Friday, December 23, 2011

Who Is Paladin Press?

Paladin Press is running a nice little 'getting-to-know-ya' series on their employees. Check it out over at their blog.

For the next several weeks, Paladin Planet will be running a series featuring short profiles of various Paladin employees. The profiles are intended to put a face on the various people involved in the acquisition, production, marketing, sales, and distribution of Paladin books and videos. Once an employee is profiled here, we'll move their information to our Facebook page. The first in the series is owner and publisher Peder Lund... Read More

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to make a Low Cost 802.11A Directional Antenna using an old, obsolete PrimeStar Dish

{Forgive the spelling errors below, I just lifted it from Cornell's site} Check out our radio experimentation books and pamphlets over at Last Earth Distro's retail site.

Our workgroup had been seeking a low cost temporary solution for a point-to-point link to an offsite facility. We needed greater than 10Mbps throughput and thought 802.11a wireless might offer some promise.

At the present moment (June 2002) no manufacturers offer low-cost devices with detactable antennae. This significantly limits range of 802.11a to around 300 Meters under the best conditions. Directional antenna are needed to focus the send/receive energy at further distance.

Inspired by the work of Rob Frohne and his Primestar Wireless Antenna Page - . I decided the solution was to integrate the low-cost Access Point, directly into an obsolete PrimeStar TV Dish.

After a little experimentation and engineering (the feed horn is a particularly important component). I found that simple modification of a US standard aluminum soda can would work. I obviously have a few mounting and water-proofing details the work-out.

Much to my shock, It Worked!!! I was able to get to the end of my test range easily (~1000ft), and my latop was registering 60% signal strength and 24Mbps connectivity. Now onto the actual installation...

I guess that the side-to-front gain is around 9-10db. The large area of the Primestar dish seemed to help pick-up the much lower energy laptop card well (I had tried previously with a Dish Network dish).

A rough design of the feed horn,
a sode can is 2.5inches, a bit
too big.

Cut top off can, cut
antenna hole 0.6" from

Netgear HE102 ready to install.
OBTW, the foil also helps one
ground the can, which is needed.  

Original PrimeStar feed horn.
in final install I will modify
it and use its mounting.

For this test, I wrapped the
the unit in foil to eliminate
its effect.

Installed as close as possible to
original location

OK, packing tape will do the
job for now... It works for me.

Fully outfitted PrimeStar Dish
ready for testing...

My test range, I am limited to
around 1000ft.

June 29, 2002 Dean Eckstrom

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lifesaver Bottles and the Water Cone

These are pretty damn cool... Not as cool as the lifecone or water cone or whatever it's called.

The world's first portable nano-filtration technology. Providing a simple, reliable source of sterile drinking water anywhere.  

Friday, December 9, 2011

Survivalist Holiday Season and Shopping for Preppers

I dug this one out of a survivaltopics forum post from a few years back. It's got some all-around good advice, though I would of course substitute local stores for his big-box recommendations, even if you have to pay a bit more for the same items. They're usually higher quality brands and the money gets recycled in your local community, so that's where the real savings occur.

Of course, if you're shopping for books for Prepper-types this holiday season, we've got you covered. If you're in need of an Eastern Washington Independent Bookstore, wander into Earthlight Books in Walla Walla, Washington and ask my father David what he's got in stock and pick up a Last Earth Distro Catalog while you're at it.

If you're seeking a Western Washington Independent Bookstore specializing in Counterculture and Survivalist Books, drop in to Last Word Books & Press in Olympia, Washington. Last Earth Distro has a little retail corner there, and they've got tons of other fine literature for the clandestine bibliophile.

Otherwise, if you're needing to equip a gear-head, hop on over to The Survival Center:  America's Premier Preparedness Center In Continuous Operation Since the early 1970's: Supplier of Family Preparedness, Health, and Survival Supplies - Their warehouse is in McKenna, Washington, just a hop, skip and a jump past Lacey, right next door to the Rampthan Compound. :)

-The Lone Haranguer

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Default Survivalist Holiday Season

Ahh, the holidays are here. Thanksgiving (well, for the American contingent at least) marks the beginning of the holiday season, and as such, it is a perfect feeding ground for survivalists. Think about all the bargains just for us (yeah, they weren't made that way, but we adapt!)

1) Food. This is the time to stock up on the pantry, folks. Your local superstore, grocery store and Save-a-lot (not to mention Wallyworld, etc.) will have BIG bargains on canned goods. 25 cent cans of corn, green beans, peas, carrots, yams, cranberry sauce, mushrooms, those cute little french fried onion curls, fruit cocktail, etc. Now is the time to put that stuff up. Look at the price of turkey! When would be a better time to buy a bunch of turkey breasts, slice 'em thin and make jerky than right now when they are just pennies per pound? Heck, you might want to can and freeze some of that too. Also, it's hunting season. If you DON'T hunt (and what's wrong with you if you don't? FREE MEAT!!), call up some of your buddies who DO, and see if they would be willing to pass on some of that yummy venison your way. Hard candy: Halloween is big for chocolate, which doesn't store or travel well. Christmas is the time for hard candy, like mints and fruit bits, and such. They are good all year 'round, but cheapest to buy now. Hickory Farms, Swiss Colony and all the others like that have their big Food Boxes for sale this season in virtually every mall, plus catalogs and the Net. Get some for yourself, but get a few for those Non-Prepper friends. Tell them that it's a good way to start thinking about keeping "a little something" on hand for emergencies. Heck, those meat logs and cheese wheels are delicious all year, but it's especially nice to pull that out when the power goes out and you have nothing but peanut butter in the pantry. Warn them that unlike traditional smoked and cured meats, those logs won't last without refrigeration for more than a couple of months, unless they store them in the freezer. While you are at it, pick up a couple of the cheese wheels that have the parrafin wax coating on them. THOSE will last a good long time untouched. Once you break the wax though, it's back to the fridge or mold will take over just like any cheese. Get smaller ones (1 1/2 lb or so) or waxed blocks (under 1 lb) for best usage. Cookies, crackers and popcorn in tins are big this time of year, and store really well unopened. They are also great Intro To Prepping 101 gifts for your friends and family.

2) The "Under $10 Gift Aisle". You know it, you love it. Target, Wallyworld, Kmart, your local discount store like Big Lots or Family Dollar, or drugstores like CVS, RiteAid and Walgreens. They ALL have a space set aside for those cheap gift items that are meant for the people you are obligated to buy something for but don't want to spend a lot of money on. Great. While you are there, pick up a few things for yourself (the "one for you, one for me" method! ) Shamwows (great camping/backpacking towels), Snuggies (those half-robe, half blanket things? Great as a car blanket for emergencies), PastaMagic (or the many other similar versions---basically a thermos tube that you pour pasta and hot water into. It cooks fast because of steam pressure in the closed container. It has a strainer lid to pour off the water when done. Great for Ramen and other noodles when camping/backpacking.), Fleece Blankets (these things are good at home, in the car, up camping, in a BOB. Throw-sized warm blankets, and during the holidays you see them for $5 to $10 bucks in almost every store!), 12vDC Appliances (all sorts of goodies made for the commuter. Hands free kits for your phone, chargers for everything, coffee cups that plug in and warm your coffee...which can also melt snow if you were stranded along the road, without starting your car heater!), small kitchen appliances (toasters, coffee pots, hot plates, etc. that can run efficiently off of a generator in an emergency). With it being hunting season, you can also pick up great bargains on ammo, disposable hot packs, and multi-packs of 1 lb. propane tanks, as well as several other goodies at your local sporting goods dept. or superstore.

3) Gift cards. Just like money, these things can be a life saver if you are out of cash and need something fast. They are also great "Prepper gifts". Nothing says "just in case" like having that card in your wallet if you need it. Gas cards, fast food cards like McDonalds, and grocery store cards are great and always useful and appreciated. However, you can take that to another level and get cards for Cabela's/Bass Pro Shops for hunting/camping gear, or gift certificates and a catalog from places like Emergency Essentials or Nitro-pak, with enough to buy a 3 day kit or a FD/Dehydrated Food starter pack. People won't usually spend their own money to try something like that out, but they will spend yours without a doubt.

4) Entertainment. Check out the bargains on DVD players and small 12v TVs for camping, game systems and video games of all types, movies and CDs on sale, and Toys R Us/FAO Schwartz or Wallyworld/Kmart type stores have TONS of small stocking stuffer games (great for backpacks and BOBs) and deals on board games for those nights around the fireplace when the power is out, or those simulated TSHTF drills. Books and other diversions are often on sale this time of year too.

5) Gifts. This is the time of year you get to be someone's Secret Santa. Your kids, your spouse, your co-workers or friends. All of them are potential "Preppers" if you give them the right gifts. Look for ways to get them involved with a gift that has a purpose, but says "start thinking about if things go wrong...what will you do?". Car emergency and tool kits, a 3 day "earthquake/hurricane" kit, hobby kits like leatherworking, electronics, or other crafts, some of the items I listed above like the $10 or less or the Meat and Cheese gifts, or a good book on the subject of survival. Could be a good manual like the SAS guide or Worst Case Scenario book, or it could be a novel with a survival twist, like The Stand or Lucifer's Hammer, or it could be a non-fiction book like One Man's Wilderness, Into the Wild, or Perfect Storm. Maybe one of the gift cards I mentioned. As long as you let them know that you are thinking of them not just today when the sun is shining and all is well, but in case something goes wrong and you are not there at the moment, any good gift can be a Prepper gift.

Hope this has inspired a few to go out and get some things, for themselves and others, this holiday season. If you are going to spend money anyway, why not spend it wisely and to a good purpose. 
"A free citizenry should never abide a government that seeks control over it's populous rather than service to them" -- Celticwarrior 

Last edited by Celticwarrior; 11-15-2009 at 20:12.

How to eat wild stuff and not get poisoned

Let's play pretend for a moment. Are you with me?
Let's pretend you can't go down to the supermarket for food to eat.
In fact, let's pretend that there is not a supermarket for one hundred miles in any direction, and you don't have any food with you. In this pretend land, you are stranded in the wilderness. Perhaps your GPS navigation unit directed you to detour onto a closed mining road in the middle of nowhere, and you didn't have the sense to second-guess it until your rental car got stuck in seasonal mud, and you decide to head out into the woods instead of following the road back.
Does this seem unlikely? It's happened twice in 2011 so far. Don't discount the possibility.
What this guide is:
This is a guide to wild things that are 100% safe to eat.
What this guide is not:
This is NOT a guide to figuring out if something may or may not be safe to eat. It does not cover plant identification, edge cases, things that are poisonous unless processed in a specific way, etc. If that's what you're looking for, I would suggest starting in chapters 89, and 10 of the US Army Field Manual 21-76.
This is very easy to make 100% foolproof. Unless you are in the Amazon basin, where it is reported that there is a potentially toxic exception to this rule, aggregate berries are all safe to eat. Aggregate berries look like raspberries, blackberries, and Boysenberries - clusters of smaller "droplets" that may or may not have hair, seeds, or tiny leaves mixed in.
Unless you are completely sure, do not eat non-aggregate berries - berries that are shaped like blueberries or gooseberries. In contrast with aggregate berries, which are a sure bet, upwards of 90% of white non-aggregate berries are poisonous; more black/blue berries are edible than red berries, but this will be dependent on what species are found in the area. Depending on the biome and season, you're much better off going hungry than playing berry-roulette, and just because animals eat a berry doesn't mean it's not poisonous to people!
Green Stuff
Most "green stuff" is not outright toxic, but can definitely cause you some distress. It's not a great idea to eat random handfuls of leaves or grass or moss. It probably won't kill you, but it can definitely cause you to wish you were dead. I've avoided listing anything that requires very much knowledge of plants or identification characteristics.
Note: You should use caution when eating any plant, particularly plants found in the water - they can harbor any creepy crawly that may have been living in the water, includinggiardia cryptosporidium among others. When in doubt, boil the hell out of it.
The lateral roots (rhizomes) of the common cattail are edible raw and high in nutrition, though they are tough and stringy. In fact, all parts of the plant are edible, including the flower spike at the top if you can get to it before it opens up and starts to grow hair. Not having the corndog-looking top does make them a bid harder to separate from the other reeds, so if you aren't sure, don't eat it.
Acorn meal (the yellow-orange stuff inside of acorns) is a great food, assuming there are acorns around. Don't gather fallen acorns, they very often are rotten inside or full of foul-tasting worms and worm poop. If no ripe, hanging acorns are available to pick or shake down, check each fallen acorn, including under the cap, for an entry hole made by the worms. Discard wormy acorns, unless you're hungry enough to eat them anyway. Smash acorns open with a rock (or something) and eat the acorn meal raw, or make a paste and cook it to try to improve the taste. If they are bitter, you can leech them in water for a while.
Most nuts with shells are edible, but don't mess around with any that you don't immediately recognize from the big dish on the coffee table during the holidays. Don't eat wild cashews, the fruit is quite poisonous, as are the nuts unless properly roasted.
Don't touch them unless you really know what you're doing. Seriously. If you don't know what you're doing, you're better off risking starvation than messing around with mushrooms.
Never eat wild critters raw! Always skin and dress them! And the best way to cook them is to boil the hell out of them, both to kill parasites and bacteria, and also to save all the nutrients you can rather than letting them drip out.
If it has fur, you can eat it, providing you: 
  • Avoid livers, spinal cords, and brains unless you're sure you know what you're supposed to be looking to avoid.
  • Avoid intestines and stomachs in non-herbivores. The stomach contents of strict herbivores can be eaten, if you're hungry enough to try. Lungs are delicious boiled, as are eyeballs. Discard small organs if you don't know what they are. Bone marrow is a good source of nutrition, but again, don't mess around with the spine.
If it has feathers:
  • Follow the same rules as with furred creatures, but do not eat organs, stomach contents, or gizzards of wild birds. These parts are potentially chock full of parasites, and birds eat plenty of stuff (like non-aggregate berries) that are not good for you to eat.
  • Do not eat the skin or outer layer of fat, particularly with seabirds. The skin and outer layer of fat concentrate toxins and parasites in wild birds. These are not like KFC chickens, skin and dress them just like any other critter.
If it has scales and doesn't live in the water:
  • Eat the meat, don't mess around with the rest.
  • Particularly for smaller scaled critters, if the skin seems greasy, oily, or foul-smelling, don't mess around with it at all. This is probably mucous that falls between irritating and toxic, and will get all over everything no matter how you try to cook it.
  • If it's a snake, you are in luck. Snakes are basically a tube of pure lean meat that is full of goop, though sometimes they have a poison injector on the end. Make sure you cut well back from the head, as in some species the poison glands can extend beyond what looks like the limit of the head and into what looks like the "neck".
If it has scales and lives in the water (and it's not a snake):
  • There are no poisonous freshwater fish, and very few poisonous saltwater fish. Don't mess around with pufferfish or any brightly colored saltwater fish. Don't mess around with turtles, unless you can identify and therefore not eat box turtles. They eat the mushrooms that you aren't supposed to eat, and can become toxic themselves.
  • Fish under two inches can be cooked and eaten whole.
  • Fish over two inches should be gutted and cleaned out.
  • Never eat fish raw in a survival situation. Don't eat fish guts, don't eat fish gills, don't eat fish eyes or brains. What's left is fair game - they're basically two slabs of meat held together by a convenient skeleton.
If it doesn't have fur, feathers, or scales:
  • Don't mess with it. Seriously. Leave it alone. There's a good chance it's pretty dangerous in some way, and we're assuming for the purposes of guaranteed safety that you are clueless. Sorry.
  • Some of the few exceptions to this rule are crayfish, lobsters, clams, and other things that are immediately recognizable as food. Don't eat them raw, even oysters - always boil the hell out of them. Don't eat mussels or other saltwater mud-dwellers in the summer months in the tropics, or during red tides.
  • Frogs are another exception to this rule. They are basically the opposite of a snake. They are a big bag of goop with a couple of edible legs attached.Stay away from non-green frogs, particularly in the tropics.
That about wraps it up. Yes, I realize that there are about a hojillion readily identifiable fruits, plants, herbs, and properly labeled cans of food to be found all over the world. This is for people who don't even want to bother with learning to discern leaf shapes, let alone flower colors, stalk layers, fruit differentiation, odor, etc. and so forth. I have also left out the identification of common fruits, though it would have probably padded the writeup a bit, particularly the tropical fruits for my less-adventurous temperate readers. And also, yes, I realize that discarding all of those organs and other bits from critters is a waste of potential nutrients, but if I'm not talking about leaf shapes, why would I talk about liver flukes or discolored spinal cord? In conclusion, I leave you with these two very general and always applicable tips:
  • If you don't know what it is and it's not on the list, don't mess with it.
  • Even if you know what it is, if it IS an animal, or has been messed with by an animal, boil the hell out of it.

References include USA FM 21-76, various US Mil survival schools, and plenty of time in the back country.
I was saved from the error of classifying frogs with the scaly things by the intrepid DonJaime, though, as even he admits, this ruins the fairly elegant rule set. Alas.
doyle insists you needn't boil mulberries. And really, you needn't boil berries or fruits in general, unless you suspect that a critter got to them first.