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#278180 - 12/24/15 04:58 AM Of lights, power and communications.
Nomad Offline
Addict

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 464
Loc: Just wandering around.
This post combines several threads posted by Jeanette_Isabelle.

I see your recent posts about flashlights and communications as different facets of the same problem. I have delt with a lot of emergency situations and recommend the following.

You need some sort of power source that can provide power to the various technologies you need to use during an emergency. You need light (flashlights and solar lights) and a way to communicate short distances (around your house and out to about half a mile) and longer distances (like internet access).

Lets start with power first. There are now rechargeable batteries that will hold 70% of their power for 10 YEARS. I recently purchased (another) package from CostCo for about $24.00. It includes 8 AA and 4 AAA batteries. Also included are holders that accept the AA size batteries and adapt them for use as C and D sized batteries. This and a very nice charger all come in a good plastic case. So that is 8 AA, 4 AAA, 2 C adapters, 2 D adapters and a 4 slot charger (runs on normal wall power AC) in a plastic case all for about $25.00 Sorry I can't find a link. I think these are a new product and may not be on CostCo's site yet. I am traveling now and the case is not available to me at the moment. I will get more specific details when I get home tomorrow if anyone is interested.

For flashlights I recommend very simple but solid lights from a company called Fenix, specifically ones similar to their E05 model. It uses a twist on switch which is a very reliable method. It has 3 light levels, dim, medium and bright. The bright setting is not a searchlight level power, but has been sufficient for all my bright light uses for several years now. The dim level will easily light a room for 14 hours. Assuming 3 or 4 hours of night activity, that is 5 or so evenings of use. On high it throws a 85 lumen (bright enough to see what is happening around you) for an hour. Best of all, it is about 2 ½ “ by .6 “. It uses a single AAA battery. This makes for a very light, small and reliable unit that will serve you well in most situations. It is not the light for a cop or fireman, but it will be easily tucked in a pocket and be within reach 24 hours a day. Here are the specifications from their datasheet.

Uses Cree XP-E2 LED with a lifespan of 50,000 hours
Uses one AAA (Ni-MH, Alkaline) battery
66.2 mm X15mm, 2.6inchesX 0.6 inches (Length X Diameter)
Weight: aluminum version: 12.5g (0.4 oz) excluding battery; stainless steel version: 32g
(1.1 oz) excluding battery
Digitally regulated circuit - maintains constant brightness
Capable of standing up securely on a flat surface to serve as a candle
Reliable twist switch

There are many small power adapters that can accept AA batteries (there are 8 in the above power pack) which can then be connected to charge whatever type of phone or tablet you use to access the internet. Use of the internet has been covered well in other posts so I won't get into that.

Short range communications. I would envision using this when you are working in and around your home and want to stay in more or less constant contact with your mother or other members of your “tribe” within the same structure. Consider one of the bubble pack two way units called FRS/GMRS radios. These are very easy to learn and use. Get ones that use either AA or AAA sized batteries (see a pattern here?). No need for another expensive cell phone and the education needed to operate it. Just turn it on and press the button to talk. Now there are advantages and disadvantages to this concept.

Advantages:
-Very easy to use.

-Cheap. Probably less than $40 for a package of two.

-Use the same batteries as in your power pack set.

-Low power. Means they run a long time and the signal does not cover the whole town. Probably covers your neighborhood though.

-Neighborhood coverage is a big plus. That is if you live among friends. These radios are probably being used by your neighborhood CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) which, if you are fortunate enough to live where CERT is active, gives you a direct link to the local situation. However this requires some planning and coordination before the event.

-Very common. This can be a problem in dense urban areas when kids use them as toys. However during Katrina and other disasters to which I have responded, I seldom heard much in the way of “jibber-jabber”. Mostly it was useful conversations between folks that had no other communications. Again the neighborhood advantage. Bet you find several others in your area using them during the “event”

Disadvantages:
-Neighborhood interference, as noted above.
-Not combat rugged. Might be nice to have a spare.
-You will have to learn a minimum amount of radio stuff. Like how to set the various options and what all the buzzwords mean. But I can help you with that.

I mentioned solar lights above. These are the small hockey puck sized lights people use to light their walkways etc. They charge themselves from sunlight and turn on/off when necessary. Very cheap and they make very nice area lights. Keep a few around near a window and when the power goes off, you will have enough light available to move around safely. No real maintenance required. $10.00 will get you many more than you need.

All well and good, but how do you keep the batteries in the kit charged if there is no power coming out of the wall? Well there is one more item to add to your kit. It is called an inverter. This device changes 12 volt DC as found in a car battery into 120 volts AC as was once present in your wall outlet. Suggestions here are a bit more complex and would depend on your individual situation. Some discussion would be needed. However I saw a nice unit at CostCo for under $20.00 that had two AC outlets and two USB outlets. It would not power anything like a power saw or toaster, but would do nicely to recharge your electric toothbrush or perhaps your battery operated electric drill or some small medical devices. As people become dependent on small technology, the ability to provide recharging becomes more important. During Hurricane Sandy, people were more than willing to allow someone to hook an inverter to their car battery so a group could charge their devices. That is why additional specific information is needed.

So here is how it stands. You will have reliable light, short range communications and be able to charge any small device. Each person would need one flashlight, one battery set as described above and one radio. The “tribe” would need one inverter, and a bunch of the solar lights.

This is just one of many possible kits. A lot depends on your situation and hopefully a discussion will follow.

Nomad.
_________________________
...........From Nomad.........Been "on the road" since '97

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#278183 - 12/24/15 01:28 PM Re: Of lights, power and communications. [Re: Nomad]
LesSnyder Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1533
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
to tack on to Nomad's comments... after the 2004 hurricane season's 9 day power outage, I decided to consolidate my battery source to AA...first to alkaline primaries, did some research, discovered something called a Sanyo/Panasonic Eneloop NiMH...with the advice of AFLM, a good multi input charger, later a 7 w solar panel.. now an additional 18650 multi chemistry charger, .... better EDC lights, mongo lumen flamethrowers, and a couple of lanterns... this pic is what started it... a single Gerber LED task light, incan D cell Maglight, and some kerosene lanterns made it through the 9 days... more better stuff now smile


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#278185 - 12/24/15 03:08 PM Re: Of lights, power and communications. [Re: LesSnyder]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6572
Loc: southern Cal
I recommend this route. I've got a second solar panel coming from Santa and I use eneloops (they don't, or rarely, if ever,leak!)and now 18650s. This system will keep my lights, cellphones, and other small stuff running when the AC goes away.

"Brighten the corner-where you are."

Merry Christmas, everyone!
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#278192 - 12/24/15 08:08 PM Re: Of lights, power and communications. [Re: Nomad]
Jeanette_Isabelle Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/13/06
Posts: 1861
Loc: Emerald City, OZ
The communications is about being in contact with people out of state and getting information I may not get on the radio. For that I need the Internet or cellphone, which may not be available if everything is down. Other than Mom and members of the synagogue, I don't know anyone in Florida.

Jeanette Isabelle
_________________________
"When you're up to your [neck] in alligators, it's hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp." -- Floridian proverb

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#278194 - 12/25/15 03:43 AM Re: Of lights, power and communications. [Re: Nomad]
Nomad Offline
Addict

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 464
Loc: Just wandering around.
Well I need more clarification about who, where and under what circumstances you wish to communicate. There are just too many variables to make any sort of recommendation. Perhaps you would be more comfortable replying by private email. Just click on my name, Nomad, on the left side of the panel and select send a PM.

Although I do not understand your specific needs, I do understand your position and you have more resources at your disposal than you imagine. I will send you a short PM to expand on what I mean. Look for it.

Nomad.
_________________________
...........From Nomad.........Been "on the road" since '97

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#278208 - 12/26/15 06:22 AM Re: Of lights, power and communications. [Re: Nomad]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1384
Hey, Nomad and others, can you give us specific equipment recommendations? I've been prepping only for the 3-day model -- so that means some store-bought batteries would do. What do you recommend in the way of:

-- FRS/GMRS radios
-- Solar charger

Also, while I knew about Eneloops, I don't know about 18650. A quick googling suggests to me that they aren't compatible in size with AA. I'm assuming they aren't compatible with AA devices. How do you use 18650? With super-power flashlights?

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#278209 - 12/26/15 11:56 AM Re: Of lights, power and communications. [Re: Bingley]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6572
Loc: southern Cal
The 18650 designation gives the size- 18mm diameter, 65 mm long (more or less - in practice, there is some variation). "0" indicates the battery is cylindrical. They are not compatible with AA's, but there are lithium-ions that are of that size. unless specifically stated,the AA light's electronics may not be compatible, however. The energy density is significantly higher, compared to other chemistries.

Check out candlepower forums. There is a ton of good info there, as well as relevant cautionary advice.
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#278210 - 12/26/15 12:15 PM Re: Of lights, power and communications. [Re: Bingley]
LesSnyder Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1533
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
Bingley... currently I use the 18650 only in a P6 size high intensity LED light, a Solar Force L2M...the M series is modular, and the tube body unscrews... the 18650 is 18mm x 65mm so is larger diameter than a AA, and comes off my charger at about 4.2v... they take a dedicated charger for the Li-ion chemistry.... basically an 18650 is a replacement for 2 x 123s which are rather expensive... there are several chemistries (denoted by the prefix INR, IMR etc) on the battery label... some of the chemistries are "safer" than others and I would recommend you do research on that specifically, and there are protected and unprotected cells available, that limit the amount of discharge to around 2.5v...

my particular light has a low voltage LED module (XP-G) specifically for 18650s ... (.8 to 4.2v with a low voltage shut off circuit)and works very well.. with the short tube extension from Solar Force that typically allows a 3rd 123, I can run this low power module with 2 x AA, although the AAs rattle around a little due to their smaller diameter...the 18650 did work with a higher rated XM-L2 module

I'm sure more seasoned users will provide you with better information


Edited by LesSnyder (12/27/15 02:03 AM)

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#278211 - 12/26/15 02:14 PM Re: Of lights, power and communications. [Re: Nomad]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1384
Thanks -- I just need you guys to point me in the right direction and I'll be able to do my own research. Don't want to make you reinvent the wheel!

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#278212 - 12/26/15 02:39 PM Re: Of lights, power and communications. [Re: Nomad]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2944
Loc: USA
For a solar charger I'd recommend Goal Zero.

If you're standardizing on AA batteries, I'd recommend Eneloop for rechargeable and Energizer Ultimate Lithium for primary batteries. They last a real long time in storage; ideal, IMO, for kits.

Handheld FRS and GMRS radios won't have great range no matter what you do. Don't bother with GMRS unless you're going to pony up $90 for the license. Motorola makes good ones, just make sure they have PL code capability (most do) and work with the batteries you're stocking.

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