Scram Bag:The Needle

 

A needle, more useful and more difficult to make than you think.

 

Why is this so significant?

Yes it is a needle, it is used for sewing materials together.

The reason it is significant is because it is the oldest tool ever discovered that was not designed for killing or eating.

The first tool of construction. Men and women made clothes and other usefull items from this one giant leap in technology. It’s our first actual tool of construction. Everything before it was a tool for cutting, chopping, crushing or stabbing. Most previuos tools made things smaller, except this one which made things bigger. The first bone needles were found 6000BC older than recorded civilisation itself, You might assume it was a prerequisite for civilisation.

If you still think the needle is insignificant, try to make one that works well. you’ll find it’s very hard to do.

Using this knowledge imagine what would happen when civilsation as we know it collapses. The factories that currently produce needles would likely cease production at least for a time. Trade and transport networks will be disrupted perhaps permanently. The production of new clothes would likey halt. People would have worn and damaged clothes and be perhaps unable to replace them. New clothes may become rare and expensive to manufacture. Clothes are made of woven threads, theads will not be scarce. Needles possibly will be. Needles will likely become quite valuable. It’s possible may become a form of currency or at the very least a valuable item of barter. It’s clear that needles will be far more valuable than they are today.

Less obvious uses for a needle:

A needle can be bent and turned into a fishing hook.

Needles can be used as pins for sewing.

Needles can be used to clean out a wound or prick open a blister.

A magnetised needle floating on still water can be used as a compass.

Needle can be use to clear a small blockage in a metal filter or small gague pipes.

Stitching a wound closed.

 

 

 

 

 

Scram bag : Potasuim permanganate ( KMnO4 )

Potassium permanganate crystals.

A very useful substance.

Also called Condy’s crystals and Permanganate of potash.

Can be used to:

Light fires.

Add to a flammable substance that is a liquid, glycerine, oil,fat, a little water will help the fire start.

Sterilize water.

3 crystals per liter of water will sterilize the water.

Disinfectant for some skin infections.

A stronger solution will make a solution that will attack fungal and bacterial infections.

Keep in a well sealed container

Keep away from eyes

If contact is made with skin wash it off with water, brown stains (MnO2) on the skin are common, but will disappear in a few days without further incident.

can be purchased from pharmacies and often found in survival kits.

Scrambag: folding pruning saw

Apart from the obvious intended use of pruning trees, the compact folding pruning saw allows you to collect small branches easily.

A saw is safer to use that a axe or heavy knife in cutting wood. One of the most common sources of dry wood in a forest is dead-fall.

Dead-fall is dead or broken branches fallen to the ground, and are often very dry and difficult to cut will axes as the will act like a spring when hit.

Sometimes dead-fall is a branch upside down and very dry, because of this it makes excellent fire wood or construction material.

The saw can elegantly cut of the exact pieces you want and even help you create items form the wood with precise cut lengths and flat ends of wood.

The saw is also very light compared to a small axe and very small, about the size of a small axe handle.

Folding pruning saw, compact and allows straight cuts in wood with little effort.

 

Price about $10 for average quality.

Available from hardware stores and gardening supply stores.

Scram Bag: Cloth tape

Few thing have a greater quick fix potential than cloth tape.

Known by many names in many places, such as gaffa tape, duct tape and 100 mile tape, among others.

Can be use to:

Make something slightly water proof.

repair small holes.

join things together.

Padding in machinery

You’ll notice a large round hole in the center of the tape where the hard cardboard roll is. If needed this cardboard roll can be flattened without affecting the tape itself.

Be sure the tape has cloth in it as otherwise it will stretch and wont create strong joins.

Scram Bag: Protective gloves

Your hands are very important so you must protect them from harm.

You may need to handle sharp or toxic materials so you should have some kind of protective gloves.

Rubber gloves

minimal protection form sharp objects, good protection from many toxic materials.

low durability

Garden gloves

medium protection from sharp objects, low protection from toxic materials.

medium durability

Leather ‘riggers’ gloves

good protection from sharp objects, medium protection from toxic materials.

high durability

When in an outdoors environment your hands a likely to get small cuts. While this may not sound significant small cuts can become infected easily and allow pathogens easy entry to the body. Small band aids may seem to be a solution but preventing the problem is better. band aids may not stick for very long and become in effective quickly.

Gloves a good idea.

Example scenarios for use:

removal of broken glass

moving a rotten log which nay have venomous insects under it.

handling a fish which has one or more spines.

gardening or handling potting mix.

 

Scram bag : Aluminium can stove

Aluminium can stove photograph

Firstly I know my North American readers will say you spelled it wrong, and while you may be right in that in your area its spelled aluminum. But  according to IUPAC its been officially Aluminium for the last 15 or so years.

We are of course talking about the 13th element on the periodic table witch has low density and low corrosion rate due to its propensity to form a protective oxide layer.

Aluminium will however corrode markedly if it is left in a salty environment such as a salt spray zone near an ocean or salty lake.

I should talk more extensively about Aluminium as a material at a later date.

We live in a throw away society where things are made to be used once and then destined to become land fill. The humble aluminium can is one such product.

However we can change the game and turn a low cost one use item into something much more useful and possibly life saving depending on the situation.

Water is of course essential for life, 3 days without water and its likely that you will be dead, close to dead, or if miraculously resuced at the last minute you may suffer from life long health effects.

Water is a great mobilizer of materials and living things some of these living things will be very harmful if you drink them.

If you find water of unknown quality you will need to be cautious.

Straining water even with a cotton shirt will remove most suspended material (dirt etc) but will not kill pathogens.

Boiling water after it has been strained will kill most pathogens and make water much safer to drink.

It not appropriate  or possible to make a fire in ever possible location you might be so a small cooker is a great option to have.

You could buy a propane/butane gas cooker but they are expensive by comparison require large gas canisters and are in themselves somewhat bulky and fragile.

So there is a niche for a cheap to make cheap to run cooker for boiling water or cooking food.

I made an awesome info-graphic and I’ll add it here. it may be better to download the image or open it is a separate window to see it in its full glory.

It described the manufacture of one of many designs of the aluminium can stove.

pic

Aluminium can stove info graphic

Manufacture notes

1-Remove all of the paint from the can with sandpaper.

2-Empty the can.

3-Put holes into top section. (thumb tack or drill)

4-Cut out the circular section around the ring pull. (razor blade)

5-Cut into 3 sections. (razor blade or tin snips)

6-Cut center section.(razor blade or tin snips)

7-Flange out the  sharp edge bottom section slightly. (screwdriver shaft)

8-(optional) add glass wool between bottom and center sections.

9-Put top section inside bottom section.

Fuel

this stove runs best from pure alcohol.
Pure alcohol is quite hard to obtain. the pureset from of alcohol is methylated spirts.
methylated spirts is about 96-99% Alcohol.
the rest (1 -4%) is made up other impurities (like methanol) so that is is toxic and/or unplesant to drink.
Methlyated spirits is quite cheap at about $2-3 per litre making this a very economical fuel.

Use
pour fuel into the center section of the stove and light.
it may be easier to light the stove with a  match or piece of paper or dry grass rather than a lighter.

during day time the flame may be difficult to see.
once light the stove cannot be easily extinguised and the flame heat is not adjustable.
Different sotves produce different ammounts of heat and this may be a way of controlling heat.
multiple stoves may be used together to produce more heat.

Why is this item important.
It shows that useful things can be made from commonly available low cost items.
It introduces people to making things for themselves.
In many situations the ability to boil water to sterilise it maybe a life saving device.

The material
Aluminium does not readily corrode except for in a very salty environment.
(such as in the salt spray zone of beaches)
Aluminium may begin to corrode when place in contact with other metals for extended periods of time.
Aluminium melts at 660C, so its unlikely to melt during normal operation.
the thickness of Aluminium in cans makes them quite fragile.
A  sturdy container is recomended to prevent the stove being crushed in a backpack.

Alternative designs
there are many alternative designs to the can stove.
Each have their merits in terms of use and ease of construction.
For some people constructing these is a serious hobby.

precautions

Scram bag: Scissors

It may seem like a mundane item but it’s extremely useful if you have a good pair of scissors.

Stainless steel is key here, durable, rust proof, sterilizable, retaining edge for extremely long periods of time.

For things as basic as cutting your fingernails and toenails to small craft projects these come in handy.

Of course because they can be sterilized in boiling water and/or bleach they can be useful for medical purposes ( medical knowledge not included).

A good medical kit will include scissors of some kind but its worthwhile having a pair of scissors for general use.

As pictured the scissors should have a small screw in the pivot point this is so they can be tightened if they become loose.

I have had these scissors for almost 20 years, a testament to how durable stainless steel really is.

Stainless steel scissors

 

Scram bag: Water proof containers – Velcro seal bags

Some things you just cant afford to get wet. Electronics is one of those things there are many others, books, maps etc.

A cheap and simple way to waterproof things are well sealing waterproof bags.

Water proof Velcro sealed bags. One containing a Degen DE13 radio and one empty. With ruler for scale.

Place item inside, velcro closed, done.

$2 worth every cent

Scram bag: Hats

Sometimes its going to be hot and sunny, and sometimes its going to be cold.

You’ll need two hats one for the heat and one for the cold

For the cold:

A beanie style hat made of wool or other warm material  (such as polar fleece) that will retain heat even when wet.

You may have a jacket with a hood built in but a beanie hat can got under this and you will be even warmer.

A scarf in addition to the hat is also a good idea.

For the heat:

Wide brim cotton bucket hat with vent holes and a chin strap.

usually when it’s hot the sun is out and a hat can also protect your skin from sunburn so a brim on the hat is ideal.

A baseball style cap will provide some protection but a hat with an all around brim is better, a bucket hat with a small all round brim is good.

Cotton is a good material as it allows sweat to be absorbed and then wicked away and evaporate. when stored cotton survives being crumpled.

Remember to protect your neck when it is sunny.

 

$10-15 from many places

Scram Bag: Head torch

Once in the dark you won’t be able to easily see what you’re doing. You may have a torch and have the option of holding it in one hand and attempting to do things but this may really get in your way. You may need both hands free. Of course you could hold the torch in you mouth or in the crook of you neck. A simpler solution? A head torch. A head torch frees up you hands an the light is always on the area you are looking at, a lot of problems solved.

A basic single unit head torch with overhead strap and 12 LEDs.

Head torches are basically divided into several categories:

Form factor:

Single strap: A single strap that encircles you head like an elastic headband. Minimalist but not as secure at  the over head strap and not appropriate with heavier lamps.

Over head strap: Like the single strap but with an additional strap that goes over your head to hold the lamp more firmly but at the expense of having to remove other head gear to put it on or take it off.

Single unit: the entire lamp batteries and switch are in one unit at the front.

Separate battery compartment: Batteries are separate to the lamp often at the back to counterbalance the weight of the lamp or possible to be worn on another part of clothing. external battery packs can get in the way and they is always the worry of the wire that connect to the lamp itself getting dislodged or damaged.

Lighting:

The lamps

White/white blue LED : One or more LED in the blue-white spectrum give of a diffuse glow of light extending about 5 meters. good enough to walk an night or fiddle with an object. A single LED can last for a hundred hours of operation for one battery charge.

Red LED: One or more LED in the red spectrum which allows you to intermittently use the LED occasionally without greatly affecting your night vision. Excellent for reading maps at night. Red light does not radiate far and is quite discrete at night, many animals can’t see red light- even at night.

Halogen / high lumen blub: One or more ultra bright focused beams that create a very strong cone of light stretching for 50 or more meters, great for looking at more distant objects at night. These lamps have a tendency to really drain batteries fast. In terms of battery life you are looking at 10-60 minutes of operation.

Ultra violet: I haven’t seen these on head torches yet but if you are a little electrically inclined you might consider adding one. Why? If you are in an area where there might be scorpions like Central Australia, you’ll find out that scorpions and some other insects actually glow under UV light. Pretty handy for avoiding a nasty sting.

Cree LED: Super bright with power consumption similar to a standard LED. The illumination is about 200 lumen ( the combined brightness of 200 candles) They are usually in a focus adjusting tube with a over the head strap configuration .Theses headlamps are new to the market and some are selling at very low prices, get in fast on these they are very good value for money.

Adult scorpions, cat urine and some spiders glow under UV light. http://www.science.widener.edu/~schultz/scorp/scorp.html

 

Power supply:

Batteries:

Commonly  AAA size batteries are used, sometimes because of the electronic switching involved, rechargeable batteries cant be used.

In higher light output head units CR 123 batteries are often used they are more  expensive, obscure and harder to find that other batteries.

Wind up: if this is the only power supply you will find winding up  a torch a lot gets a bit old really fast and as a consequence the batteries never really get a full charge. Investigate adding an alternative charging modification.

Solar: You will need to leave this in the sun a long time to get the charge required.

External charge plug: Great idea if it can be made waterproof perhaps with rubber cap or similar. Hopefully the charge plug is not really obscure in-case it gets lost.

The switch:

These seem to be more complex than needed. Often there are several light modes switching on various arrangements of LED’s or Lamps and may include a flashing feature. One torch i had had the annoying feature of refusing to respond when at low current forcing the torch into a stay on and go dead mode. the only way to avoid this was to take the batteries out to turn the lamp off.

Other important considerations. The head torch will need to be water resistant at least, preferably waterproof.

Cheap head torches can malfunction quite quickly. I bought two different ones recently that simply didn’t work at all, straight out of the box.

Best advice:

Single unit, using rechargeable batteries, at least 3 White LEDs, simple on/off switch.

Head torch  $15 and upwards depending on features.

 

OR

Cree LED because of brightness and battery life.