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Monday, July 13, 2009

Towing Safety Redux

I am all about safety as most of you are painfully aware. You can never be “too safe” and mitigating against risk is always high on my priority list. One thing I was very persistent with was towing my pop up safely. When I purchased the pop up I was given a primer on towing it safely and I was really disappointed with what I was told.

I had them install a Class III hitch on my truck along with wiring, I was told by a lady at the place where I bought the pop up, “you can just tow this on the bumper!” I quickly said no thanks please order and install a hitch. The pop up is close to 1800 lbs dry weight, technically I could tow it with a bumper hitch but I don’t believe that would be safe.

I also told them to install a brake controller in my truck because the pop up I bought had electric brakes and they said, “Well you really don’t need that because the trailer limit for brakes in South Carolina is 2000 lbs.” I said no thank you; please install the controller and the wiring so I can use the electronic brakes.

I told them to install a deep cycle battery on the pop up, they said “why, that only powers the 12 volt lighting and refrigerator?”, I said because I want to have the breakaway switch on the pop up actually work should the trailer become detached. A breakaway switch will not function without a battery; once the trailer is detached from the tow vehicle power is lost, electronic brakes need power. A breakaway switch for those that don’t know is a device that applies the trailer brakes to the trailer should it accidentally become separated from the tow vehicle while traveling. This will protect your trailer and the people traveling around you from a runaway trailer with a mind hell bent on destruction.

I was shocked honestly, how many people are out there towing pop ups with a bumper and no brakes? Are they crazy? Apparently I am the one that is crazy. There is a law in South Carolina that a trailer must have a breakaway switch but it mentions nothing about a battery. That is like saying well you need a flashlight when it gets dark but saying batteries are optional, kind of dumb don’t you think?

I know some of you will say jeez you are paranoid; it is a pop up camper for crying out loud! Yes but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Do you care about your family? Do you want the kids in the vehicle that is bumper towing a 2000 lb trailer when you have to slam on the brakes because of some idiot cutting you off and you trailer having no trailer brakes? That is just an accident waiting to happen. Not to mention your tow vehicle; add 2000lbs to the weight your tow vehicles brakes need to stop now and tell me how long your brakes will last or what the minimum stopping distance you need now? It is just some common sense folks; spend a few hundred dollars more for peace of mind and you and your families’ safety.

Here are some recommendations that will help you tow your load, no matter what its size, safely:

1.) Use a bigger class size hitch than needed – if you only need a Class II hitch spend a few more bucks and just get a Class III hitch installed.

2.) Avoid bumper towing all but the smallest of trailers.

3.) Always use safety chains and always cross them when hooking them up.

4.) If you have electronic brakes use them! Get a brake controller and make sure you have it installed correctly! Hydraulic (surge) brakes are better than nothing. Brakes will save wear and tear on your tow vehicle and may save your life!

5.) Make sure your trailer has a breakaway switch and a battery (small trailers can skip this – follow your local laws). Make sure the switch is hooked up correctly, mine needs to be attached to one of the safety chains for example.

These are just a few simple ways to ensure your towing experience is safe and you get to your destination with your trailer intact. Towing is something everyone should know how to do and everyone should be comfortable with as you never know when you may need to do it.

Tip: Remember when backing up a trailer turn the steering wheel in the OPPOSITE direction you want the trailer to go.

...that is all.

Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/BeASurvivor/~3/1wuR4zXwmHM/towing-safety-redux.html

Why I think Ham Radio & Preppers is a perfect fit...

I grabbed this Post From Hawk (Aka Conway Bob, Aka KI4HEE) from South Carolina Preppers Network as they are holding another Prepper Net tonight on HAM Radio on 7.245 at 9PM EST. Be Sure to tune in!

While it is amazing that recent events in Iran are showing how the internet can aid in getting information to the outside world, it should be noted that the rest of the world is not under any form of turmoil that is effecting communication at the moment.

But if you consider a situation effecting a global crisis, the use of twitter, cellphones, youtube, and the lot would be severely impacted or eliminated.

All the current popular modes of communication are three-legged stools. Pull one leg out, and it can't support itself. Phone systems are at the mercy of power grids and the phone company, the internet is literally a network of outside supported and controlled databases which can be turned off in a instant, the same with cellphone, broadcast, satellite, and cable TV...all controlled and monitored by outside influences.

But Radio is different. A power source is it's only requirement, it is a independent entity.

And as a preferable mode of radio, the clearest front runner would be Ham Radio, it offers the most versatile, effective, long reaching, and accessable mode around.

Just consider all the Modes of Communication Ham Radio offers...

(The following is from WikiPedia)

* Amplitude Modulation (AM)
* Double Sideband Suppressed Carrier (DSB-SC)
* Independent Sideband (ISB)
* Single Sideband (SSB)
* Amplitude Modulation Equivalent (AME)

* Frequency Modulation (FM)
* Phase Modulation (PM)

* Continuous Wave (CW)

Image Modes

* Amateur Television, also known as Fast Scan television (ATV)
* Slow Scan Television (SSTV)
* Facsimile


Most amateur digital modes are transmitted by inserting audio into the microphone input of a radio and using an analog scheme, such as amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM), or single-sideband modulation (SSB).

* ALE Automatic Link Establishment
* AMateur Teleprinting Over Radio (AMTOR)
* D-Star
* Echolink
* Hellschreiber, also referred to as either Feld-Hell, or Hell
* Discrete multi-tone modulation modes such as Multi Tone 63 (MT63)
* Multiple Frequency-Shift Keying (MFSK) modes such as
o FSK441, JT6M, JT65, and
o Olivia MFSK
* Packet Radio (AX25)

* Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS)

* Phase Shift Keying (31 baud) (PSK31)
* Spread spectrum
* Simplex Teletype Over Radio (SITOR)
* Radio Teletype (RTTY)
* 8FSK Frequency Shift Keying

Modes by Activity

The following 'modes' use no one specific modulation scheme but rather are classified by the activity of the communication.

* Earth-Moon-Earth (EME)
* Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP)
* Low Transmitter Power (QRP)
* Satellite (OSCAR)

I'm going to be getting my "shack" ready to move it to the local Field Day site for this weekend, but I'll be up on 7.245 at 9PM EST ready to join the APN.

I'll see you on the radio.

Original: http://americanpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/06/why-i-think-ham-radio-preppers-is.html

New Survival Show Starts

From Prepared in TN

Hi All,

Wanted to make sure you all know about this new show starting tonight on the Outdoor Channel and going each Wednesday for the next 10 weeks. Looks like it will, finally, be a good one on actually Survival Techniques. Here's the info. Perhaps those of you who get this channel could make copies for those of us who don't and we could pass them around.

Here's the info:

New show starting tonight (01 July 2009) on the Outdoor Channel:

The Best Defense, with Michael Bane. Sponsored by Midway USA.

Info: http://www.downrange.tv/bestdefense/episodes.htm


July 1, 2009:
Episode 1: Welcome to SURVIVAL!
From Disaster City, the premiere training facility for first responders dealing with community wide disasters, Michael Bane introduces us to our new series The Best Defense: SURVIVAL!

We meet Bob McKee, the director of the 52 acre Disaster City training facility. Bob gives us important information about his facility and, more importantly, some general guidelines for your safety during any disaster.
Rob Pincus and Mike Janich return as co-hosts, and introduce us to the SURVIVAL gun range: a 300 square yard disaster area made for firearm training in unique situations. Rob and Mike give us a review of the firearms we will cover during this special ten week series.

Finally, we go through what is referred to as the Survival Mindset; how you need to start changing the way you think and consider what you would do if the unthinkable were to happen.
Future Episodes:

Episode 2: Dirty Bombs and Terrorism
Episode 3: Wildfires and Urban Fires
Episode 4: Pandemic Event
Episode 5: Hurricanes and Tornados
Episode 6: Riots and Urban Unrest
Episode 7: Earthquakes
Episode 8: Nuclear Event
Episode 9: Economic Collapse
Episode 10: Chemical Spill and Hazardous Materials

The Best Defense: Survival!, hosted by Michael Bane, is an exciting new show that features defense methods and survival techniques to help men and women be able to quickly analyze, respond and react accordingly to some of the most dangerous and unimaginable situations ever encountered. Terrorism, natural disasters and emergencies of all types are featured.

As a companion show to the hit program The Best Defense, the survival edition of the series travels the United States visiting military and civilian training centers to educate the viewer through life-threatening scenarios. How would you survive a building collapse? What's the first thing you do if your car is sinking in a lake?

Host Michael Bane is a gun writer and veteran competitor who is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable people in the firearms field. He is the creator of the acclaimed NSSF Media Education Program and has authored numerous books covering both practical shooting & self-defense.
Prepared In TN

Original; http://americanpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/07/new-survival-show-starts.html

Prepper E - Book

Don't forget to check out the Prepper E-Book if you haven't yet. Here you will find tons of survival, preparedness and sustainability information. All articles are free to copy. You may re-post these articles on your own blog, or make a notebook. I add several each day so check back often. Most of all, be sure to visit and support our authors, without them this project would not be possible.

Ways to help support the Prepper E-Book
1) Visit and support our authors
2) Submit articles to post or grant permission to use articles from your blog
3) Copy and repost articles
4) Link to the Prepper E-Book and tell others about it.
5) Subscribe to get most recent articles.
6) Sign on as a follower
7) Have ideas or suggestions. Let me know what you think. Contact me at AmericanPrepper@yahoo.com

Original: http://americanpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/07/prepper-e-book.html

Emergency Communications - Part 4

Here's another one of WVSanta's great Emergency Communications posts. Be sure to stop in and check out the West Virginia Preppers Network. I also want to mention that WVSanta is leading the Communications Committee at the American Preppers Network Public Forum. If you are interested in HAM Radio and emergency communication, feel free to contact him at: WVSantaclaus@aol.com.

Also, if you haven't read his previous Emergency Communications posts, then go here: Part1, Part2 and, Part3

Dont' forget to check out the Canadian Preppers Network as well, as they have also been covering WVSanta's posts

Emergency Communications - Part 4

In this part of the series, I am going to cover the process of putting up a wire antenna. This process can be done with different types of equipment and materials. I will also cover different techniques that I did not use but most people do. I did this at the spur of the moment because I happened to have the time and the help to get these antennas up. The demonstration is of my 160 meter antenna which is the longest and heaviest of all my wire antennas and my home brew 80 meter wire. I also used what material I just happened to have on hand that would work.

The first picture is of the wire antenna coiled up before being stretched out so you can see how portable this can be even though it is the longest wire I have. It is cut for the 160 meter band but with the use of a good antenna tuner it can be used on other bands.

The next picture is what we used to get the antenna put up with. What we have is rope of different types a bow and arrows and a fishing rod strung with 30# test line.

Next a close up of the bow and the fishing rod with the arrow attached to the fishing line and the rod used.

Close up of how we attach the fishing line to the arrow.

Next is a picture of my son shooting the first line into the tree. Next to him is the fishing rod with the line released for the shot. We tie the line to a practice tip on the arrow. The trailer in the background is used to store all my junk, ugly but it was free and will eventually be demolished when the garage and shop get built. (That will be another post coming up showing how to use trees from your property to make lumber to build with). Also some of that tattoo work on my son is done by me. (One of my other hobbies).

Next is me and my daughter stretching the antenna out and laying it on the ground in the area it will end up being raised from. In the background is the trees taken down for making lumber with. The cleared area was all woods at one time and that is the reason the antennas were taken down before last winter. Yes some of my tattoos were also done by me during times when I get bored during the winter months.

I used RG6 coax cable to raise this one with. (The orange wire in the picture below) Why you ask? Well the main reason is it was free. It was a 1000 foot roll that had got tangled. Since it was laying there I just decided to use it to save on rope for use on other antennas.

Next is us raising the center of the antenna up in the tree The loop you see in the picture is the feed line to the antenna tied back to the center as a strain relief. The other wire going up will hold the center of the antenna up in the tree. The other ends are tied to trees on the far end of the wire lower to the ground so the wire ends up in an inverted V shape. The reason I put them up this way is they are not as directional as a wire put up flat top or with the ends at the same elevation as the middle. This gives you better performance in a 360 degree radius.

Next is the home brew 80 meter antenna. This antenna was made from ½ inch hard line coax cable that was left over on a project of building aerial lines for a cable TV system. This picture is of a spool of this cable that would have otherwise been cut up and put into dumpsters. I did this type of work for several years and brought these spools home since they were being thrown away anyway. As you can see all of one spool has been used and the 80 meter antenna showed next was made from that wire. The one with wire still on it has enough to make several more antennas.

Now I will show you some close ups of the feed point of the antenna. Let me tell you this started as an experiment and worked so well I am keeping it just the way it is. This all happened like everything with me a couple of people getting together and building this with stuff just lying around. This will be real funny to some and look like pure junk to others but that is OK because it was all free and it WORKS so don’t knock it.

Now unlike the other antenna this is NOT PORTABLE it is very heavy and very stiff to work with. My antenna GURU friend talked me into doing this with the idea that the increased surface area of the large shield on the outside of this coax would work very well. After building this one Sunday and getting on the air we found his theory was indeed correct. With the first signal report we got people could not believe I was not running a big amplifier. We were using my Kenwood 570D with the antenna feed line running directly to the radio.

I was told the next day he was in the local candy store (Ham Radio Store) and people there were talking about it. He ended up telling them that he was indeed here during the test and they still insisted there had to be more than just the radios wattage being used. He is pretty well known for being really good with antennas and they wanted drawings of this antenna. He later told me that he would not do it. So they raised the stakes to a free 80 meter Double Bazooka antenna for a drawing. By the way that is the type of antenna in the first set of pictures except that one is for 160 meter not 80 meter. (Twice as long as 80 meter). Anyway he did finally draw it for them but they still questioned the wattage being used. As I say his reputation is very good and he did get the free antenna. For all you experienced Hams out there get ready for a good laugh but IT WORKS and that is all that matters!!!!!!!

The first picture is simply a connector my buddy had that is a SO239 connector wired to two studs with wing nuts in a plastic case. One of the wing nuts is connected to one side of the hard line by the green wire and the other wing nut goes to the second section of coax. (Picture 2) The piece of wood is a broken axe handle that just happened to be lying around the day we built this monster antenna. Well it may be ugly but it works and it was free so what can I say.

This next picture will show you how long this antenna is. The math for this antenna worked out to be 70 some feet but after trimming for SWR it ended up being 68’6” on one leg and 67’4” on the second leg. The way I was told the technical name for this antenna is an OFF CENTER FEED DIPOLE. Because it is off center feed it works well with 50 ohms feed line instead of ladder line.

Well there you have a little bit of how things work with building antennas and putting them up in trees. One of the best things about Ham radio is the fun of making things work. Sometimes you just have to try things and see if it works.

There are many different ways to put these wire antennas up but for this article I tried to show some of the many different ways you can make things work with what you happen to have on hand. One point I would like to make is that a much more permanent way to install wire in trees is thru the use of using pulleys with the rope run thru that and held down with sand bags tied to the rope on the ends. This method allows the rope to glide up and down without to much force being applied to the wire when the wind blows. The other thing is it is best to use regular antenna rope that is UV resistant when installing wire antennas.

Again my purpose with this article was to show that you can use just about anything you have on hand if you must to make things work if you end up in a pinch. We may need to use whatever we have in a SHTF situation. Also remember that here I have showed you 2 really big antennas and 1 that is in no way typical at all. But it all works and really I will be redoing these properly with pulleys and sandbags as time allows. With the exception of my 80 meter ugly duckling antenna, I will let it be the way it is until it no longer works. HI HI….

73 all W4DMH

God Bless from the Wild and Wonderful West Virginia


Excellent Article! Thanks for your contributions to the Prepper Networks WVSanta!

Original: http://americanpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/07/emergency-communications-part-4.html

Butterscotch Apple Snack Squares

If you’re already anxious like I am for the flavors of Fall, use your dehydrated apples while you await the harvest. Here is a delicious recipe that combines the sweetness of apples with creamy richness of butterscotch. With my conversions, you can use whole wheat flour and applesauce to boost the nutrition and lower fat. And, you can use dehydrated apples from your food storage to save the time of washing, peeling and chopping.

butterscotch chips


2 cups sugar

2 eggs (or 2 Tbsp. powdered eggs + 1/4 cup water)

3/4 cup oil (I halve this measurement with applesauce)

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour *

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 cups diced peeled tart apples (I used 3 cups dehydrated apples and rehydrated them in 1 1/2 cups hot water. Squeeze any excess water out well after soaking.)

1 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup butterscotch chips

Combine sugar, eggs, and oil (and applesauce if using). Stir in flour and cinnamon to make a thick batter. Stir in apples and nuts. Spread batter in a greased 13″ x 9″ baking pan and sprinkle with butterscotch chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden (a toothpick inserted near the center should come out clean). Cool before cutting.

* Notes: If you don’t have self-rising flour, place 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup and add all-purpose flour to equal 1 cup. I use whole wheat pastry flour and made mine 100% whole wheat. This recipe would also work well with half all-purpose flour and half white wheat flour (with baking powder and salt added to make them self-rising).

My favorite butterscotch chips are made by Guittard. They are rich and creamy and you can taste the difference in their quality in your baked goods. I have linked to pricing so you can find them in bulk.

Original: http://allaboutfoodstorage.com/2009/07/butterscotch-apple-snack-squares/

Freezing Spinach

Hi all. I really am here still. It's just summer time and the kids are all home and need lots of things to do, so I'm keeping pretty busy keeping them busy.

I had some spinach in the garden that was still green when I cleaned out the garden last year, so I left it in just to see what it would do. Come to find out that spinach is a biennial, so it's perfectly happy to live through the winter if it's not too harsh of a winter or is covered and start growing again in the spring. Very cool. So we've been eating this spinach, but it's just gone crazy, and then started "bolting" where it sends up a stalk and tries to produce seed. This was some random hybrid spinach, so I really wasn't interested in collecting seed from it, so I pulled all the plants and decided to try freezing it. Never tried freezing spinach, so I consulted my Ball Blue Book (usually a fantastic reference for freezing, canning, and dehydrating food) and here's the instructions:

Pick young, tender, green leaves. Wash thoroughly and cut off woody stems. Blanch 2 minutes and avoid matting leaves. Cool. Drain. Pack in can or freeze jars or plastic freezer boxes. Seal, label and freeze.

Sounds pretty easy. I am NOT a fan of cooked greens, so I figured if this didn't go well, it really wouldn't be a great loss and the chickens could eat my mistakes. Well, long story short, the spinach freezing went fine and is actually better texture than store bought frozen spinach. Might do this again. I put my little assembly line workers to work washing and picking the leaves off the spinach (their attention was intermittent at best--they really just wanted to play in the water in the sink, but I tried anyway). I despise dirt in my spinach (I think it tastes like dirt anyway, so it's not helpful to have the crunchy texture of dirt added in) so we washed it a bunch of times to make sure it was really clean. Then I thought whole spinach leaves wouldn't be too useful, so I chopped them up in about 1-1 1/2 inch squares.
Next was blanching for 2 minutes. That means you boil water and put the veggie in the boiling water and then pull it out after 2 minutes. I didn't want to be chasing little spinach leaves around a pot of water trying to pull them out, so I put the chopped spinach in cheesecloth.
Tied the cheese cloth in a "bag" to hold it all together and put a knot a little higher up so I'd have a place to grab the bag when the 2 minutes were up.
Put it in the pot, boiled for 2 minutes and used my pasta spoon to pull the bag out. Slick.
Opened the bag up and emptied the spinach on a cookie sheet to cool. After it cooled, I put it in freezer bags and stuck it all in the freezer. **Read the comments!--I should have cooled the spinach in ice/cold water to cool it properly before bagging and freezing it (turned out fine anyway, but that's the right way to do it).**
We used some the next night to make quiche that actually turned out very good (should have doubled it and made two). Pretty tasty for cooked spinach . . .
So there you have it. The almost fully illustrated guide to freezing your own spinach! :)

Original: http://selfrelianceadventures.blogspot.com/2009/06/freezing-spinach.html

Bug Out Vehicle (BOV)

Someone sent me an email with pictures of a great BOV. Check it out.

ATT00000It reminds me of a Unimog.

ATT00010Looks rugged. I wonder how the mileage is.

ATT00009Even load a bike on it.

Now check out the inside. It’s plusher than my house.





ATT00005See the coffee maker built in over the sink?

ATT00006This has to be German or Swedish engineering. It’s so organized.


ATT00008Get Outside Everyday!!

P1010097Just a little waterfall near me house. Do you know the places in your AO that are nice to walk? Do you know all the paths and trails within a few miles of your house? You know where berries grow wild?


Original: http://hotdogjam.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/bug-out-vehicle-bov/

I'm baaaaaaack!

Sorry it took so long, but after that vacation I needed another one. :)

Postings will now resume.

*My e-mail issues have finally been sorted out, but to anyone who e-mailed me over the last month or so, I may or may not have received it. If you expected a response but didn't get one, please resend.