Is there a place for modern technology after TSHTF? Some would argue that there isn’t, but I believe that modern tech offers significant advantages over those that don’t have it. If you have a way to make electricity after the grid goes down and you have some high tech gizmos in your back pocket, you’ll be in a better position to survive and thrive because of it. Before we go any further those of you who know me are going to say, “Holy cow! Jarhead is saying use tech!” because most of you know how I feel about people’s reliance on GPS, smart phones, and other electronic gadgets. Let me qualify this article by saying that I’m not a Luddite. I happen to love technology because it gives us instant access to all the information in the world in the palm of your hand. (Most of us watch cute kitten videos instead of reading Plato’s Republic though). Having a piece of technology in your possession can sharply increase your odds of surviving or allow you to do something you might not be able to do without it, such as navigate through a city or see what’s over that hill without actually having to climb up and take a look. However, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a backup for your systems and a backup of a backup for your important systems. For example: you should know how to read a map and compass or do math in case your GPS or spreadsheet doesn’t work. But this article is about how to use technology as a force magnifier, so let’s get to it.
By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog
Electronics are only as good as the grid of course, but if you have a solar array set up, windmill, or other way of naturally producing electricity you can still benefit from having some electronic devices around. More on this later.
Potential Uses of Technology
If communication is cut off from the outside, you can still manage an internal network that would allow you to share information in your group. If you can set up a network using TCP/IP (which stand for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol and is basically a way for computers to communicate), which most people do these days using a router inside your home, then you can have several devices talking to each other. I won’t get into a networking class, but having your devices able to communicate with each other is a powerful tool.
By the way – TCP/IP was developed by DARPA as a way for computers to communicate after a disaster such as a nuclear war.
Some things a computer would be good for is tracking crop schedules, how much food you have on hand, creating a database for parts such as nuts, bolts and the million other things that make up a compound, and you could keep track of the events in your compound for easy retrieval.
PDF’s (Printable Document Format’s) are great for storing and retrieving information. You can have books on a million topics, but instead of a library the size of Nebraska you can keep everything on one hard drive for instant retrieval. You might want to have the more important topics in book format as a backup, but you can never have too many books to reference!
Training videos are another option. You can take videos with your phone on how to do certain things in your compound such as stand guard duty, change a tire, cook a meal, shoot a bow and arrow, clean a gun, etc, and make them available to members of your community.
If you have surveillance equipment it can be run from your laptops. Small security webcams today use small amounts of electricity and it might be worthwhile to have a few cameras watching the front and back gates to let you know if there are unfriendly’s in the area.
Then there’s the entertainment factor to consider. We New-Age Homo-sapiens love to be entertained and today that’s delivered through the phone in our pocket or via a tablet or laptop. If you have movies downloaded to your laptop, tablet, or phone you don’t need to have an Internet connection in order watch it. This does take up space on your storage, so choose your movies wisely!
If you wanted to get fancy and had the know-how you could always set up a server (you could use a laptop for this) that would stream media from inside the Doomstead.
A laptop can have several uses. As mentioned earlier you can use it to manage your inventory. If you’re in a large compound or Doomstead, you’ll need some way to efficiently manage your materiel. Sure, you could do it by hand and I encourage you to have a paper backup, but you can’t beat a search query on a database for finding whatever it is you’re looking for.
I would recommend laptops over desktops because they have less electrical overhead. A desktop PC needs a monitor in addition to the CPU, which also consumes electricity. Laptops also have internal batteries, so if the power goes out unexpectedly it will stay on and you won’t lose any data. The idea is to keep your energy usage at a minimum.
The advantage of a tablet is that you can get some of the same functionality as a laptop with less electricity consumption. Here’s an article from PC World a few years ago comparing laptop and tablets (RAM, Display, Storage, Battery Life, etc.) Everything else aside if you’re looking at it from strictly a power consumption standpoint the tablet is probably your best option.
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I won’t get into the technical details here because my experience is most people don’t care what kind of RAM a device has. What matters is how much RAM it has and in the computing world more is better. If you have an old laptop at home the one single best thing you can probably do to speed it up is to add more RAM to it.
At the low end of the power consumption scale is the smartphone. Smaller screens, less processing power, but still handy even if you lose your cell connection. Why? Because your smartphone is essentially a small tablet when you strip away it’s cell phone capabilities. You can run different apps on it and it uses less electricity.
A short wave radio could allow you to communicate long distances if have one. During a crisis this might be an invaluable to find out what’s happening in the world. A good set of Walkie Talkies would be good for local communications. An example would be an OP outside the camp communicating with a command center.
As your ability to make electricity decreases so do the options for the electronics you’ll be able to run. If you’re in a well set up doomsday bunker with generators and enough fuel to run for two years, you’ll be ok for awhile. If you’re in a smaller community with just solar and/or wind and a battery bank to store the electricity you’ll want to be more conservative with your energy expenditure.
If you’re in a tipi (or tent) with a small solar panel and a deep cycle battery (this is basically my set up) then charging a tablet or cell phone would be pretty easy as long as the sun shines. In this case you might want to build a solar energy generator. The battery is relatively heavy, but once you have it in place it works great. Or you could Make your own USB solar charger if you’ve just got a cell phone you want to keep charged.
None of this really matters if the SHTF event is some kind of Carrington Event or other EMP event like a nuclear war of course. If that’s the case, I hope you have suitable plans for light, cooking, acquiring water, self protection and all the other things we talk about on this blog.
If you have the ability to create electricity in your bug-out/bug-in location having a set of well thought technology devices on-hand could allow you to do things others can’t (like communicate long distance) giving you an edge over others. The devices will be dependent on the amount of electricity you can generate, so keep that in mind during your planning phase.
What other uses are there for technology after TSHTF? I’ve only scratched the surface here, so shout out your ideas below. Questions? Comments? Sound off below!