Electronics for Preppers: Simplicity Is Reliability


by J. G. Martinez D., The Organic Prepper:

I read an interesting history some time ago, where a prepper, an ex-lieutenant, retired and headed to the hills with his dog in a big rig. This one was heavily modified: beefed up suspension, oversized diesel engine with redundant fuel lines, and all kinds of smart but at the same time simple conveniences.

He proudly referred to it as having “expeditionary quality”. That phrase remained in my mind. Expeditions have been characterized by being highly risky. Nowadays we have lots of high-end technology, and even with these gadgets, people suffer accidents and get themselves in all kind of dangerous situations. Without our equipment, we are just weak and frightened meat bags, lost in the wilderness.

Well, I feel like that, at least (nothing like listening to the roar of wild red monkeys almost your size to make this feeling arise). Pretty sure lots of guys out there have Rambo-like skills, training and such. I won’t get into details regarding the mind setup of a prepper. Don´t misunderstand the main objective of this article.

I myself am an advocate of using technology, especially for homestead defense purposes. I prefer an induction kitchen over an open fire, without any doubt. And I know that given the fantasy of the need of an endless-expanding market, things are designed, engineered and manufactured for failure. This is because of the need of being sold at an affordable price and keep the money flowing. YOUR money, flowing from your pocket to theirs. No matter if you decided to use some “excess” of money you may have, in buying a new microwave, or some other stuff. Keep reading, please.

Simplicity is reliability.

But what I do feel the need to mention, is how important is to keep our devices and appliances as simple as possible. Simplicity is reliability. Sophistication, in my opinion, has been used for decades now to absorb the excess of money generated by the boost of the companies’ profits, produced by an incredible increase in the use of automation and information technology, outsourcing and other similar phenomena that allowed to decrease the production costs.

Well, that is what I have been able to think by myself. Perhaps you can help me to improve this very limited vision, and I would appreciate that.

This sophistication has brought us extremely beneficial devices at affordable prices: heat/thermal vision for our cellphones, high-powered crossbows (carbon fiber, anyone?), and tons of other gadgets. Tablets, GPS, tasers, drones, and a good variety of these gadgets are going to be very useful wisely used in the sustainability or defense of our homestead. Air rifles technology and some interesting toys like 3D printers and all types and flavors of machines for making other machines in the skilled hands of the mechanically savvy are all over the place.

Robots for seeding and watering, which I thought what a waste of resources…until I remembered my dad who is over 80 years old and still loves to work in his huge garden, with some slippery hills, watering by hand. And how easy would be for an elder to supervise the machine while some other members of the team use their strength in other less time-consuming tasks?

The less electronic the better for your equipment

I just watched some months ago a couple of videos where nomadic RVers talked about washing machines, and I thought how well done had been our choices regarding our home appliances. Both of our washing machines (yes, we could afford two of them back in the day) being the second one acquired with my 2ndincome in the good times, are very simple. We agree that the less electronic, the better.

The instability of the power supply damaged a lot of delicate electronics (fortunately not ours because we had protection for ALL of our appliances) and years after, a rubber piece of our more modern laundry machine gave her soul to the holy ghost, so, we connected the other one while we found the spare. It was expensive as heck, and we covered it until better times waiting for the replacement part. The other washing machine is very simple, almost like a toy. But it is still strong and kicking. Cleaning and lubricating it properly, it has overcome the almost daily use for years. Simplicity is my friend. Real life experience.

If you don’t really need fancy electronics, then keep it simple for your basic day to day needs. In the present conditions, someone who needs to fix their luxury refrigerator with Bluetooth connection and with more computing power than my laptop is going to have a heart attack. That is if they are lucky enough to find someone able to fix that kind of things that has not left the country yet.

You need a simple repair set-up

For those who don’t really enjoy to do something with their hands (like me, unless it is a nice, decorative, and wonderful piece of wood carving or changing the oil of my engines, or some other productive task like that), I recommend strongly to have some facilities in your garage for basic maintenance tasks in their rigs, like a well for oil changing, starter or alternator replacement, that kind of stuff. Car elevators (hoists) are for TV shows and big shops. They need expensive and knowledgeable maintenance. I know a shop where the lack of maintenance of the hydraulic jack (because of the impossibility to find spare parts for the hydraulics) almost got someone killed: a sudden pressure loss and the car went down almost one meter…hopefully the guy who was going to work there was not under the car.

A good work lamp, and a place to get into so you can see your rig underneath, and that is much more comfortable for many basic tasks that should save you money.

There are plenty of tutorials about lots of maintenances you can do without thinking it twice, always of course with the assistance of someone with the needed technical knowledge. This is important because you will be able to diagnose problems at an early stage.

Before things went bad, I had thought a lot about installing a voice recognition system at home, able to use servos all over the place for curtains, activating fans, lights, and such. But once the bad times came, we decided to invest that money (and time) in something productive like work and some savings. Trust me, you don’t need, as a prepper, an automatic coffee machine that sends you an SMS once the coffee is ready, and welcomes you every morning with a sensual voice that remembers us to Scarlet Johannson in the middle of her ovulation stage.

You do need, as a prepper, a bio-digester that will provide the gas generated by the waste of the chicken coop, to boil the rainwater that you have filtered previously with your entirely gravity-fed, high capacity, custom homemade, filtering equipment, and prepare your coffee. Only then, you can turn on your large TV, naturally powered by your solar/wind/hydro generator/batteries setup, to admire Scarlett in all of her beauty.

Complicated electronics are great…in good times.

Electronics has come to improve lots of things, and I am pretty aware of that.

If the entire chain of supply is intact, everything is fun and games. Once your neighbor’s car bonnet is opened by thugs in the middle of the night to steal the car computer, something now as difficult to replace in Venezuela as the Doc Brown’s DeLorean flux converter, the wise choice is evident. The large, grey, and “vintage” truck in your garage was not disturbed.

I am sure that many small size factories could be operative under the present conditions, even without the modern electronics and sensors that lots of industrial machinery exhibit today. I am referring to the Venezuela experience, exclusively, indeed.

Having equipment and devices that are made to last, perhaps with analog systems, instead of lots of electronics, is something that in the long term will be rewarded.

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