The Frugal Faraday

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by Mike Traczyk ChaosReady | 1/5/2015

Anyone who has started prepping has by now heard of, or even already has, a Faraday cage.  If you are new to prepping, this is a term you will undoubtably hear many times over.  A Faraday cage is simply a storage device to protect important electronics in the event of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).  To put simply, an EMP is a pulse of gamma ray radiation generated either by a solar flare or a thermonuclear explosion in the atmosphere.  This pulse of energy creates a powerful electrical current that can travel through the Earth’s own magnetic field and ionosphere and then filter down into any man made electrical components frying all delicate circuitry along the way.  The damage caused would be catastrophic rendering everything from cell phones and automobiles to electrical grids and communication networks useless.

The effects of an EMP first became known by the well publicized Carrington Event of 1859. A massive solar flare was released by our Sun during a very active solar cycle.  The CME, or Coronal Mass Ejection, traveled 90 million miles and happened to get a direct hit on Earth frying telegraph wires across the country and around the world.  The pulse was so strong that telegraph lines exploded.  The potential damage an EMP can cause was confirmed in a 1962 US military exercise in which a nuclear war head was detonated 248 miles over the South Pacific.  It caused an unintended radio disruption that stretched from California to Australia.

A Faraday cage, named after English scientist Michael Faraday, is designed to block this electrical surge and protect whatever contents it contains.  A Faraday cage can be any size as long as it is constructed of a conductive material.  Luckily for those of us prepping on a budget, there are ways to construct simple and cheap enclosures that can protect valuable electronics.  Today I will be covering one of the most basic and inexpensive ways to construct a simple Faraday Cage.  Now this won’t be nearly as effective at blocking harmful electrical currents as say a military bunker, or large metal structure, but it’s a great way to get familiar with the concept, give yourself some added security and also have a little fun while doing it.

Supplies needed:

  • 2 Shoe Boxes (one slightly smaller than the other)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Metal Foil Tape

 

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  1. Start with the larger of your two boxes. Begin lining the inside with aluminum foil.  Try to be as thorough as possible to ensure good coverage
  2. Use the foil tape to secure it in place as well as close an gaps, reinforce corners, etc.
  3. Do the same to the lid of the box
  4. Once you feel good about your progress test fit your smaller box. Trim it accordingly if need be.

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That’s it!  You can line the inside with additional cardboard or foam if you would like for added protection for your devices.  The more layers the better.  You can also wrap individual items in foil for added protection as well.  One can also add silica gel moisture absorbers if you live in a humid environment (hint you can make your own with cat litter and old sock or stocking).

You might be wondering what one can possibly need if all other grid and communication dependent devices and services are rendered useless.  For starters, flashlights with spare batteries to power them!  Also good to have are two way radios, a portable solar panel, and emergency radio.  You can also add additional items you think you may need in a grid down situation such as entertainment for the kids, backups for your backups, etc.  Make sure you store enough batteries for any and all devices and or other ways to charge them.  Another thing to remember is to rotate your batteries.  If your devices already have batteries in them make sure to change these yearly (I change all necessary batteries during the Christmas Holiday, flashlights, smoke detectors, red dots & optics, etc).  This ensures peace of mind and also prevents any possible damage in case your batteries are older than you think and leak acid.  Make sure you check all the batteries you are storing to make sure they have not leaked acid and gone bad as well! If they do, toss them and replace them as needed.

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Now this is a very simple and cheap DIY when it comes to constructing a Faraday Cage.  It should provide basic protection against any minor EMP threat.  If you need more room a galvanized trash can also be used, just make sure to line the interior so your devices are not touching anything conductive.  If you have old microwave sitting unplugged in your garage throw some devices in it.  Microwaves are actually their own Faraday cage since they were built with the intent of preventing radiation from escaping.  They are just as effective at protecting whatever is inside from outside energy.  If budget and space allow it you can even go to the extreme of building a metal framed structure with steel siding that is completely insulated.  If you have kids have them each make their own small Faraday cage to throw some old toys in and include them in the project.  They will get a kick out of it and learn something at the same time.  Whatever route you decide to go in constructing your own Faraday cage have fun with it!  If it ever comes time to use the devices stored, fun might be the last thing on your mind. Be Prepared, Be Confident, Be Chaos Ready.

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