Wednesday, March 5, 2014
There is a new trend developing in the prepper community in regards to portable power. A multitude of new products promising to deliver renewable,portable power have emerged onto the market including this one: the Waka Waka power. This is the big brother to the Waka Waka, which is essentially an LED light with a solar panel. The difference with the new Power model is that is has a built in USB charger plug that will charge smart phones, MP3 players, E readers, or small tablets.
The Waka Waka (I love the name) is powered by a 2200mAh Lithium Polymer battery, which is a gell form of the more commonly known Lithium Ion cell. LiPo batteries have some interesting charging requirements and other characteristics which will become important later on in the review.
The first feature I will address is the output of the unit. Two LEDs make this a pretty decent light for power outages or other emergencies. If you're like me, the first thing you are going to do when you unbox your Waka Waka is look at the front of the unit, which is oddly mindful of a smiley face, and turn on the light. Please don't do this unless you enjoy seeing spots for at least 20 minutes. These 2 LEDs give off some impressive lumens at full strength. Luckily though, the brightness can be adjusted with successive pressing of the one and only control button. Personally, I think it would have been better to start it at the lowest setting and work up, but it is designed to do the opposite.
The flip open cover acts as a stand and can be used to position the light in almost any way you could think of, including being hung by a piece of para cord (or whatever else you have) and even placed on the top of a soda bottle. Keep in mind that although it is fairly light weight at only 200 grams, it will tip over an empty bottle, so make sure you have something in it.
For charging phones and other devices, you have a standard USB port on the side of the unit, so make sure you have the appropriate charging cord. Charged to full capacity, this unit easily and quite quickly charged an Iphone 4 twice (not from completely dead, but at about 30%) and still had some juice left over. It did not however charge my old Motorola flip phone, but no standard USB connection does either, so no surprise there. If the device you want to charge can be charged with a standard USB cord from your computer, you should be good to go.
There are 2 ways to charge this unit up. It can be plugged into a typical USB port with a micro USB connector, or with the built in solar panel, which occupies the entire back side of the unit. This is where the LiPo battery makes a difference, and unfortunately, not a good one. Lithium Polymer batteries are tricky to charge properly and need some very careful charging parameters near the end of the charging cycle. Most of the other reviews of this product that I read came to the same conclusion. The unit is very slow to charge past the 75% mark, and I had the same observation. Charging with a USB cable from my laptop was by far the fastest way to get the Waka Waka up to full power. The built in solar panel was well, disappointing. This really doesn't come as a surprise to me because no matter what a solar manufacturer claims, solar panels are inefficient, and don't work in cloudy conditions. Sorry, but they just don't.
The claim of the unit is that it can achieve 75% charge (notice that number?) in 6 hours, on a sunny day, at New York latitude. I guess that could explain the long solar charge times I experienced. In my tests, solar charging took 2 days of direct sunlight to get up to a full charge. In cloudy conditions, it was almost impossible to get the charge indicating LED to blink at all. When the unit was placed facing full sun, it did charge at it's fastest rate (indicated by 3 quick blinks of the indicator) but to keep this rate up, it had to be repositioned about every hour or so as the sun moved around in the sky. Given this, I think that the charge rate on a clear summer day outdoors would be OK, but don't rely on this during stormy conditions.
Certainly, this unit is better than nothing as a solar charged power pack. If you keep it charged with the USB cable, it makes an excellent portable charger. As a light,well, it works great. It is bright, or dim if you like, lasts quite a long time from a full charge and the positioning options are fantastic. From a full charge, and on full brightness, it lasted well beyond the claimed 20 hours, and that was continuous use. Oh, and in case you are wondering, yes, you can charge your phone and use the light at the same time.
You can get your Waka Waka Power for $69.00US here .
Now, if you think that is a bit pricey, consider this...
For every WakaWaka Power sold in the west, a donation is made to the Waka Waka Foundation to finance entrepreneurial education, micro-loans to women energy entrepreneurs, and subsidies for the very poor in countries like in Nigeria, Haiti, Nepal, India and Latin America to replace polluting, dangerous kerosene lamps.
Friday, February 28, 2014
We store lots of food when the grocery is only minutes away. We rack up gear not knowing if we will ever use it. We train ourselves mentally for scenarios that may never happen. We spend countless hours of our time that could be devoted towards other "hobbies" that may be more in line with worldy fashion. We take our hard earned money and spend it on MRE's and heirloom seeds, when we really would have liked something more instantly consumable.
Why? Why do we go against the flow in so many ways?
I believe we do it because this is how we show love to our families. This is how we show love for our friends, our neighbors and our country. We do it because deep down we feel that it's the right thing to do. Whatever the scenario, whatever the cause, we feel this urge to protect, fortify, and prepare ourselves. We do it because we feel an obligation to work through whatever may come, and somehow still be smiling on the other side. We'd rather take a possibly harder route today, if it makes tomorrow's route look all the more sure. It's the code. It's who we are.
We are Preppers.
This post by Dwight from Briden Solutions - Proudly helping Canadians obtain high quality Survival supplies.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Updating Your Emergency Preparedness Plan
From time to time, people are reminded that their comfortable lifestyles could be torn from them by societal catastrophes or natural disasters. This has led many Americans to create emergency preparedness plans for themselves and their families. They often stash several months' worth of food, medicine, ammo, and other supplies. However, building an emergency stockpile is not a "set it and forget it" affair. There are some things that must be done in order to keep your stockpile up to date and reliable.
Rotate Food and Medicine Supplies
Many preppers boast of their enormous stockpile of food, but what they don't know is that their plans could be falling apart right under their noses. This is because even freeze dried foods commonly found in survival stockpiles can go bad. If they are not sealed properly, a spike in humidity can turn freeze dried foods into a moldy mess. Some preppers store their food stockpiles in the basement, where they may be vulnerable to flooding or pests. Even if the foods are completely sealed off from moisture, the nutritional value degrades over time. Rotating your food supply every few months will mitigate these problems.
Medications can go bad as well. Certain active ingredients break down over long periods of time, rendering the medications ineffective or even dangerous. Consult the packaging of your medications to find out the expiration date and shelf life. Remember that the rigorous conditions of a bugout situation could exacerbate any existing medical conditions, necessitating a higher dosage of medicine.
Keep Your Escape Route Up to Date
Every disaster preparedness plan should include an escape route that leads away from populated areas. Many people plan out such a route, but they sometimes forget to test it periodically. If your plan is to camp out in a secluded forest, your entire plan may be thrown into disarray if the forest has been bulldozed to make way for a shopping center. It is important to perform a "dry run" once in a while to make sure that your escape route is still usable. Moving to a new house can also necessitate updating your route; you must find a new one that is easily accessible from your new home. Neglecting to do these things could spell doom for your emergency preparedness plan before you even get out of town.
Maintain a Healthy Ammo Supply
If shooting is a hobby of yours, you may find yourself grabbing a few boxes of ammo from your bugout bag on range day while resolving to replace it later. This can be tempting during periods of high ammo prices and sporadic availability, but it is crucial to remember that the ammo in your bugout bag is only to be used for the most severe emergencies. You can avoid this situation by planning your ammo usage ahead of time. For example, if you are planning a trip to the range to shoot your new handgun, stock up on 9mm ammo a few days before to avoid depleting your emergency stockpile.
Remember that ammo has a limited shelf life. If stored for excessive periods of time or in undesirable conditions, it can become unreliable or unstable. Corrosion is also a concern; rusted ammo is likely to cause feed issues in your firearm. Ammo should ideally be stored in watertight and airtight containers. If you live in a coastal area or any other place with a humid climate, tossing a few packets of silica gel in your ammo containers will help it stay dry and free of corrosion. Keep the containers out of extreme temperatures if possible. The shelf life of ammo depends on the climate and storage conditions, but a general guideline is that supplies should be rotated at least once a year.
Update the Plan for New Household Members
Getting married, having a child, or taking in a relative are all events that require expanding your disaster preparedness plan. You will have to calculate their probable food consumption and add a sufficient amount to your stockpile. Be sure to store extra clothing, tools, and firearms (if appropriate) for the new household member. Take any special needs or medical conditions into consideration as well.