ZombieAxe's Ramblings...

A look at Survival and Preparedness, Firearms, Ham Radio, German Shepherds, Photography and other related stuff! 73 Later, ZombieAxe :-)


Friday, August 13, 2010

You just keep me hanging on...

Howdy Folks,

Wow, I have been busy for awhile and have neglected posting here. I am doing ok just working a bunch of overtime and trying to stay cool in this hot weather.

I also have been working on a photography website which has been a great diversion for me. Don't worry, I have not lost the mindset of preparedness!

When things slow down later this fall, hopefully I will have a bunch of free time and will be able to continue this blog with some fresh content.

Thanks for being there.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Ramblings on the homestead...

Howdy Folks,

Just had a little time to post another picumentry and show you how the homestead is looking...


Looks like my Stark Apple Trees will be producing a good crop this year :) If there is one thing you need to do when you get a piece of property is to plant fruit trees/bushes, nut trees, etc. as soon as you can. This is one thing that will really pay for itself once they start producing. It takes years sometimes for these trees to produce so you will want to get started as soon as you can. These trees were planted 3 years ago.


The chickens are doing fine, having a problem with one being broody, but that might come in handy when we want chicks. 6 hens produce more than enough eggs for us. Like I said before, chickens are the easiest way to produce food I have found yet!


Another thing we are really enjoying is the Jack Spirko Strawberry pot. When I say we are enjoying it, I mean it!. It provides us with a nice bowl of strawberries every day to eat! Basically it is a large plastic pot with 2" holes drilled into the side and strawberry plants placed in them. I like this idea so good that I plan on adding a few more. This is an excellent way to have strawberries!!! Thanks Jack :)

And thanks to ya'll for reading my Ramblings!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ramblings on Storm Photography...

Howdy Folks,

Been kind of busy here on the farm lately. I added a new section of chicken pasture since the chickens were none too happy that I eminent domained part of the chicken yard for the garden spot this year. Unlike the politicians I will give it back to them once I am finished!

As some of you may know, I have been seriously messing around with my digital SLR camera and it has become quite the addiction! The power of capturing a never changing moment in time, to be able to relive it at any time in the future is IMHO one of man's greatest innovations.

Anyway, this photography thing is how I like to spend my free time, so I apologize for the long time between posts. Also for those that think I am on the sheeple band wagon because I have a hobby, don't worry I am still prepping.

So to make a short story long, I have been having problems with my super cheap (but paid for) video tripod staying still enough to take night shots and other low light photographs. I decided to pick one up at my local big box store and I now have a steady platform to take some pics with long exposures.

After a rough week at work, I was noticing how the sky looked like it was ripe for a few boomers. The Wx radio confirmed that we might get some storms at night. I worked on the chicken coop and came inside. I was playing with the kids when I noticed that to the North and West the sky was getting dark. A quick check of the radar loop on the iPhone confirmed there was a slow moving line of storms. These storms would be visible North before the rain came from the West so I would stay dry taking some pics.

Out came the new tripod and I mounted my trusty Canon (no not a cannon for you non camera folks! LOL) and took some test pics to set my focus and lock it before the sun went down.

I aimed the camera mostly North to where I could hopefully catch some long streaks of lightning and not get any junk in my back yard in the frame.

It took about an hour and a half for the storm to get near, but it was pretty awesome watching the fireworks. Eventually the lightning strikes came in to where the trees were not blocking them (cotton fields provided long distance sighting of storms, but on a tree farm that view is reduced a whole bunch!) and I started capturing them on the camera.

Before you check out the pics and if you are interested, here is what I was using : Canon D-SLR, 18-55mm kit lens (needed the wide angle), carbon fiber tripod, time value of 15-30 seconds (I left the shutter open for that long to capture the streaks) and a IR remote control to trigger the shutter.

For those that are wondering, most lightning shots are captured by opening the shutter for a certain amount of time and hopefully the film or sensor will capture those streaks. On my favorite shot, those streaks did not occur at the same time but over a period of about 30 seconds... I am showing some in B&W because they are a little more striking (pun intended) that way...


Here you can see the lightning illuminating the underneath of the cloud. Earlier I took some pics were it was illuminating the clouds from above, even though it was dark outside it appeared on the pic that the sun was behind clouds.


Another pic. The house that shows up is an old farm house on the property...


Storm is getting closer. On my viewfinder, I saw the big streak on the left but not the multiple strikes right of center until I saw it on the computer!


Even closer still. Streaks are getting longer!!!

Finally my favorite shot of the night...


When I started taking photos years ago (started with film and Minolta 35mm SLR's) I was under the assumption that with EVERY pic I would take an amazing shot... I would be upset when they we just sorta good! Maybe some folks can, but the vast majority of us may snap a 100 and have only 1 or 2 great ones in that bunch. So when I snapped about 50 last night, I was thrilled that I got one decent lightning shot, I am happy with it (mainly that I was at home and had time to set it all up as that can be a challenge sometime!). All I can say is that hopefully when the next storms roll through (maybe tonight!!! YEAH!!!!) I will be trying again to get an even better image of lightning streaks!!!

To wrap things up, I will try my F 1.4 50mm tonight instead of the 18-55mm if the storms do happen. Luckily for me, the storm came to me, but I need to scout some (SAFE) locations in my area that give you a better vantage point... With working all the time that can be hard to want to head out away from home to set up a lightning shoot that may or may not be productive!

And the final finale... Next to ice storms, lightning/severe thunderstorms do more damage to things in my area than anything else. You do have surge protectors on your precious electronics, or unplug them when storms are coming I hope??? An uninterruptible power supply goes a long way to keep your DSL/cable mode/DVR running. We have one on our DVR to prevent 'holes' in our TV shows since it takes about 5 minutes to reboot when the power is interrupted! Generators have come in handy several times when lightning has wrecked the power grid for a few hours...

If you do decide to photograph lightning or have to be outside in it, be CAREFUL!!!

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ramblings on ice ash...

Howdy Folks,

It has been a hectic past couple of weeks here. A few weekends ago, I changed ALL the fluids on my Tractor, so it is good to go.

I had an accident at work a few weeks back where a careless homeowner left boards with nails out in his woods... now here is the bad part.... instead of stepping on them, I slipped and they wound up in my knee!!! Punctured a tendon but I am pretty much back to normal. I am thankful that we live in the modern world where such things as antibiotics and tetnus shots exist. An injury such as mine could have had a different outcome in a SHTF scenario! So stock some meds and first aid supplies. I have heard some experts say not to have advanced medical supplies if you do not know how to use them, but IMHO that is stupid thinking... You may come across someone who knows how to use them if only they have them... Remember the preppers mantra " IT IS BETTER TO HAVE IT AND NOT NEED IT, THEN TO NEED IT AND NOT HAVE IT!" of course that does not excuse you from having some skills and learning more!

On the farm I have been doing a little bush hogging try to keep that Spring green down to an acceptacle height as well as getting my garden ready. This year I plan on using part of my chicken coop as a garden. The chicken yard is turning a lovely brown color and digging always yields some nice earthworms! The chickens have also kept anything green from growing so it is the absolutely most weed free area I have around! We will have to see how that turns out.

Also I admit to having acquired a iPad and love it. That is also the reason my blogging has suffered, until I remembered I could actually type a blog on this thing! Great device and I really enjoy it. My only problem is after using the iPad, my iPhone looks REALLY tiny!!!

Now on to the topic of this post. Some relatives of mine are in Europe, taking care of family. They are supposed to fly back stateside in a couple of days. Problem is there is this volcano in Iceland spewing up abrasive ash into the air... in the same airspace that many airplanes fly to either get to or from Europe. So they are experiencing massive flight delays and many travelers are stuck wherever they happened to end up at.

I was actually reading the BBC tonight on the iPad and saw a video about folks being stranded justctrying to get home. They were interviewing an Indian gentlemen who was in England for a "holiday" and was worried because he already "blew all his money having fun" and was expecting someone to take care of him until he could get back home!!! Come on folks, you are in a foreign land, you had better have something to provide for you because you are on your own! I detest credit cards, but here is ONE instance I would want a platinum one!!!

Luckily my relatives have a place to stay, and this event is actually working in their favor since they were planning on extending their stay a few more weeks and with the air travel FUBAR now happening, they will not have to pay a penalty fee to stay longer! They are working on gathering a few extra supplies "just in case". Talking about a WORST CASE SCENARIO for bugging out...

Keep an eye on this folks as it could get interesting. Europe imports a lot of their food, but also grows some. What happens when they can no longer provide the food they used to grow and have to import more food??? What happens if this volcano keeps spewing ash for months and it weakens an already fragile European economy??? How will this effect the already fragile economy of the world??? What about Iceland ??? They were already having economic problems. Even if the volcano just spews ash for a few more weeks, think about the impact to their tourism industry!

It is going to get interesting... So keep up the preps, watch your six and God bless ya!

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ramblings on SHTF Ham Radio...

Howdy Folks,

I finally got a little free time today, so I figured I would take on things to do with ham radio wtshtf.

So first lets flesh out the conditions. TSHTF and whatever caused it has pretty much taken out most of the infrastructure (power,communications,utilities) has been destroyed. Governments of the world are either gone or cannot help their people and you and yours are on your own...

1. The Ability to Communicate with Others Over Long Distances

With the internet, phone lines, and cable TV gone you will be in the dark for information. With your ham radio rig, you can reach out to those on the other side of town to communicate with those of your group who are hunkering down there. You can also reach out across your state, country or world to find out what the heck just happened!!! The ability to find out you are not the last family on earth is priceless!

2. The Ability to Setup a Cross Band Repeater to Establish Local Communications

A cross band repeater is a very handy radio. Dual band radios (usually 144/440mhz) sometime have a feature called cross band repeat. This feature helps you extend the range of your HT. I have used this feature to place the cross band radio on a mountaintop so I could talk with my buddies on the other side of the mountain. Since VHF/UHF radios are line of sight, we used the cross band radio to give us coverage to the blind sides of the mountain. Event a 5W cross band capable HT on a mountaintop would greatly increase the range of the HT's/mobiles in the valleys below.

3. The Ability to Talk to a Professional to Talk you Through a Problem

Imagine the scenario that someone in your group has taken ill, you have limited nursing skills. After TSHTF your ham radio guys have setup a national net to provide expertise in skills that groups are lacking. You contact net control and they put you in contact with a doctor that helps your team member survive.

4. The Ability to Send Pictures.

To expound on #3 a picture is worth 1000 words, so instead of the electrician on the national net trying to explain how to wire up a solar panel set, he simply sends you a picture of a wiring diagram. Hams routinely send pics over the air from across the country!

5. The Ability to Send Live Video

ATV or Amateur Television has the ability to send live video across short distances. So TV locally is doable.

6. The Ability to Operate Your Own UAV

With a Radio Controlled Airplane (or ground vehicle) with ATV (Amateur Television) you could have your own UAV that could provide you with intel without sacrificing your groups safety. A UAV could be a definite force multiplier.

7. Have Longer Range Communications Than Those With FRS/GRMS

FRS/GMRS radios do have their uses and will probably be prolific during a SHTF event (barring EMP), but they never operate anywhere close to the range stated on the blister pack. Even a Ham radio HT does not have a range of 27 miles... but a 2m HT will perform much better than those with FRS/GMRS radios! The ability to have communications superiority over those that may wish to do you harm will be an advantage!

8. The Ability to Operate with Odd Splits

Ham Radios have this really cool ability to operate with odd splits. What this means is that instead of transmitting and receiving on let's say 146.150 mhz we transmit on 440.500mhz and the station we are talking to is listening on 440.500mhz. When the station that is listening on 440.500mhz transmits, they transmit on 146.150mhz. This gives anyone listening a hard time following BOTH sides of the conversation unless you know the split. With ANY dual band radio this is possible. Pretty cool.

9. Setup a Packet Radio Network

With packet radio you can establish bulletin boards even send email. The only limits are to how far you can transmit. Even APRS (not using the GPS part) can transmit short messages on a very robust network. The newer D-Star technology has some very cool features with file transfers and video!

10. Having a useful skill

Since you are a ham radio operator, you have a very useful skill as you have already demonstrated that you have a basic knowledge of communications. You may not be able to build a radio from scratch, but you do have a knowledge of communication systems work! This can be a real asset to ANY group.

Hopefully this has given you some ideas of how ham radio can be a benefit to YOU WTSHTF. Get your license so when you need those skills you will have had plenty of time to practice them in a low pressure environment!

Thanks for reading!


Disclaimer and Copyright Notice

The information presented in this blog are things I know how to do and have training for. To duplicate any information or techniques within is solely at the readers risk and ZombieAxe, ZombieAxe's Ramblings or Google shall not be liable for any advice and information posted within that results in damage/loss of property, injury, loss of limb, or death. By reading this blog you, your family, your heirs and even folks that have not been born yet, have entered into an electronic binding contract to not hold any entity liable (especially ME!) but YOURSELF for any damage/loss of property, injury, loss of limb, or death from reading this blog.

FTC Discalimer,

To the Federal Trade Commison:Zombie Axe/Zombie Axe's Ramblings is not being paid by anyone, bribed with free gear to test, or offered free trips to exotic locals to 'give good press' for a product. All products were personally purchased by myself with the intention of using them for myself and any thing I plug on this blog is an item I recommend because I HAVE TESTED IT and found it worthy of mention. Go after those travel agents who get the free cruises and leave us legit non commercial bloggers alone.

All material is copyright 2009 Zombie Axe and no material may be used without credit to the author in part or whole.

Zombie Axe