Editor’s note: This article was written by one of our readers, Susie Harrison, who published a trilogy on post-apocalyptic America that you can check out here.
Even before the pandemic hit the U.S. I had seen the videos from China and knew it was at our doorstep by late December, early January. I had already done my shopping (including toilet paper) before the ‘empty store’ crisis hit. Then as violence broke out in the streets, I knew our turmoil was not finished. The women in our family, we began to prep, even while being mocked by some of the boys and men around us.
Realizing that there was a huge potential for possible grid/cyber outages around election day, we got busy. My mother in California, my daughter in Wyoming, and me, in Nevada. I wish we were all together; as a team we would be formidable.
Faraday cages became important to us realizing we had refrigerators, freezers, and generators. My mother went all out, while I could only afford small power sources… and a mini frig. Most things we depend on may be small but could very well be rendered useless in an EMP. I did my research. With a little creativity and a son who likes to help, we successfully and affordably designed our own faraday cages.
Here is what you need
- 20 Gallon (or larger) Behrens Galvanized Steel Trash Cans with locking lids are recommended, however the ones with locking lids were sold out. I got the regular lid with foil tape. Cost app. 40$ each at Amazon, check your local hardware store for brands and prices.
- Aluminum Foil Tape: I bought Scotch Aluminum Tape for app. 6$ at Amazon.
- Extra Cardboard
- Utility knife (or in our case a kitchen knife since we could not find the toolbox)
- Guerrilla Glue and Tape (or strong glue packing tape) if not using a tape-able material.
Another way to insulate your faraday cage, which I like the results much better, was some extra carpet padding I found in the garage. If you use this however, tape is of little use, so any kind of strong glue should be efficient.
Cardboard, Carpet padding, and Bubble wrap are all good to put a barrier between your metal protection and your electronic devices. If your objects are touching the metal, or your barrier has open spaces, this will reduce or remove protection for your cell phones, laptops, computers and any other electrical device inside.
1. You can use the box your cans came in (if shipped) or other material. Put your trash can on flat cardboard and cut around the bottom of the lid in a circular fashion. Repeat. Now you have 2 circular barriers, one for the bottom and one for the lid of your metal can. You can use Guerrilla tape or packing tape to hold the inside together.
2. If using cardboard, or your box place a large piece in a circular motion and/or cut up other pieces to fill in the entire sides of your metal can. Use tape to fasten the bottom, lid, and sides securely to the can. I found with the carpet padding, I had to use glue, which seems to work fine.
Although my carpet pad barrier looks loose at the top, it helps seal around the top of the lid around the pad lining the lid. The day you decide to seal around the top of the lids with foil tap. Both insulators (upon testing) are solid faraday cages.
3. Last phase: Seal around the lip of your metal can lids tightly. You may wait to do this last part till disaster is at hand. However, you can even test without it and get good readings. You just don’t want to waste foil tape and it’s sticky.
I would like to add a tip for power sources and generators. I can’t speak to large generators as much, but I’ve found that if you put your smaller power sources in their original packing and place them in a box, put a few layers of aluminum foil securely taped around the boxes… you’ve just created your own faraday cages for small generators. This saves lots of space in your metal cans for other things.
Do not forget to wrap any solar panels for those generators as well.
To test your devices, you can use cell phones or a radio. Some cell signals are stronger than others. We tried this with all our phones. We put each of 4 cell phones inside the faraday cages (both padded cage and cardboard cage) 3 of them, when called from the outside line, went straight to voicemail. Nor did not ring in the cage.
My son had a strong phone and it only worked on his some of the time. After wrapping his twice with foil, we finally got the desired result. The padded can worked better than the cardboard can.
The best way to test was with a battery powered radio. You can clearly hear that the music playing starts to go to static as we put it in the box before even introducing the lid. With the lid on we knew they signal was completely gone.
It was a fun Saturday afternoon project and quite successful. You could make a day of it with your kids and/or family. Not only fun, but with a secure feeling that if S does HTF, you are well prepared.
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