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Happy 4th of July from Zombie Response Team

10428264_736784743030087_1511065457405734458_o
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Can Dry Soap Really Relieve the Itch from a Mosquito Bite?

mosquito_soap

MYTH OR FACT?

The image above states that you can get rid of an itchy mosquito bite by simply rubbing a dry bar of soap on it for instant relief.

Well, I was outside the other day and got bit the f*ck up by mosquitos.

I decided to try this method out and, suffice to say...it failed. It did not relieve any itching, in fact, it made the itching much worse. I tried a variety of dry soap bars, too. One with scent, one without and one that said it had aloe in it and it did NOT work.

Now...that doesn't mean that it won't work at all on anyone. But for me, it simply didn't work. Maybe this works on people who don't get as irritated with mosquito bites.

What does work?

Don't touch it. I know it's easier said than done, but if you simply forget that it's there, it doesn't itch.

Also, Bactine. It took the itch away IMMEDIATELY. I swear by Bactine.

Those anti-itch creams do work, as well.

So, try it out for yourself and tell us your result.

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Water Everywhere & Not A Drop To Drink

Water

Pollution, chemicals, microorganisms, and contaminants…you’ll find all of these, and more, in your drinking water. And that’s on a good day. Regardless of whether you have a well or “city water”, finding safe drinking water is a challenge. Without warning a chemical spill or a water main break can leave the general population scrambling for bottled water. Boiling can help in certain situations but it isn’t ideal as a long term fix and it does not remove all particles from the water. Also, boiling won’t work if you only have access to salt water from the ocean. The only way to ensure your water is 100% pure is to use distilled water but that can get pricey if you’re buying it by the gallon. One can purchase “countertop distillers” but they retail between $300- $1000. That’s fine if money is not an object and assuming you have power. But what if a deadly, serious threat occurs and there is no electricity? What’s your alternative? Build yourself a still!

Although making your own distilled water isn’t difficult, it is time consuming so you don’t want to wait until you’re already in a crisis situation to start distilling at home. Again, you can purchase a premade still that does not require electricity (for anywhere from $300-$600) but you never know when disaster could strike. If you can’t get back to your home, you’d better know how to make one on the fly. The good news is that you’ll be able to acquire the materials easily. Most can be picked up at any home improvement or hardware store. In fact, a majority of the supplies you’ll need are commonly found in most homes. But first, you’ll need to decide which method you’ll want to use: an external heat source or solar power. Since there are benefits to both, we’ll take a closer look at each method.

If you choose to use an external heat source, it will definitely speed up the process; however, you’ll usually need a coolant like ice or snow. For those of us getting blasted in the Polar Vortex that shouldn’t be a problem but it could be a challenge in warmer weather, especially if the power is out. Additionally, in the heat of summer, needing to build a fire and keep in burning isn’t a pleasant prospect. A solar operation doesn’t require a coolant but it does take a lot longer. Inclement weather can cause setbacks and, it goes without saying, that it cannot be done overnight. If you run out of water at the end of the day, you’ll need to fall back on the heated method or settle for plain boiled water. My best recommendation for a long term evacuation (say, in the event of a full out zombie uprising) is to utilize both methods, especially if you have a group of people with you. Dehydration puts you at risk of joining the growing ranks of flesh- eating undead!

Since there are all kinds of detailed construction plans online for building a solar powered water distillation unit, I’m not going to bombard you with lengthy descriptions and diagrams. There are well-written instructions, complete with diagrams; as well as YouTube videos online that will walk you through construction step- by-step. Personally, I found the plans at this link to be extremely helpful: http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/how-to-make-a-solar-still-ze0z1209zsch.aspx?PageId=2#ArticleContent

Since not everyone would feel confident undertaking a project of this nature, let’s just look at a couple of very simple ways to distill your water, even if you’re off the grid. The first is by far the simplest way to achieve purified water by simply using everyday household items. The second preparation is a little more complex but your end result will be easier with less risk of cross contamination.

  • You’ll need at least a 5 gallon stock pot with a clear, see-through lid, a round baking rack that fits in the bottom of the pot, a Pyrex bowl that can fit loosely inside the pot but is large enough to collect your purified water, and ice. Fill the pot about halfway and place on your heat source. This can be the stovetop in your home, a propane camp stove, a grill or even a campfire. Gently lower the Pyrex bowl into the water but make sure to keep the impure water out. Make sure the bowl does not touch the bottom or sides of the pot. Invert the lid and cover the pot. Then fill the lid with ice. When the steam rises it is instantly cooled by the lid. The cooled steam condenses back into water and drips into the bowl. Violà, distilled water! Be sure to regulate the heat so that the water inside the bowl does not boil. When the bowl is full, allow everything to cool enough to handle then remove the bowl with your purified/distilled water. Carefully towel off the bottom and outside of the bowl since that is only boiled water and not distilled. Repeat as needed.
  • You’ll need a solid tea kettle without a separate opening at the top (spout fill only) filled with water, approximately 20 feet of ¾ inch copper tubing, a rubber stopper that fits the spout securely, sealant, a 1 gallon disposable plastic jug (a washed out milk or juice jug works great), a bowl or glass for collecting the pure water, and ice. First, cut the bottom off of the plastic jug so that it could be used as a funnel but keep the lid attached. Next, coil your tubing 7-8 times so that you have a spiral in the middle. Drill a hole into the stopper and also through the side of the jug close to the lid. Insert the stopper into the spout of the tea pot and push one end of the tubing through the stopper while the other end goes through the funnel of the jug and out the hole. (this is where your distilled water will come out) Apply sealant according to the package instructions (make sure it is a silicone based sealant that is safe for use around food products). Seal around the copper tubing and also on the cap of the inverted jug. Once sealant has dried and set, fill the “funnel” with ice. Be sure the tubing sticking out from the side of the funnel is feeding into a bowl or glass to catch the distilled water. With the full kettle on the stovetop, turn the heat up on high and allow the contaminated water to boil away. The steam will rise through the tubing and cool when it reaches the ice then it comes out as distilled water on the other end.

As I mentioned, these are two short term, immediate fixes to attain distilled water. For a long term situation, you’ll want to build or purchase the real thing.

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Introduction to HAM Radio

Ham-Radio8

Guest post by: Luke Ayers, ZRT# 0918.0704, HAM call sign KF7WLI

What is HAM radio you ask? Simple, it is a means of communicating worldwide with people through a designated frequency spectra. HAM radio is used for personal non-commercial purposes, a hobby for most. HAM radio is governed by the FCC and requires a license to use. The licensing process is not as hard as you may think. I obtained mine in one weekend. How you ask? I will tell you. The easiest way is to find yourself an “Elmer”. That’s HAM jargon for mentor. This person will help you with every step of the process. You can also self-study through numerous web pages and books. Local radio clubs also offer classes on the weekends free of charge. There are three classes of license within HAM radio. Technician, General, and Extra. Each one of these classes has special privileges that others do not. You have to start out at a technician level and upgrade from there. The process for all license classes includes study material and a written test that is multiple choice. I would strongly recommend getting an Elmer to help out. You can search for your local HAM club to find one. The cost is relatively low to get you license. If you were to buy the book and self-study it would cost you around 40 dollars. 15 for the test and the rest in books and materials. I will include a list of links that will help one the way.

TYPES OF COMMUNICATION

Now that you know how to get your license let’s talk about what you can do with it. For instance, I can talk worldwide from the seat of my truck. I will get to more of that later. There are many different types of communication within HAM radio. I will not talk about all of them but here is a few. VHF/UHF repeaters, HF, slow scan TV, packet, satellite, voice, and CW which is Morse code. Most of these are used for fun by other HAMs to send pictures and data over the air. The main ones that are used to talk back and forth are HF and VHF/UHF voice, along with CW. As HAM operators the FCC has set aside specific frequency ranges just for us called band plans. These plans give a frequency range and state what parts within said range can be used for what. As a technician you will be operating on the VHF/UHF bands wich range from 50.0MHz-1300MHz. The most common range in VHF/UHF is 144- 420MHz or the 2 meter and 70cm band as we call it. Here is where you find what are called repeaters. Your basic repeater works much like a cell tower. You transmit from your radio on one frequency and when it hits the repeater, gets amplified and sent back out on another frequency. I know is sounds complicated but its really not. Most radios are programmed to make the frequency shift for you. HAMs are also alowed more power with our gear. Most CB radios and FRS/GRMS, like the ones you can see in sporting goods stores usually only have 5watts of power with a ranges of about five miles max. A good HAM radion hitting a reapeat can get 100 miles plus with less power. However as a HAM we are allowed up to 1500watts peak power. We don’t generally use all of it but its there if we need to. But you will learn all that when you study for the test. Repeaters also have another feature that makes them work very well and it is called Echolink. Now some other repeaters have IRLP/Dstar but it all works the same, just depends on the manufacturer. Echolink is the most common though. It works by linking the repeater to the web through a node, and by pushing the key on your mic and typing the code of another echolink repeater in say Florida and listen for it to connect. Now you have a QSO (HAM talk for contact) several hundred miles away. Enough with that, lets move on to HF. This requires you be a general class or higher to operate on these bands. HF does not you reapeaters but can still get around the world with very low power. HF uses what we call propagation through the earths atmosphere. Most of the time conditions have to be just right for this to work out. QSO’s are generally short due to the fact that propagation can be lost. Personally I have not upgraded my license yet but and working that direction. That’s just the tip of what can be done with HAM radio. Once you have your license I would figure out what you want to do and go from there.

USES

Aside from just being able to talk to other HAMs around the world or for just talking to a friend on the way home form work HAM radio has many other uses as well. There are many different emergency response groups that use HAM radio. ARES is the largest and are in every state across the nation. It stands for Ammeture Radio Emergency Service. No cost to join, just helpful donations. Check with your local club and they can help find the nearest one. Another great use for HAM is its portability, toss one in your bug out bag with some extra batteries and your set. HAM users are also called upon for civilian events to move important information at sporting events, parades and other public affairs. Adding to the protability feature is that most radios can be run off of a 12v system with a power supply so when the grid goes down you can still have a way to get a message out. Most organizations and clubs have nets on the reapeaters in the VHF/UHF bands. This is how we can all meet at the same place and at the same time even if we are all hundreds of miles apart.

EQUIPMENT

HAM equitment is everywhere on the web. What you buy really depends on what you want to do. Most of us get a hand held radio, or HT as we call them. These can be used inside your car or home with a external antenna and are extremely portable when you want to take them with. Most have rechargable batteries and loads of other accessories. I would recommend getting a good dual band as a first radio. With this you will be able to use both VHF and UHF bands with one radio. HTs can get spendy they start out at about 60 bucks up to 1000 dollars. Personally I would spend no lesss than 100 dollars for a handheld. Its one of those things where you get what you pay for. As far as features go, they almost all have the same thing in one form or another. Different companies call them different things. The most important ones to look for would be battery life, dual band receive feature and preprogrammed CTCSS and DCS tones. You will learn those while you study. Now if you want to go with a mobile radio to mount in your car or truck the freatures are all the same but the power output is more. Most HTs do 4-5watts max and a mobile can get up in the hundreds of watts. I would go with something in the 40-50 watt range. Now that you have a radio you need an antenna. This is one area that can make or break a ham. You could have a 10,000 dollar radio, but without a good antenna that radio is useless. Antennas come in all different forms, from a simple wire in a tree to a complex multi- element tower. It all depends on what you want the antenna to do. There are probable 5000 books on antennas. The most common are verticals and dipoles which you will learn in preparation for the test.

CONCLUSION

So now that you have the know how to get your license, go out and get it so you can get on the air. If you have questions on anything don’t be afraid to ask. We as HAMs are always willing to help where and when we can. If we cant give and answere we know you can. Here are some links to web pages that will help out along the way.

Arrl.org, ammeture radio relay league

Hamradio.com, ham equipment

FCC.gov, governing body

AA9PW.com, practice test

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