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Solar Flares

As some of you are aware we are entering a period where intense solar flares are impacting the earth. There have already been some minor incidents and from the links appearing in the forum we can see that it is gaining quite a bit of interest.

The prediction is that there is an 12% chance that there will be a major solar event that will disrupt our power grid and infrastructure. It has the same effect as an EMP and although it is not as locally intense it will last much longer and cover vast areas. The impacted areas, if it occurs, could have significant damage to unprotected electrical and electronic equipment.

Although the risk in not high and the impact also low I’m the careful type and like to look at my options. The issue though is that these solar flares are expected to last two years peaking next year. That is a long time to cover. Luckily though we can monitor the situation and can take into consideration the peak activity in our area with the Space Weather site.

Now as far as I am concerned I already have most of my electronic and electrical preps covered from EMP which will cover this. The way I do this is overkill but I am of the opinion that it better than finding out that you didn’t do enough. Plus, in reality nobody has been through mutiple nuclear detonations and observed the result. EMP was not even detected until someone noticed a side effect of nuclear detonations. So they could easily underestimate the strength of the pulses and voltages generated. I’ll go for overkill in protection myself.

How I protect my equipment;

  • I disassemble what I can down to components. (Take out batteries, disconnect cables etc.)
  • I wrap each component in cooking foil and store it in a metal box like a chocolate tin
  • I use metal tape to seal the tins
  • I then stack the key ones in old microwaves. (Old but with viable cases)
  • I earth the cases to the earth circuit in the house
  • I leave them and never touch them again

Now, clearly this is not acceptable for items such as my computers and hard disks. I need to use them all the time. For those I have a regular back up programme which I follow. Unfortunately it is not cheap and I do have issues with it. My current system is a laptop with a portable USB drive which I use all the time. I also have several USB sticks I use for transfer and data capture but they only contain data on the drives usually. Any new data is copied on when I get home. Every weekend or every time I make major changes, which I do rarely, I;

  • Back up my main portable USB drive to my backup USB drive
  • Disconnect the backup drive and store it as above
  • Each backup drive has its own microwave. (I have two because that is all I can afford, I would go for four if I had the funds)
  • I only even open the backup drive when I am ready to use it and only at night as well. This reduces the risk

It is overkill imo. I don’t actually see solar flares causing damage to disconnected USB drives, especially those in metal cases but why take the chance?

My biggest issue, and one I have no solution for, is that if we have an event at any time and our equipment is damaged. How will I know when it is safe to remove my backups from storage? I may get another event when I remove the backups and with no way of replacing them I have no real way to mitigate the risk. For this I’m looking at a larger faraday cage which I can work in when I have the time and equipment.

Over the years, when I had cash, I have bought a new system and after copying the data I have archived the complete old system. This is my computer solution for after an event. The archived kit will provide the facility to read the files and provide some processing facilities. The problem is that there is a lot of new data between system archive. My original one was barely a Gb. I’d hate to lose all the latest data.

At the moment I am working with another prepper on the Survival UK Wiki site to make all these files available in an archive. Once it is there then you will need to make sure you have backups of your systems and all your data to cover these eventualities.

Finally, For all we know a solar flare could cause a more significant event. Especially with all the talk about Nuclear Weapons and bad guys in the Middle East. One system gets knocked out by a solar flare and our guys press buttons we would rather were not pressed.

9 comments to Solar Flares

  • moosedog

    Sites like Yahoo’s Freecycle would be a good way of acquiring old microwaves for free. You can put a “wanted” post every so often and specify what you’re after, or keep an eye on new posts as they come up. Few people would ask for an old broken microwave and you’d be quite likely to get a good supply of them for more storage.

  • mike

    so far the solar flares have been a bit of a let down, i’m decididly less than impressed with the lack of activity.

  • Mark

    I read somewhere on a few sites that house grounding is not a good idea, for the simple reason most are connected to water/gas pipes, which then in turn can run large metal pipe networks around you town city whatever, which again collecting huge ammounts of charge as the emp hits. The much prefared meathod would be to create your own earthing rods made from copper around 3 to 6 feet into the ground, and use that just as your earth, if you have a few grounded stores more than one is beter, Ive also know a few use scaffolding rods, and the ground you want is the damp clay type, not the well drained stuff, and I will admit before I’m hounded I could be wrong, hey we are all human. Just a thought.

    Mark

  • Daylen

    I’m looking forward to being able to get hold of the Raspberry Pi computer for computing use after any such event. You still need a screen and keyboard, but these devices are tiny, require only a 5v power supply – they can even be run off 4 AA batteries, and cost just £22 each!

  • Skean Dhude

    Mark,

    That doesn’t sound right to me. My home has its own earth rod anyway. However, in my paranoid way I’ll make my own earth point anyway for the stores.

    I will leave it connected to the mains because local conditions can get very dry and I don’t want to waste water to make a good earth.

  • Skean Dhude

    Daylen,

    Welcome. The Raspberry. I’ll have a look out for that. It may be what we are looking for. Does it have a USB port?

  • Daylen

    It certainly does. Along with HDMI, 10/100 BaseT ethernet, SD card slot, 256MB RAM, all running Fedora Core Linux. It’s not going to run the latest games but more than capable to general computing.

    Take a look at the specs on the RS Components website http://uk.rs-online.com/web/generalDisplay.html?id=raspberrypi

  • Mark

    It may have it’s own earth rod, but a lot of gas meters are electrically bonded to an earth point, more often than not to a near by socket or switch, which in turn connects all the earths to the same pipe, some electricity meters are also bonded this way, so your earth rod may not be your only earth point, also bonding around all the pipes near a boiler would also conect the into a mains water and gas pipe, which could have a long run outside your house.

    Mark

  • Stokey

    If your connecting to the earth circuit it wouldnt be much more of a task to wire directly to the earth rod outside the house. This would then ensure the current takes the least line of resistance and not into any longer pipe network.

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