Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Prudent Prepping: Protecting Your Electronics

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Now we concentrate on what to do in, and how to plan for, the long term via Prudent Prepping.

     Protecting Your Electronics

Everyone has electronics in our prepping gear: radios, walkie-talkies, thumb or hard drives, and maybe even a spare cell phone. If we have a big solar flare or possibly an EMP, due to a lightning strike or (worst case) a nuclear attack, how will we protect these items?

This month's Off Grid Magazine has a very detailed article on building a Faraday Cage. Unfortunately, this article is not online yet so I will summarize it here and also link to several very good Youtube videos.

Faraday Cage a la' Off Grid

This is an elaborate and very thorough plan for protecting your electronics, but a bit pricey (for me) at $80 for all the parts. The author used:
  • 6 gallon metal pail with lid (think miniature metal garbage can), the 'Cage'.
  • Rubberized floor mat, as you would see in front of a work bench, insulating material
  • Foil HVAC tape, NOT standard duct tape, to seal any openings
  • Miscellaneous glues 
The lid and bottom of the pail are used as templates, with the remainder of the mat used as the liner for the pail that will result in a completely rubber-lined interior. After cutting excess material away, the rubber parts were glued in place and to each other, the lid placed on top, and foil tape used to seal the lid to the pail body.

All things considered, a very sturdy, crush resistant storage system for emergency items here in earthquake country.

What I'm Protecting

An Eton Solarlink FR370 radio. This is a self-powered (crank) AM/FM/Weather radio & flashlight that also has a solar panel AND a USB cell phone charging port.

Some of the available settings:
  • Seven different weather frequencies to choose
  • S.A.M.E (area specific weather notifications)
  • Along with the regular AM, FM, alarm functions found on portable radios.
90 seconds of cranking will power the radio for 5-7 minutes, solar panel takes 8-10 hours to charge the batteries, the USB port will charge the radio also (I haven't tried) and an optional AC adapter is available. Fully charged, my radio will run for a bit over 3 hours, YMMV and all the rest!

How I'm Protecting Mine

Since I will have a very small item to protect, this is what I'm going to try:
  • Two Mylar balloons: $2.20 
  • Foil tape: $15 
  • Foam: $3 
Since I already had the balloons and tape, the total cost for me was $3.27 with CA sales tax.

I made a bag slightly larger than the radio from medium density foam and sealed with foil tape. I then sliced open a Mylar/metallic balloon at the filler nozzle, put the foam inside, and taped it shut. I then repeated the process with a second balloon and sealed it with foil tape. 

How does it work, you ask? I'm not sure, but I did try placing my radio and pouch inside a 30 gallon metal pail, sealed in the same manner as the article, to test things. With the radio on, AM reception was poor but still listenable, and since my Mylar system seems to have about the same reception quality, this is a win in my book!

My B&N Nook is shown for size comparison to the finished package. Since the balloons are round and the bag square, it looks larger than it actually is.

As always, if you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

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