Keeping Up With The Preppers

Simple and easy to understand prepping ideas that just may save your life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Security During A Grid Down Scenario


Natural or other disasters can bring out the best in people, but unfortunately, they can also bring out the worst in people. As much as some don't want to admit it, this is something you must prepare for in the event of a long term disaster such as a grid down scenario.

Once the grocery store shelves are cleaned out within days and it's clear that they will not be restocked, people will become desperate and begin looking for food for themselves and their families elsewhere. While most people will simply be looking for food or supplies for their families, there will also be those individuals or groups that will prey on weaker people. That's just a fact of life. Remember to have a decoy supply of food.

Security Assessment 

Do a security assessment of your home and/or bug out location before such an event and gather the materials needed.  Simply look around your home, property, or bug out location and try to determine your weakest points of security.  Try to imagine you are the bad guy and determine where you would attack.  At our home, we have rolls of metal fencing and barbed wire along with "U" nails that we could put up around the house within a few hours.

Another issue to consider is the fact that no one can stay awake guarding their home 24 hours a day so it will be good to network with friends, family, and/or neighbors so that guard duty can run in shifts.

Booby traps or warning devices are easy to set up as well which will assist during the night time hours.

Here's an excellent article on warning devices booby traps by Richard Maida from Survivalist Daily.

Night vision rifle scopes or binoculars are also very useful for nighttime security. Night vision devices are relatively inexpensive these days. Look for night vision that uses batteries you can recharge as it may become difficult to find replacement batteries once things go bad.

Why did the lights go out?

The three main scenarios that are widely talked about that would cause the grid to go down are a massive computer hacking on the nation's power grid and, of course, the dreaded EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse).  Sniper attacks on the Large Power Transformers (LPTs).

The effects of these three scenarios differ in that a computer hacking attack would not necessarily destroy all unprotected electronics like an EMP would. Overloading the power grid could damage electronics that are plugged in at the time of the event and may even start localized fires.  Your car would still work unless you have an electric car that has to be plugged in, of course.

We'll go into these topics a little further in future postings.

Just briefly, one thing you can do to protect your communications and other electronics from an EMP attack would be to build what's called a Faraday Cage.  This can be a simple metal box that is lined with material that will not conduct electricity such a foam rubber. I have found metal military surplus containers on

Have a plan!

Since it's most likely the average citizen would have little or no warning prior to such an event, each family or network should discuss possible scenarios based on everyone's normal daily routine.  Even during a massive hacking attack, you have to plan for the fact that traffic lights will not work which could bring traffic to a stand still. Alternate routes to your rally point should be researched.  It's also a good idea not to let your gas tank go below a half tank. I usually fill up well before I'm at half a tank.  Imagine such an event occurring only to find you only have a quarter tank of gas with no way to fill up. 

In the event of an EMP, everyone will most likely be walking. This presents many dangers, and it's best to have an emergency backpack with you at all times. What do you put in your emergency pack? Well, that's up to you. I know what's in mine. You might at least have a pair of comfortable shoes because you may be walking for quite a while.

I believe there will be a fairly narrow window before the predators realize that emergency services are overwhelmed and  they take advantage or the situation.  In an obvious long term event, I estimate there will be a week to three weeks before normal folks become desperate and dangerous. 

"The art of fighting without fighting," Bruce Lee, Enter The Dragon

The best case scenario is that you never have to physically engage marauders or looters. Use your imagination to become as invisible as possible by not drawing attention to yourself.

Communications will become important to gather information and intelligence. Obviously, you most likely won't have access to internet, cable TV, or maybe even TV using your old rabbit ears. I believe, at least for a while after a grid down scenario, there will still be communications over citizen's band (CB), Ham and shortwave, and possibly regular AM radios. I wouldn't actually transmit to anyone, but it would be good to have access to these radios to listen about what's going on in the world.  A good antenna for the CB and/or Ham radio would good to have for a greater range. Do your research and find the best antenna for your radios.

I've been impressed with the BaoFeng radio. You can use this to scan frequencies.

BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio

Make your home a hard target

Having boards on hand for windows would be good to fortify your home and create another layer of security. Adding longer heavy duty screws to your door frame as well as "C" clamps would also make it tougher to gain entry to your home. Chicken wire along with "U" nails can also be used to fortify windows.  Nothing will prevent people from making entry into your home, but fortifying your doors and windows will slow them down and make them a huge stationary target while they are attempting to defeat your fortifications.

Materials for blacking out windows to keep anyone passing by from seeing lights on at night may keep you from being targeted as well.  Along the lines of light discipline is to try and only use small fires or Sterno to cook with ans keep in mind that smoke can be seen and smelled for a great distance.

Wireless security cameras and motion activated lights that run on rechargeable batteries will assist folks that don't have a great number of people in their groups for guard duty.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bug Out Locations And Shelter


Monster Deer Blind by Texas Wildlife Supply

Maybe Just Stay Home?

Most people will choose to stay at home rather than take a chance on venturing into the unknown en route to their bug out location.  I totally get that. If at all possible, it probably is best to stay put in your home. You might have too many prepping supplies to transport and hopefully, your security network including friends, family, or neighbors will be stronger where you are.  

There could be situations where you may have no choice but to bug out so it's not a bad idea to have a plan.  If you live in a city, especially in an apartment, you really should have some idea where you could bug out to complete with alternative routes and security measures. Remember, there is strength in numbers.

Where Do We Go now?

In a temporary emergency situation, such as a hurricane, flood or other natural disaster, you should know if and when you really need to evacuate to a safer location. 

But what if there was a long term emergency situation complete with civil unrest, looting, or the breakdown of civil services such police, fire, and emergency medical services? 

It's estimated that in a total power grid down scenario, civil services and society would breakdown within a few weeks. Depending on your circumstances, things could go quite bad quite quickly. 
That being said, it might be a good idea to at least have some place in mind where you believe you would be safer.

In my opinion, you and your family would be safer in a more rural location than in the city. It might be a good idea to consolidate your resources with friends or family in a location that would be easier to defend than say an apartment building.  Make an emergency plan with your friends and family so in the event there is such an emergency, you'll have an idea what to do to keep your family safe. This includes different escape routes to your destination in case you encounter trouble while en route to your bug out location.

Some things to consider when choosing your bug out location certainly include shelter, water source, and the ability to defend the location.  As discussed in previous posts, this is where it would be a very good idea to have some sort of filtration device and water storage.


After buying raw land that is mostly a flood plain, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out a way to elevate a cabin. After researching the issue, we stumbled across a company located in Brady, Texas that builds custom "Monster Deer Blinds."  They are well insulated, elevated, and made out of metal. We use heavy duty magnets for hanging lights, holding screening on as well as many other applications. Our monster deer blind is twelve feet by eight feet with a five foot by eight foot balcony all elevated six feet. These monster deer blinds can be elevated up to twenty feet and full wrap around balconies are available.

We've outfitted the deer blind with a solar generator that can run a small refrigerator and charge our other gizmos during the day. We also have a stand alone air conditioning unit that we run off of a small gas Honda generator.

MPPT Solar Controller And Battery Bank

We found that putting up camo netting helps conceal the deer blind while at the same time providing much needed shade from the hot summer sun.  We use five 100 watt solar panels to power three large RV batteries in our solar generator.

We outfitted the monster deer blind with extra insulation as well as curtains to help trap in heat around the full sized bed.

You can do the same improvements with any structure including wood portable buildings. Just use your imagination.

Having a tent in your prepping inventory is a must have item in the event you either have no set bug out location or can't get there.

Deer Blind Set Up Per Request

Arrived on a flat bed put together except for the supports for the elevation.

This guy was so professional working with this machine.

He held up the 3,000 blind with this machine while we put the frame together for the elevation.

He then just picked it up and moved into place where we cleared. We were very impressed.

We call this the kill zone. One way in and no way out.

With the cammo netting.

We've installed a rain catch system so we don't have to haul so much water up from the creek.

We've planted nine assorted fruit trees as a renewable source of food.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Emergency Power Alternatives Made Simple Part III


Rechargeable Battery Packs

Keep in mind that during the day, the power coming in from the solar panels will be shut off by the charge controller once the battery bank reaches its full charge as not to over charge and damage the battery bank. Once that occurs, your panels are doing nothing for your system, so why not use that wasted electricity to power other devices for use over night such as a stand alone battery pack?

Suaoki Powerhouse 220Wh/20,000mAh Portable Generator

I've been very impressed with this product. Unlike a standard Lead Acid Emergency Battery pack, this product uses a Lithium Ion Battery combined with a built in pure sine wave power inverter (meaning it is safe to use with sensitive electronics). The Suaoki Power house can power any device that uses less than 220 Watts and has two AC (Alternating Current) plugs as well as USB ports for charging phones, tables, and other rechargeable devices.

I have run a 22 inch LED television AND a DVD player at the same time for over six hours on a single charge with no problem and there was still power left over. I've used this to run a regular household  lamp with an LED light bulb equivalent to a 60 Watt bulb for well over a day, and there was still quite a bit of power left over.

This device can be recharged by either plugging it into your main solar generator during the day while powering your refrigerator at the same time. I also bought a folding 60 watt solar panel set that plugs into this device; however, I was not that impressed. I charged the device for over eight hours with the fold out panels in full sun and it did not completely charge the power pack.

I have two of these power packs and I plan to get more. There are other similar products on the market and technology improves daily.  Do your own research and read reviews.

Rechargeable Devices / Batteries

Night Vision Scope / Binoculars, Flashlights, Wireless Camera, and Radio

When choosing your prepping gizmos, it's best to find devices that are rechargeable or that use easily obtainable rechargeable batteries such as night vision scopes, flashlights, wireless security cameras, radios, etc.

All of these items can be recharged during the day time using your main solar generator. These rechargeable handheld radios are great and come with rechargeable batteries. Always remember to buy at least one extra battery for each radio. The solar powered lanterns pictured above have also been very impressive. They can be charged using a USB connection, but the built in solar panel seen on the top of the lantern works very well.

Use your imagination to think up with devices that will add to your prepping needs.

Back Up to the Back Up

Of course, it doesn't hurt to have at least a small gas generator as an overall back up to your system in the event of a thunderstorm when your system will most likely be disconnected. While the panels will still charge your battery bank on a cloudy day, it may not be quite as efficient as a day with full sun.

Your solar generator will allow you to have power while conserving your gas for when you really need it. We use a Honda 2000 Watt gas generator to power our stand alone air conditioner at our cabin (Pictured below).  This generator works perfectly and is very quiet.  

Whether for a short term emergency or for simply having an off grid power supply for your hunting cabin, it's not a bad idea to invest in your own source of emergency power sources.

Next Post: Water Emergencies and Storage

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Emergency Power Alternatives Made Simple Part II (Battery Bank/Power Inverter)


Part II

Battery Bank / Power Inverter

The battery bank is the most important component of your system. Once the sun goes down, the battery bank will provide electricity throughout the night if built correctly.  The trick to the battery bank lasting throughout the night is to obtain the correct ratio of solar panels to the number of your batteries in your battery bank. It's equally crucial to have the correct number of batteries in your battery bank. Your battery bank should provide enough power storage to run your refrigerator over night until the sun returns to fully charge your batteries during the day.

Building the battery bank is the most intimidating part to most people, but it's really not that difficult. There is plenty of information on how to build a 12 volt, 24 volt, or 48 volt system, but I will be illustrating how to build a simple 12 volt system.

Types of Batteries 

There are several different types of batteries on the market that will work with your system. These batteries range in price and efficiency, so it's best to find the right balance between your budget and your power needs.

The batteries used in any solar or wind generator must be deep cycle type batteries. Regular car batteries are not made to charge and discharge like a deep cycle marine, RV, wheel chair, or golf cart batteries. Regular car batteries are not designed for this purpose.

Lead Acid Batteries (Pictured above) - Lead Acid batteries are probably the most inexpensive but are not the most efficient. I am using five Lead Acid batteries for the battery  at my home. While they do work just fine, when they start losing their efficiency, I will replace them with AGM batteries such as the batteries at my bug out location.

Vmaxtanks Vmaxslr125 AGM Deep Cycle 12v 125ah SLA rechargeable batter for use with Pv Solar Panels

Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries (Pictured above), in my experience so far, has been the most efficient.  However, they do cost significantly more. While the AGM is still considered a Lead Acid battery, the construction of the battery is superior to a regular Lead Acid battery and tends to be more efficient. The Lead Acid RV batteries cost approximately $100 each while the AGM batteries cost approximately $250 per battery.

You will have to do your research and determine your budget for your batteries.

Wiring Your Battery Bank

First, you will need battery cables that will run from your charge controller to your battery bank. I recommend using two gauge battery cables or lower for this purpose and zero gauge cables (The largest cables available) to run from your battery bank to your power inverter,

I wired my battery bank in parallel  meaning that the positive cable from the charge controller goes to the closest positive terminal on the first battery in your bank. The next cable runs from that first positive terminal to the next positive terminal on the next battery and so on.

The negative cable coming from the charge controller will run to the negative terminal on the LAST battery in your battery bank. The cables running from your battery bank to your power inverter will be connected just the opposite.

The positive cable from your battery bank will be connected to the positive terminal on the last battery in your bank and the negative cable will be connected to the negative terminal on the first battery in your battery bank (Closest to the charge controller).

The ground wiring will attach to the same negative battery terminal where the negative power inverter cable is attached.  It's best to run that cable to a grounding rod obviously outside your home.

By wiring your battery bank together as described above, this will cause each battery in your bank to charge and discharge evenly and maximizing the efficiency and life of your battery bank.

Pictured above is my battery bank prior to adding a fifth battery and purchasing a cabinet to put them in.

If you place your battery bank inside an enclosed cabinet or container, make sure that the batteries get proper ventilation.

Note: Do not let your batteries fall below 11.9 volts as to keep them from discharging to much and possibly damaging the.

Power Inverter:

3000W Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter 6000W Peak 12VDC to 110VAC

When choosing your power inverter, I would recommend purchasing at least a 3000 Watt (6000 watt peak) Pure Sine Wave inverter.  The pure sine wave inverters along with the MPPT charge controller will provide a much more stable current for running sensitive electronics and appliances.

Unfortunately, like the MPPT charge controller, the pure sine wave power inverters are more expensive, but again, you'll thank yourself later.

Do your research and read reviews on all of the components.  I haven't had any trouble from the one I use at my home (pictured above).

Volt / Amp Meters and Fuses

There are all kinds of other things you can attach to your system such as meters and fuses. I have a simple volt meter attached to my battery bank to make it easier to read the voltage of the battery bank.  I simply disconnect the cables from the solar panels if there is a thunderstorm coming as to not take the chance on frying my entire system.  

There are plenty of different types of systems out there from all inclusive, to pieced together the way I built my system. I like my system because I can purchase the components a few at a time, and I can expand the system as needed very easily.

Next Post: Rechargable Battery Packs and Devices

Friday, January 13, 2017

Emergency Power Alternatives Made Simple Part I


Part I

Solar Panels and Charge Controller

Building an off grid power source for your home or "Bug Out" location is not as difficult as you may think. Having power can drastically improve the quality of life during a long or short term power outage. After losing all of our food during a three day power outage after a severe storm, we learned quickly that taking the power grid for granted was not a good time.  

Please keep in mind that we are not experts and there are always dangers when dealing with electricity. 

HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel

The solar generator constructed at our home is basically the same as the generator constructed at our bug out location.  

First, determine what it is you wish power and determine how many watts you're going to need. As an example, I use eight 100 Watt panels and five large RV batteries to run my full sized Maytag refrigerator. My set up allows me to run the refrigerator throughout the night if I turn the ice maker off and settings down on the fridge and freezer sides. I turn them to setting "two." 

There are four major components to our 12 volt solar generator:

 Solar Panels
Charge Controller
Battery Bank
Power Inverter

Solar Panels and Charge Controller will be discussed here.

Solar Panels: 

Solar Panels generate power during daylight hours to charge your battery bank. I use eight 100 watt panels to provide up to 800 watts of power to my battery bank. Generally speaking, the power generated by the panels are less than the advertised or rated watt output meaning eight solar panels probably put out 10 percent less power than the full 800 watts as advertised.

While the panels do in fact still provide power on a cloudy day, they will not be quite as efficient as full sunlight.

The solar panels I used are found on Amazon for about $114.00 each seen above.

I have been impressed with them but keep in mind the technology improves almost daily so do your research and read reviews. 

These panels are very easy to connect. The male and female connections are clearly marked (+) and (-) for positive and negative respectively. You will also need Y branch connection cables to connect more than one panel for your system. You will need a long set of cables run run power to the controller. I used a 100 foot cable with a male connection at one end and a female at the other end. Cut the cable in half and expose the wires.  This will give you 50 feet of wire. Of course, depending on your situation, you may need a longer cable or shorter cable. The shorter the cable the better. The longer the wire, the more electricity you will lose in the transmission of the power going inside to your charge controller.

Solar Panel Cable 100ft - Mc4 Pv Extension - 10 AWG - 600vdc Sunlight Resistand and BTSKY Y Branch MC4 1 Male to four Female (M/FFFF) and 1 Female to 4 Male (F/MMMM) Solar Panel Cable Connectors

Charge Controller:


The charge controller simply regulates the amount of DC (Direct Current) coming in from the panels in order to keep from over charging the battery bank which could damage or destroy the batteries. 
Once the batteries are fully charged, the charge controller will cut off the power coming in from the panels.  This means that the panels are doing nothing until the batteries require more power whether under load or need more power to be completely full.

The exposed wires will plug into the charge controller. Please make sure you have the positive and negative plugged into the correct ports on the charge controller or you will have a bad time. The ports are clearly marked on the controller.

Renogy Tracer 4210 40 Amp Charge Controller, 12/24V 100DC Input

From the left, the first two ports are the ports for the positive and negative cables coming in from the panels.  The Next two ports (Middle) are where the positive and negative cables leave the controller and go to your battery bank. The two ports on the far right are for running a 12 volt load such as a light directly from the controller. I do not use these.
There are many brands of charge controllers, however, I do strongly recommend using at least a 40 amp controller that uses MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) technology for running electronics.  The MPPT charge controllers will provide a more stable current which is less likely to damage sensitive electronics and appliances including your refrigerator or computer. The MPPT controllers are more expensive, but again, you will thank yourself later.

NEXT POST: Building your battery bank and Power Inverter.