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Archive for January, 2014

Winter Survival Tools

Whether you are at home, or in the car, brutally cold weather brings challenges. Here are some items that can possibly save your bacon. You can melt snow with the stove and filter it with the bottle for clean, life saving water.

American Red Cross FRX3 Hand Turbine NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio with Smartphone Charger
Keep your household prepared with the FRX3. The rechargeable FRX3 is a preparedness radio with AM/FM, all seven NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather band stations and the “Alert” system. When the “Alert” function is on, the radio will automatically broadcast emergency weather alerts for your area such as hurricanes, tornadoes and severe storms. Set the solar panel in the sun or spin the hand turbine for one minute to get 10-15 minutes of radio and flashlight use. There are also AAA battery and DC power alternatives (mini-USB included).

The FRX3 also serves as a renewable power source for your other critical devices because of its USB smart phone charger. Simply plug in your phone into the USB port and power will automatically “dump charge” to your phone, just like plugging into the wall. This radio has a glow-in-the-dark locater so you can find it easily at night plus a LED flashlight and red flashing beacon for emergencies. If you want more than just the radio, there’s an AUX-input to play your own tunes and a headphone output for individual listening.

SOL 2-person Emergency Bivvy (Shelters)
SOL 2-person Emergency Bivvy The ultralight, ultra-warm full protection shelter! The SOL Emergency Bivvy is made from the same heat-reflective polyethylene as AMK’s world-famous emergency blankets (reflecting 90% of your body heat back to you), with the added benefit of being fully sealed so that no wind, rain, or snow can get inside. If you’re forced to spend the unexpected night outdoors, hop in the SOL Emergency Bivvy as soon as the temperature drops and instantly improve the odds in your favor.

Vapur Microfilter Bottle
This light weight chemical-free filtration system removes 99.9999% of water borne bacteria and protozoan cysts such as Giardia and Cyptosporidium
Military tested, essential backcountry/travel companion; Filters hundreds of liters of drinking water; No chemicals, no pumping, no batteries
Original pop cap for safe and leak proof use; 100% made in U.S.A. BPA-free polyethylene & Nylon
The most portable microbial filter bottle on the planet
All Vapur bottles come with an integrated carabiner, making it easy to clip to your pack or belt loop

Sterno Single Burner Folding Stove
Single burner folding stove (don’t forget matches)
Folds to 1-1/2″ thick for easy storage & portability
Rust free aluminum panels reflect heat back under the cooking vessel


Survival 2-Way Radios

gt-3In an emergency, you need to be heard. You need to know what is going on around you. Information and communication is critical. I’d like to introduce you to what I consider a critical communications tool for when things get hairy.

In a disaster scenario, when normal lines of communications are down, the Ham Radio Community comes to the rescue. The disaster net of choice is the 2m band, and sometimes the 70cm band.

The Baofeng GT-3 not only has 5 watts of power on both of these bands, but also receives weather and normal FM bands for staying current on the news that affects you. It also has a built in LED flashlight and a personal siren for getting the attention of rescuers.

For the very affordable price of $70 (and $15 to get your Ham Radio License), you will be part of an exclusive community dedicated to providing communications when the grid is down.

Read more about our hands on review of this radio at


Nando passes on – RIP my friend!

nandoThose that hang out on the 12vdc or micro-hydro groups probably know Nando (KC5FDW) well. He was a electronics engineer extraordinaire, and had hands on experience with the original Edison Batteries. I am sorry to relay the news that he has passed on. He went in for a triple bypass Dec. 18th, and left this world on Dec. 31st. He will be missed!

He studied at San Francisco State University and Healds College, and in 1963, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Engineering. He was an assistant lab professor at Healds College when he met his beautiful future wife, Margoth Velez. They married March 8, 1969 in Bogota, Colombia and then enjoyed their honeymoon in Jamaica. After the honeymoon, he and his wife moved to Dallas, Texas where they have remained and called home. He loved his work and was very proud of it and the years he spent working at Rockwell International were particularly special to him. Throughout the years he worked on a variety of advanced defense systems that have kept this country safe. He fathered three beautiful children and loved them dearly. His greatest loves were electronics, computers, and soccer. He mastered electronic, mechanical, and electrical engineering and was an avid handyman and fixer-upper.


The Flower Pot Candle Heater: Hoax or Not?

flower pot candleThere has been a rash of video’s and facebook posts promising to “Easily Heat Your Home Using Flower Pots & Tea Lights”. This is an older concept that seems to be dusted off every once in a while, and pushed on the gullible. I will attempt to explain the science behind the phenomena, and you can decide if it works for you.

A naked candle puts out a very small amount of heat into a room (approximately 263 BTU/h or 77w), so you would need 19 candles burning to equal the typical 1500w room heater.

Ok but a flower pot makes it put out more heat, right?

No, a flower pot converts the candles convective (air) heat, to radiant (body) heat. It also shifts the time period, as the clay takes a while to heat up, and also to cool down. If you are sitting directly next to the pot, you would feel warmer, but the room would take longer to heat up. Both methods would bring the room up to the same temperature.

19 candles would incur sooting and corresponding lung issues, so I suggest a cleaner heating source. For comparison purposes, a 77 watt light bulb running 24 hours per day costs $0.18 (at $0.10 / kWh). That’s cheaper than buying candles, and better for your health. You could put it in a flower pot if it makes you feel better ….

The science behind candles


The Electric Tractor

tractor_logoWant to rid yourself of the gasoline and oil in the typical lawn mower and garden tractor. Think electric. Quiet, solar chargeable, and reduced maintenance (no ethanol gasoline issues), here is a better way to mow your lawn!

The GE Elec-Trak was the first commercially produced all-electric garden tractor, made mostly between 1969 and 1975. Despite their limited production and availability, many Elec-Traks are still in use today, and have a cult following among tractor and electric vehicle enthusiasts. They are an archetypal or seminal design that has influenced all later electric tractors.

The Electric Tractor Store is a trade name of Free Range Eelctric, LLC, a Limited Liability Company registered with the Secretary of State of Virginia. Our goal is to increase the use of existing electric garden tractors and promote the introduction of new garden and small farm sized electric tractors. We hope having a steady supply of parts will encourage more people to keep their old machines in use and save them from the scrap yard.

The Electric Tractor Store was started as the on-line store-front of Punsit Creek Designs, LLC which was founded by Jim Coate in 2006 to provide electric vehicle and other services in Spencertown, New York. Jim has been a long-time electric vehicle and renewable energy promoter. Some of his personal projects may be seen at; he has presented various workshops including many at the NOFA summer conferences.

Initially, The Electric Tractor Store focused on providing parts for the GE, Wheelhorse, and New Idea “Elec-Trak” models from NOS and aftermarket sources. In 2008, the Elec-Trak parts business of Bill Gunn of Technical Services was acquired. This included all the original drawings and supplier information which greatly enhances our ability to provide new parts for years to come.

In 2010, The Electric Tractor Store moved to Waynesboro, Virginia, becoming part of Free Range Electric, LLC. Free Range Electric serves various electric vehicle needs, while The Electric Tractor Store continues to grow. During 2010, The Electric Tractor Store became a dealer for the WhisperMow electric lawn tractor.

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