cage method. The up side to colony raising is that they take care of the breeding chore for you, less equipment to clean and the rabbits are very amusing to watch as they interact with each other and the new kits that are born. For more in-depth information on colony raising here are some links:

Environmental Conditions

Environmental conditions (temperature, ventilation, and light) are important to maintaining healthy rabbits. The ideal environmental temperature range for a rabbit is 55˚ to 70˚F. Rabbits can adapt to temperatures outside of this range with appropriate environmental conditioning.

Many rabbitries are not climate controlled so animals may be subjected to environmental extremes. For these rabbitries, animals must be acclimated to the changes in temperatures. Rabbits do not do well when temperatures exceed 85˚F. Fans, misters, and frozen water bottles in cages are examples of methods to help animals cope with high temperatures. Ventilation during high temperatures is essential to help air quality; ventilation must be provided either by natural airflow and/or artificial airflow with the use of fans, shade trees or air conditioners.

Rabbits are quite hearty in cases of extreme cold, provided they have been acclimated to such temperatures. During cold weather months, animals may require more feed as more energy is used in cold temperatures. Rabbits need to be sheltered from the elements of direct sunlight, rain, snow, wind, etc. Natural outdoor lighting and light cycles are ideal environmental conditions. In cases where natural sunlight is not available, artificial lights need to be provided in a cyclical fashion to mimic natural light/dark cycles.

Nutrition and Water

Proper nutrition is very important to raising healthy rabbits.

It is the easy, fast way to feed rabbits if the primary source of nutrition comes from a commercially produced pelleted food with consideration as to the breed, age, ideal weight, purpose of animal being raised.

Supplements such as hay, oats, sunflower seeds etc. may be given in addition to the pelleted feed. Treats, such as fruits and vegetables, may be given in small amounts as well.

Rabbits will eat almost anything that grows in the soil as long as they are given time to become accustomed to a diet of fresh greens and hay. A rabbit’s diet can include lucerne, grass, green maize leaves, carrots, turnips, cabbage (not too much) and lettuce. Do not feed cabbage to the female while she is in milk as it can lower milk production.

They also enjoy food such as cornmeal, porridge, bread, weeds and leaves of fruit trees. Potato and tomato leaves and rhubarb are POISONOUS to rabbits.

Do not introduce sudden changes in the rabbit’s diet. Do not feed rabbits greens that have become heated, food that has been sprayed with pesticides, spoiled food or moldy hay.

Clean water should always be available. Never leave them without water. Feed the rabbits early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Most of the food should preferably be given late in the afternoon.

You can grow your own green material for rabbit food. Growing greens for rabbits is called fodder. Many people do grow fodder and feed only that and hay to their rabbits. It may take a little longer to grow out the rabbits to butcher size and a bit more work on your part but for many preppers there is more “sweat equity” around their place than cash!

Breeding and Caring for Young

A  spotted (broken) New Zealand Red doe with a nest box full of kits (babies)

A spotted (broken) New Zealand Red doe with a nest box full of kits (babies)

Rabbits reach sexual maturity between four to six months of age; however it is not necessarily recommended that they enter into a breeding program at this point. Rather it is recommended that animals enter into a breeding program based upon the relative size of a given breed. For the types we are considering that would be between 8 and 10 months of age.

Breeding needs to occur either in a neutral environment or by taking the doe to the buck’s cage. The gestation of a rabbit is typically 28-32 days. Nest boxes need to be offered to a doe minimally at day 28. The next box needs to be large enough to allow the doe to enter and turn around.

Once a doe has kindled she may be rebred as early as when the kits are two weeks old. If this intense system is used, kits are to be weaned at four weeks of age. Careful monitoring of the doe’s condition needs to be monitored for the health and wellbeing of the animal.

It is recommended that litters be weaned between 6 and 8 weeks of age for optimum growth. Animals need to be weaned before 10 weeks of age to prevent fighting. While it is recommended that litters be weaned into individual cages for optimum growth, litters may be group housed until they are either butchered or selected as replacement breeding stock. Because of this intense breeding system the raiser needs to consider exactly how much meat he has space to store.

Most does have litters ranging from 6-8 kits. So rotating the does spaces out the breedings and reduces the number of rabbits that have to be butchered at one time. The maximum number of litters that a doe may produce in a year is eight litters. This heavy breeding program is recommended primarily for commercial operations. The maximum amount of litters that the average breeding doe will produce in a year is five litters. Should a doe miss a breeding cycle or lose a litter she can be rebred immediately.

If the raiser is raising the rabbits in a colony the breeding will be done whenever the buck can catch a doe. The only way to control breeding in a colony is by removing the buck from the colony cage.

Butchering Rabbits

The good part about raising rabbits is that when you kill them you have very little waste.

One rabbit usually dresses out at about 2 pounds of meat. Perfect for one meal for an average family without having any left overs to have to worry about. Rabbits for that reason have been called biological refrigerators!

Rabbits are ready to be butchered when they reach about 5 to 6 pounds live weight at about 10 to 12 weeks unless you are looking for prime pelts then you would need to wait until the rabbit is about 5 to 6 months old. Butchering is a relatively easy process but a subject that deserves its own article.

See some of the additional resources below for more information on butchering…

Additional Resources

11 Food Storage Tips You May Have Never Thought About

Friday, February 19th, 2016

The following has been contributed by Anonymous Prepper

Why is food stockpiling a big deal? Because most people expect to bug in for most disasters and emergencies. It’s easier to hunker down, as well as safer. Now, if you’re “trapped” inside, it must be because something bad is happening outside. This limits your ability to get fresh supplies and gives you no choice but to survive on what you’ve already stockpiled.

Improving shelf life of food is crucial for a couple of reasons… first, even if you rotate your stash twice a year, when SHTF, you want the expiration date to be as far away into the future as possible. Second, you’re probably going to store food in other places besides your home, such as your car, your bug out bag or your bug out location. As you may or may not know, storing food in your car’s trunk isn’t ideal because of high temperatures and temperature variations which significantly decrease shelf life.

In what follows, I want to give you a few kick-ass food storage tips to protect your survival food from spoiling, increase shelf life and decrease the odds of your family waking up with rotten food post-collapse.

11 Food Storage Tips You May Have Overlooked

Tip 1: Focus on high-carb foods instead of high-fat

Why? Because fats go rancid pretty quickly while carbs don’t. Some foods high in fats such as butter or cheese won’t last more than a few weeks, particularly if your fridge or freezer won’t work. Much better to focus on foods that are low fat and high in carbs, meaning they can give you a good energy boost post-disaster.

Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t store fatty foods. Fats are an important macronutrient in your diet and, if stored under the right conditions, things like coconut oil will last up to two whole years. But, for your bug out bag or your car, where conditions are less than ideal (due to higher temperatures), consider keeping high-carb snacks such as energy bars and dried fruit.

Tip 2: Temperature variations are just as bad

We all know shelf life decreases with temperature but did you know temperature variations are just as bad? Keeping the temperature constant in your pantry may prove to be a challenge. You may want to consider a well-ventilated basement. As for your car, what you can do is store your food (and you’re your meds) into a wide-mouth thermos, which will prevent this and always keep your perishables a few degrees cooler than your trunk.

Tip 3: Store the ingredients as opposed to the cooked foods

Two good reasons for that. First, ingredients have a longer shelf life. Second, you get to decide how much salt or sugar to add later on. Keep in mind that, even if you’re not diabetic today, you might end up this way in the future, so being able to cook without adding too much sugar or salt might not be optional.

For example, you may want to store wheat berries instead of flour (but be sure to also have a grain grinder), cocoa powder instead of chocolate and so on.

Tip 4: Use a desiccant when storing seeds

When storing seeds for your survival garden, consider adding a desiccant such as silica gel to keep moisture away.

Tip 5: Tin foil can increase shelf life

Wrap veggies like broccoli or celery in it before storing.

Tip 6: Use pantyhose to increase the shelf life of onions

Besides, pantyhose have numerous alternative uses so it’s something you probably have or thought about storing.

Tip 7: Ventilate your basement…

To prevent mold and moisture. IF you have windows, a fan might be enough but if you don’t, you’ll have to install an exhaust fan and vent.

Tip 8: Put all dry food in food-grade storage containers

That’s where it’s protected from some of the food storage enemies. If you leave it in sacks, moisture or rodents will compete over it.

Tip 9: Freeze your oil

IF you have room in your freezer, one way of making it last past its shelf life if to freeze it.

Tip 10: Beware of shelf life after you open something

Many people don’t realize this but, after you open something, the shelf life decreases dramatically after the packaging has been open.

Tip 11: Don’t forget about rodents

Mice, rats, moths, cockroaches – they can significantly decrease the shelf life of your stash… in as little as a few hours until they finish eating it! Keep them at bay by ensuring they don’t get into the pantry or basement in the first place. If they do, other protection layers must be employed, such as putting your Mylar bags inside metal buckets.

Final Word

If you got at least one tip from my article, then it was worth writing and your time was not wasted. Still, there are other tips and tricks you can employ for a more robust stockpile, so I encourage you to keep educating yourself on the subject matter because it’s a pretty complex one.

The Ultimate Guide to Building a Personal (and truly portable) Prepper’s Solar Generator

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

The following is a guest post provided by Michael Lemieux

Often times, you’ll see ads on the internet and television for these solar generators touting how efficient they are and never needing fuel to operate. While not technically true (you don’t need to “purchase” additional fuel to operate) it is a bit misleading as solar radiation is and can be used as a source of fuel. But yes, for now, sunlight is free to all who have access to it (presuming you are not in some deep underground cavern.)

The barrier for most of us though is the cost — hundreds or even thousands of dollars that most cannot afford to part with for just one item.

But for those willing to purchase a few common items and willingness to venture into the “Do it yourself” world you can build one yourself.

Overcoming the Solar DIY Hurdles

Most people may find it a bit daunting to tackle electronics and wiring to safely (and most importantly) build a dependable generator that will be there when we truly need it. But in truth it is not that hard and most of the “complexity” is taken out by getting the right components and using a bit of common sense.

The second barrier is the hesitation of not knowing what we don’t know. With the modern age of online research and more importantly looking at what others who have said about the components, the rating, of how well a product works.

As to the components I list here, they are ones that I have used and your research may lead you to other items that provide greater functionality and dependability. This is good, the more you know the better equipped you will be to prepare for the future and knowledge is power.

How to Build Your Personal DIY Solar Generator

To start things off, the only limitation on this generator is you, your budget, and needs. The solar generator I will be showing you how to build today is not going to power your whole house but will help you keep your hand-held devices charged, will even be able to run multiple lap tops, charge batteries, virtually anything with a USB, or even jump start a dead car, and run a few lights for a number of hours.

So to get right into it here is a list of the things you will need. I am a big fan of Amazon Prime for the free shipping and have found the prices quite comparable to other outlets but shop around locally and you may be able to save even more. But one word of caution, do not skimp on the battery as that is what provides the amount of power and how well and quickly it can recharge from the solar panel.

Here we go:

What You’ll Need

First off is the battery:

1) ML35-12 – 12V 35AH U1 Deep Cycle AGM Solar Battery

batteryThis is a deep cycle battery that maintains its power output during most all of the usage phase. These batteries are most commonly used for powered wheelchairs and give hours of use and high power.

2) Solar Charge Controller Esky Intelligent LCD 30A 12V/24V 360W/720W PWM Solar Panel Regulator Adapter Charge Controller

charge-controllerIt is important to get a charge controller that will adjust for charging the battery but also load balance. This controller will allow for usage of the power output ports while charging and still maintain peak battery charging and will keep the battery charged even when demand is high.

3) Instapark® NEW All Black 10W High-Efficiency Mono-Crystalline Solar Panel

solar-panelI chose a mono-crystalline over a poly because of the historically better electrical production of the panel output and the cost. I think I paid around $40 for this panel which can be paired with other panels to create as large a system as you need. I am only using one of these for this single battery system as I wanted a truly portable system and the larger your array is the less portable it becomes.

4) 12V Dash Sockets and Primary Output

dash-socketNext are 2 – 12V dash sockets, or what used to be called a cigarette lighter socket. This is what we will use to attach the solar panel to the housing as well as to provide for a 12v outlet. These may vary in appearance but are cheap and can be found in most automotive and hardware stores for just a few bucks. (Optional based on how you wish to wire your system.)


usb-portYou will also need to determine what your primary output use will be for your generator. I wanted to be able to charge multiple USB devices as well as run a 12v converter to convert from DC to 120ac or to power a 12v device directly from the generator. There are also two USB ports on the charge controller as well but I have the controller inside the lid of the housing and it was not convenient to open the housing every time.

5) The Housing

field-boxThe box I chose was a 1612 Plano Field Box that would hold the battery and all the components as well as having a small compartment outside on the top of the lid to hold connectors/cables for charging different devices. These run less than $20 and are easy to cut to install all the devices. The tray is not used for this project.

6) The Electronics

You will need one spool of red and one spool of black 10awg electrical wire to make the connections. This can be purchased at most any hardware stores. I recommend using a single color (red) for positive connections and black for negative connections.

Because we are working with electronics it is imperative that we do not hook things up backwards or short the system. You can wire each of the components directly to the controller and bypass the use of the connectors. I recommend the use of connectors to aid in circuit isolation as well as ease in modifying the system later. You will see more on this as we proceed through the project.

battery-harnessTo connect to the battery, and to protect the system, use a battery harness with a built in fuse like this one (Battery Tender 081-0069-6 Ring Terminal Harness with Black Fused 2-Pin Quick Disconnect Plug) which you can get on Amazon for about 6-8 dollars or locally at most automotive stores.

Other components can be added as you desire such as a digital readout of the battery level, an LED light to work with the system at night, etc. Your only limit is your imagination and physics of course.

Wiring Diagram

The basic wiring drawing is shown below:

Each line in the chart  represents a (+) red wire and a (–) black wire.

Each line in the chart
represents a (+) red wire and a (–) black wire.

It really is this simple. The complexity is increased on how many items you want to add of each component and additional “features” such as an on/off switch, lights, etc. I recommend starting with the basic system to allow for simple energy in and energy out and then expand once the basic system is up and running.

The solar panel is connected to the solar array port on the charge controller. The charge controller then feeds the electricity from the panel through the battery port to the battery posts and monitors the battery charge level to ensure it does not over-charge the battery as well as isolates the solar panel from the battery when its voltage drops at night. The controller then/also feeds the output devices connected to the LOAD port on the controller.

To illustrate how simple this generator setup is, you could actually build your generator with just this information. Attach the red positive wire and black negative wire of the solar panel to the appropriate poles marked with the solar panel on the charge controller. Attach the positive and negative wires of the battery to the center or battery marked poles on the controller. Then lastly identify your positive and negative connections on your output device attach the appropriate colored wire and attach them to the output terminal on the controller marked by a light bulb.

That is all there is to it. Of course that would not be efficient and the lines could easily get tangled, shorted, or pulled off the devices. So we will put everything in a nice neat traveling case to keep our generator running for some time to come.

This will make more sense as we move through the build process…

Putting it all Together

The tools needed for this build will be:

  • a drill or other means of cutting your holes in the case
  • a drill bit the size of your output component
  • wire cutters
  • connectors – (type of your choosing)
  • Phillips screw driver
  • Electrical tape
  • Silicone sealant

Step 1: Lay Out and Mount the Components

Once you have assembled all the parts you will need to lay out exactly how each component will fit into your housing. I suggest actually placing each part in its approximate position with the battery sitting inside the container. This will ensure that your desired positions will work and not be blocked by the biggest item in the box, the battery.

Once you have determined where each component will go you will need to drill the appropriate holes and mount all your components into place.

Mine is laid out like this:

component-layout

You do not need to make yours just like mine, this is only an example and you may lay yours out how it would best fit your needs and how you intend to use the generator.

The two plugs on the left are a 12v cigarette lighter type outlet and a dual USB power output to charge any USB compatible devices from outside the box.

The battery sits in the middle (ish) to help balance weight. The closer the battery is to the center the easier it is to carry.

The switch and battery readout are optional and will only be briefly covered in this tutorial and is not necessary for the generator to run, it is simply there for ease of gaining information on the system without opening the box.

On the right is a 12V plug used for the input from the solar panel. I made it this way to allow for easy disconnect during non-charging periods and to facilitate quick movement without having wires hanging that could get snagged while moving.

Determine the size hole needed for each component that will be mounted on your box. Drill the desired holes and mount the device. I recommend adding silicone sealant to each device prior to inserting in the holes to make a water resistant seal to help protect the system if it is outside in the elements.

mounted-controllerI have chosen to mount my controller on the inside of the box lid to keep it out of the elements and protected from snagging the wires connected to it. You may want to look for a box that has a larger storage area in the lid to provide for this protection but I went the less costly route for this build.

Once all your devices are mounted where they will be going then it is time to look at each component and how they are wired.

Step 2: Wire the Panel and Battery

Wiring the Panel

The first component we will look at is the solar panel.

The solar panel listed above comes with lead wire already pre-soldered to the panel. At this point you need to determine if you wish to direct wire the panel or utilize some type of connector.

I have added a 12v auto plug to the end so I can quickly attach it to the box. How you wire it is up to you. Some have added banana connectors or two pin trailer connectors, it really does not matter.

pos-neg-wiringFor a direct wire connection run your wires to the charge controller and attach the positive and negative leads as shown here:

For those wishing to go the connector route choose whatever connector you want to use that has been installed in your box and wire per directions for that particular connector. The greatest concern is to ensure that positive and negative connections do not get crossed.

The Pigtails on my connectors were red and white; others will be red and black or yellow and white. Though try to maintain uniformity so that when looking at the connections you will know which is positive and which is negative but the colors do not matter. If all you have is black wire get a roll of red tape and place a piece of red tape at each end of the connection for positive and your good to go.

12v-connectorI added a 12v auto connector to the wire leading from the solar panel as well as a couple feet of wire to make for easier deployment of the panel and give me the ability to have a small amount of separation between the battery and the solar panel. This was simply a convenience decision and one you will need to make for your own requirements.

That’s all that is needed to be done with the solar panel, so set that aside and well next look at the battery.

Wiring the Battery

The battery I have chosen is a Mighty Max ML35-12. It is a 12 volt 35 Amp Hr rated battery that completely sealed and requires no maintenance and will still operate in any position and at a wide temperature range. Also because the size is right (7.68 in x 5.16 in x 7.13 in) for placing inside our tool box.

The battery comes with square lead posts that have a hole through it and two sets of nuts and bolts for attaching your wires. Attach the red lead from the terminal harness with the built in fuse to the positive (red) side of the battery by running the bolt through the lead post and the ring of the harness and add a washer, nut and then tighten. Use caution and do not apply too much pressure, a ¼ to ½ turn after hand tightening is sufficient. Now do the same to the negative side with the other wire of the harness.

You will notice that the harness comes with a 2-pin quick disconnect plug. This was a primary consideration when designing my system as this was already on the harness I decided to continue the use this scheme throughout the system.

Step 3: Perform the Final Installation and Build

You should now have:

  • a solar panel wired and ready
  • Battery wired and ready
  • Controller mounted in or on your box
  • Box with outlets ready to wire up

components-finished

Install the Battery

The next step now is to install the battery into the box. Though there is not very much room the battery will have a tendency to move about a bit. In the past I have used sticky backed hook and loop fasteners on the bottom to keep the battery from sliding about. Another option is to use high density packing foam to “wedge” the battery in place.

You will now need to cut a set of wires that will run from the controller to a mating connector that will connect to your battery harness. Ensure all connections are tight and no bare wires are exposed. Do not expose the wires at the controller end just yet to ensure we do not short the battery.

connected-batteryOnce the connector harness is wired, loosen the two battery terminals corresponding to battery output on the controller. If you are using the same controller I am it will be the center two terminals. Trim the red wire back about a quarter inch and twist the wires to keep them from fraying. Slide the red wire into the + terminal on the controller and tighten. Give the wire a gentle tug to ensure it is clamped in place. Now repeat this process for the black wire and the – terminal. You will notice the controller light up as soon as the black wire is connected showing you have done it correctly.

Note: Your battery should have an initial charge for the system to operate correctly. If you battery is dead, please charge it in a conventional trickle charger before attempting completion.

If you have chosen to use quick disconnects on your components, as I have, then the next step is to cut corresponding lengths of red and black wires necessary to connect to the mating connector of the solar input. Make sure that the positive and negative wires pass through to the correct wires on the other side of the connector to prevent shorting the system. If you have chosen to wire directly then move on to the next paragraph.

connected-panel-wiringOnce this wire set is ready connect the solar panel positive (red) to the terminal on the controller marked + and the black to the one marked -. This is the left most set of terminals on the controller, if using the one I use, or the set marked by solar or a picture of a panel.

If the panel is now in the sun you will see a green light indicating the unit is charging in the top left corner of the controller.

Parallel Wiring of Your Components

parallel-wiringNext, your output components will need to be wired up in parallel. That means all the red wires will be wired together and all the black wires will be wired together and all terminate (come together) into a single lead of one red wire and one black wire.

Measure a pair of wires to go from your output components to the controller. Connect the component red wires to the single lead to the controller for red and then black. Tape these connects together to ensure there is no bare wire and no chance for a short.


completed-wiringLike the other two terminals loosen and insert the red and black wires into the terminal blocks and tighten.

The Final Product

With your build complete, your new solar generator is now ready for operation and ready to travel….

finished-generator-1

finished-generator-2

This is the basic premise for all solar systems the only difference is scale (number of panels, batteries and output), otherwise they are the same.

Urban Self Defense: For The Desk Jockey

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

The following article was contributed by Cory Thomas.

urban-self-defense

Why Should you listen to me?

Fair question.

A little bit about me is that I grew up basically adopted into a household of Marines, 4 generations of Marines with 2 record holding M-16 sharpshooters to be exact, and this helped develop my early years into that of a junior Marine.

But as life is usually not the most fair, I was rendered deaf in my left ear at a young age, which disqualified me from any sort of service on the battlefield. And if I was to join the military I would want nothing short of the front line experience. So I continued training with my family outside of the military.

This allowed me to learn the ins and outs of urban warfare at a distance. Don’t let that fool you though, when we spared for practice it was full contact, I know what it’s like to get punched in the face and it’s not a pleasant feeling.

Anyway, I trained with them until I was 19 and moved away. I landed in Louisiana where I picked up prepping and put the years of military guidance to work in combination with my new friends who are fire fighters and paramedics. I learned field medicine and more urban self defense strategies, because if you know Louisiana then you know it’s not the safest place in the world. And that’s my story.

The Need for Self-Defense

We’ve all seen the videos of the thugs who stalk an innocent person or persons on a casual walk, the couple is blissfully unaware as to the danger their in. Then the thugs descend on their unsuspecting victims, they’re badly beaten for no reason, and it could have been avoided had they known a few rules of how to protect themselves.

Ruthless violence like this is becoming commonplace in our society unfortunately.

That’s why over at survivethewild.net we’re exploring methods of preparation for the 9-5 desk jockey that include urban self defense. Not just learning a few blocks and how to take a hit, but how to effectively overpower your assailants with minimal effort. And this can be done with a few simple rules to follow.

Here’s an outline of the “rules” we’ll be going over today:

  1. Don’t put yourself in danger
  2. Protect The Asset
  3. Using Their Strength
  4. There Are No Rules

#1 Don’t Put Yourself In Danger

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, if you don’t put yourself in situations where you could be assaulted, then the chance of you being assaulted goes down dramatically.

So if you are leaving a crowded bar at 2 am with a lady friend, and decide to take a shortcut down a poorly lit alley in the bad part of town, then whatever happens next is on you my friend. Take calculated risks if needed, but don’t do anything that could put you in harms way.

You as the person in charge need to know which areas of town you’re going to, and if they’re close to the dangerous parts of town. Ignorance is bliss only when ignorance can’t stab you and take your money for making a poor decision.

So don’t put yourself in a situation that could end badly. Enough bad things happen in decent places, don’t go to where the pain is.

#2 Protect The Asset

If it’s just you that gets assaulted then you are the asset, but if you’re a male walking a female home then she becomes the asset. Do not let anything happen to her.

In a situation where you’re assaulted by surprise you need to have it in your head already that you’re going to stand between whatever is happening and the woman you’re with. This isn’t to say that women can’t handle themselves, but chivalry isn’t dead at the same time. If she pulls out a Glock and blows them away, marry her, if not then protect her.

Odds are that you’ll never get attacked for no reason at all, they’re after something. If it’s money go ahead and give it up, it’s harder to recover from a beating than to explain why you need to cancel your credit cards. And if you have a woman with you then for her sake you need to make sure they don’t get to her.

The best tactics to secure an asset is to make yourself the barrier to get through. It may sound fool hardy, but if they’re trying to get to something that’s directly behind you then that creates a natural bottle neck that you control. You can maneuver them and force them to follow your lead to make a move, and with the right amount of situational awareness you can use this to your advantage.

If you stall them long enough you can call for help, make a plan to escape or make your stand.

#3 Using Their Strength

This isn’t about some Tai-Chi move to literally redirect their energy or force back at them, rather you need to use the same tactics or “strengths” they’re using on you.

What tactic did they use on you? How about surprise and violence. Assuming you have the wherewithal in the moment to understand what’s happening, it would be a great idea to suddenly start making noise. Like any kind of loud noise. This will throw your attackers off for a few moments, and that’s when you take the upper hand and either run or deal a punishing blow.

The assailant is depending on you to crumble and be scared, and while you may be scared in the moment, if you can muster enough courage to yell, jump, charge and attack the attacker, you’ll gain the upper hand. And all while using their “strength”.

#4 There Are No Rules

As you can tell I don’t subscribe to the notion of a fair fight. If you can scream like a girl and rupture their eardrums then do it. There’s no trophies given for style points in these situations. All that matters is that you make it out alive and protect those you’re with.

Biting and scratching are great ways of inflicting damage on an emotional level with your attacker. If you punch someone and they scratch your arm and bite your neck hard enough to draw blood then I’m pretty sure they’re going to proceed with caution.

So do what you have to do to make it out alive, because if you’re a guy defending a girl then she shouldn’t care how you saved her life, only that you saved her life.

Conclusion

This might not have been what you were expecting in terms of self defense, but the term self defense implies that you’re defending, which is a position that holds and withstands. Should you be in a situation where you need to use these urban self defense tactics then the most important rule of all is that you remember that there’re no rules when it comes to getting out alive!

Please visit us over at survivethewild.net if you’re a desk jockey who’s just venturing into this world and looking for some help. Our community is great and we love hearing from new comers. We have everyone from the barely able to buy and store cigarettes to the barely able to hold a cigarette on our team. So we would love to have you!

What To Do When “Authority” Comes a Knocking

Monday, February 1st, 2016

This article has been contributed by Anne Marie Duhon. Anne Marie is a wife, mother of six and a full time off-gridder. She and her husband currently live in a totally off grid 200 sq foot “tiny home” and are in search of (again) that elusive perfect spot to call home. Besides being a wife and mother she, and her family, have raised many different animals on their various homesteads and have lived and loved being off the grid and many miles from the nearest paved road. She would like to share her first hand experiences and help others to learn to live and love living off grid and being as self reliant as possible.

Police Knock on Door

Ah, I don’t need to be worrying about THAT! I am a law abiding citizen just minding my own business you think.

RIGHT keep thinking that…

Everyday every one of us breaks several laws and never even knows it. There are over 100,000 laws- federal, state and local- on the books, do you know them all? Doubt it, considering not even cops and lawyers know them all! The only reason we all are not in jail is because of selective enforcement of the laws (remember driving one day and passing 5 cops and none of them pull you over then the sixth one does for a broken tail light- selective enforcement based on the cops mood at the time).

The thing is, authority knows that we do not know all the laws or what our rights are and authority uses it against us. Authority knows that people like us, survivalists, preppers, off gridders, homesteaders whatever you want to call yourself tend to do things a little “differently” and we tend to be a little outspoken and Authority knows given a chance they will find something to use against us. So it is our job to deny them that chance. So what to do?

What authority wants to happen

Authority knocks on your door, and you open it smiling. Police officer, animal control what have you waves a paper in front of you and says
“I am Officer Snatch and this is officer Grab, you are in violation of xxx law (waving paper again) and we are here to take it.

You private citizen say “Oh you caught me. Come on in and take whatever you want”.

Authority will come in and take whatever they came for, take you to jail and while they are at it ransack your home and find many other things to charge you with to make this perfectly worthwhile for them. And if they are feeling mean probably steal a few things from you too knowing that you won’t be able to do a damn thing about it. Later, when your attorney files a motion to suppress the evidence before your trial, the judge will deny the motion on the grounds that you volunteered the evidence to the police. You will then be convicted of being in possession of an “illegal” whatever. And at that point unless you are or have very good friends that are independently wealthy you are screwed.

What you should do when authority comes

There is a knock at the door. Private Citizen DOES NOT open the door but calls through the door. “Who is it?”

The reply: “I am police officer/ animal control/deputy Sheriff/Snatch”

Private Citizen AGAIN THROUGH THE DOOR should reply: “Please go away unless you have a warrant. Please get off my property.”

Now in a perfect world that should do it but of course we do not live in a perfect world. Authority is going to get mad at this point because you did not immediately bow to their wishes. They are going to make threats DO NOT RESPOND, and NEVER no matter what authority says open your door! KEEP SILENT! Do not answer any questions. Just politely say “I refuse to answer any questions without my lawyer present or without a warrant”. If they claim to have a warrant tell them to slip it under the door (if they really had a warrant the door would be gone by now and you would already be in handcuffs).

Things to do/think about before authority shows up

IT is a fact of life now a days that people like us are considered “terrorists”. People who before would have been considered solid old fashioned Americans (72 types of people considered terrorist). And because others chose to think about us as such they are going to fear what they do not understand. What people fear they try to stop by fair means or foul. It is our duty to protect our families and what we have worked for against these people. How?

Know your rights

First and most important KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! Authority wants to and will use our ignorance of our rights against us and once we lose our rights it is very hard to get them back. Know the laws of your area. If you have guns know the gun laws, if you have animals know what the animal laws are in your area. I am not saying you have to agree with them but if you don’t and chose to break the law don’t make it obvious! Many innocent people end up in prison because they did not know their rights.

Keep your mouth shut

Second, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! Do not be telling anyone you raise rabbits in the city to eat or have “assault” weapons in the garage! Do not give anyone any reason to question you about anything. Remember, everything you say can and will be used against you and that does not only apply to when you are talking to the cops.

Other things that can help in dealing with authority

Set up game cameras or closed circuit cameras at all entrances to your property. Have the cameras record and upload directly to the internet for safe keeping of the video. Cops will demand and destroy videos if they know they are being filmed and many a time a cell phone video has gotten someone off trumped up charges!

Fence off and post no trespassing signs on your property. LOCK the gates!

Consider getting a video camera or voice activated recorder and leave it by the front door/gate. Tell authority all interactions will be recorded.

Consider joining a prepaid legal service like Legal Shield or The Calvary Group which is a prepaid legal service for animal owners.

Never allow authority inside your home or to even SEE inside your home. If they can see something questionable in their suspicious minds they will use it for probable cause to get the warrant! This goes for the stuff in your yard that is visible from the road and driveway or the neighbor’s yard. If for some reason you feel the need to speak to the police, step out of your house and shut the door behind you. IF you can lock it all the better!

Make duplicate copies of all important paperwork – deeds, titles, rental agreements, birth certificates, social security cards, adoption records, marriage/divorce records, medical records for ALL family members both two and four legged, business licenses and any other records you deem important. Keep these copies in a secure location besides at your house. You can keep them either in paper format or on a thumb drive and save a copy to an online private site, say email them to yourself so that you or someone you ask can access the copies from anywhere with a computer and your passwords. Never leave your passwords laying around ANYWHERE!

Folks, there is nothing “wrong” with our lifestyle! A hundred years ago EVERYONE lived on a farm, carried guns, stocked up, and minded their own business. Be proud of your ability to care for your family and stand firm in the face of all the “authority” out there! The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution is short, to the point and written in English. The Fourth Amendment is easy to understand. The Attorney General hopes you don’t understand any of your rights. Don’t let them trick you. If the first one hundred attempts at trickery fail, the government will give up. Don’t be fooled. Learn your rights and exercise them. As long as you keep your questionable activities private and as long as you are polite and respectful, you can keep authority out of your business. Police do not like dealing with well educated, respectful people and will back down in most cases.