Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review: Rhino Ropework - Tritium fob

I wanted to get my partner Lorin a piece of jewelry for her birthday, but didn't feel that a store-bought piece was really "me" ( as you might imagine), but I was lucky in that I'd been following the exploits of Shane Marks of Rhino Ropework who as well as some really excellent looking marlin spikes and fids for ropework, has also been turning out some really lovely fobs, and better yet, hollowing them out and fitting them with vials of tritium!

You may recall that I had a bead made, with six vials of tritium installed by H3, for my keychain,and I really liked it, though that bead had exposed vials, all but two have since been broken.

The fob I commissioned encompassed the vial, with four sets of three holes drilled, allowing the light to be exposed, but protecting the vial in its sheath of stainless steel. I was very pleased to see that its light, being a much bigger vial, was quite bright, and well exposed by the fob. It is certainly bright enough for me to pinpoint it in a darkened room, tent or in fact, deep underground whilst caving on a recent adventure.

The fob has a hole drilled through at the top, with which a necklace, be it link or a ball-chain to suit the wearer, or even feed a thin split ring through to add it to a keychain. The vial is securely seated and snug within the fob.

It's an elegant piece, rugged and functional in the same moment.
Probably the best part about it was how much Lorin enjoys wearing it, and consequently how much I enjoy seeing it being worn. Much like the SAR GlobalTool MoonGlow disk I wear, it is a great spotting device, without being obtrusive. With tritium, it's glow will last for years, no recharging needed.

Rhino Ropeworks  produces tools in copper, stainless steel, brass and even some in titanium. You should totally check out their Facebook for the most recent tools and designs, and watch this space for when my marlin spike comes in!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: Power Practical - PowerPotXL

Another Kickstarted project, another power generating project and addition to my off-grid arsenal.

This is a second generation thermoelectric device, that was launched as a Kickstarter in order to get the new models out there. These are the PowerPot X from Power Practical and I really liked it.

I've covered the charge-indicating power regulator from Power Practical previously, a USB dongle that indicated the wattage being output by power sources, (or conversely, the draw). I've also covered a thermoelectric generator before, in the form of the Tellurex tPod tea-light candle powered light/charger. I also wish-lusted the BioLite camp stove too, but haven't laid hands on one yet.

The PowerPot X is a sleek 10-watt generator that converts heat into electrical power. It works by housing a thermoelectric module between the base of the regular pot, and an aluminium base-plate. The modules are encased in weatherproof high temp silicone casing  Just heat up water in the pot and the PowerPot  will immediately start putting out electricity to power or charge your devices.

The smaller first-generation PowerPot V, only has a 1 amp output, but the X can push up to 2 amps, sufficient to charge larger and more power hungry devices like iPads and SLR batteries. 

The X ships with a standard USB (5V) port, and comes supplies with one of Power Practical's three-headed adapter cables (mini, micro and 30-pin). The detachable cable has a one-way-only connector to the body of the pot for safety, and three-feet of highly durable, flame-resistant cabling.  Built into the USB end of the cable is a solid-state voltage regulator provides safe and stable power at up to 10 Watts charge any number of small high-tech devices.

The PowerPot X comes in two sizes, the X is 2.3L (3 qrt) and the XL (which I selected, because bigger) is 3.8 L (4 qrt), each having the same kind of hard-anodized aluminium pot, with folding handles. The XL measures 19cm x 13cm (7.5" x 5"), and weighs 770g (11.2 oz) . Not bad for an output of 10w, 2amp, 5V as infinate as your water and heat source.

That's one thing to note. You can't run it dry, or the thermocouple will get fried. I've run mine on both an electric hotplate and by gas, both on the home stage, and also a propane BBQ plate, to remarkable success. Whilst out camping recently, we charged a number of iPhones and iPads, in fairly short order.

The size of the pot allowed me to boil 5 cobs of corn at a time as well as charging. This could be used at each meal-time to top up devices, recharge lights and batteries. As long as you have water to act as your thermal mass, and fuel to heat it, the Power Pot is a never-ending source of electricity in a lightweight and dual purpose package.

I almost look forwards to our next power outage, so I can dazzle the neighborhood with my awesome power.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: DOSS DMP7 Dynamo radio

For quite some time, I have been missing a key element in my survival kit.

Knives, lights, radios, pouches, oh my. Everything but a radio, as it happens. So when I saw a dynamo powered radio on ZAZZ, I jumped right onto it.

This is the DOSS dmp7 dynamo multifunctional radio / music-player. 

It is more than just a radio though, and it is jam-packed with extra features.
As well as a scanning (no dials or even readouts) AM/FM radio, it also has a SD card slot and USB port to play solid-state media music, and a 3.5mm stereo auxiliary input port.

A push button selector cycles through the input types and similarly, the scanning forwards and backwards is by push-button. I found this a bit difficult to use, or at least awkward, to try to find a station I was specifically after.

Each side cap features a LED lamp, also push button controlled. The left side is white and continuously lit.

The right side features four flashing red LED's and also activates a siren, which is both loud and annoying. Perfect, really. At full charge, the siren will play for 3 hours.

The unit features a 1000mAh 3.7V lithium polymer battery internally, but can also take four AA batteries as well. Power status indicators on the front also show how well the hand-cranking dynamo is working on your manual charge.
It also will charge USB devices with an output of 5VDC /500mA.

The radio will play for 7 hours, the torch will last 15 hours and the SD/aux playback will run for 3-5 hours.

Made of a pretty lightweight ABS plastic, and with exposed seams throughout, this is not really a rugged piece. More suited to sitting in the glove-box or in the box of camping gear than for treks in the Amazon, or salvage runs into Chernobyl, but given the eternal nature of the dynamo as a power source, not only for the radio, lights but also as a charging station, this little multi-purpose device is a welcome addition to my just-in-case collection. You never know when the power will go out, and radio is an excellent source of news and information.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: SOG Bladelight

 As first published on RecoilWeb ....

My love for gadgets is well known, and I try to lean towards the useful over the peculiar, the multi-functional over the one-trick-pony,   so when I got the chance to fool around with this new offering from SOG Knives, I jumped at it.

This is the BladeLight, from SOG. From just looking at it, you might be forgiven in thinking that it was a fairly standard dive-knife looking blade.

Its glass reinforced nylon handle, and high-sheen 9Cr18MoV blade don't really stand out, although the clear acrylic hand guard and tail-cap ring do add a certain "future-blade" look, they don't really betray the blades secret arsenal until you look a little closer and see that mounted at the very neck of the blade are six white LED's!

Mounted three to a side, these lights issue a mild 25 Lumen output, from the single AA battery that mounts in the body of the handle but the placement, and clever design of the sheath means that the light is right on target, where you need it.

The hard molded sheath features a button release, but will also allow a hard-pull draw, but most importantly, has six cut-outs, to allow the LED's to be used whilst the blade is sheathed, in "flashlight mode.

With belt loops, as well as a hefty built-in belt clip, the knife as a whole can be used as a flashlight without waving a blade around in peoples faces, be it camp-site, or road-side.
The LED's are activated by a stiff push-button mounted on the tail cap, and via some clever engineering the LED's back-scatter some light through the blade and illuminate the acrylic ring that circles the base. The battery is fitted by unscrewing the tail-cap.

The whole knife is IPX-7 rating for water resistance to full immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter. Perhaps not a dive-knife, but certainly fit for water-borne activities and other wet tasks.

My thoughts immediately went to dressing game. I've only needed to field dress game a couple of times in the dark, but it wasn't a lot of fun, and I can imagine that having a light that IS my knife, would have made that messy task just a little easier.
With slight jimping along the back, and the molded grips set into the glass reinforced nylon handle, this blade is a little on the free-and-easy in the hand, I prefer something with a bit more grip to it, especially if I am going to be doing something slick and messy.

The blade also doesn't feature a full tang, and as a result, is both very light (to the point of feeling a bit effete) and also having a weird balance. I don't tend to go for big knives (if you can put aside my KA-BAR Zombie Killer collection), but this knife just doesn't have the heft I wold have expected for its size.  At 28.7cm (11.3") overall, with 14.5cm (5.7") of blade, this piece weighs only 201g (7.10oz).
Its an elegant looking piece, well matched to its sheath and well thought out.  The sheath offers a selection of pretty standard mounting options, with rivet holes as well as belt loops top and bottom,

A nice afterthought is the little removable nylon pouch, which came with spare batteries for the LED's, but could easily be re-fitted with a stone, compass or other survival kit.

I used the knife as my fire-side cooking knife a few times, to get a feel for how well the LED's illuminate, not only where I was going, and what I was doing, but also to see how much of a help it was when I was right up in the fire, or in fact, carving.

For both at-the-coals work, where smoke and heat may make it difficult to check how things are going, and back at the camp-table where carving and jointing needs to happen quickly and neatly, I found the LED's to work just fine, in or out of its sheath. The chickens and rabbits I roasted turned out a treat, and having those twin sets of LED's running right down the blade meant I had zero guesswork about how the meat was done, or where fiddly joints sat. I even stabbed the blade into a log for a little area illumination as I moved the coals about.

Its a bit gimicky, but it's certainly well put together and thought out. For the light use I put it through, the SOB BladeLight did exactly what I expected of it, and did so admirably.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: Propper ICE Polo

Propper Polo1
As first seen on BreachBangClear!

As part of the batch of awesome goodies I received from Propper, along with the Liberty Bottle and some other cool items.

I wear polo shirts every day to work, and as I like to say disaster doesn't wait till after hours and weekend.  I like to slot in as much rugged kit into my everyday workwear as I can, whilst still staying within the limits of acceptable dress at work, so having some technical clothing in non-military cuts is quite a boon for me.

The Propper ICE Performance polo does just this, with a classical polo-shirt look that can still be packed full of features.
Propper Polo2

Made from an "advanced wicking fabric", made of 94% and 6% spandex, it dries 125% faster than cotton, 30% faster than traditional polyester. Pretty awesome. This is apparently fade, shrink and wrinkle resistant. It certainly is wrinkle resistant. I've worn and laundered this a number of times, slept in it and generally treated it shabbily, and it has bounced back every time.

Extended length for tucking into pants means no worries of it coming untucked and unprofessional looking, whether you are in the ceiling, or hopping out of a vehicle.  It has a sleek, smooth finish and is very comfortable to wear. It feels pretty weird for a shirt though, more like a swim-suit. That might be an issue for some people.

Propper Polo3Part of that comes down to the 100% polyester gusseted mesh underarm which increases both ventilation and range of motion. These are made from and are colour matched so well I had to go back and check they were there. Hidden button down collar stays provide a clean, professional look, with no risk of an unexpected popped-collar douche effect.

However, not being just another polo shirt is where these come into their own. Hidden-in-the-seams pockets function as mic clips on both shoulders (I attached my 5.11 ATAC A1 flashlight on one, hands free illumination!)  and sunglasses loop under the placket which I attached some ID to, showcase the options here.

Even better, there is a two-channel pen pocket on the left shoulder, handy for us righties, but very useful for anyone who needs to have a pen handy, and not in the depths of a pants pocket.

This is a great shirt. Rugged without being barracks-wear, functional without being too tactical-chic, it lets me have a few tricks up (or on) my sleeves.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Review: Tribe Provisions - Go-anywhere Blanket

I managed to lay my paws on a prototype from the good people of Tribe Provisions, who have an ongoing Kickstarter for what they call their "Go-anywhere Blanket for Sports, Camping, Hanging Out" which is a very good summary of their creation, a multi-purpose outdoor blanket: comfortable, durable, machine-washable, and comes with a compact stuff sack.

It arrived in the mail just in time for our weekend away camping with friends. Perfect timing, and just what I needed. Triceratops Girl and Tactical Baby won't stay in chairs too long, so I needed options.
Its very mild camping in  Victoria at this time of year. The days get as high as the low 30's (33oC on Saturday, that's 91oF for all you Imperials)but the nights can get down to 6oC (42oF) or so, where we went, so I wanted to make sure that we had plenty of light weight blankets to add to the pile.

It a 172cm x 140cm (68" x 55") quilted nylon blanket, weighing in at 800g (1.7lbs) which comes in its own attached stuff-sack. I love stuff-sacks, and am always terribly sad when I have lost them in past. (Or rather, when I have loaded out a sleeping-bag, and it is returned bound in string, no stuff-sack to be found.) My Aurora Wanderer sleeping bag weighs 980g.
The machine washable ripstop nylon outer shell, which is overlaid above a strong, soft inner polyester shell for comfort.

Mildew-resistant hollow fiber polyester filler offers a variety of benefits; it compresses easily, retains body heat, dries quickly and as mentioned does not give organisms like mildew fungi habitat to flourish. 

With  double stitching at all the edges and seams, and a single quilt-stitched body to maintain durability and integrity, the Go-Anywhere blanket is built to last under the rough-and-tumble of outdoor use. 

My girls are not especially delicate, and romped about with it to no ill effect. The scattered bindi weed prickles at the campground we were at were no match for the Go- Anywhere, and in those rare moments I got to sit down, I found myself looking for my woobie!

My prototype model features a black and a grey facing, with the production versions being a green and tan to cream colour. 

I especially liked wrapping myself up as I lay in my hammock early in the day, before it heated up, as breakfast cooked, but also found that it was very comfortable to wear draped as a shawl, or wrapped around me as I sat on it. 

I'm a very long-limbed creature, so often have trouble staying all in a sleeping bag, so having the extra blanket option made for warmer nights too, when needed. You could even use the attached stuff-sack as a field expedient pillow, when stuffed with clothes. 

Overall I was very happy with the Go-Anywhere blanket. It has been well thought out and put together. It's simplicity, comfort and durability are its biggest assets, and it certainly performed as intended. If I had to add anything, I'd think that a set of compression straps to the stuff-sack, just to reduce its bulk. I'll probably do that to my prototype, and perhaps to my production versions too when they arrive, as needed; webbing and buckles aren't hard to come by in my house ... Check out the Kickstarter before it closes, and  the other kit that Tribe Provisions produce ...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review: Ti2 - SentinelX

This beauty came to me as a Kickstarter (my initial pledge rewards got lost in the mail)just recently, and I've been thriiled to put it to some initial use.

From the makers of the Ti2-PB9 parabiner pulley and the Ti2 Sentinel S4S cache comes the the Sentinel X Cache. You may recall I wrote a wish-lust piece on it, a while ago, and am very pleased to finally have them in my hand.

Unlike the pocket sized Ti2 S4S cache, this is a large format, hard anodized aluminum cache.  It's internal dimensions are 51mm diameter x 153mm length (2" and 6"). Their  external dimensions 63mm x 204mm (2.5" and 8"). So around the size of a can of Coke around, and about the length of one, in the middle section. Empty, it weighs 400 g as it is made from aircraft grade 6061-T6 aluminium which has been strength optimized using "CAD parasolid modeling" giving it its unique ribbed / skeletonized design.

The tube is threaded at either end so you can access contents from either end, change out the end cap options, clean and empty it. The threads have a modified stub acme shape which is to say a trapezoidal cut, with twin Higbee blunt starts, so you don't get any cross-threading and better chances of a first-time screw.

Twin o-rings (white teflon rings shown here, orange food-grade silicone rings seen on the main project page) give redundancy and water-tightness. Both types of o-rings  are food grade  and able to withstand temperatures required to boil water. The teflon doesn't need greasing, which is an advantage in my books.

I really liked that the bottom cap has vent holes giving it a built in trivet  for boiling water or cooking in. I did a rough boil test, using an enamel camping mug, and the SentinelX was just a little quicker to boil. It also retained a lot of residual heat, with its thick walls, but its also worth noting that the entire container heated up. Even only lightly screwed on, the lid conducted enough heat to be barely touchable by the time the water boiled. I needed to use a wooden spoon to carry it off the flames.

The container holds 325 mL (11 fl oz), which is in keeping with its "less than a can f Coke dimensions, but to give you an idea of how much stuff you can store in it, I took this photo, of a fist-full of pens and pencils (23, but some mis-matched sizes).

I got one of each of the Type 3 Class 1 anodized coating. One in "regular" and one in the slicker looking "satin" finish.  This hard anodizing is typically used for military applications, but also on pots and frying pans offering excellent flame resistance. It's food grade finish was what I was most looking for, as  I wanted to be able to store and carry foodstuffs in it safely.

They also offer  Type 3, Class 2 anodized, NON food grade and available in black, olive drab and brown satin finish only.  Both Class 1 and Class 2 exhibit the same durability properties, so I wasn't trading off durability for food safety. Well worth it in my mind.

I haven't yet worked out what I will store in mine, long term, but I have carried it around in my Propper MultiPurpose Bag for some time now, with snacks and edibles.

I wanted to try making a up of tea with the hot water I had boiled, and found that it made a very passable brew, though the conducted heat I talked about earlier made it difficult to enjoy the drink, without wrapping in a towel first.

Those top lanyard holes make an excellent lanyard loop, for securing the cache, perhaps in a out-of-sight location, or perhaps as a hook point for when it is too hot to hold.

I am really pleased to have these in my collection, although as  I mentioned earlier, I still haven't decided what to fill mine with. I have been considering what item's from my Bug-Out-Jars would fit nicely, a line of thought that one of the beta-testers of the SentinelX shared.

As well as in my new bag, it's worth noting that the SentinelX also fits nicely into my Platatac FUP and would most likely fit into most double-mag pouches, like the Platatac 60Rnd or similar pouches.

This is a really cool product, and I certainly appreciate the modular and rugged performance that it offers. I'm looking forwards to keeping these on hand, filled with my needfuls.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Home Front: eww, don't get your Ebola on me!

So, I've been asked by a few different people "just what CAN we do to be safe from Ebola?"

Before I get into the details of PPE and other practices and procedures, I think it's worthwhile checking out some details on how you CAN'T get Ebola: I go to the CDC for all my Ebola guidance, and take their advice to heart. These are the people who know. Listen to the local guides ....

"In healthcare settings, Ebola is spread through direct contact (e.g., through broken skin or through mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth) with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola or with objects (e.g., needles, syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus. For all healthcare workers caring for Ebola patients, PPE with full body coverage is recommended to further reduce the risk of self-contamination.
  • Avoid contact with blood and body fluids of any person, particularly someone who is sick.
  • Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
  • Do not touch the body of someone who has died from Ebola."
 So, if you aren't currently in an Ebola affected area, treating suspected Ebola patients or planning to either eat bushmeat or take up embalming in West Africa, you probably don't need to worry much, right now.

That said, we're all about being prepared here, so in the interest of education and edification, here are some guidelines for how to protect against a virulent, non-airborne, aerosol-capable infective agent like the Ebola virus.

 N95 Respirator: Here is what the FDA have to say about the N95 rating on a facemask, or respirator

"An N95 respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. In addition to blocking splashes, sprays and large droplets, the respirator is also designed to prevent the wearer from breathing in very small particles that may be in the air.
To work as expected, an N95 respirator requires a proper fit to your face. Generally, to check for proper fit, you should put on your respirator and adjust the straps so that the respirator fits tight but comfortably to your face. For information on proper fit, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The ‘N95’ designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95% of very small test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks. However, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not completely eliminate the risk of illness or death.
N95 respirators are not designed for children or people with facial hair. Because a proper fit cannot be achieved on children and people with facial hair, the N95 respirator may not provide full protection."

Sorry kids and Tactical Beard Owners ...

Nitrile Examination Gloves:
 These tough and resistant gloves have a different feel to the more common latex examination glove, somewhat less tactile and more stiff, they have the become the standard for infection control PPE for this kind of situation.

Alcohol Based Hand Rubs are more effective against most bacteria and many viruses than either medicated or non-medicated soaps. Its common for me to squirt my hands with this stuff at work (even in my technical role) two or three times a day. It's ubiquitious at ever ward entrance and lift-well.

There is even some debate around alcohol-only ABHR versus alcohol-chlorhexidine ABHR: The addition of a low concentration of chlorhexidine to an ABHR results in significantly greater residual activity than alcohol alone and therefore potentially improves efficacy.

Then there is the "what do I do if I really, really don't want to be exposed, clinical worker level protection. Guidelines from the CDC again:

Recommended PPE for Trained Observer during Observations of PPE Doffing

The trained observer should not enter the room of a patient with Ebola, but will be in the PPE removal area to observe and assist with removal of specific components of PPE, as outlined below. The observer should not participate in any Ebola patient care activities while conducting observations. The following PPE are recommended for trained observers:
  • Single-use (disposable) fluid-resistant or impermeable gown that extends to at least mid-calf or coverall without integrated hood.
  • Single-use (disposable) full face shield.
  • Single-use (disposable) nitrile examination gloves with extended cuffs. Two pairs of gloves should be worn. At a minimum, outer gloves should have extended cuffs.
  • Single-use (disposable) fluid-resistant or impermeable shoe covers. Shoe covers should allow for ease of movement and not present a slip hazard to the worker.
Trained observers should don and doff selected PPE according to same procedures outlined below. Of note, if the trained observer assists with PPE doffing, then the trained observer should disinfect outer-gloved hands with an *EPA-registered disinfectant wipe or ABHR immediately after contact with healthcare worker’s PPE.

So, there you go: full fluid-proof gown, double-gloved, face-mask, booties. Even then, getting all this gear ON right isn't the only challenge. Getting it OFF again, when you have potientially been exposed is another task entirely. Which is why in hospital settings hey have those "Trained Observer" positions in the first place. All the PPE in the world isn't going to do you a lick of good if you rub that last contaminated piece of clothing on your face as you are getting it all off.

The University of Nebraska Medical Centre have these two excellent visual guides, which you may find useful:

Donning Visual Guide

Doffing Visual Guide

The question of "how long until it is safe to go back in there? "comes up: Again the CDC have all the answers:

How long does the Ebola virus persist in indoor environments?

Only one laboratory study, which was done under environmental conditions that favor virus persistence, has been reported. This study found that under these ideal conditions Ebola virus could remain active for up to six days. In a follow up study, Ebolavirus was found, relative to other enveloped viruses, to be quite sensitive to inactivation by ultraviolet light and drying; yet sub-populations did persist in organic debris.
In the only study to assess contamination of the patient care environment during an outbreak, conducted in an African hospital under "real world conditions", virus was not detected by either nucleic acid amplification or culture in any of 33 samples collected from sites that were not visibly bloody. Virus was detected on a blood-stained glove and bloody intravenous insertion site by nucleic acid amplification, which may detect non-viable virus, but not by culture for live, infectious virus.3 Based upon these data and what is known regarding the environmental infection control of other enveloped RNA viruses, the expectation is with consistent daily cleaning and disinfection practices in U.S. hospitals that the persistence of Ebola virus in the patient care environment would be short – with 24 hours considered a cautious upper limit.

Lastly, for area and surface disinfection, the relatively simple method of 1:10 chlorinated bleach in water to decontaminate highly soiled areas, and 1:100 to spray, soak and pre-wash infected areas bedding and equipment,  is believed to be highly effective.

So, be safe out there, but don't panic. There are far more common killers in the microbial world....
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...