Friday, May 27, 2011

Product Review: SuperbrightLEDs FL-1W-70 Flashlight

I got a new flashlight last week; the FL-1W-70 from is a compact, aluminum-bodied "tactical" light that uses three AAA cells to power a single, high-performance LED. According to the listed specifications, it outputs 100 lumens with a beamspread of 10 degrees and a throw of 100 meters. Input power is specified as 1 watt for a claimed battery life of 180 minutes, presumably with alkaline cells.
This flashlight has a nice,even, black anodized finish. The head has a crenelated bezel, and the body is just the right diameter (1.1 inch) and length (4.8 inches) for a firm grasp if you need to use those serrations to fend off an attacker.
The switch is located in the end cap and is covered with a rubber diaphragm. The end cap is also sealed with an O-ring for weatherproofing.

Overall, this is a really nice little flashlight for daily use. It puts out way more light than those little 9-LED jobs, and more than a 2-cell incandescent Maglite, too. It's not one of those lights that roast your retinas and destroy your night vision if you turn it on indoors, but it does produce enough light to illuminate stuff on the far side of the yard at night. And it is quite affordable. Similar lights at Walmart typically cost as much or more than this light costs including shipping, and then you have to factor in sales tax and your time, if you buy at Walmart. I prefer to buy stuff like this online anyway.

If you have a need for a compact, powerful flashlight that won't break the bank either in initial purchase nor operating costs, check it out here.

Possum Living Billionaire?

Ok, it is probably a bit of a stretch to say that Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is into possum living, but he is eating only meat that he kills. Not exactly in the way that Ted Nugent does it, but Zuckerberg does buy a live animal (goats, pigs and chickens, so far) and kill it himself before paying a pro to butcher it. Says Zuckerberg; "I started thinking about this last year when I had a pig roast at my house. A bunch of people told me that even though they loved eating pork, they really didn't want to think about the fact that the pig used to be alive," he said.
"That just seemed irresponsible to me. I don't have an issue with anything people choose to eat, but I do think they should take responsibility and be thankful for what they eat rather than trying to ignore where it came from."

I was pleasantly surprised when I read this. And I can understand paying someone else to do the butchering chore, for someone as busy as he obviously is.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

CDC on Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness

Get A Kit,    Make A Plan, Be Prepared.

The Centers for Disease Control has issued a document dealing with the possibility of a zombie apocalypse, including advice on how individuals can prepare for it. One of their recommendations is to have a bugout bag handy, because you probably wouldn't want to hang around if a bunch of flesh-eating undead were lurking around the area. Here, in part, is what they have to say:

"So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.
  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
  • Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
  • Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
  • Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
  • Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
  • Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
  • First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)
Once you’ve made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door step. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake, or other emergency.

  1. Identify the types of emergencies that are possible in your area. Besides a zombie apocalypse, this may include floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If you are unsure contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information.
  2. Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home…or your town evacuates because of a hurricane. Pick one place right outside your home for sudden emergencies and one place outside of your neighborhood in case you are unable to return home right away.
  3. Identify your emergency contacts. Make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department, and your local zombie response team. Also identify an out-of-state contact that you can call during an emergency to let the rest of your family know you are ok.
  4. Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance! This is also helpful when natural disasters strike and you have to take shelter fast.
If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation."

Read more
Thanks to The Urban Survivalist for the heads-up on this.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Changfa Water Cooled Diesel Engine

I bought this 12 hp engine new about four years ago. I already had an S1100, and wanted to get another of the same design before the US government could ban their importation which, of course, they have since done.
When I bought it, I started it once and ran it for maybe one minute. A few minutes before I shot this video, I disassembled the fuel filter and lines and double checked that there were no metal shavings or the like in there, then I started it and immediately shut it back down while bleeding the lines. So this video is the third time I have ever started it.
After I shot the video, I started it again and ran it for 20 minutes.
Right after I got it and before I ever started it, I removed the radiator and fuel tank. I wanted to have access to every part of the engine, plus you can really see the roots of the design with all that stuff gone. Also, when I got my S1100 I had a couple problems with it early on, and those problems were caused by the radiator and the fuel tank.
I plan to put a decent-sized hopper on this one for cooling, and use a boat gas tank or something like that.
I set my S1100 up for thermo-siphon cooling and a 55 gallon drum for a fuel tank.

Note the pop-up oil pressure indicator at 3:43. If I remember correctly, it has pressurized oiling only to the valvetrain; with the bottom end being splash lubed. That is a good thing, actually, because all mechanical things eventually fail, and if the oil pump fails it would only increase wear to the rocker arms. Even at that, probably not much. After all, my Lister CS clone doesn't have pressure lubrication at all. You're supposed to lube the rockers when you start it, and every few hours while it is running. It might actually be an improvement on this engine to eliminate the oil pump altogether, and set up a gravity feed oiling system for the rockers. That would eliminate the parasitic drag of the oil pump thereby slightly increasing fuel efficiency, and it would eliminate the potential failure point of the rocker oil feed line, which could drain the oil sump if it developed a leak and I didn't catch it in time.

These engines were very popular among off-gridders back in the 1980s and '90s. I read all kinds of articles about them in Backwoods Home Magazine, American Survival Guide, and other publications. I even have a book I bought back then called "More Power To You" that was all about using a generator based on this engine as the basis of an off-grid electrical system. That is why I bought the S1100, which I still have.

I wish I could give you a link to where you can buy one if you want one, but our heroic government works diligently and tirelessly to protect us from anything that might serve to reduce our dependence, and this is yet one more "sharp tool" they have taken away from us.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Diesel Generator/Battery Charger, Part 2

Here is another video of my cobbled-together generator, taken a few hours after the first one. In this video you can see the setup a bit better, because I rigged up an overhead light. I know it's a mess in there, but I had to move stuff around in the dark and drag the generator out from where it had been residing under a workbench, then haywire it all together.
You will notice in the last clip that the inverter is complaining. That is because I had just turned on a 900 watt coffee-maker in addition to the fridge, lights and other stuff that was already operating. This is only a 1500 watt inverter, but that is not why it was complaining. It was complaining because the input voltage was getting low due to a combination of insufficient battery capacity, insufficient wire size and connection quality both from the alternator to the battery and battery to inverter, and not enough output from the alternator to make up the difference. But a bigger inverter, higher capacity battery, and proper wire sizing and connections would allow much larger short-term loads, such as my coffeemaker, without increasing the size of the alternator.
This video is from the power outage following the Alabama tornadoes, which I wrote about here.

Here is a link to the store I bought this engine from, back in 2007: small diesel and gas engines
This one is 10 hp, but they have other sizes as well as gas engines.

For those who have seen the Harbor Freight coupon for a 2000 watt inverter for $130, this one is a better deal:

At 2000 watts for $130, the HF inverter costs $65 per KW. At 2500 watts for $160, this one is $64 per KW. Plus you get free shipping on this one, but you have to pay either shipping, sales tax, or both on the HF.

Home-built Diesel Generator/Battery Charger

Here is a video of my cobbled-together generator, powering the refrigerator and a few other things during the recent power outage following the tornadoes.
The generator consists of a Chinese clone of the Yanmar L100 10 horsepower air-cooled diesel engine, powering a Delco automotive alternator. When I put this thing together a couple of years ago, I found that the internal regulator had failed. So I bypassed the regulator and used power resistors to manually control the field current and hence output voltage/current.
Sorry for the low quality of the video; at this early stage in the game I was relying on my 2-cell Maglite to light my way to the generator.
The inverter is an old 1500 watt Statpower. This particular inverter is no longer available, but I have added a link to a 2500 watt inverter that has gotten good ratings.

Click here for Part 2.