In my opinion, these are the best of the best of survival and preparedness articles gleaned from the 'net.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Caching





A Mess

Originally uploaded by nodigio

A cache (theoretically pronounced “cash”, but I always pronounce it “caysh” because that’s how I did it when I learned English – and it helps distinguish the word slightly from “cash” money) is a hidden store of provisions or supplies. It can be kept secret, but I’d rather share the information with those who might need it. There are several types of caches (pronounced “cashes” the correct way and “cayshes” my way).

When most people learn of caches the first time, they usually think of the underground cache where one buries supplies in some type of suitable container for eventual recovery and use. Underground caches done right are the most secure and accessible.

There are two other types of caches

Submersed caches are caches stored underwater in a river, stream, pond, lake – you get the idea. The problems with submersed caches are using a long term waterproof container that can withstand the elements, placing the cache so it doesn’t drift, isn’t easily found by accident, and stays submerged. Any breach of a submerged cache can lead to the supplies within it being ruined.

Concealment caches are generally easier to place and access (no digging, no freezing water…) but are prone to being discovered and torn up by wildlife or found and used by strangers.

There are specific reasons to use each type of cache, and I recommend placing caches of all of these types just in case you (or someone) needs them. Each type of cache requires containers specific to your location and contents, and some require tools for placing the cache.

Let’s talk first about the contents of your cache.

Whatever you would normally place is a bug-out bag is suitable to put in a cache, however, a cache is meant to be more than a bug-out kit, or a supplement to a bug-out kit. Water will go stale, so I don’t recommend putting water in a cache; however, water distillation equipment and water purification tablets are entirely appropriate to stash. Extra medicines that have long expiration dates and can handle temperatures changes may also be useful. Field surgical kits. Whole grains are useful as well as well-packaged foods with long shelf lives. Bandages are always useful. Bullets (and powder) if you’re the type of person who relies on guns, arrowheads for the bow hunter, spare knives and knife sharpening tools, darts for the blowgun user, and any other type of ammunition you may want or will need when you reach your cache. You may also want to stash an extra weapon of choice in there. Cooking equipment – pots, pans, utensils – and eating equipment (plates, bowls, utensils, cups). Vacuum-sealed roasted coffee beans, teas, sugar, and non-dairy creamers with a hand-crank coffee grinder. Powdered Gatorade or sports drink mixes. Tent. Blankets. Toys and games and books (you know you’ll need them, you might as well pack them at your cache so you don’t have to truck them along). Copies of essential paperwork. Hard candies (because they last virtually forever). Rope and twine. Toilet paper. Tissues. Menstrual supplies. Anything you think you might need or want.

Now, if your cache is meant to be a way-station between Point A and Point B, you may only want to fill it with food, water purification tablets, medical stuff, and a few luxuries, maybe ammunition, and use it as a supplement to the bug-out bag as your travel along.

Me, I work on the assumption that I may get separated from my bug-out bag and stuff, so my caches tend to be duplicates of what’s in my bug-out kit, plus extras I would like but don’t want to carry around. Any one of my caches will have the equipment I need to survive and start life over again. At this time, all of my caches are underground ones, but I’ve used all three types for various reasons.

I also don’t just cache for survival. I cache for fun, too. Places where I’m a frequent camper will have hidden caches filled with the things I will inevitably wish I had or forgot and spares of things to share with other campers who forget. These caches are usually games and food, eating supplies, seasonings, drink mixes, spare blankets, more medical supplies, and extra toiletries.

Packing for buried and concealed caches

A 5 gallon heavy duty plastic bucket usually holds plenty of stuff and is small enough to dig deeply and quickly, and you can use several buckets in a cache. If your item is too big to stash in a 5 gallon bucket, you may consider some of the amazing variety of sizes and shapes of the plastic, airtight storage bins you can buy at camping stores, big box stores, and container stores. These may be awkward to dig in and dig out, but at least the gear will be safe.

Pack each bucket or bin as full and snug as you can. If it’s a food bucket, line it with a heavy duty plastic bag, fill 1/3 of the way, put in an 8” chunk of dry ice, fill it the rest of the way up, loosely twist the plastic bag closed and set the lid on the bucket. Leave it for 3-4 hours so the CO2 from the dry ice can displace the air inside the bag. Tightly twist the bag closed and clamp it with a metal twist tie. A lot of survivalist recommend running a bead of silicon along the rim of the bucket, then firmly closing the lid on it. I don’t recommend this because then the bucket will not be re-usable. I recommend instead using a gasket made from the door gasket strips you can buy to weatherize your doors and windows, and seating the lid on that, then duct taping the bucket shut. Put the bucket into a bag you made from hardware cloth and duct tape that closed. Now, it’s ready to bury.

Non-food items don’t need to be stored in CO2 to preserve freshness so you can simply fill the container, use the door gasket seals, duct tape it closed, wrap it in hardware cloth and duct tape that on and you’re good to go.

Buried caches are subject the least to weather and temperature changes. They are harder for the casual hunter or hiker or wildlife to find. The deeper you bury it, the better it will survive for your later use. You have less size restrictions and more space to bury caches so you can have multiple ones in the same area and large ones, too. It’s easier to forget where it’s buried and you have to dig both to stash it and to retrieve it, which means carrying a shovel.

Be sure to mark the location where you bury your cache on a GPS, and make a note in a book you keep with you on its landmarks and location. See if you can also mark it with other ways to identify where you cached it, because the landmarks may be bulldozed down and the satellites that send signals to the GPS make stop working. You need at least 3 ways to find your cache and the more you have, the better.

This type of preparation will work for either buried or concealed caches except concealed caches need camouflaging. The easiest way to camouflage your cache is to spray paint the hardware cloth to match the area where you stash it. Find areas that are virtually untraveled, rocky (because a cache can be concealed in rocks better than brush as brush both changes color seasonally and can die out or burn out), and easy to match paint colors to. When you place your cache, pile rocks or branches on and around it to blur its outlines and mark its location well.

Concealed caches mean no burying, but it also leaves the cache to being found easier by hikers, hunters, and wildlife. Concealed caches are smaller because small is easier to conceal. I wouldn’t conceal cache anything larger than a 5 gallon bucket. You can’t place too many concealed caches too close together because if one is found, the others will be, too. It’s prone to storm damage and weather changes. It can get very hot inside the concealed cache so whatever you put in it must be able to take temperature extremes and rapidly fluctuating temperatures.

Packing for a submerged cache

Underwater caches need to be waterproof and yet still easy to open without destroying the container. It doesn’t need to be camouflage painted, but it will need a solid anchor to keep it in its location and keep it underwater. That means it will need to be tied to something so use a rope that can survive being submerged for years and remain pliable and usable. I prefer to stash my cache in an area that isn’t easy to get to where the water is deep, there’s an overhang above the cached area, and it’s a backwater – where the water pools and stores debris. The usual water debris will be all the camouflage you generally need. Make sure your cache is anchored so it doesn’t get washed out in a flood, that you have a line anchored above water you can reach to pull the cache up, and weight the cache so it doesn’t bob to the surface.

The underwater cache has certain advantages. For starters, things are more likely to remain cold, so you can cache things like butter and cheese under water. Temperature changes will be slower and tend towards cold as opposed to hot. Underwater caches, well anchored, are less likely to be stumbled upon and found, and fewer critters will have access to it. The primary disadvantage is if your container springs a leak. Secondary disadvantages would be not anchoring it well, choosing a bad location that will get washed out in flooding, and not weighting it enough to keep it well below the surface of the water.

Caching is a good idea for lots of reasons. I love caching for camping so I don’t have to pack as much when I camp on a whim, but I do have to remember to replenish caches I use on the whimsy trips. It’s fun to camp with new survivalists and appear out of nowhere with useful items that aren’t normally found in the wild. It’s fun to show off your camp caches to new campers and survivalists, too. In survival situations, a cache may save your life. If you share a cache location with someone, make sure you have additional caches for yourself elsewhere. If you cache, cache in many places and cache lots of duplicates so if one is found, you should still have access to others. If you use a cache, replenish it as soon as possible. This is assuming you use your cache to tide you over during a short term disaster and not an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario. If it’s the end of the world, you may not have anything to replenish it with.

Other than that, caching can be fun.

You can “play cache” with geocaching games. Build a cache you mean others to find and fill it with “trashy treasures”. Put a logbook and pencil in it so others can note when they found it, what they took, and what they put in its place. Mark its location on a GPS, go to geocaching.com and register your cache. Check it now and again to read the logbook. Look up other caches registered there and hunt them. Leave a note in their logbooks, and put a little treasure in their cache and take one out as a memento. Most of these caches are concealed caches meant to be found, but the caching techniques remain the same. Some are buried, and I’ve only seen one that was a submerged cache. It’s good practice, and you learn useful skills when you play this game.


Original: http://gallimaufree.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/caching/

Food Storage Recipe - Texas Style Crock Pot Chili

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for your crock pot. Chili is a great “one dish” item that makes a complete meal with the addition of a few simple ingredients to make a variety of different combinations. So put that crock pot to some good use, make some chili!

Crock Pot Chili - Texas Style

Ingredients

2 to 3 lbs. 1/2 inch thick round or sirloin steak (Use whichever fits your budget!)

2 Tablespoons of bacon grease

1 Large onion (chopped)

3 Garlic cloves

1 Teaspoon of salt

1 Teaspoon of pepper

3 to 4 Fresh Jalapeno peppers (chopped & seeded)

Note: Green bell pepper may be used as a substitute for a milder version or you can use Habenero peppers for a really hot & spicy chili.

1/4 Cup chili powder

2 Teaspoons ground cumin

1 Cup of beer

1/2 Cup of water

1/4 Cup of cornmeal (or masa)


Instructions for Cooking

De-bone and trim excess fat from steaks and then cut steak into 1/2 inch cubes.

Using a heavy skillet (A cast iron pan works great!), lightly brown beef in bacon grease with half of your chopped onion. Drain excess fat, add garlic cloves and stir over medium heat for another minute. Place the browned beef cubes and onions in crockpot and add salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, beer and water.
Note: Additional salt or pepper may be added after chili is done to suit individual tastes.

Place cover on crock pot and cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours.

Use cornmeal (or masa) with enough water to make a paste (Try not to have any lumps in your paste!). Add paste to crock pot and stir into chili. Turn your crock pot to its high setting and cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour.

Serve plain with hot cornbread or over corn chips.

Top corn chips with chili and remaining chopped onions and shredded cheese for a more traditional Texas favorite - “frito pie”!

Staying above the water line!

Riverwalker

Original: http://stealthsurvival.blogspot.com/2009/03/food-storage-recipe-texas-style-crock.html

Storage Food Recipe - Stock Pot Stew

Here’s a great recipe for some stew that will give you a perfect reason to use that stock pot or your cast iron Dutch oven. This is the stew I make for large family gatherings and is a favorite when served with cornbread. It’s simple enough that even I can make it.

Stock Pot Stew - Ingredients

1 Boneless beef chuck roast (cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces)

1 Tablespoon of salt (or 1 Teaspoon if on a low salt diet)

1 Teaspoon of pepper

1 Bay leaf

6 Cups of water (more or less water may be needed depending upon pot size)

4 Potatoes (peeled, cleaned and cut into quarters)

6 Carrots (peeled, cleaned and cut into 1/2 to1 inch chunks)

2 Yellow onions (peeled and cut into quarters)


Stock Pot Stew - Cooking Instructions

Place meat chunks in large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add salt, pepper, bay leaf and water.
Cover stock pot or Dutch oven and heat on burner or stove on medium to high heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Add potatoes, carrots and onions to the pot and simmer an additional 45 minutes to an hour longer until meat and vegetables are tender.

This stew is made in my turkey fryer outside during the holidays for our large family gatherings. It’s a family favorite and goes well with warm cornbread or home-made bread.


Staying above the water line!

Riverwalker

Original: http://stealthsurvival.blogspot.com/2009/03/storage-food-recipe-stock-pot-stew.html

Starting Tomato Seeds

Here are a few pictures that show what we did to start our potted tomato plants yesterday (Mar 6):

We found the easiest method was peat pellets. Yes, we know that peat is not a renewable source, but until we become much better gardeners (remember that this is only our second year), we'll use what works best.

Note: Just picked up a pack of 25 peat pellets (without the little greenhouse) for $2.00 - at Wal-Mart. Not a bad deal.

So... this first picture is the "Jiffy Greenhouse 72" that we bought at the end of last season. At that time, we didn't know we'd be moving. So, since we can't plant a big garden like last year's, I just took 6 of the pellets from the "greenhouse" and placed them in a dish.

Whatever dish you use to rehydrate the pellets, make sure it is shallow enough for you to manipulate the pellets, and that all pellets fit well. Fill a container (I'm using my kitchen measuring cup) with WARM water. For some reason, cold water doesn't seem to work well. Don't flood the dish. Just pour a little at a time. Keep an eye out. I had to go back and pour some more into the dish twice, and the last time, the pellets barely took any in. The pellets, as they rehydrate, will "puff" up, becoming taller. Discard the unused water.

Note that the pellets are basically peat moss (I think), compacted, and surrounded by a netting. As they puff up, the netting holds the in place.

When they have rehydrated as much as they are going to (about 1 inch to 1.5 inches tall), gently take the top and move the netting away from the very top. I just take my two index fingers and pull the netting away from the top. Then I take the same fingers and push in the middle of the sides to fluff-up the peat. This will "un-compact" the peat even further, so when you place in the seed, it won't have to struggle to throw down roots. I tried to take a picture of me doing this but it just didn't come in very clearly.

This third picture shows the six peat pellets that have been rehydrated, and placed in yogurt cups. I'll add a little water to each cup as needed (using a mister is best).

Then I wrote on an index card what seed will be put in each pot. We're only doing 6 tomatoes this year. Probably. Maybe change it later.

I cut the labels and taped to the yogurt cup. Then I placed one seed in each pellet that corresponded with the label. I just barely moved the peat aside, placed one seed, then barely covered it over. If you've never seen a tomato seed, you should know that they are very small and need to be fairly close to the surface.

Then I took the pellets-in-yogurt-cups into a "shoebox tub" and covered it to keep the moisture in. Now I'll check on them every day. Usually I check 2 or 3 times a day because I love this part!

This last picture shows a couple of our tomato pots from last year (2008). Notice that we placed a marigold and basil in each pot to help keep bad little critters/pests away. It worked very well.

NOTE: I can NOT emphasize enough that you need to label your seedlings. And keep those labels with the plants after you transplant them. We didn't do a great job of that last year and half the time, didn't know what tomatoes we were eating! I still can't tell you what tomatoes are in this last picture!

We had the same problem with our squash but that's another story.

p.s. I can't get the spacing on this post to work out correctly because of the pictures but you don't really care, do you?

Original: http://www.survival-cooking.com/2009/03/starting-tomato-seeds.html

Inventory Check: Electrical Items

This inventory check is a little different from the reminders to check how much toilet paper or coffee you have stored.

This time...

Make a list of everything in your home that uses electricity. That includes, of course, refrigerator, stove, TV, etc. but also includes those things that depend on rechargeable batteries.

Then, just in case you forgot anything, turn off your power. Warn the whole family ahead of time, of course, but do it for an evening or an entire Saturday.

Call it a drill, like a fire drill or tornado drill. How about calling it a "power drill"!

Decide when, making sure all family members are there. Then, when the time comes, Padlock the fridge. Bring out the sticks for roasting wienies (or vienna sausages) over the fireplace. Prepare a whole meal another way - without your power. Play board games or card games instead of watching TV or doing the Wii. Place tape over light switches. Shut off the phone. If your well is power driven, figure out an alternative. What rooms can be closed off? Where should you place duct tape so nobody will use them? Are there areas where you'll now really notice drafts of cold air? If you do this in the Summer, is it unbearably hot and you don't have access to a basement or cool area?

Do you have battery backup for your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors? If not, why not?

Did you have enough foods and drinks (especially water) to last for your experiment? Did you get bored after the first meal? Did you go directly to meal-preparation before pulling out that board game or book to read? Or talk? How about spending some of your time just talking.

Did you have enough paper products? Toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, plates, etc.

Keep track of what you figure out. Maybe a little journal or scrapbook that all participants can write in about the experiment. Take pictures, too.

What did you figure out about your dependence on electricity? Do you have alternatives to those electrical appliances and needs that you just can't do without?

Original: http://www.survival-cooking.com/2009/03/inventory-check-electrical-items.html

Burying a Shipping Container or CONEX, by Danny Papa

Back during the first Gulf War we used excess shipping containers for underground storage and protection. Out first few attempts to make use of these containers met with disaster. Although they will support a huge amount of weight, in the range of 400,000 pounds directly on top, It must be place directly over the load-bearing corners. The sides and top are vulnerable to flexing, if they flex they can and will collapse. With all of this in mind let’s go through how to bury one the right way, so that it will be ready and usable when the time comes.

First let us start with container preparation. Most of these containers have spent years at sea covered with salt water. This means rust. Very simply the rust needs to be removed as best as possible. A drill with a wire brush does this well.

This is a time consuming job but it will add years of life to your container. Grind off all of the rust and then paint everything [with specially-formulated rust-resistant paint], and I mean everything. Don’t forget underneath. For safety, I have rolled these containers over on their sides to do this step, it would creep me out to jack it up and crawl underneath one. A little grinding and paint will help protect your investment. Once the container is ready be sure to let the paint dry for a couple of days before burial.

The hole needs to be 16 feet wide 55 feet long and 8 feet deep.
Think about this if you dig a hole it will eventually fill up with water.
So we either need to build a sump in the bottom or trench it out to day light. I prefer the latter, since it requires no electricity or manual labor to pump it dry.
Let’s presume we have trenched it to daylight and go from there.
Line the bottom of the hole with foundation plastic, heavy duty black plastic. At least two feet up the sides. Place French drain pipe with silt shield in bottom of hole and out to daylight. Stake it in place where it will not be directly under the edges or corners of the container. Drive a t-post every 8 feet around the edge of the hole through the plastics within 6 inches of the sides. Place 6 inches of gravel in bottom of hole.

Now comes the hard part, getting the container in the hole. .
You want the container centered to the back of the hole within 42 inches of the back wall. A big track hoe can move these containers but make sure with the owner when renting one that it can pick up at least 8,000 pounds if not you may need a small crane. I could go into many different ways to get it into the hole but the key is to get it onto the gravel with out it digging in, where it needs to be and level.

Next, we will discuss Gabions or HESCO baskets. This is basically a wire basket with a liner to hold rocks and sand that will bear the load for the sides of the container. This wire basket wall will be built completely around the containers to support the sides from both lateral pressure and water. To save time and explanation, see the Wikipedia pages on gabions and HESCO bastions.

Here is a shopping list for "do it yourself" basket materials. Please realize that this is that this is the Army way which means expensive. I will go over alternatives later.

24 - Hog panels. These are welded wire 34 inches tall by 16 feet long.
34 - Cattle panels these are welded wire 52 inches tall by 16 feet long
20 - 8 foot long T-posts which are used in the bottom of the hole
Hog ring pliers and a large sack of heavy gauge hog rings (these are to hold the baskets together).
2,240 square feet of chicken wire with 1/2" size mesh
56 - 3 ft. pieces of 3/8 rebar, with one inch bent down on each end.
28 - 3 ft. pieces of 3/8 rebar, with one end bent into hooks

The hog panels are the bottom middle and top support for the baskets the cattle panels. Place hog panels over t-post and let them to ground where panel is flat on the ground. Line them up end to end with one across the back of the hole.

Place the cattle panels in between the T-post and the wall of the hole. Use the hog rings to tie the bottom together at least one every 6 inches. Take the hooked rebar and drive into the ground every four foot between t post. Now place a cattle panel on the other side of the hog panel and tie them together along the bottom.

Do this all the way around the container. Here is where a little experience is helpful. Build the one in the back first. Put the bottom and the sides and cut a hog panel to the right length for the ends of the basket. Nest do the long side this will be 48 feet long. Now do the other side but we will do it a little different. Once you are four feet past the end of the container cut off the cattle panels and hog panels and build end for the basket. Then build another small basket that goes at a 90 degree angle to the middle of the hole forming an "L" for the doorway.

Now you have the baskets. Cover the outside cattle panel with landscape fabric to keep silt from filling between the rocks then line the entire inside of the basket with chicken wire--use the 1/2" inch mesh variety. Make sure the basket walls are straight up and down. Use the rebar with the bent ends to tie the sides together. Now fill the baskets with rocks any rocks will do as long as they are packed in and do not leave a bunch of gaps I like rocks about the size of a baseball, the key is that they have to be big enough to not go though the wire mesh. Now put the top on the basket which will be the bottom of the next row. And then build the next layer of baskets. Once the wall of baskets is built then use what ever you have to reach from one wall of baskets to the other. In Saudi we use these wood floor pieces that they made for our tents which were a sheet of 1/2 inch plywood on a 2x4 frame it took two of them to get across but once we put them in place and covered them with plastic we would pile a layer of sand bags on top of them at least three sand bags deep. Then cover the whole thing with another sheet of plastic and top it off with a layer of sand.

On the end where the door is I had you build an L shape this is a basic entrance for any bunker over this end you need to use heavy timbers to support the sand bag covering we used old cross ties from one basket to the other not sure if this is a good idea considering the creosote on the ties.

Now this would take a squad about two days to build but once completed right they will last for decades. Before rotating out of the country, we had a bull dozer drive across one, just to see what would happen. Other than crushing the wooden panels supporting the sand bags there was no damage to the container. Now, to do this the way a civilian could do it...

For the Gabion/HESCO baskets there are many alternatives, such as:

  • 55 gallon drums filled with sand and anchored together with metal strips.
  • Old tires stacked and filled with sand but keep these at least 8 inches away from the side of the container.
  • Sandbags

Sandbags are very labor intensive and again need to make sure there is a gap between them and the container they have a "slide" effect that is hard to overcome without experience. You can even just use packed sand in the basket if you line it completely with landscape material or fabric that will keep the sand in the basket.

Another point of experience: I have had people ask why not use bailing wire or concrete ties to hold the baskets together the simple answer is that rust will eventually destroy this light-gauge wire. You can use this but I would advise that paint the wire after it was twisted it together and don’t expect it to last as long as the hog rings.

Also remember that many things can happen when you are underground, so always keep equipment in the container that can be used to break your way out. Ax, saws, a pick ax, and a hydraulic jack.

To sum it all up you just have to remember three key things. Rust removal and prevention, keep it dry, and alleviate any lateral pressure.


Original: http://www.survivalblog.com/2009/03/burying_a_shipping_container_o.html

Home Systems Round Up

This is actually a set of links to pieces I’ve written in the past about how to deal with different issues at home. Many of them come from the previous Adapting in Place class, but I thought they might be useful to people, before I move on to new content. I encourage people to read the comments as well, which often have more detail or correctives to my mistakes.

Home Heating and Cooling:

Thinking about heating and cooling in different ways than we have been: http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/12/thinking-about-heating-and-cooling-differently/

Cooling without A/C (I’m hoping Aaron, who actually lives in a hot climate will have more to say about this): http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/14/how-not-to-fry-keeping-cool-without-air-conditioning-or-not-much/

An overview of heating and insulation:

http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/12/heating-and-insulation-options/

Living without heat in a cold climate: http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/12/how-not-to-freeze-life-without-heat/

Water:

How to Capture it from Above and Below: http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/07/capturing-water/

Toileting, Bathing and Laundry: http://sharonastyk.com/2008/08/14/potty-time-toileting-bathing-laundry-in-a-low-power-situation/

Cooking:

What to do when you’ve got no working stove: http://sharonastyk.com/2008/12/02/777/

Housekeeping:

This is my two part series on the application of permaculture to housecleaning

http://sharonastyk.com/2006/08/20/the-permaculture-of-domesticity-part-i-theory/

http://sharonastyk.com/2006/08/20/the-permaculture-of-domesticity-part-ii-practice/

Ok, that should keep you busy while I write the next post ;-).

Sharon


Original: http://sharonastyk.com/2009/03/10/home-systems-round-up/

And without any further ado...

as promised...dah-da-dah - here is "Part II - Emergency Communications" from Santa at the WVPN :

HAM RADIO PART 2


I have been overwhelmed at the interest that my first post generated. First of all let me thank all of you who left comments and also the emails that I have received with questions. I am going to try to address all of them but please be patient with me as typing is not one of my skills. Proper English and spelling are also not my best ability. (Spell and grammar check are my friends trust me) I am however very talented at moving mountains or at least parts of them. Just wanted your tired eyes to open with that statement. I am a self employed excavating contractor here in the Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. I do not have a background in the field of electronics or radio communications. Now you will understand why I say what I do next.


First let me start with the number one question: HOW HARD IS IT TO GET LICENSED?


My answer to this is here in the US it is almost too easy. With just a little dedication and studying any one of you can and will be able to pass the technician class license. (I did)

While this first step is NOT going to give you the privileges to operate on all the bands there are, it will give you the bands that will be most useful in what I consider local communication (100 miles give or take)


The second step is where you get the privilege to use all the bands or at least a portion of them. This is the General class. While it is a little harder and takes a little more dedication and study time it is still not that hard. Again I did it so I am confident any one of you will be able to do it. At this level your ability to communicate will become world wide. (And I do mean world wide I have the QSL cards to prove it) For those that do not understand this, a QSL card is a card you either have printed for you or print from your computer. These are used to send thru the Postal system to other Hams when you speak to them on the air. I am going to make an offer here to send you one of mine so you can see how it works. (I know that I will probably catch some flak from old school Hams over this but that is OK I have big shoulders I just want those with an interest to see how it works) I may have to limit this offer because of cost but I am not sure how many will request one. So for now I will try to send one to everyone that emails me an address to send it to. (Trust will come into play here but I promise to keep your identity and address private I have no motive to use it for any purpose other than to let you see how this works) I take the trust thing very serious. I will tell you though; I do have a very unique QSL card that you will like.


The third step: Extra class is where you get the privilege to use the entire portion of all the bands. I have not gone that far to date but it is in my plans to do so in the future. Because of the fact I have not done this yet I will leave it at this point.


The second question that came up a lot was: HOW MUCH DOES ALL THIS COST?


The first step is to find a way to study for the test. This can be as little as FREE. You can purchase books for this at a cost of around 20 USD but you can also do it the way I did and study online for free. I will give links at the end of this post for a couple of sites, that you can take practice test for free (At least they were free when I did them) until your scores are high enough to go in and pass the test. Now for the test itself, my first test was 7 USD and when I upgraded to General that test was done by a group of Hams that do not charge anything. They do it for the love of the hobby at there own expense for FREE.


Now as far as the equipment goes: Well this can be as little as free to as wild as the imagination allows. I can only tell you what I have in my personal inventory. My first radio was 50 USD from a friend used. My first antenna I made from new ½" copper pipe like is used for plumbing in a house. I went to Home Depot and purchased new for this around 20 USD. I built it myself from plans off the internet that were free and I will email anyone that wants them. Now this is a plain 2 meter radio and a home made antenna but that was the beginning of my ham station. With this radio I am able to talk on all the local repeaters and have also talked as much as 75 to 100 miles without use of repeaters. That will not be everyone's results as there are many things to interfere with radio signals. I live in the mountains so I have natural elevation that helps me with distance. My main HF station or general coverage radio I purchased it thru the swap meet forum at www.qrz.com total cost with shipping from Texas to West Virginia 550USD. It is a Kenwood 570D and it covers from 10 meter thru 160 meter. For antennas I got my 160 meter double bazooka, a 20 meter double bazooka, and a 6 foot roof mount antenna mast never used from a fellow ham: the cost was a drive of about 50 miles one way to get them and once I got there about two or three hours talking with a great person. I would have driven the distance for the conversation and the hand shake from a very neat person to talk with. My 80 meter off center feed dipole is home made from cable TV hard-line coax left over from my days of building overhead lines for a cable company and the help of two friends. My 10 meter is left over form my cb days but you can buy something similar for as little as free to 20 USD if you get one used or 60 to 90 USD new. There are more antennas coming in the future and most of the wire antennas are down at the moment because I was clearing trees from my property this winter and did not want to damage them in that process. We have had our first taste of spring weather and the area where my antennas go is now ready for them to go back up. That will be a future post coming soon so you can see how this is done. My original part 2 was going to be a post of my mobile set up in my service truck with pictures, but because of all the wonderful comments and questions by email this became part 2.


Kymber: of the Canadian Preppers Network was promised the next post I did but that was supposed to be what is now going to be Part 3 so I guess you will see Part 3 on the CPN first also.


Good sites for US residents as well as info for our Northern brothers and sisters are:


www.arrl.org A great place to read about Ham radio in the US.


www.qrz.com at this site in the upper left side (little white window) type in your zip code use your mouse to hit the search button and you will see a list of all the hams in your zip code. (You never know but you may already know one) There is also a great Practice test area on this site and that is how I studied for both my Tech class and my General class test.


http://www.eham.net Another great place for info and they have a section REVIEWS I believe it is on the left side of the page and there you can review what other people have said about different radios before you decide to buy.


http://www.hamtestonline.com/study.jsp an online place to study for your test but it is not free.


http://www.hamuniverse.com/bazooka.html info about the double bazooka antennas I mentioned as well as much more if you search the site.


http://www.n7qvc.com/amateur_radio/copper.html the 2 meter antenna plans that I mentione.


All of these links should still be good but if you find one that is not email me, I will try to help.

email wvsantaclaus@aol.com


God Bless all from the Hills of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

Santa



Original: http://canadianpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/and-without-any-further-ado.html

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