Our Winter Indoor Greenhouse Room, by Avalanche Lily

I was recently asked for any advice that I could give concerning growing foods indoors. Growing anything indoors or outdoors is always an experiment, because there are so many variables to contend with.  In essence: Indoors: humidity, light, and nutrition. Outside: sunspots (or lack thereof), temperature, cloud cover, rain, drought, storms, bugs, soil nutrition, et cetera. Let me preface that I have no claim at all in thinking that I’m an expert. I’m not. I am no expert at all, nor am I an expert in any subject. I am a “by the seat of your pants” kinda girl.  I …




What I Learned From the Recent Power Outage – Part 2, by A.K.

(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.) The house is located in a rural locale with only two other homes on the road (friends of theirs). They have a well and septic system. And they even have a decent amount of food stored such as canned goods that I could access in an emergency(and pay them back for later). I was pretty pleased to realize this. I actually felt the best here (and safest) that I have felt during my entire time traveling. I figured that in an emergency I’d be okay here for a while. It’s even located …




Elements of a Security System – Part 5, by J.M.

Observation As I mentioned earlier, direct observation of an intruder approaching is another form of detection, but I’m focusing on situations where you may not be able to have eyes everywhere 24×7. However, if an alarm does go off you’ll need some way to get ‘eyes on’ to determine what caused the alarm without unnecessarily exposing yourself to potential danger. There are a number of possible options to enhance your ability to observe a potential intruder. The simplest and most obvious option would be magnified optics, such as binoculars or a monocular, assuming you have a line-of-sight to the area …




Letter: Converting Edison Lamps to 12 VDC

Jim, Would you mind offering a link for a 12-volt bayonet mount adapter [for standard 120 Volt AC floor and table  lamps to use automotive interior and tail lights] that you referenced in your novel Patriots? Thanks, – Marc JWR Replies: Marc: Sadly, those bulb adapters are no longer cataloged by Real Goods. These days, with the profusion of inexpensive LEDs on the market, I would instead opt for Edison base 12 VDC LED conversions. This makes sense because LEDs draw so much less current than traditional automotive filament bulbs, and they have a much longer service life. NOTE: These …




Preparedness Lessons from the 1930s – Part 1, by J. E.

It’s one or two years after an EMP attack and you are safely tucked away in your retreat somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Your storage foods have mostly been used and your high tech electronics is useless. The really bad stuff is mostly past. Now it’s try to stay fed and alive and pray that civilization as you know it is coming back. You’re going to have to work your environment to live. Ever wonder what life might be like to Homestead? What would it really be like to have no running water, electricity, sewer, newspaper or Internet? No …




Bell & Howell TacLight Lantern/Flashlight Combo, by Pat Cascio

When the lights go out, we usually reach for a flashlight. However, there are much better forms of portable light. Today we check out the TacLight lantern and flashlight. They are winners. I’ve owned many LED lanterns over the years, some were really bad, and some were a bit more than okay, when it came to giving us light, when the lights went out. Living in the boonies, we lose electricity quite often from trees falling on power lines because of heavy snow, rain, and winds. It just comes with living out in the country, and we are usually the …




Family Earthquake Preparedness: Are You Ready?

The recent strong earthquake near Anchorage, Alaska underscores the importance of family earthquake readiness. Thankfully, we live in a country with modern building standards. This is not in the case of many Third World nations, where unreinforced masonry construction is the norm. In the Third World, folks tend to be very stingy with reinforcing bar (“rebar”). So its seems that every time there is a large earthquake in those regions, there are building collapses, with large loss of life. By far, the safest houses for earthquakes are of wood frame construction. This is because such structures can flex and sway, …




Hurricane Preparedness Experience- Part 3, by N.K.

Cooking was interesting. I had a propane gas grill with two spare 20-lb cylinders, a dual-fuel Coleman camp stove, a couple of single-burner butane units, and the ability to build a fire in the backyard. The gas grill got used, because it was easiest. It did take a couple of days to learn how to cook more than simple camping meals on it. We have an old style coffee percolator for camping, and getting the heat to it correctly on the grill took some learning. Cooking on the grill was something we should have practiced before we needed it. A …




How to Use Old Cooking Oil: The Floating Wick

A few months ago, one of my consulting clients mentioned that she had over-stocked her supply of vegetable oil. She had also neglected to store it in her freezer, to extend its storage life. The result after four years was 10 quarts of corn oil and two quarts of olive oil that had gone rancid. She asked if there was anything she could do with the oil. (She bemoaned the fact that that olive oil was particularly expensive.) My reply: Buy some floating wicks, and burn up that oil as a source of light and heat, during power failures. Floating …




Letter Re: Emergency Lighting

Good afternoon, Hugh, Two recent experiences drive me to write– a recent overnight house guest and a link today on Instapundit about surviving disaster (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150128-how-to-survive-a-disaster). My house guest commented on the number of my night lights and the fact that I have a floor lamp powered by a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), which is a “battery backup” typically used for computers. First, the night lights are what I prefer to call “target identification lights”. They’re not used just in the bathrooms; they are positioned to ensure anyone moving through the house must either cast a shadow or be silhouetted. This …




Scot’s Product Review: Streamlight Weapons Lights

Bad things can happen in the dark, and one of the great comforts we have is being able to make light. Light allows us to perceive our surroundings and make our way without stumbling. One thing I am seldom without is a good compact flashlight in my pocket. Over the last few years, weapon-mounted lights have become popular, especially in law enforcement circles. They are probably even more popular in Hollywood entertainment, and if you can stand the stuff, you will probably see at least one scene in almost any action TV show or movie with the hero searching about …




Letter Re: Alternate Lighting

Hugh, I’d like to tell you about a product I recently bought at Costco the other day. I have no stake in the company. It’s from Sunforce; it’s a 80 LED solar motion light. It has 900 lumens output from 80 white LEDs. It has a separate solar panel that’s connected by a 15 foot cord to a battery pack in the light fixture. It has a motion detector and a three position switch: on, off, auto. I charged the batteries for three days, per the instructions for the initial charge. I put the switch in “on” position, and it …




The Leader’s Recon: Planning the Homesteader’s Defensive Battle Space, by Tim R.

Today, I did a leader’s recon (reconnaissance) of my small homestead.  While I was in the infantry, I would plan my future ground defense by walking the terrain with my small unit infantry leaders.  Today, I did the same, minus the team leaders.  Twenty years in the infantry, and now several years retired, and now I look at how I am going to protect my family and defend my rural homestead.  I feel that the day may be coming soon.  President Obama stated that our nation’s deficit does not concern him.  This nation is on a mad printing spree, conjuring …




Anderson Powerpoles: The Legos of DC Electronics, by Dan in Alaska

To say that I’m a neophyte in the electrical world, or as we say here in Alaska a “Cheechako”, is making a big understatement.  So, a couple years back my co-worker and friend got me into Amateur Radio, also affectedly known as Ham Radio.  I studied my ARRL Technician book and passed my test, but it just barely rattled what I had in my head 20 years ago from my only electronics class I had back in High School where we studied Ohm’s law, identified a resistor, and made a strobe light.  So, I’m on a big learning curve.  I …




Letter Re: Low Voltage DC LED Strip Lights for Disaster House Lighting

Dear JWR: This might have been thought of before, but I just stumbled into something called LED strip lights. Here is a sample. They come in 15 meter rolls, are about 1/2 inch wide and have 300 individual LED lights. They can be cut into segments between every third light. They run off of 12 volts DC and are actually rather bright while using little electricity. If you purchased one of those little strips the reloading companies sell to mount inside the press so you can see what’s going on, it is probably this stuff. There are several versions. Some …