Category Archives: electronics

Small DIY Solar Systems are Easy to Make


small solar systemA small solar system designed to power lights and possibly your refrigerator for an emergency is easy to build.  It is something that you can do yourself without a lot of training.

If you have read this post, you know how to figure out how many panels and batteries you need. You can use either new or used solar panels.

To build your small solar system you will need

  • Solar panels — make sure they are matching panels, same size same manufacturer. You can mix some panels but it takes a bit of expertise to get this right.
  • Controller — make sure the controller you get will handle the voltage put out by your panels and it needs to protect your batteries by keeping them from being overcharged.
Posted in electronics, solar | Tagged | 11 Comments

Turn Your Homemade Battery Packs into a Solar Generator

A couple of days ago I showed how to make a simple 12 volt battery pack, Homemade Battery Packs Are Inexpensive and Easy to Make.  Today I am showing how simple it is to charge the battery packs with solar power. This is the same thing that you pay a lot of money for if you purchase a commercial solar generator.  I use these packs for running lights, charging batteries, and running my ham radios. Their uses are only limited by your imagination.

The one weakness of these packs is that the batteries are sealed lead acid and need to be replaced every few years.…

Posted in electronics | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Wireless Burglar Alarms can be Easily Hacked

wireless burglar alarmsCrime has been increasing in my area since the state legislators changed the laws to lessen the penalties of various crimes.  Home burglaries have been increasing.  As a result, the alarm business is booming as more people have both hardwired and wireless burglar alarms installed.

Good alarm systems can prevent your home from being burglarized and provide you with a lot of security.  But it needs to be a monitored system so that the police are called automatically by your service provider.  In addition, it should have the windows covered by either switches or motion detectors and preferably by both.

I have been talking to a couple of security people who have been looking at many of the new wireless burglar alarms.  …

Posted in electronics, security | Tagged | Leave a comment

How Dependent are You on Electricity?

electricityNow I like to think that I can get by without electricity.  So this week, I took the time to do a survey of our home to see how much we depended on electricity.  The idea being how much would a long-term loss of electricity affect us.  This study revealed some interesting results.

  • Clocks – I realized that all our clocks were electric with the exception of one older wristwatch.
  • Lights – here we had plenty of backup. We have a couple of small solar systems and kerosene that would supply adequate lighting if the power is out.
  • Heat – here we are a bit weak, but it doesn’t get very cold here for extended periods of time.
Posted in electronics, Self sufficiency | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Maintaining Lead Acid Batteries to Get the Most Life Out of Them

A friend Ed sent me a lot of information on maintaining lead acid batteries.  It is good information, but a bit technical for many people so I am going to split this post into two parts.  First, some simple guidelines to keep you from making the biggest mistakes and then the part that he sent me.  I suggest that you take the time to read both.

For an example, I will use the two types of lead acid that I store.  My homemade battery packs  contain the 12 volt sealed lead acid batteries. (Homemade Battery Packs Are Inexpensive and Easy to Make)

Several times a year I get the battery packs out and check everything and make sure they are fully charged. …

Posted in electronics | Tagged | 2 Comments

Homemade Battery Packs Are Inexpensive and Easy to Make

A few years back I made some 12-volt battery packs following a design made by a friend.  Since then I have used these batteries on different occasion with great success.  So today, I am going to post the original article with some additional suggestions that I have learned from practically experience.

Here is the first article on battery packs

A Simple 12 Volt Battery Pack.

You can make your own

A friend of mine made some battery boxes using 50 cal ammo cans and 12-volt burglar alarm batteries.  They are very nice compact units that will provide 14 amp hours of power. …

Posted in electronics | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Lights Out, The Vulnerabilities of the Power Grid to Attack

lights outTed Koppel has never been one of my favorite news people, as a long time anchor for Nightline; I have always felt that he was part of the liberal media that has so hurt this country.  However, he has recently earned a bit of respect from me, because of his new nonfiction book “Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath”.

Ted Koppel who is an investigative reporter investigated the vulnerability of the US power grid to an attack.  In Lights Out Koppel makes the case that the U.S. electric grid is extremely vulnerable to collapse due to cyber warfare, EMP attack, or solar flare (CMP). …

Posted in electronics, EMP | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Kill A Watt Can Determine the Size of a Generator/Solar System

Kill A WattThe last few days I have been playing with a new device.  I spent approximately $18 to purchase a Kill A Watt from Amazon. Now a Kill A Watt is a device that will measure exactly how much power you use to run an appliance.

The U.S Department of Energy reports that 20% of our electric bills come from items that are left plugged in when they are not in use, or items that are in standby mode. With the Kill A Watt P4400 we can monitor the energy eaters in our homes and cut down our electric bills at the same time.…

Posted in electronics, lighting | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Computer Malfunctions and Your Finances

This morning I have been watching the problems with the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines and the Wall Street Journal. Computer glitches halt trading on New Your Stock Exchange. Now I don’t know the source of the problems, but it is enough to make you wonder.  So far, both the government and the stock exchange have stated that it does not appear to be cyber breach, but is a computer malfunction.

Looking at the situation from that of an outsider, I am amazed that a simple computer malfunction or technical error can bring down an institution of this size. …

Posted in electronics, Finance | Tagged | 1 Comment

Your Gun Safe and the Hazards of Electronic Locks and EMP

electronis locksI was recently asked a question about the electronic locks that we see on so many new safes.  The question was will EMP destroy the electronic locks on your safes.  Electronic locking mechanisms are a real convenient, but at the same time they make me nervous because they need a power source.  If the power source fails, you’re stuck, unless your safe has a physical key that will override the electronic lock.  Not all safes with electronic locks have them.

The first question of course is, will EMP fry my lock.  Because of the locks small size and the fact that it is partly surrounded by metal, it is possible that the lock may survive intact. …

Posted in electronics, EMP, security | Tagged , | 12 Comments