This device will allow you to connect to any battery with terminals and start extracting electricity and provide it in a relatively convenient and familiar 12V DC format.
The current rating of the car socket will be the bottleneck in this system 4 Amps(?) but it will allow you to tap into car batteries that you may encounter.
Black is negative (-) and red is positive (+), connect the negative terminal first. Do not allow the clips to touch each other one connected to a battery, even if it it through some other metal, conductive or wet material.
Any device that could normally be connected to a car socket can be connected to this. the car socket 12 volt connected is a very popular DC power format being able to access this format is very useful. A lot of household electronics is designed to run from 12 or less volts.y rule of thumb, if you can lift it easily by yourself its probably 12 volt capable.
cost about $8 at better electronic shops and possibly some car accessory shops.
12 Volt car socket from alligator clips.
iLuv USB car adapter
If you need USB power and you have access to a car or a car cigarette lighter plug that has power, this is precisely what you need.
I really liked how this example appears to be thumbing its nose at copyrights of Apple and Microsoft XboX.
Some models are tolerant of input voltages from 12-24 volts some are not.
Some models advertise what level of current they supply, 1 Amp is common.
Input 12V-24 DC output 5V DC 500-2100mA
these devices only supply power to the USB device not data, this device will not allow you to ‘download a car’ or some other wizardry.
Cost: about $10 for electronics and car accessory shops. Cheaper models may be available with lower output current.
Wizardry sold separately*
In the wake of the Japanese tsunami in march 2011 one of the first things people wanted to do after they had reached the safety was to recharge their phones.
Imagine being faced with many people all wanting to charge their phones at once. Despite the market dominance a a few mobile phone makers there is still quite an array of charger plug formats.
When i first saw this item i could see just how useful it was. I highly recommend it. It’s the most important part of my ‘charge a phone virtually anywhere’ kit.
Note while it has the correct connector for the Apple iPhone/iPad it may not work due to Apple’s proprietary hardware restrictions.
So you should look back in the box your phone came in, and find that weird cable with USB at one end and your phone connector at the other and keep it handy.
Most phones support charge via USB now, and even it you don’t use such a cable to connect to your computer its useful for charging.
Fast charging: you may find a 2.1A USB port occasionally and this will allow you phone to charge faster if your phone supports fast charge.
For the record USB is normally 5V DC 500mA, the fast charger works by shorting pins 2 and 3 the green and white wires to ‘tell’ the computer to supply more current, 2.1 Amps.
cost about $5-$8 available in some $2 style shops, may come with accessories like car to USB and AC to USB which are both worth paying a few extra dollars for.
USB with 10 different phone charger connectors. ‘The octopus’
Long term – humanity learns regenerative living:
– Move to communal housing. Ideally earthship style, depending on
location, using available materials to make a comfortable habitat.
Dean’s specialty! Will depend on land ownership, this will be a huge
problem as the state tries hard to maintain the flow of resources.
Expect high taxes, minimal services and possibly no opportunity for
ownership at all (other countries buying up land?). How will people work
out what communities to set up – who will be compatible? OkCupid or
Match.com style services?
– Backyard, guerilla gardening on large scale – take over un-maintained
park areas, sports fields; convert much of built infrastructure into
– Cf. Cuba, but without as much domestic oil. Probably as much or more
– Energy systems to suit environment – Trompes or run-of-river water
wheels etc where there is water flow (and head), wind (needs to be
medium scale; most wind farms too big as they depend on the grid for
stabilising power output, though this could be worked around if enough
effort and materials available), adaptation of domestic PV systems for
sporadic power generation. I think this will be important for some time
to come as people still want to communicate with remote relatives; long
term people’s families will all be local…
– Food still needs to be grown at an industrial scale for a long time
(using organic techniques, but would still need some sort of fuel for
equipment). Need careful diversion of fuel, creation of fertiliser,
manual labour where viable. Keyline, restoration of soil biota
(Biodynamics by another name), potential for biochar in some areas.
Sensible use of ruminant animals. Need to communicate permaculture!
Medium term – Slow decline: everything becomes un-affordable:
– Need to share income in order to pay taxes, rents. Need to come up
with an equitable way to trade labour or something else between people
who are still working and people with no income – will need people to
abandon their “useless dole-bludger” programming!
– use electricity only for lighting, phone charging. Possibly share with
neighbors to cut connection fees. Possibly use own infrastructure of
solar or manual generators and batteries
– minimal use of water – bucket bathing to minimise disease, solar hot
water from garden hose + glass on roof / road
– minimal use of gas – cooking only; learn low energy cooking (stew in
insulated boxes etc), raw food if edible!
– solar cooking or preparation of energy intensive food e.g. dried beans
when the sun is out
– food dehydration for storage – solar dehydrators
– Water filtration – use charcoal, earthenware, ???
– Water storage – adapt backyard pools, hot water tanks (becoming less
common), plastic sheet plus timber/steel/fencing frame, etc
– Share facilities where possible – neighbors with solar hot water could
offer weekly shower. Need a way to make this seem acceptable and limit
– Backyard, guerilla gardening – take over un-maintained public spaces.
Need watering systems that can be left alone for a while, source of
seeds / seedlings
– Share housing – move in with family or friends; negotiation skills and
psychology important here…
– Some staple foods will still need transportation and finance – farmers
co-ops, fuel hoarding for currency?
– Composting toilets, vermiculture for nutrient cycling
– Tent cities as people can’t afford rent / mortgages; need to provide
security, toilets, water, lighting of public areas. Gas light? Solar? Or
just mains power + car batteries for blackouts?
– Entertainment – e.g. movie nights, games etc, for groups of people
when there’s nothing to do (no work, too dangerous outside). Show people
how to make simple musical instruments and how to learn to play them
– Shared computer equipment to allow communications / education /
knowledge sharing. Ad-hoc Internet connections, especially in tent cities.
– Transport needs to work at a human scale again. People will need to
travel for work, food etc. Car pooling, semi-trailer buses (Cuba-style),
possibly continue to use existing mass transit for a while, but it will
run down eventually. Bikes for short distances / small loads. Mostly
walking; bikes, cars, trains etc break without constant maintenance, so
shoe repairs will be important!
Short Term – Crisis (may or may not happen in Australia): power cuts,
water interruptions / quality problems, gas failures, no security, no
cash available, supermarkets quickly empty, employers forced to stand
down workers temporarily.
– Obtain food – dumpster diving for whatever is left? Markets? Black market?
– Keep food: ice boxes, Coolgardie safes, long lasting fridges (e.g.
using eutectic (phase change) materials to store cool air), chest freezers
with extra insulation. Possibly use generators (fuel will be cheap, if
people have any income for it)
– Heat water and food for cooking / sterilisation (Gas will probably be
available sporadically) – rocket stove (what would be burned? Houses?),
BBQ (must be made more efficient e.g. shorter burners, shrouding?).
– Space heating for the elderly – share space with younger people? Dual
purpose rocket stoves?
– Lighting for safety / night time ablutions / emergencies – head
torches and powerful hand torches, ideally with rechargeable batteries
– Communications – smart phones, radios. Would need power source for the
phones, e.g. small solar panels can be bought, or rechargeable battery
packs made up; or just charge opportunistically and use occasionally.
Communications will be important for people’s sanity; to know their
loved ones are OK, to know they have a connection to the outside world.
Dumb phones more reliable / longer batteries, but less able to be used
for information sharing…
– Sanitation – some areas might not have reliable water for flushing or
reliable sewer connections, so composting toilets?
– First aid – hospitals probably full but might still be able to get to
doctors; need basic knowledge. Link to existing sites on web?
Also need to consider adapting household utensils for wound care etc.
I envisage several scenarios:
– Sudden crisis, where there is a credit lockup and no-one has money to
do anything. Panic situation.
– Longer crisis, where remaining money is transferred to the wealthy
(via tax / inflation / deflation / free market usury), people have time
– Long term: all will be living a low energy lifestyle; less people around.
I think it would be worthwhile coming up with tech ideas for all 3; so
that people know they can get by for the short term if there is a messy
transition and know that there are options when they realise things
aren’t ever going to get back to normal.
Ideally, the short term steps they take will be useful in the longer term – e.g. gardening, seed
saving, sensible communication tools, shift to daytime activity.
I feel that for most people, the response will be first at an individual
/ family level, moving out into larger groups once things stabilise.
I feel that civilisation is losing trust; that people aren’t going to be
willing to help each other or their community as they see everything
being taken from them; that our biggest priorities should be to show
people what’s coming and to show them how to work out where to put their
trust – how to recognise people doing sensible activities…