Saturday, April 7, 2018

Bugout Bag Camping Test

Back in the very early 1990s, I was working on a contract basis for a company that made telecommunications equipment. My schedule was pretty flexible. In fact I was able to set my own schedule, and I took full advantage of that fact. Payday was every two weeks, and I usually started a new pay period by working twelve and fourteen hour days to get my 80 hours in the first week so I could take the second week off. Sometimes I would even work 160 hours in two weeks so I could take the following two weeks off. This gave me lots of time off for camping, caving and budget road trips. It is worth mentioning that I was also single during that time, so I didn't have to worry about relationship difficulties arising out of my frequent absences.

On one of these instances where I had just finished my work and had a week or more off, there wasn't much going on. It was probably January or February; the holidays were over and the Spring activities hadn't started yet. It was raining, had been for a couple of days and showed no signs of abating. The temperature was barely high enough to prevent the rain turning into snow. All in all, miserable weather. I was already getting cabin fever.

For lack of anything better to do, I inventoried the contents of my survival kit. I don't think the term "bugout bag" was popular yet, but that's basically what it was: a medium sized fanny pack with a few survival items in it. Stainless steel cup, aluminum foil, Ramen noodles and a couple other food items, fire starting materials, space blanket, stuff like that. As I perused the contents of my bag, a plan started to formulate. It seemed like the kind of weather I would find myself in during a wilderness survival situation. How would I sleep, without a sleeping bag? How would I get and stay dry, so as to not succumb to the elements?

I had to do it; test my survival bag contents and my own ability to spend a night in the soggy woods, in winter, without my normal backpacking equipment. So I put on my boots, coat and hat, grabbed my survival kit and headed out the back door.

I was living in an apartment on the edge of town. There was a small patch of woods behind my apartment, and a railroad track ran through those woods. It was near the end of that line; the tracks stopped less than 5 miles away at the Tennessee River. I got on the tracks and walked in the direction of the river. When I was almost to the river and there were no more roads, I got off the tracks and headed further into the woods.

By the time it started getting dark I was thoroughly soaked. I couldn't have been any wetter if I had jumped in the river. It was time to stop for the night. I had found a small, battered piece of roofing sheet metal a ways back and brought it along. I put it down at the base of a small tree and looked around for some rocks and whatever else I could find, and ended up building a simple wickiup against the tree. It looked similar to the photo above, with the addition of a rudimentary fireplace that I built by digging a small hole and piling rocks around it. I used the sheet metal as part of the wall and to reflect the heat of the fire.

I used to buy these fire starter logs that are 3 or 4 inches in diameter and maybe 10 inches long, made of wax and sawdust. I would cut about a 2 inch slice of that, put it in a ziplock bag and stuff it in my pack. Whenever I needed to start a fire I would just pinch off a small chunk of it and use it as tinder. It works well; it's pretty water resistant and even a small lump burns for several minutes. I had a slice of that in my survival kit, and used some of it to start a fire. By the time it was full dark, my fire was going well and I was enjoying a hot cup of ramen noodles and watching the steam rise off my clothing. After awhile I was fully dry and warm.

A funny thing happened during the night, though: a skunk discovered my little haven and wanted to share it with me! Now, I've been around skunks enough to not fear them. In fact, they are amazingly funny and amiable creatures. But I didn't want to share my little shelter with one. If I happened to roll over on it in the middle of the night, it might not end well. So I spent an hour or two driving it away with my fire poker, every time it tried to worm its way in.

Other than that little incident, I had a reasonably good night. It stopped raining sometime during the night, so the trip back home was not bad at all.

Converting A Three Phase Motor to a Generator

OK, obviously this is two different days. Here I have a 208/220V; 440V, 5 horsepower 3-phase motor that I am experimenting with converting to an inductive generator, powered by my Changfa S195 Chinese 12 hp diesel engine. I'm learning here; I have never done this before. In both clips, the motor is wired for low (208/220) voltage. That means it is wired Wye-Wye (two sets of windings paralleled), whereas it would need to be wired Wye (both sets in series) for 440V. Does this mean I could produce 440 volts with this setup? Undoubtedly. Rectify that to DC and power the plate circuit of a tube linear amplifier without the big transformer normally required. Add a small transformer for the low voltage stuff, and this would make a good power supply for a legal-limit ham radio station. So anyway, in the first clip I am using only one capacitor, and it is the only capacitor I could find in the microFarad range that was rated for high voltage AC. It has nowhere near enough capacitance; I think it was 0.75 uF or something like that. As you can see, it didn't work. Digging around in cyberspace, I found reference to C-2C wiring for this specific purpose. Unfortunately the guy who was describing it didn't have a firm grasp of what he was describing, having simply followed someone else's directions. Thus, although it would seem that "2C" would imply double the capacitance of "C", the narrative did not leave me with a feeling of confidence that that was what he meant. Not disrespecting the guy or anything, just telling it like it is. So I searched further and ascertained that, indeed, 2C means 2C and not merely C2. I found other stuff about it too, which gave me the confidence to actually spend a bit of money. Basically, it works like this: imagine a delta-wound, 3-phase motor. There are of course 3 legs to which the power connects; L1, L2 and L3. L1 and L2 will be the output. C, the first capacitor, connects in parallel across L1-L2. 2C connects in parallel across L2-L3. Nothing connects across L3-L1. 2C can be either a single capacitor of double the value of C or, as you see here, two caps of the same value as C, connected in parallel. So I went to everybody's least favorite online auction site and bought three identical, new, 55 uF 440V motor run capacitors. As you can see, this works; at least as far as producing voltage. Stay tuned, because next I plan to load it with some heating elements to see what it can do.

Click here for books about induction generators

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And another article here:

Monday, April 2, 2018

AR-15 Operation and Functioning Cycle

This is an old (ca. 1966) US Army training film describing how to operate the M16/AR15, and a functional description of same. AR-15 books and accessories, click here.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Homestead Gear: Bread Machine

Updated; originally published September 12, 2007

I don't know how I ever got along without a bread machine. I just figured, bread is pretty cheap, and making bread really just sounds like an awful lot of work. I can still buy grains, and if I ever go through a(nother) time of extreme low-budgetness to the point that I can't afford to go to the store more than once a month, and only buy staples even then, I can just make porridge and/or sprout the grains. Of course, I have been making cornbread for decades; I guess I could have also added some other grains to the cornbread to further enrich it.
Well, I can still do those things, but now I can make bread, too! I just found a perfectly good bread machine, complete with owner's manual, for the princely sum of 2 bucks at my favorite thrift store. This allows me to make my own bread, without the necessity of spreading out a large area I don't have in my kitchen, beating, rolling and pounding on dough for hours, getting flour all over everything, scientifically regulating the temperature and humidity, and keeping all sorts of special ingredients that deteriorate at roughly the same speed as a loaf of bread.
That's not how it really is, of course, but it's how it seemed to me. I had actually thought about buying a used bread machine before, but the ones I saw at the thrift didn't come with a manual and besides, I kinda expected those machines needed even more specialized ingredients that would cost more than just buying bread, while turning out something barely edible. It was pretty much a case of, it was worth $2 just for the experience.

Boy, was I surprised! What I found out is that you can just throw in a handful of ground grain, some lukewarm water and a teaspoon of plain old yeast that any grocery store carries, and you will get bread. Probably heavy, dry, bland-tasting bread, but quite edible. I actually tried this, after my first loaf. For the first loaf I looked in the manual at the recipe for "basic bread" which called for water, instant milk powder, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, a couple teaspoons of sugar, butter, flour, and yeast. The recipe said to measure carefully and follow instructions exactly for best results. So I started with about a cup of whole milk, poured a small mound of salt in my cupped palm, about twice that of sugar,a splash of canola oil, a couple good handsful of flour, and a little mound of yeast. Pressed two buttons, and went off and did something else for about 3 1/2 hours. When I returned, I had a loaf of the best bread I have ever tasted!
Man, that was easy! Thus bolstered, I studied a little further and conducted an experiment. While boning up on this stuff I read that milk (powdered or otherwise) only enriches the bread with some extra vitamins without really adding much taste, oil or butter makes it moister but the taste is subtle, thus butter doesn't significantly improve the taste compared to plain veg oil (you can also use bacon fat or whatever), salt enhances the flavor slightly but primarily regulates the yeast action, and sugar, honey, molasses or whatever also doesn't really sweeten the bread. I mean, you can add enough to sweeten it but generally you only add a little, as a snack for the yeast. The yeast can get everything it needs from the grain, but it is just generally happier if you give it a little dessert. And happy yeast makes a better-tasting product.

OK, the bottom line of all that is that, as noted before, you really only have to have three ingredients to make edible bread. So I sallied forth to make the absolute poorest bread I could muster. This is a survival exercise, now. You're boondocking in Mexico, have been for 2 1/2 months, and you're down to a few pounds each of wheat, dried beans and rice, plus a yeast culture you keep in a little flour, and perhaps a handful of jerky from a rabbit you caught in a trap a few days ago. You have two weeks yet before your dividend check is due to arrive at your P.O. box just across the border, so ya just gotta subsist on this meager fare until then.
OK: humble bread. First I went to my favorite feedstore, and got a 50 lb sack of wheat. Grain prices are 'way up this year, and it cost me $13.50 so that makes a 1 lb loaf of bread 27 cents if I'm growing my own yeast; about double that otherwise. I ground a pound of this wheat in my cast iron hand-cranked mill, running it through twice which took less than 5 minutes, then dumped it into the bread machine along with a cup of water and a little yeast, and 3.5 hours later I had a loaf of heavy, dark, bland bread. Not bad, just not tasty. It was much better with some butter smeared on, and it was fine for eating with soup, which is what I did with most of it. It would do wonders for a meal of bean-and-rabbit soup.
My next loaf of bread consisted of 1/2 lb of this same hand-ground whole wheat flour, 1/2 lb store bought cheap white flour, some bacon grease, water, a spoonful of honey, salt, and yeast. I also threw in a few spices, including crushed cayenne chile. Now THAT was some good bread!
Then I tried the dough cycle, wherein the machine makes the dough which you take out and do your thing with it. This is good for making biscuits, pretzels, etc. I used it to make pizza crust, the end result of which you can see in the picture.
Oh, the BBQ chicken pic? I just threw that in to prove that I do eat other stuff besides peasant food.
Here's a link to a grain mill like mine, if you want one:

Single Shot Shotguns

Discussing and shooting a few break-barrel shotguns. Further research on the Topper M48 indicates that they were made from 1943-1957; this one appears to have been made in 1953. Here is the collector's reference of H&R firearms:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Sound Of Freedom!

No bumpfire stocks on this firing line! Footage from the firing line at the Knob Creek machine gun shoot. This shoot is coming up in just a couple of weeks. I had planned to go and get some new footage this year, but unfortunately I just can't afford the trip.

Reloading Powder Shipment

Just received some new reloading supplies! Smokeless powder, Swiss 4Fg black powder, and percussion caps. I've been wanting to try the Swiss 4f in my NAA Companion for awhile. Shop reloading supplies here (click).

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

NAA .22 LR Mini Revolver Velocity Test

Some of you have seen this video before. This post is primarily a test for embedding from DTube. Looks like it's gonna work!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Lee Dippers: Simple, Reliable Powder Measurement

In my reloading shop I have several powder measures, but all or most of them require some setup before I can begin reloading. That's why I also have some of these powder dippers from Lee. They are graduated in cubic centimeters from 0.3cc to 4.3cc, and come with a slide rule to convert to grains of various powders. This allows me to just grab the dipper corresponding to my desired charge, and begin reloading. Works great, especially if I am just loading a few rounds.

Get yours here:

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Simple Slam Fire .357 Carbine

This is one of my videos that Youtube had a problem with. The slam fire is just about the simplest firearm possible, and this one is safe because it uses a real .357 Magnum rifle barrel and a breech bolt that is strong enough to contain the pressures. There is a bit of black iron pipe and a cast iron fitting, but those are only support pieces and are not subjected to firing pressures.

At the moment I don't have a way to embed the video, so here is a link:
I hope to find a better hosting platform soon, but for now we just have to work with what is available.

For more info on improvised guns, check out these books by Ragnar Benson.