This weekly column is a collection of short snippets: responses to posted articles, practical self-sufficiency items, how-tos, lessons learned, tips and tricks, and news items — both from readers and from SurvivalBlog’s editors. We may select some long e-mails for posting as separate letters.
Biden says US spending billions to make military vehicles ‘climate friendly’. JWR’s Comments: This is the most insane pronouncement that I’ve ever seen from a national leader. Almost predictably, Biden issued this order in honor of Earth Day. The raison d’être of a modern, mobile military force is the certain ability to decisively move and shoot fast and far, leaving burning metal hulks and smoking craters, where your enemy used to be. So, that’s the antithesis of environmental friendliness. A military force is for fighting wars, folks — not for a kumbaya campfire. Giving up the rock-solid reliable utility, long-range, fuel commonality, and low fire risk of diesel engines for our military vehicles would be a horrendous mistake.
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A comment on solar clothes drying, from Pam C.:
“I was raised with a more ranch background to clothes drying. T posts were used, but, the underground was not concreted single post. The post had longer legs running parallel to top T of post and a leg running toward opposite post forming another T positioned underground. This prevented shifting or sway of post long term. The one my Dad made is over 70 years old and still working well.
The wear and tear on pins was always less than neighbors who use rope. Might be the pin does not get rattled by wind-stretch and pull on surface.
These are also convenient for easily hanging cradles for sweater drying, etc.”
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Mark has this observation on maximizing the range of MURS band Dakota Alerts:
“I am using a Baofeng UV-5R set to1W on MURS 2. I have a ½ wave dipole antenna that I built with 19.0” radials. The antenna is hanging vertically from the eve of my house. I have loud and clear communications 3.5 miles line of site with some trees at each end. I am also getting loud and clear communications 3.0 miles with a mountain top and trees at each end. In each case, the person I am communicating with has a roof-mounted vertical antenna and is transmitting at 1W.”
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Karen B. sent this: Storing Fresh Eggs in Limewater (Keeps 12+ Months)
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There were several responses of the recent question on storing radios and their batteries. Reader B.V. sent this:
“Reader S.J. asked about small battery care. My practice is as follows:
Spare small, removable, rechargeable batteries; e.g. Baofeng, Eneloop, 18650, are stored indoors below 80 degrees F., removed from the device. Heat is much worse than cold and freezing temperatures are acceptable.
I keep the batteries in cardboard boxes labeled with an official Dr. Gas Sharpie. When new, write the date on the battery with a silver Sharpie.
Every six months the batteries are recharged. Write the date of last general recharge on the box. Rotate batteries as they are used. When it seems a battery doesn’t last as long as it should, clearly mark the suspect bad battery with a silver Sharpie or pitch it, and buy a couple new ones.
If a charger gives up charging a battery, pitch it as it isn’t worth the hassle trying to get the battery to work.
The duration between charges depends on your acceptable level of pain if recharging is not available in an emergency. After x months storage, can you hand the radios out and accomplish the mission without charging prep?
Specifically for the Baofeng, I bought extended batteries for each radio which provides a spare normal battery in the field. I keep a spare Baofeng base charger in the box with the batteries (same for other battery types) and I keep a 12V charger in each vehicle.
Each battery is different: I have a couple 5 year old workhorses going strong while relatively new ones died. Keep the batteries out of direct sunlight and excessive heat as reasonable.”
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Tunnel Rabbit offered this:
“The short answer is ‘yes’. Here is a more complete answer.
Lithium batteries slowly lose their capacity over time, and will better retain their ability to store electrical power if they are fully recharged regularly. Their self-discharge rate is fortunately slow, yet I would want to recharge them at a minimum of every 6 months to 1 year, and then place them back into a Faraday cage. Testing the voltage is not an accurate indication of the storage capacity of the battery. It is only an indirect method that is useful when the battery has already lost a significant amount of capacity.
There are other reasons to keep these batteries charged up. If a lithium battery is discharged sufficiently and stored in freezing temperatures, there is the risk that they might be damaged. Also, we would wish to make sure that we have batteries that have retained their original capacity. As the battery is discharged, the maximum time it can be on to receive a call is decreased, and it’s ability to transmit with the full power of 4 watts is greatly diminished. For example, at the beginning of day, the radio can successfully transmit from a maximum distance as tested. However, near the end of the day, the same battery might not have the capacity to transmit with full power, and at a maximum range as it was able to do at the beginning of the day, thereby defeating the purpose of carrying it. Use the larger, or extra capacity 3800ma battery if the radio will be used to transmit often with the highest power setting. I would rather have twice as many of the lower-cost 1800ma batteries for most work.
As I make antennas, and use a Baofeng as a signal generator, I continually witness the drop in power out (transmitted power) as the battery is depleted. I would advise carrying a spare battery, if not a spare Baofeng. If one has had Baofengs stored for many years, I would purchase at least one new additional battery for each transceiver. However, given the very lost cost of these radios, and the fact we could justify having spare antennas and other accessories such as antennas and chargers, it might be wise and cost efficient to simply buy more Baofengs of the same, or similar model that have interchangeable accessories. For example, the Baofeng ear piece is flimsy and not suitable in any way.
I would buy a lapel mic as the lowest cost option for the purpose ,https://www.ebay.com/itm/274862438726,
or best yet a Bowman headset.
To operate discretely, use this ear piece: https://www.ebay.com/itm/193919362716
And that brings me to another topic. The Baofeng plug outlet for these accessories is weak and prone to failure. As a poor man’s solution, I will use JB Weld or other adhesives to prevent movement to protect that connection dedicating that unit to a special purpose transceiver. That is a reason to have a high quality transceiver for serious work, or to have more Baofengs. I would look at Wouxan brand as well.
Having carried expensive handheld Motorolla’s for two decades, I’m impressed with the low cost Baofeng transceiver itself, however, I am concerned with the low quality of the accessories. I have over the years have had several Baofengs fail. These are very low-quality non-waterproof transceivers, so it pays to have at least 3 or more transceivers for each unit that is actually needed. The problem with expensive and rugged transceivers is that they will also fail if wet, and their batteries also decline in performance over time, and replacement accessories for them are prohibitively expensive for the average prepper like myself. If you plan on using a Baofeng for patrol work, then carry at least two.”
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And 3ADScout suggested:
“In response to SJ’s question about storing the UV5R in the factory boxes with the batteries. I suggest that anyone who is buying radios for survival purposes look at the available clamshells.
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The ATF’s new receiver rule was published in the Federal Register yesterday (Tuesday, April 26, 2022). That starts the 120-day countdown to the ATF’s decree becoming effective. After August 24th, it will be illegal to offer for sale an unserialized 80 receiver or frame. And whenever one of those stays overnight with an FFL for any reason, then they are obliged to serialize it, and run a NICS background check on you. So… If you have plans to do any 80% home-builds in the future, then buy your lifetime supply of 80% receiver blanks ASAP!
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That means the worst attack the ATF has perpetrated on the people in recent memory will become official on August 24th.
SaraSue sent this update:
“Spring is here! There was a small tornado that touched down not far from me, so I scuttled to an interior closet when the alerts went off – it quickly passed. The milk cow had a gorgeous, big, calf without assistance, although it was touch and go towards the end, and right afterwards. The calf looks to be a 3 week old – that big. I had called a neighbor and the large animal vet to assist, but she calved before they arrived. Her first time and my first time so I was incredibly anxious and treated her like royalty. She’s a great mama! I’m stumbling through learning to milk, but each day is an improvement for both of us. I had ordered milking equipment in advance but it hasn’t arrived, so I have to learn to hand milk.
In other news, I have a batch of new laying chicks because I wanted blue, green, and mahogany-colored eggs. Meat bird chicks come next week. The female breeding rabbits are doing well (I get a male next month). The garden is partially planted and lots of potato plants are coming up – will finish planting soon. I put in a small orchard of 20 bare root trees, mostly fruit with a couple of pecan and a few berry bushes. Each day is exhausting, but I go to bed “good and tired” and there’s no time to ruminate, no pun intended, on the world blowing up around us. My German Shepherds are taking guarding the property so seriously now that the “little” one has become very aggressive towards delivery men. Both dogs are back on electronic collars and a new fenced area will be installed in a couple of days – a safe place for them and others on delivery days. I finished reading Leviticus and learned so much. I’m a month behind on my Bible study. [The book of] Numbers is next.”
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Jim L. had this reply to my updated article comparing in-town versus remote retreats:
“I would add this additional point about choosing small towns; those that are on or near major routes between large cities can attract those in the drug trade. Their activities can include robberies, drug transactions in parks, renting storage units and homes for meth production and storage and more. For more research on a specific town look up the city council meeting agenda’s and minutes to see what issues they are dealing with. You can also look up the sheriff’s report for the county, also check crime maps such as https://crimegrade.org I would also advise that it cannot be assumed that sheriff’s, police departments, county attorneys see the law the same way you do.”
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And, lastly, H.L. suggested this piece from the Czech Republic: To save a life: Refugees make protective vests for Ukraine.