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 New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electronics 
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Post New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electronics
I’ve been reading up on EMP protection, Faraday cages and wrapping etc, and there seems to be considerable disagreement about what, precisely, is required for effective protection.

This much is agreed-on:

• Aluminum or copper shielding is more effective protection than steel or other metals.

• More thin layers of metal/insulation are better than trusting one thick layer.

• Always unplug everything before wrapping and enclose the cord inside the foil/plastic wrapping – or you might have an ‘antenna’ problem – the cord draws the EMP right into your stuff..! Zaaap. :headbang

If you stash stuff in your microwave under duress – you must cut the microwave’s cord off... Sux, I know, but: the antenna problem, again....! :gah

• Your protected items must be insulated from the shielding metal by poly plastic, paper or organic (cotton, not poly) fabric. Do not use a static-prone material. You can use Saran wrap, a large plastic bag, even a dry-cleaning bag if nothing else is available. Or a cotton pillowcase.

However:

• Some say thin metal foil, especially aluminum foil is all that’s required as long as it is sealed around all sides and the object inside is insulated by wrapping in plastic, paper or fabric so that it does not contact the metal. Others insist a safe structure must be very heavily layered with metal and insulation. Depends on what kind of zap you’re expecting, I suppose.


• Others claim a copper or brass mesh is all that’s required. Possibly.


• Some say all Faraday devices must be grounded; other claim a badly designed ground wire can become a dangerous antenna for EMP waves instead. No agreement here; even the military seems confused on this one. (In fairness, most of their publically-available testing was done with underground Nuke explosions in the 1970’s.) I’m personally going to avoid antenna-like grounding unless persuaded otherwise. Your call.


Nevertheless, here are few possible “cheap and cheerful” Faraday-like wrappers for electronics to consider (Use multiple plastic/metal layers if you are the extra-cautious type):

1) Mylar “space thermal blankets” used for emergency thermal protection will work for wrapping large items like TV screens or monitors. These are incredibly cheap (I got a dozen for $10, shipping included, on EBay), reasonably sturdy and store in tiny packets. I have one taped to the back of my TV for quick access, along with a tightly folded dry-cleaning bag (or use a large garbage bag). Drill: stuff TV screen w/ cord into plastic bag for insulation, wrap into mylar, tape down, scurry to next task...


Space thermal blankets also ought to be in everyone’s BOB, for a lot of reasons. They take up hardly any space, weigh nothing, are cheap as heck but will keep in 90% of your body heat – or deflect extreme sun - always important if outdoors or wet or lacking warm clothing, since shelter/hypothermia/maintain body temperature is one of the greatest survival necessities: actually number #2 after #1 potable water, but ahead of #3 food supply in the top 5 issues. Keep one for each family member, and a few spares on hand.

2) “Hot Cold” food carry bags, like these:
Image

These bags are also inexpensive, large, sturdy and already plastic-lined. Only thing I’d do is “turn down” the snap-handle against the bag after filling, so the metallised seal is tighter. Good for quick stuffing of valuables if you haven’t got any better ideas in a pinch. Also found on eBay/Amazon or your local bigmart grocery. I keep a few rolled up on top of my main EMP refuge: an old filing cabinet in my basement. Also good to stash next to those items that will need protecting.

3) Really stuck? Use a large stewing pot with a tight lid. But be sure to bag or wrap your stuff first so it doesn’t contact the metal of the pot.


4) An aluminum briefcase or luggage – if it’s actually aluminum and not simply silver-colored plastic – could make a good regular overnight resting place for your laptop. Just don’t leave the cord hanging out connected to a charger overnight .....

5) Those electrostaticly discharging bubble wrap shipping bags (the metal colored ones, not the pink or blue) used for shipping sensitive electronics. Effective, insulated, but can be small and fairly expensive. But for the truly compulsive, you can save any that arrive with your next order....

BTW, as I went room to room making my list of ‘what to pack’ – a list to be stashed in the drawer of my EMP filing cabinet because I won’t remember them all at the time – I noted stuff like:

• The controller box for my internet cable, (vital link)

• The wireless device box (ditto)

The emergency hand- crank radio with shortwave: geez. Vital. Without it my entire neighbourhood would be cut off... and sensitive electronics. Yes.

• One of my land-line phones. Unclip it from its cable. Can’t hurt to protect it if the cells go down. (And assuming the land lines recover, but.....)

However, the buzz is that your stash of AA and other alkaline/lithium batteries would be safe. Okay, if true.

• But I would stash the recharger plug for your rechargeable batteries. In fact, rechargeable batteries could prove to be worth their weight in gold if you’ve also got some kind of solar recharging device... protected, of course. We’ve got a good general one from Solio, but I have never used it. It’s wrapped in foil and living in my file drawer...

The thing is: so many devices these days contain microprocessors – even fairly simple ones – but if they get zapped.... Pays to look around your house, room by room. Make a list. Plan. Think.

Cheers,

Selene


Sun Oct 31, 2010 4:26 pm
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Post Re: New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electronics
Thanks, Selene! You gave me some great ideas. I have an old filing cabinet too. I had forgotten about wrapping the electronics first before putting in the metal container, and the blankets and cold bags are terrific ideas. I am buying some tomorrow. (I already have a stash of the blankets, but I need those for "people" emergencies so will get more for Faraday uses.)

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Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:25 pm
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Post Re: New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electronics
Hi, Rutsy :wavey

Since we could have only a very short warning of an EMP event, my trusty filing cabinet has an already- emptied drawer, labelled "EMP Safety Only" (to prevent DH from using for files), and contains:

- My list of things that need packing away- and their current locations in the house - saves time and panic - I can give the list to DH to gather

- A few old cotton pillowcases and some large plastic bags, garbage bags

- A fresh roll of aluminum foil (should be two, perhaps... ;) )

- Some mylar thermal space blankets and hot/cold bags in case the drawer gets full

- a few already foil wrapped (and labelled) electronic items under long term storage, including blank thumb drives, camera cards, etc.

Cheers,

Selene


Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:10 pm
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Post Re: New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electronics
The X-Class solar flare of Feb 14 (2011) with an accompanying CME (coronal mass ejection) wasn’t strong enough - or not aimed at the Earth, I’m not sure which – so it didn’t cause any damage to electronics via EMP.

But the prospect made for a good ‘fire drill’ for my EMP protection system: an empty drawer in an old metal filing cabinet, stocked with:
• a few old pillowcases (for insulation),
• a roll of aluminum foil and
• a few mylar survival blankets (for wrapping large objects that won’t fit into the drawer)
• a list of all household items with chips that will need protecting: laptops, cameras, phones, external hard drives, modems and wireless LAN, car keys, wind-up shortwave radio (yes, it has electronics) etc etc

Result and learning?

• One drawer might not be large enough for everything.... :huh
• Some items ‘wander’: can’t always locate stuff quickly
• Some items should perhaps become ‘long term residents’ in the EMP drawer – we don’t use them every day
• Remember to unplug power cords from the units to avoid an ‘antenna’ problem: the cord acting as an EMP-magnet
• Re-connecting wireless etc hook-ups will be faster if I color-code the connections – this is important because if EMP/solar activity is to increase, probably, then we’ll be stashing stuff on a regular basis – and re-connecting should be fast and easy or you’ll get lazy about ‘crying wolf’ and stop doing it.

Remember, if a really bad EMP wipes out you stuff, it will also wipe out all the replacements you were hoping to get from your Electronic Big Buy store: that stuff in boxes isn’t EMP protected either!

Cheers,

Selene


Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:39 am
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Post Re: New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electroni
I was discussing this topic with someone at work who asked about gamma rays, which he said are different to microwaves and might therefore pass through the protective screens used with microwave ovens.

Does anyone know?

I ask because I have an old microwave oven which no longer works and I was able to persuade others here to let me have it rather than throw it out.

(thankfully no-one asked me *why* I wanted it ;) )

Simon

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Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:50 pm
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Post Re: New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electroni
Cool question Simon. That microwave will certainly be an asset for emp's wanting to "take-out" your electronic materials.

As far as gamma rays go, they will penetrate most materials that are not thick enough to absorb their energy. That's why they can be carcenogenic if too much is absorbed.

As far as my knowledge goes, only electromagnetic sources are stopped in the Faraday setup, such as radio and microwaves, which are the damaging element for electronics. I suppose if you bomb a hard drive with too much gamma rays it will also be destroyed in some way. We get too little from Stellar sources to have that effect I think.

:hmm

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Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:42 am
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Post Re: New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electroni
How about wrapping the microwave in tinfoil as added protection.?

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Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:37 am
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Post Re: New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electroni
Reminder to self: check reliable source daily to get warning of impending EMP!

I just signed up for NOAA's email alert notification which will send immediate notice of alerts, warnings, watches, forecasts, and summaries (helpful for those with occasional memory lapses!). ;) Here's the link for anyone interested who hasn't already thought of this, which I'm sure most have. :embarressed

https://pss.swpc.noaa.gov/LoginWebForm. ... bForm.aspx


edited to add: There is a "weather" website that has a lot of information and links in one place which I often go to rather than fumbling around to remember where to look for something. Here's that link:

http://www.weathergeneration.com/

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Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:12 pm
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Post Re: New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electroni
L - I think a microwave disconnected from a power source is a well sufficient Faraday system for protection. Gamma rays fly through foil like its cling wrap! It's the electrically charged particles that will do the damage to our electronics.

Ruts - as I understand from my insights to our risks, I believe the Sun or a stellar body erupting to be our greatest threat from EMP pulse risk. If you check out the science, a massive eruption from the Sun takes only eight minutes to reach the earth. I don't think we are going to be fast enough to stop that frying most exposed things including our bodies. Hence all the underground bases and cities....

Then there is the Electromagnetic Null Zone we are going to pass through, causing our Earth's outer protection to be "Switched Off". That's a big Hmmmmm! What happens to our brain functions which are magnetic! Big Hmmmm?

Faith is my armour!


:heart

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Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:33 pm
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Post Re: New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electroni
Yikes! Sky, then I think Selene is right to keep things we don't use daily, like a crank shortwave radio, in permanent hibernation (i.e. homemade Faraday cage), along with battery charger, thumb drives that we aren't using etc. If the 8 minute zap hits us, then goodbye to most of modern man anyway; there probably wouldn't be any transmitters to send a signal to listen to with the rescued radio... So what is it that we will get warnings about where there would be time to rush around and put stuff in their cages? Solar flares? Filaments erupting or would that be an immediate effect? Never mind, I have some research to do. :huh

I know I can look this up and I will, but if you have a quick answer... how large an area would such a quick-actiong solar eruption affect? It can't be the entire globe - would it be anyplace where the sun is shining at the time? or a more limited area? TIA

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Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:51 pm
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Post Re: New info on EMPs & Faraday cage protection for electroni
Goodness Ruts - whatta question. I believe that whole countries can be taken out. It would be the sun facing side of the planet when the biggies go off! Ed Dames did a good job of explaining this in "The Kill Shot" which is a well circulated movie he did a while back.

Patrick Geryl also gets into this in his 'Survive 2012' web page I think.

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Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:53 pm
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