Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Hydra Light Review

I got word a water powered Flashlight was heading my way for a product review & immediately pictured a contraption with a propeller to dip in a running stream, or some penlight hooked up to a water bottle. Instead, I got the Hydra Light, a foot long, rubber-coated, yellow & black plastic cylinder, looking every inch a serious lighting device. It sported some heft to it too, but strangely, no propeller or water tank. Instead, inside it was a long white cylinder where a battery would be, with two metal ends and holes along the length of it’s sides.
End-cap with fold-out hook

The end-cap flares out forming a stable base with a recessed fold-out plastic hook to hang it upside down. (Although I doubt the hook will hold up long.)

At the business end, a clear plastic lamp bezel sports a mirrored concave top cover, and an aperture in the center. Around the single white LED inside the bezel, was more mirrored plastic.

The bezel does double duty. Slide the bezel fully extended, the light is configured as a lantern, with the bezel retracted, it becomes a directed flashlight, projecting the light out the end through the aperture.

So far, it LOOKS like a flashlight. But now what's up with this white plastic can-like tube inside, where a proper battery would be? It looked intriguing.
The fuel cell of tomorrow?
I learned it's the fuel cell that relies on a process of Ion Transfer involving oxygen as fuel. The Hydra-Light Fuel cell has a generous heft to it. It rattles, which I assume is something that somehow reacts to moisture.

I began to figure out that this ISN'T a water POWERED flashlight as the advertising implies. Instead, water is used another way, as a CONDUCTOR.

A chemical reaction occurs when two dissimilar forms of metal interact with each other. It's called ELECTROLYSIS. Simply put, molecular ions from one metal flows to another metal when a current path between the two is present. A common example of electrolysis is galvanic Iron becomes rusty when exposed to oxygen. All it takes is a conductor. It just so happens WATER is a conductor, and it's conductivity is greatly increased when MINERALS are dissolved in it.

It clicked...(like a light bulb over my head). In this moistened fuel cell container, enough electrical current is generated when the contents of the fuel cell is moistened and exposed to oxygen. Causing Ions to flow from one metal end-cap to the other.

Even though it only takes water to create electrical current, there's not a whole lot of electrical current being produced. There's another component in this that makes it work... a super efficient LED!
The star of the show is this LED

 LED's have revolutionized lighting. Light Emitting Diodes have become very efficient after years of development, all but replacing the incandescent light bulb. Being able to radiate bright white light from very little energy, modern LED's are now the ideal low cost, low maintenance, long-life light source.

And it's a single LED that makes the Hydra-Light happen.

Now...  Something needs pointing out.

While the Ion transfer process results in electrical current being generated, it isn't a LOT of electrical current. So, while the LED is efficiently producing light, it's not the brightest of lights. The Hydra Light isn't meant to blind, it's made to produce light just using water.

Within those narrow constraints, the Hydra Light DOES IT'S JOB LIKE NO OTHER!

The Hydra Light is ideally suited as an emergency light source, one that can provide light with just water, without ANY other technology.  I get that, and anyone who is desperately NEEDING light when ALL ELSE FAILS would get that too.

The Hydra-Light boasts of up to 100 hours of continuous service. One short dunking of the fuel cell in water is all it takes.

THAT I put it to the test.

I dipped the power cell in a glass of tap water, shook out the excess, slipped it in the Hydra Light and turned it on.  The LED immediately produced a bright blue-white light. As a flashlight it threw a very impressive beam. As a Lantern the single LED was able to light up a totally dark room to a respectable level, not super bright, but still bright enough.  Then I left the Hydra Light on and started the clock.

72 hours later (that's THREE DAYS), the light was noticeably dimmer, and it went dark while I was away at work on day four, at least 90 hours total. That's close enough for me.
Again, this is just dunking the fuel cell in water, shaking out the excess and turning the lamp on.

Again, this is just dunking the fuel cell in water, shaking out the excess and turning the lamp on.

Pretty darn impressive IMHO.

For the Hydra-light, the duration test is more of showing how long the fuel cell will conduct current until the fuel cell dries out.  Of course, normal battery powered flashlights can last 100 hours, (often brighter too). But after that, you just need to briefly re-moisten the fuel cell of the Hydra Light & the light will stay on for 100 hours more. (Do that with a regular battery flashlight)

After a few dips in water, the efficiency of the fuel cell diminishes. Still, that's remedied by simply adding salt to the water. The saltier the water, the brighter the lamp will glow. According to the maker, more fuel cells are available. But generally speaking, the whole idea of a emergency light source that can be left on a shelf for decades, & still be able to produce light after just a dip in some water, is just the thing to have when all else fails.

And for that, I TOTALLY approve.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The G.O.O.D. Board Game Review

I can't remember the last time I played a board game. It may have been 40 years ago, playing Clue, or Monopoly, long before I discovered computers & computer games. I don't know why it's been so long. Board Games are great family fun. It's something everyone can get involved with, sitting around the dining room table. Something to enjoy that doesn't involve a TV remote control or internet access.

So when I got the call that I got a Board Game heading my way to review, I was a bit reluctant at first. After so many years, so many other after-dinner pastimes, so many internet or electronic games, this one better be good. Turned out it was. It was The G.O.O.D. Game.

The G.O.O.D. Game, a.k.a  The "Get Out Of Dodge" Game, lived up to it's title. It was adventure, it was survival, it was hilarious.

Imagine Monopoly for a Zombie Apocalypse, or The Game of Life where a box of MRE's is worth more than your penthouse apartment in the city. In this game, you NEED to flee the city. Civilization has collapsed, you need to bug out with only what few supplies you can carry or scrounge along the way, to your safe house in the hills.  But along the way, you need to watch out! So many traps await you, you could wind up arrested in a FIMA Camp, or starving on top of Freeze Your A** Pass.

You'll use your wits, your luck, & occasionally your skill at bartering, to see your way through. It's ultimately the roll of the dice that'll determine if you're lucky enough to survive your journey, to make it to your bug out haven in the hills.

Amazing that Susan Kellerman-Hogue, the designer of The G.O.O.D. Game, could make S.H.T.F. an entertaining board game, but she certainly did, with tongue-in-cheek humor too. A few left-handed social comments thrown in the game along the way will have you giggling in your Flak Vest as you move your player piece along the board. BTW, since this IS a game of survival, you make your OWN game piece. Just be sure whoever uses a live .50 FMJ round as their game piece, gets first roll.

The Game Board is large & hilariously illustrated. The gameplay is roll the dice & land on a space, if it tells you to follow the instructions on the included "Determiner" Card, you'll do what the card says. It's pure luck if the outcome helps your cause or beats you bloody, you just have to take your turn to find out. Land on a space along with another player you can barter your gear. But be careful, one's man's treasure may be what you NEED the next turn you take. Ultimately, one person will get through & win, but along the way a whole evening will be spent in fun-filled survival & a battle of wits.  NOTE: Contains some Politically Incorrect Material & Some Harsh Language.
Yes, I got to say it's been at least 40 years since I last played a board game. But I'm glad the long dry spell is over, & it was by a good board game I got to play. The G.O.O.D. Game.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Survival Seeds: How To Stay Alive...Long-Term

If you’re not saving seeds you should be, even if you have food storage already. They take up little room and could save your life if there is ever a long-lasting crises, natural or economical.

Store Well: Moisture, Temperature, & Light
To keep seeds from prematurely germinating they need to be stored effectively. 

Moisture is an enemy to long-term seed storage. Make sure all seeds are properly dried and placed in moisture-proof packaging.

Seeds need to be kept at a constant temperature just above freezing (40-45 degrees). However, if the seeds are fully dried they can be kept at freezing temperatures.

Light exposure should be zero to minimum. It is best if the packaging is light-proof and placed in a dark area.
Oh, to dream...

Overall, you’ll be safe if your seeds are stored in moisture and water proof packaging and placed in a freezer or, for extra long-term storage, placed in a sealed PPC pipe and buried.

Purchase High Quality Seeds: 
Non-GMO & Heirloom

Non-GMO seeds are seeds that have not been genetically modified. Examples would be corn seeds that are modified to resist pests helping farmers save on pesticides. But in the past few years, farmers are finding that nature is adapting and the natural non-GMO seeds are yielding more.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Guardline GS-5000 Motion Detection Security System

Imagine a line of pickets that can pick up the approach of anything heading your way. That's exactly what you have with the Guardline GL-5000 Motion Detecting Alarm System.

This product review was a walk in the park... actually a walk around the yard, testing the effective range of this rugged & versatile motion detector & programmable alarm system. The radio transponder motion detecting sensors easily covered the furthest reaches of my property, sending notice when movement was detected.
Available on Amazon

Guardline,  a major name in home security systems, has answered the call for a motion detector system with greater range & greater expandability, & has done so in a practical, affordable way.

Operating in the UHF 900 Mhz. radio band, Guardline's sensors lie in wait to detect movement. Each censor able to be set up with different sensitivity, detected rate of movement, as well as scheduled time of operation. You can configure each one to match it's location & need of coverage. With up to quarter mile range to the receiver, a sensor can alert you of movement, several minutes before anything could come close.

Made of high impact ABS Plastic in flat OD Green color, each sealed, battery powered sensor, blends into an outdoor setting & operates undetected day & night. The sensor comes with mounting screws for walls & fenceposts, but I found it handy to use tie-straps for temporary mounting. The sensors weigh not much more than the 4 AA batteries it holds, so deploying these sensors tactically is a not a problem at all.

But here's where the GL-5000 stands apart. The central receiver is programmable, with 4 monitoring zones, each able to monitor 4 separate sensors. That means you can deploy up to 16 sensors, & the receiver can keep track of each one.  You can assign each sensor it's own unique alert tone, so just by the sound you hear, you can know in an instant exactly where movement has been detected.

I noted several "chokepoints" where anyone coming onto my property would have to pass. It was easy to install a sensor at each spot & give full coverage of the area. The furthest sensor was deep in the woods150 yards away. It was picked up by the desktop receiver.  I even went all out and walked way out off my property, to the end of the road over a block away, it still was received.  The Guardline GL-5000 is ideal for long range motion detection capability. And with batteries supplying power to the sensors, the system makes for great temporary deployed perimeter security.

My one hitch in the review was all by my doing. The sensor's case is held together by four small brass screws, and I of course promptly dropped one as soon as I went to put batteries in the unit. I quickly found the dropped screw, but word to the wise, be careful with opening the sensors.

The number of batteries you invest in may be a burden if you have as many sensors the GL-5000 can handle...(16 units x 4 AA batteries each = 64 batteries), but rechargeable batteries are available which can minimize the burden. And if you're like me, a solar powered charging system can easily be put together which can keep things topped off indefinitely. The upside is how the sensors can be programmed to "sleep" for set periods of the day or night, cutting down on battery use. The GL-5000 doesn't come with connections to a computer or internet, however that's another thing a whiz-kid tinkerer could figure out.

That all said, if you're looking for a reliable, expandable & affordable way to guard for intruders Guardline's GL-5000 system is more than capable. For Home Security I give it a big Thumb's Up!