Thursday, November 24, 2016

Liquid Fuel Transfer Pump, Battery Powered

I’ve been looking for a safe, spill-free way of filling my small engine fuel tanks. I’ve tried the gas cans with the on/off valve in the can spout. The first couple of uses it was fine but after a year of use the valve became difficult to use and it dripped gas onto the engine when filling. I even thought about making my own transfer pump using an old 12volt fuel pump and a couple hoses, but thought if the on/off switch were to spark it could be a disaster.

For a couple years now I have been looking at this Battery Operated Transfer Pump shown below but was hesitant to buy because so many of these inexpensive pumps are junk. This one doesn’t appear to be.
During Matthew the hurricane, I needed to fill the generator several times using a gas can I had a small spillage issue each time. After that hurricane it was time to order this Transfer Pump and see if it worked and was of reasonable quality.

Does it pump 5-6 quarts per minute as advertized?
Yes, and a lot more. For a flow test, I filled a five-quart jug in 24 seconds!

I used a five-gallon bucket with water and took this photo to show the stream of water the pump produces. That’s a ½ inch diameter stream that flows three gallons per minute.

Battery Life:
The pump is designed to run off two, “D” size batteries. How many gallons will it pump on one set of batteries? I don’t know, but I did empty three five gallon buckets and was still pumping strong. “D” size batteries are expensive and I didn’t want to waste them for a duration test. I’m quite happy with this limited test, I’d guess the batteries could pump 50 gallons, far more than I would ever need for a hurricane season, I hope!

Pump Storage after use:
Because the pump impeller and fuel lines have no inline valves it will completely self-drain immediately after use. Just stand or hang it vertically and you’re done

What Do I like most of all about this pump?
It works and is spill free and easy to use.
For seasonal engine storage, I am now able to pump all the gas from the small engine fuel tanks into a larger 5-6 gallon storage gas can. Then run the small engine until what little is left in the tank is gone leaving the entire fuel system dry reducing possible fuel gumming-up in the carburetor and filters.

Best for small engine tanks and Portable Kerosene Heaters.
It appears to be a quality built product but only time will tell if it will last say 5+ years.

Source to Purchase:
Sierra Tools Battery-Operated Liquid Transfer Pump:

Cost: $15.99

Manufacturers Spec’s:
Move liquids safely and easily with this convenient handheld pump.
Pumps gas, water, oil and other non-corrosive liquids.
Use in garage, aquariums, home and yard.
Pumps up to 6 quarts of liquid per minute.
Requires two "D" size batteries (not included).

Monday, November 14, 2016

'Supermoon’ 11-14-2016, The Closest Full Moon Until 2034

I tried a quick shot (actually 23 of them) of tonight’s ‘Super Moon’. Turned out pretty well considering it was taken with my inexpensive Nikon CoolPix S9200, point and shoot, hand held, zoomed to 18x, using full auto mode!

Thought I’d best try it tonight because at my age, I doubt I’ll be around for the next one!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hurricane Matthew One Month Later

Yesterday and today, the debris collection truck (one truck) was in the neighborhood hauling off all the storm’s tree damage. I took this photo with my cell phone so it’s not the greatest because you can’t see what the trucks signs say. These are FEMA contracted trucks. Lord knows what the cost is, maybe some day we’ll find out. But we’re all happy that it’s being hauled off. Now it’s time to re-seed or re-sod the grass areas that were killed under the branch piles.

I do have one oak tree in the back yard that will need to come down because of the extensive storm damage. Maybe next year I’ll have it taken down. It’s a 24 inch diameter oak and the going rate for removal is $2,500.00 for the one tree. Who knows, maybe if another storm comes through Mother Nature will take it down!

Friday, October 21, 2016

New Van Dwellers YouTube link

For all you Van Dwellers and aspiring Minimalists, I’ve added another YouTube link “Rolling Earthship” to the Van Dwellers topic. Luis has many informative videos and topics about how he built and lives in his Chevy Van all delivered in a casual, conversational format. Check it out, there’s lots of good stuff there.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hurricane Matthew 2016 pictures and some issues

Hurricane Matthew 2016 pictures and some issues

Some of you know I live on the Intracoastal Waterway in Northeast Florida and had to deal with this hurricane. Here's a brief summary of the event.

At 4:00am today 10-8-16 the storm has moved out of our area and it’s now a soft breeze and cool here. We had one tree down including lots of snapped off branches some branches as big as 10 inches in diameter! But we were lucky with no house damage or flooding. A big part of the downed trees was the nor-easter we had immediately ahead of the hurricane. This 3 inches of rain saturated and softened the ground so when the hurricane winds and lots more rain came the roots had nothing but mush to hold on to. Lots of trees uprooted and limbs snapped off, the neighborhood is a mess.

The storm surge here in the Intracoastal Waterway was by my best guess from known trees/bushes/marsh grass heights growing in the waterway was showing me between 4-5 feet. It’s the first time I’ve seen the street a couple houses down from me was covered with water for half a block, curb to curb and over the tops of the curb. No one had water inside on their floors.

Electric power is still off since Friday noon and JEA said it will not be back on until Sunday afternoon, this is a first for my area. Normally the power is only off for at most half an hour. Glad I have a generator.

Communications: Cell phones are out for outgoing calls but incoming works but the voice is garbled. However texting works fine.

Also the internet connection is dead if you use only a router to connect through and if you don’t have a generator for 110v power to power the router, it’s dead.

Then there’s TV, without a generator it’s useless and you have to rely on a radio to keep up with the weather updates which is nowhere near as informative as the graphics of are on TV.

Evacuation: Once again was a traffic mess. I have a rule that with Category 3, 4 or 5 I evacuate. Because it was a cat 4, I made reservations at a Holiday Inn for Thursday and Friday night so I thought I was all set until Thursday night when Holiday Inn called and said because of evacuation orders they canceled my reservation! Well that was just great, that late or last moment all motels were filled leaving me to either drive in the traffic mess for 100 miles or stay put. So because of the storms path parallel to the coastline I risked staying. If it were a straight westward path onto the shore I would have driven out of town. Fortunately,

We made it through with no broken windows or other house damage. It helped a great deal that I’m always prepped for these events.

My house.

My backyard.

Other neighborhood pictures. No one got hurt although 90% of the people left and no one had water in their house.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Shotgun Update using a Red Dot Optic

First, my opinion about the value of a shotgun:
If you can only afford one long gun, the shotgun is the only long gun that can do everything you need a gun for and do it well. As a hunting gun it is very capable of taking all game, from deer, bear, geese, ducks, squirrels, rabbits etc by simply selecting the correct shot shell for the game your seeking. For home self-defense it is well up to the task. Most shotguns including mine have 3 rounds in the magazine and 1 in the chamber = 4 rounds. There are many aftermarket add-ons so you can increase the magazine capacity to 7-8 rounds including countless accessories such as lights, slings, stocks, just about anything you can think of.

I added a red dot optic to my shotgun months back using a saddle mount on the receiver and I just didn’t like it. So I changed the mount to a cantilever mount and the results were amazing. I also just realized I never did an update about it. I think this is important shotgun information for all shot gunners, so here it is!

As I stated many times before, here where I live the ‘sub-humans’ (or zombies if you prefer) love to protest, however when “protesting” they actually engage in destructive, violent rioting and they’re getting bolder and far more dangerous than ever. Today, they’re sniping the police and drive-by shootings into homes and crowds are common. To defend against this home threat, a shotgun whether shooting slugs or buck-shot in my opinion is very suitable. But quick accurate shot placement must be improved to the point that you have total confidence in the shot placement of your shotgun whether up-close or 50+ yards. I find you can get the most accuracy out of your shotgun using a simple and inexpensive red dot optic!

Shotgun target acquisition for most shooters is difficult to understand or master, especially with little training or just seasonal practice. To me, shotgun sighting for the most part is ‘point shooting’ where you try to visually align the barrels ventilated rib at the target and then bring up the bead sight at the very end of the barrel onto the target. With practice such as skeet shooting, you can develop the skill necessary to be reasonably on target almost all the time. However, for the occasional annual shooter or even skilled shooters a red dot optic in my opinion is required to get the best repeatable target accuracy from the shotgun whether using bird shot, buck shot and especially slugs.

My shotgun set-up:
The shotgun started as a Remington 1100, 3 inch Magnum, Ventilated Rib, Goose Gun with the 26 inch barrel. I eventually shortened the barrel to 18 inches giving me a smooth bore, cylinder choke and a much more manageable gun (I don’t hunt geese anymore so no need for the long barrel and 3 inch magnum loads). I added a cantilevered scope mount to the ventilated rib of the barrel and use a Tasco Pro-Point Red Dot optic. Because the cantilevered mount the scope is mounted directly to the barrel and not the receiver. This provides the greatest optic stability and repeatable accuracy.

The end result of the red dot and cantilevered mount?
Stunning repeatable accuracy! The shotgun now feels, acts like and gives me the same hit confidence of a rifle or carbine. With the red dot sight on my shotgun using slugs, ‘anyone’ can make standing head shots to 35 yards all day long and center-mass shots to 50+ yards are easy. Using Buck Shot or my favorite all around game shot, #6 shot, the red dot puts your shot pattern dead center on target with all the shot surrounding the target ensuring a uniform shot saturated target area.

A simple red dot optic may very well make the difference of staying alive or a meal on the table. If a shotgun is all you own in the way of guns, add a red dot optic and get the most out of your shotgun.

Link to the Pro-Point Red Dot optic:

Link to the B-Squared Cantilevered scope mount I used:

Red Dot mounted on the cantilevered mount.

Full view of shotgun.

Ammo used on target below.

Target was set at 25 yards (the indoor range greatest distance) and here's the results from a standing position, un-rested gun. Just placed the red dot on the center ‘X’ and squeezed the trigger. The targets black area is 4.5 inches in diameter. Buck Shot pattern is 8 inches in diameter. Only one buck shot round used on this target to prove the red dot centers a shot pattern and just like the slugs they went where the red dot was aimed.

Hope this helps with your shotgunning!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blogger screwed me again

Yesterday, I added a new blog to follow on my blog list. Last night is was on there but this morning they were all GONE! I haven't been good at keeping a separate back-up list so now I have to go by memory and rebuild the list. If I've left someone off I'm sorry, it wasn't intentional. Maybe in a few weeks I'll recall all of them and get you on the list again.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Update of the EOTech Optic Refund

Since returning the EOTech-517 optic for a refund I started searching for another optic. I began with re-thinking the need for and how I would use my AR today compared to 10 years ago. Ten years ago it was for self-defense such as 0-100 yard neighborhood street fighting etc. However, I did find after hours of using the EOTech sight the holographic sight with no magnification makes it almost impossible to see a camouflaged threat hiding behind cover beyond 100 yards. Here where I live the ‘sub-humans’ (zombies if you prefer) are getting bolder and far more dangerous. They’re now sniping cops at a distance and drive-by shootings into homes, at random individuals and crowds are common.

To counter this new style of threat I now feel the need and capability to engage a target out to 300+ yards but still have CQB capability. My new optic choice is the Vortex Strike-Eagle 1x-6x, a traditional variable magnification rifle scope with a simple to use 5.56 caliber BDC (bullet drop compensator) reticle. The 1x will allow quick, short range target acquisition with a wide angle of view. The 6x will take care of the longer 300+ yard shots. The Strike Eagle has a variable intensity, illuminated reticle which for me is very useful in low light. The Strike-Eagle reticle is etched just like a conventional scope, so if the battery goes dead the etched reticle is always there and ready. Also there is a compartment inside the windage cap that holds a spare battery, nice design touch.

Would I recommend the Strike-Eagle?
Yes! However, scopes and guns to men are similar to woman, they’re a mans personal choice, unfortunately more times than not an emotional choice. There is no perfect do everything scope, just like there is no perfect do everything gun, so we’re left with making a choice with concessions. With that said, I do recommend you at least look at the Strike-Eagle for yourself, it gets the job done for me and at a great price point!

A Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Scope Review, YouTube:

Link to Strike-Eagle Scope for Purchasing:

If you buy the scope from the Amazon link, this retailer INCLUDES a cantilevered scope mount ($90.00 retail), scope mount wrench, bushings for a 24 mm scope should you have one, flip up lens caps, two batteries one to use the scope when you get it and a spare one that’s in the spare battery storage compartment, all with the lowest price out there!!!

The Scope Mounted on my M4:

M4 Front Sight:
Some of you may have noticed that my front sight appears to be in the way of the scope line of sight. It is not in the crosshairs. You can barely see a shadow that's easy to see through at 1x and 2x and it is well below the cross hairs. Any higher magnification it is completely out of the sight window. Really, there’s no issue about it.

The Reticle:
  • It’s bright, clear, simple and edge to edge clean.
  • The main crosshair can always be used with any magnification setting.
  • The circle diameter is equal to 18 inches at 100 yards and for fast, CQB target acquisition.
  • The drop hash marks are accurate and designed to work with the scope set at 6X.
  • For range estimation the width of the horizontal hash marks is equal to 18 inches or the shoulder width of an average human. Match the hash mark to your target shoulders and that’s your estimated yardage.

The Reticle image as actually seen in the scope.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

EOTech Recall-Refund of Holographic Weapon Sights (“HWS”)

I don’t know how many or if any of you own an EOTech sight. If you do this may interest you.

I had the #517 EOTech Holographic Weapon Sight and returned it for a “FULL” refund including return shipping. I had my sight for 10 years and they gave me all my money back!!!  Maybe later I'll get into the details of the issues I had. 
But if you own one send it back and get your money back before the lawsuit is over. 

Dear Valued EOTech Customer

EOTech values your business and is committed to providing you with the highest quality products. Provided below is information on four issues that may affect your EOTech Holographic Weapon Sight (“HWS”). EOTech has not issued a recall of any of its sights, and many of our customers continue to use their sights regularly. EOTech nonetheless wants you to be satisfied and is offering refunds at your option.

Depending on the age of your sight and the ways in which you use it, you might or might not be affected by these issues. Many HWS users experience no issues with their EOTech sights especially if (for example) the sight is used in close-quarter ranges, the target is in the center of the window, or the sight is re-zeroed frequently. We hope the information presented below is helpful.

Cold Weather Distortion
Cold weather distortion generally does not affect EOTech-branded HWS manufactured after March 2008. The historical issue with cold weather distortion was that the HWS’s aiming dot experienced distortion of size and shape when the sight was exposed to temperatures below 32° F. This became worse as the temperature approached -40° F. It had virtually no effect in warmer temperatures or at the close-quarter ranges where the HWS is typically used, because at those closer distances the distortion would not have a significant effect on the point of impact. Although generally unnoticeable to the naked eye, the distortion existed at colder temperatures.

Impact: Generally none for EOTech-branded sights manufactured after March 2008. For sights manufactured earlier, the sights affected are those used in cold weather for longer range shooting.

Reticle Fade (Moisture Incursion)
Reticle fade as a result of moisture incursion generally does not affect sights manufactured after July 2014. Even for sights manufactured before that date, the effect may not be substantial. The issue is that atmospheric moisture conditions can lead to the HWS’s reticle fading or eventually disappearing. It typically is noticeable first when the reticle appears to dim at the edges of the sight window. The sight’s age and environmental exposure are factors that accelerate reticle dimming. In many cases, however, this condition can be mitigated by increasing the brightness of the reticle, using the sight’s brightness controls.

Impact: None for any sights manufactured after July 2014. Potentially minimal impact for sights manufactured before that date, depending on the sight’s age and use. Whether your sight will experience reticle fade will depend on the factors discussed above.

Thermal Drift
EOTech’s sights experience a point of impact shift away from the point of aim when the sight is exposed to a temperature different from the temperature at which the sight was zeroed. After zeroing the sight at or near ambient temperature (73°F), the zero position will shift during operating temperature changes. The sight has the potential to shift approximately +/- 5 Minutes of Angle (“MOA”) at -40°F and 122°F. Due to thermal drift, the sight may not return to zero. The sights have the potential of approximately a +/- 2 MOA zero shift upon return to ambient (73°F) after being exposed to any temperature between -40°F and 122°F.

This shift results from natural thermal expansion or contraction that is present in various materials as they are heated or cooled, and is greater the more extreme the temperature change. For example, when a sight is zeroed at 70˚ F then acclimated to 50˚ F, less shift will occur. On the other hand, if zeroed at 70˚ F, then acclimated to 0˚ F, more shift occurs. The shift may not be significant to shooters who use their sights at close-quarters ranges. For instance, 5 MOA is a shift of 1.25 inches at 25 yards, and is 5 inches at 100 yards. It also is worth noting that thermal effects are evidenced to varying degrees in common optics, as well as in rifle barrels and ammunition as the environmental conditions change. In all events, to achieve optimum accuracy, the sight zero should be verified whenever the sight is exposed to marked temperature changes, and the sight should be re-zeroed as necessary.

There is no repair currently available to eliminate thermal drift. If your HWS experiences a degree of thermal drift that is unacceptable to you, and re-zeroing does not address the issue to your satisfaction, please contact EOTech, as described below, to obtain a refund of the purchase price.

Impact: The sight’s zero will be affected at varying operating temperatures. This may be minimal for sights used at close-quarter ranges and may be corrected by re-zeroing the sight.

All optics experience varying degrees of parallax depending on use and operating conditions. Parallax is an apparent change in the point of aim resulting from a change in the position of the shooter. EOTech’s sights have little parallax when the reticle is in the center of the viewing window, which is the optimum sighting position and also is the correct place for zeroing the sight. On the other hand, if the user is looking through the sight at the outer edge of the sight window – an off-axis view – the parallax error might be up to 4±3 MOA (or a total of 14 MOA across the viewing window) at 71˚ F (for a sight properly zeroed). In other words, parallax can increase as the user’s view approaches the edge of the EOTech viewing window. To put this possible amount of off-axis error into perspective, 7 MOA equates to 1.75 inches at 25 yards or 7 inches at 100 yards. Viewing through the center of the window achieves the least parallax error. Parallax may increase as temperature changes from 71˚ F. At operating temperature extremes of -40˚ F or 122˚ F, there may be an additional 4 MOA of parallax.

Impact: Virtually none if the shooter is aiming through the center of the sight. Relatively small effect at close-quarter ranges, if the shooter is aiming through the very edge of the sight’s window. As described above, the effect is greater when the shooter is aiming off-center, at longer ranges, or at temperature extremes.

Customer Return Policy
We sincerely appreciate your business and will do our utmost to ensure your satisfaction. If you desire a full refund of your purchase price (plus shipping costs), please let us know by completing the form at

If you have any questions, please call our Customer Service Department at (888) 368-4656 or email us at


The EOTech Team

Monday, July 25, 2016

Toll House Cookie Mix Test

I was given a box of chocolate chip cookie mix to try out, which I did. During my testing of various mixes, my hands down winner is the Wal-Mart brand of, Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter and Sugar Cookie mixes. Why? Because these mixes make twice the amount of cookies of the other brands at almost half the cost and they are excellent tasting!! Shelf-Life for all the mixes I’ve tried is one year although with proper storage conditions I would store much longer than that. Keep a few extra mixes on the pantry shelf. Remember during a sustained disaster event, treats will be a priceless morale booster and these premade mixes make it easy to do.

Here’s the latest mix I tried. NestlĂ© Toll House.

Well, this is the first time I’ve seen “made with GMO ingredients” on a cookie mix box! We probably will never have a choice about what we eat now and in the future.

Then to make matters even worse than the high price, on the back of the box they say “ do not consume raw batter”! You’ve got to be kidding, that’s the best part of making cookies. I grew up on raw cookie batter and still alive and well.

The results?
Good, with a slightly stronger taste of brown sugar, but not near as good a value as Wal-Mart mixes.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Solar System Wiring, Bigger is Better!

Is bigger wire gauge better? For low voltage DC, Yes! Get every watt you can from your system by simply using bigger wires.

The Test:
I wanted to find out if bigger gauge wires really made a difference with the amount of amps delivered to the batteries.

My System as First Set-Up:
Is a simple 200 watt system, two 100 watt panels, similar to what is being used by van-dwellers and RV’s. My controller is 12 feet from the panels and by most wire size charts available allow the use of #10 wire from the panels to the controller. The wire used from the controller to the batteries was #8.

My System Re-Wire:
I kept the length of wires the same but used #4 welding cable from the panels to the controller and #4 wire from the controller to the batteries. #4 cable was used to keep the voltage loss to a minimum. All connections are made with typical ‘crimp style connectors’.
Most hardware and big box stores have a good selection of connectors for #4 wire. The use of ‘welding cable’ is not necessary, but it’s far more flexible and easy to work with than household stranded wire at only a few cents more per foot.

The Results are Stunning:
I actually ‘Doubled’ the amps to my batteries just by using the larger gauge wire! I now have 68 amps of useable power everyday to run fans, lights, radio, TV, recharge my ‘AA’ Batteries and even a 12v refrigerator. For test comparison accuracy I used a 750 watt electric heater for a few minutes at a time to maintain a 12.2 volt battery state of discharge between the hours of logging the results.

The chart below shows the amps to the battery readings on clear sunny Florida days. The chart shows the hour of day and the delivered amps using #10 wire compared with using #4 wire and the amps delivered at the same hour of day:

Time          #10ga  #4ga
7:00am         0.0       0.0                 
8:00am         0.2       1.1
9:00am         0.3       1.9
10:00am       2.1       4.2
11:00am       4.0       8.8
12:00pm       5.0       9.7
1:00pm         5.6      12.0
2:00pm         5.1      10.2
3:00pm         4.2      8.1
4:00pm         1.7      6.0
5:00pm         1.5      4.1
6:00pm         0.3      2.0
7:00pm         0.0      0.0

Results:       30.0  vs  68.1   Total amps delivered for the day.


Large wire sizing and solid connections are critical to get every watt from your solar panels and may save you from buying unnecessary panels to deliver more amps.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Solar Panel Care when on vacation and EMP Damage

I had two questions about my solar panels that needed expert answers to. For the answers, I went directly to the manufacturer of my panels, Grape Solar in California. To get the answers I spoke with their Technical Help, an Electrical Engineer at 1-877-264-1014 for the answers to my questions.

(1)  I plan on traveling, leaving the house empty and unattended for 30-90 days in length multiple times a year. I needed to know what is a safe way to leave the solar system during that time, operating or disconnect the panels?
Grape Solar said no, do not disconnect the panels but instead leave a light load on the system such as a small inverter or a 12-volt night light hooked up directly to the batteries.

(2)  Will solar panels be damaged by an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) event?
Grape Solar said the panels should not be affected by an EMP Event. If not already, ground the frames to a typical 8-foot ground rod driven into the ground. However, the rest of the components connected with long wires will probably be damage!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The EMP Threat to Canada and the USA

I found this article over at Nomad’s Survival Forum and it is an eye opener! It clearly describes what the devastating outcome would be if Canada and the USA were targets of a natural Geo-Magnetic Disturbance (GMD) or manmade electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event. And now we have brief case size Radio-Frequency Weapons (RFWs) that can accomplish the same thing as an EMP but with localized damage such as a nuclear power generating plant. Thanks to the internet, someone with just half a brain cell can make an RFW in their apartment using over-the-counter parts.

Remember, when the grid goes down because of EMP, GMD or RFW’s, everything that uses electricity may stop working. This includes nuclear power generating plants. The reactors have back-up generators in case of a short term grid failure but the generators have electronic ignition, electronic fuel injection and overall are totally dependent on computers to operate. Those needed electronics will be also damaged by the EMP so there will be no way to run the cooling water pumps that cool the reactor core. The reactors will meltdown releasing radio active clouds contaminating all in its down-wind path.

“How devastating are these threats? The U.S. Congressional EMP Commission estimated that a nationwide blackout lasting one year could kill up to 9 of 10 Americans by starvation, disease and societal collapse”.

These horrific events are going to happen someday thanks to our incompetent and arrogant, do nothing politicians. These events should be high on your prepping list. You can prep for these events!

This is chilling information and well worth your time to read it and learn from it.
Live Prepared, Mike

The EMP Threat to Canada and the USA

By: DR. PETER PRY 10/22/2015

Canadians may be even less aware than the average U.S. citizen of the existential threat posed by a natural or manmade electromagnetic pulse (EMP).  An EMP is like a super-energetic radio wave, caused by a solar storm or by the high-altitude detonation of a nuclear weapon or by non-nuclear radiofrequency weapons that can black out electric grids, in the worst case for months or years, or perhaps permanently.  An EMP induced protracted blackout would collapse all the critical infrastructures–for example, transportation, communications, industry and commerce,  food and water–that sustain modern civilization and the lives of millions.

The U.S. Congressional EMP Commission estimated that a nationwide blackout lasting one year could kill up to 9 of 10 Americans by starvation, disease and societal collapse.

Canada, unlike the United States, is not usually thought of as the primary target for attack by terrorists, Iran, North Korea, China or Russia.  But where EMP is concerned, Canada and the U.S. are in the same boat, because they are literally wired together, both nations living off of the North American Power Grid.
Moreover, Canada has some unique characteristics that make it potentially more vulnerable to EMP than the United States, yet also more easily protected.

Natural EMP
The sun can cause a natural EMP, called by electric utilities a Geo-Magnetic Disturbance (GMD).  Coronal mass ejections traveling over one million miles per hour strike the Earth’s magnetosphere, generating geomagnetic storms every year.  Usually these geo-storms are confined to nations at high northern latitudes and are not powerful enough to have catastrophic consequences.

Canada is more susceptible than the United States to natural EMPs or GMDs because it is located at a higher northern latitude, where geomagnetic storms are more common.  In 1989, natural EMP from the Hydro-Quebec Geo-Storm blacked-out half of Canada for a day causing economic losses amounting to billions of dollars.

Most worrisome is the rare solar super-storm, like the 1921 Railroad Storm, which happened before civilization became dependent for survival upon electricity.  The U.S. National Academy of Sciences estimates that if the Railroad Storm were to recur today, there would be a blackout of the North American grid with recovery requiring

4-10 years, if recovery were possible at all.
The most powerful geomagnetic storm on record is the 1859 Carrington Event.  Carrington was a worldwide phenomenon, causing forest fires from flaring telegraph lines, burning telegraph stations, and destroying the just laid intercontinental telegraph cable at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

If a solar super-storm like the Carrington Event recurred today, it would collapse electric grids and life-sustaining critical infrastructures worldwide, putting at risk the lives of billions.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in July 2014 reported that two years earlier, on July 23, 2012, the Earth narrowly escaped another Carrington Event.  A Carrington-class coronal mass ejection crossed the path of the Earth, missing the planet by just three days.  NASA assesses that the resulting geomagnetic storm would have had catastrophic consequences worldwide.

Recurrence of another Carrington Event, expected roughly once every 100-200 years, is overdue.   NASA estimates the likelihood of such a geomagnetic super-storm is 12 percent per decade.  This virtually guarantees that Earth will experience a catastrophic geomagnetic super-storm within our lifetime or that of our children.

Radio-Frequency Weapons (RFWs)
Radio-Frequency Weapons (RFWs) are much less powerful than nuclear weapons and much more localized in their effects, usually having a range of one kilometer or less.  Terrorists, criminals, and even disgruntled individuals have already made localized EMP attacks using RFWs in Europe and Asia.  Probably sooner rather than later, the RFW threat will come to North America.

Reportedly, according to the Wall Street Journal (March 12, 2014), a study by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission warns that a terrorist attack that destroys  just 9 key extra-high voltage (EHV) transformer substations (out of a total of 2,000) could cause a nationwide blackout of the United States lasting 18 months.

Canada is probably more vulnerable than the U.S. to nationwide blackout by Radio-Frequency Weapons, because Canada has many fewer EHV transformer substations.  Accordingly, an attack on fewer substations may more easily trigger a chain reaction of cascading failures that overwhelms all or most of the EHV transformers, causing a rolling blackout that engulfs the whole of Canada.

RFWs can also pose a significant threat to nuclear reactors by damaging control systems that could conceivably, in a worst case scenario, result in a meltdown of fuel rods in cooling ponds or within the nuclear reactor itself.  Steam explosions and the release of radioactive contamination could result, as happened with the nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan, because they were blacked-out for several days, with no electricity to drive cooling pumps, following a tsunami.

Canada has 18 nuclear power reactors at three locations.  All of these are in the east, located near major population centers.  Radioactive contamination from fuel rods undergoing meltdown will follow prevailing winds and weather patterns–in the case of the Canadian reactors the weather moves eastward over populous areas–creating radioactive plumes covering potentially thousands of inhabited square miles.

According to the U.S. 9/11 Commission Report, one of the targets originally considered for attack by jetliner on September 11, 2001 was a U.S. nuclear reactor.

Canada is no stranger to terrorist plots against the power grid and nuclear reactors.  In August 2003, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested 19 suspected terrorists in Toronto, some of whom allegedly conducted ground reconnaissance against Canada’s Pickering nuclear reactor and also conducted flight training, overflying Pickering.

Months before the Toronto arrests, a reliable source with information on Iran’s support of international terrorism, alleged there was a terror cell in Toronto planning to hijack a jet to crash into the Seabrook nuclear reactor, located about 40 miles north of Boston.  The plotters allegedly hoped to create a radioactive plume that would contaminate New England.   This alleged plot, that might have been part of a more ambitious “12th Imam Operation” meant to eclipse and surpass in destruction the 9/11 attacks, is detailed in the book Countdown To Terror by then Rep. Curt Weldon.  Weldon was Vice Chairman of both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee in the U.S. Congress.

Canada’s “homegrown” terrorists who might think about attacking the power grid could get help from their nearby U.S. counterparts in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Buffalo, New York that are known recruiting grounds for terrorists.

Radio-Frequency Weapons might well become the weapon of choice for terrorists, instead of hijacked jetliners, for attacking nuclear reactors and power grids, if only because they are easier to obtain.  They can be built by an individual with some knowledge of electronics, using design information available on the internet, and parts available from any electronics store.  Powerful EMP generators, intended for industrial use as a diagnostic tool, but useable as a weapon of mass destruction, can be purchased mail order by anyone.

RFWs offer significant advantages over guns, bombs, or crashed jetliners for attacking electric grids.  EMP fields can cause widespread damage of electronics, so precision targeting is much less necessary.  And unlike damage from guns, bombs, or a crashed jet, an attack by RFWs is much less conspicuous, and may even be misconstrued as an unusual accident arising from faulty components and systemic failure.

Some documented examples of successful attacks using Radio-Frequency Weapons, and accidents involving electromagnetic transients, are described in the U.S. Department of Defense Pocket Guide for Security Procedures and Protocols for Mitigating Radio Frequency Threats (Technical Support Working Group, Directed Energy Technical Office, Dahlgren Naval Surface Warfare Center):
–“In the Netherlands, an individual disrupted a local bank’s computer network because he was turned down for a loan.  He constructed a Radio Frequency Weapon the size of a briefcase, which he learned how to build from the Internet.  Bank officials did not even realize that they had been attacked or what had happened until long after the event.”

–“In Russia, Chechen rebels used a Radio Frequency Weapon to defeat a Russian security system and gain access to a controlled area.”

–“In the late 1980s, a large explosion occurred at a 36-inch diameter natural gas pipeline in the Netherlands.  A SCADA system, located about one mile from the naval port of Den Helder, was affected by a naval radar.  The RF energy from the radar caused the SCADA system to open and close a large gas flow-control valve at the radar scan frequency, resulting in pressure waves that traveled down the pipe and eventually caused the pipeline to explode.”
North Korea used a Radio-Frequency Weapon, purchased from Russia, to attack airliners and impose an “electromagnetic blockade” on air traffic to Seoul, South Korea’s capitol.  The repeated attacks by RFW also disrupted communications and the operation of automobiles in several South Korean cities in December 2010; March 9, 2011; and April-May 2012 as reported in “Massive GPS Jamming Attack By North Korea” (GPSWORLD.COM, May 8, 2012).

Nuclear EMP
The EMP Commission found that virtually any nuclear weapon–even a primitive, low-yield atomic bomb such as terrorists might build–would suffice to make a catastrophic EMP attack.  The electric grid and other civilian critical infrastructures have never been hardened to survive EMP.

The iconic EMP attack detonates a single warhead about 300-500 kilometers high over the center of the U.S., generating an EMP field over all 48 contiguous United States.  Such an EMP attack could be made by a missile or nuclear-armed satellite.  North Korea and Iran have both apparently practiced this scenario, orbiting satellites on the optimum trajectories and altitudes to evade U.S. National Missile Defenses and, if the satellites carried a nuclear weapon, make an EMP attack.

Canada would also be affected by this iconic EMP scenario.  A nuclear warhead burst 300-500 kilometers high over the centre of the U.S. will cover most of Canada with an EMP field too.
Another EMP scenario detonates a nuclear weapon 30 kilometers high anywhere over the eastern half of the U.S., which would collapse the Eastern Grid.  The Eastern Grid generates 75 percent of U.S. electricity and supports most of the national population.  Such an attack could be made by a short-range Scud missile launched off a freighter, by a jet fighter or small private jet doing a zoom climb, or even by a meteorological balloon.
North Korea and Iran have also apparently practiced making a nuclear EMP attack using a short-range missile launched off a freighter.  Such an attack could be conducted anonymously to escape U.S. retaliation–thus defeating nuclear deterrence.

Canada would be affected by this scenario too.  Collapse of the Eastern Grid would no doubt set in motion cascading failures, far beyond the EMP field that would reach into Canada, probably causing a protracted blackout of at least Ontario and Quebec, the most populous provinces.

In another scenario, an adversary makes an EMP attack on the U.S. National Missile Defenses in Alaska.  In yet another scenario, U.S. missile defenses fail to intercept a nuclear warhead until it is near or over Canada, and then the warhead is salvage-fused for EMP attack.  In these scenarios, Canada inadvertently becomes the focus of a nuclear EMP event.

In still another scenario, during some supreme international crisis between the U.S. and a nuclear-armed adversary, the adversary deliberately makes a nuclear EMP attack on Canada as a demonstration of its resolve, to deter the U.S. and “de-escalate” the crisis.

Protecting Canada
The EMP Commission recommended an “all hazards” strategy to protect North America by addressing the worst threat–nuclear EMP attack.  Nuclear EMP is worse than natural EMP and the EMP from RFWs because it combines several threats in one.  Nuclear EMP has a long-wavelength component like a geomagnetic super-storm, a short-wavelength component like Radio-Frequency Weapons, a mid-wavelength component like lightning–and is potentially more powerful and can do deeper damage than all three.

Protecting the electric grid and other critical infrastructures from nuclear EMP attack will also protect against a Carrington Event and RFWs.  Moreover, protecting against nuclear EMP will also protect the grid and other critical infrastructures from the worst over-voltages that may be generated by severe weather, physical sabotage, or cyber-attacks.

Canada is fortunate in that it is, after China, the second largest generator of hydro-electricity in the world, and depends for most of its electricity (64 percent in 2010) on hydro-power.   Hydro-power is the most resilient means of generating electricity, least vulnerable to EMP.

Thus, Canada should be able to relatively inexpensively protect most of its electric power by EMP hardening its hydro-electric plants.

Highest priority probably should be given to EMP hardening Canada’s 18 nuclear power plants, which pose a potential radioactive hazard to populous Ontario.  The CANDU nuclear reactors, designed in Canada, can also be re-wired to safely operate through a blackout, instead of shutting down, thereby keeping the lights on in Ontario.

Protecting Canada’s hydro-power, which generates 64 percent of the nation’s electricity, and nuclear power, which generates 15 percent, would secure 79 percent of Canada’s electrical energy–more than enough to survive and rapidly recover from an EMP catastrophe.

Nonetheless, it would be wise to protect the coal-fired plants (13 percent of Canada’s electricity) so they will not explode from an EMP.  Coal largely powers Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan.

Natural gas pipelines and power plants (6 percent of Canada’s electricity) should be EMP hardened to avert gas explosions and firestorms.

This article was originally published in the first edition of The Mackenzie Institute magazine “Security Matters”.  Please click here to view the magazine.