23 August 2015

Gear Taco for Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel

Solar Gear Taco & Goal Zero Nomad 7
Need a Summer project?? Happen to have a Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel set?? Not totally comfortable of just strapping the Nomad 7 on your pack and smashing off through the bush??

Well, today is your lucky day!! I have just designed and built a solution to protecting your Goal Zero investment. The Solar Gear Taco.....now, the taco gear pouch is not my idea exclusively, there are a few companies out there that build mag pouches and phone pouches that also use the taco design. The taco is recognized by the fact that there are no side panels to the pouch. The pouch is held closed on the sides by bungie cord or para-cord that lace through loops down each side of the pouch.

My Solar Gear Taco just happens to be sized to fit and work with the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel Set. These solar panels are tough and weather resistant in their own right, but I cannot trust myself to remember I have breakable items strapped to my ruck.....thus, I needed to add another layer of protection.

I like the taco design, because it speeds up construction and allows for custom sizing. So, let's have a look at this a bit closer.

Fleece Solar Panel Protector
Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel Set

Goal Zero Guide 10+ & Nomad 7

The Solar Gear Taco allows for straight forward design and construction, you are basically making a single padded panel.....now I wanted a bit more weatherproofing so I added a flap over the top, that could be omitted.

Also, I employed MOLLE styled webbing, front & rear, to enhance the loops needed for lacing the pouch together. These MOLLE patches can have other pouches added to the Solar Taco, as well as, use MOLLE connectors to attach to a rucksack or other system using MOLLE.
Solar Gear Taco - Front View

The overall size is 7 1/2" wide x 23" long (open size) + the flap. When laced together we maintain the 7 1/2" width but reduce the height to just over 10 1/2". Pretty compact. 

Link to Goal Zero: http://www.goalzero.com/

As for components: 

Outer fabric (7.5"x23") require one
Inner fabric (7.5"x23") require one
Flap (7.5"x4") require two

Foam padding (1/4"x6.5"x9.5") require two
Foam padding (1/4"x1.5"x5") require one

Webbing (1" x 12") require seven
Webbing (3/4" x 12") require two
Webbing (3/4" x 3") require two

Draw cord/para-cord (24") require two
Side release buckle (3/4") require two
Cord Lock - require two 

Seam Tape (3/4")  +/- 60"

Solar Gear Taco - Rear View

Solar Taco Plan

Construction tips:

1) After cutting out all pieces, group together by purpose.

2) Attach 1" webbing to the outer fabric. Webbing for MOLLE style patches.....front, start 2" down from the top of the front panel. Chalk lines every 2", you need 4 lines.Place webbing against the line, and this will leave the 1" spacing for the MOLLE to work. Starting at the centre, sew bartacks at 1.25" spacing working out from centre toward the side edges. Rear MOLLE patch start 3" down from the top and chalk lines every 2", you need 3 lines. The end loops will get finished near the end of the project after the seam tape has finished the side seams. DO NOT sew the loops down before the seam tape....I only made that mistake once, oops.

3) Join the outer piece to the inner fabric - bad side to bad side. Sew down the right side seam using the edge of the sewing foot as your guide for seam allowance. Repeat with a zig-zag closer to the open edge. Finish by top stitching the seam tape in place. Avoid the tailends of webbing.

4) Measure down 10 1/2" from each end, chalk a line. Top stitch along this line. This should build a 2" pocket in the fabric panel across the short axis. Insert small piece of foam.

5) Repeat side seam process for the left side of the fabric panel.

6) Measure, cut and assemble the top flap. Tip: Mark the centre points. Measure from centre 7.5" on the lower edge and 5.5" on the upper edge. Chalk a line from the 5.5" to the 7.5" on each end, you should get a bevel angle. Cut out. Pin to second piece and cut to match. Assemble 3" piece of 3/4" webbing through female side of 3/4" side release buckle, fold webbing in half, if needed tack in place with a row of stitches. Layout fabric pieces goodside to goodside, insert buckles with webbing tail extending beyond the top of the fabric. Sew around the edges of the fabric piece, keeping the buckles as straight as possible. repeat around the edge with a zigzag stitch. Invert, so badsides are to badsides, top stitch around edge. Bartack over the webbing tails.

7) Insert large foam pieces. Top stitch the openings closed. Zigzag. On the top of front panel finish with seam tape. The rear panel add the flap and then finish with the seam tape. 

8) Bartack 1" webbing ends into loops. Sew through the seam tape on the sides of the panel.

9) Next attach the 3/4" webbing (12") by top stitching at the seam 10.5" down from the top. Line up the webbing so it will lace up through the MOLLE patch. Weave the webbing through the 3/4" side release buckle - male end. Fold webbing over and sew, so that the tail cannot unweave through the buckle.

10) Lace the cord through the loops up the sides. Insert the cord locks, one for each side. Tye-off the cord using a double fisherman's knot. Tuck extra cord into the webbing on the rear MOLLE patch.

Final tip: Use a flame/candle to melt all webbing ends, cord ends and seam tape ends; so, they will not fray and unravel. 

That's it, your done.

Get out there and use your gear!!


PS - I cut a piece of polar fleece to keep the two solar panels from grinding into each other. 

16 July 2015

BOV Show & Shine 2015

It is time to motor your BOV to a show & shine.
If you happened to miss last year's Bring Out Your BOV Show & Shine in Langdon, AB; now is your chance to get together with other like-minded folks and talk shop!!
Fire an e-mail RSVP to the folks at Briden Solutions, so they know how much food to have on hand for lunch.
Hope to see you there,


12 May 2015

Outdoor Survival Items - Part Two

Metal Match Pouch - Closed
Part Two of our Outdoor Survival Items will only include this one project based on the Metal Match Fire Starting Kit. I have recently received my Metal Match Fire Starting Kits from Amazon.ca and I wanted to make a pouch to carry this very handy item with me when I head to the bush.

First things, first.....This is the item from Amazon:

These Metal Matches shipped for free, but give yourself a bit of time if you need them for an upcoming trip, shipping from Malaysia takes 5 to 6 weeks. Remember, shipping is free. The costs were reasonable, less than $30 for 20 Metal Match units. 

The Metal Match Fire Starter Kit is very compact (about 1"x2"x3/8") and weighs next-to-nothing. It will light many 1000's of times. The unit consists of a striker with wick that stores on the inside of the case. The outside of the case has a ferro rod type surface to generate sparks when struck by the striker. The striker has a wick that is kept moist with a few drops of kerosene. The wick catches the sparks and the kero keeps the "match" lit until you transfer the flame to your fire.
Metal Match Pouch - Open
 Now, to build this pouch you need only a very few supplies: 2" webbing (1 piece 8" long), 1" webbing (1 piece 8" long), 1" snap hook x1, Hook & Loop tape (1"x2" x2 of each side).

When using webbing, remember to use a candle to burn the cut ends, so the webbing does not unravel.

This pouch will attach to a "D" ring on a pack or harness with the snap hook or it can attach via the hook & loop 1" webbing strap on the backside.

I have included my pattern at the bottom of the page in case you are working on a similar project and need a few ideas.

Construction time is less than an hour, including layout and cutting pieces. This is a good starter project and an easy "whip-it-up" project for experienced crafters.

I hope the pictures and the pattern assist you enough.

Remember, if you cannot afford someone else to build your gear.....build it yourself!!

Metal Match & Pouch

Metal Match & Pouch 2
Note: Kerosene is not included with this item, you must add that once you receive your Metal Match Fire Starter Kit.
Metal Match Pouch Pattern

29 April 2015

Tarp Survival Shelter Weekend

Tarp Survival Shelter - Wind from the West
 More recent training & adventure. This time, I was out practicing building and living in a Tarp Survival Shelter for a weekend. The season is Spring in Alberta (wait five minutes and everything changes!), location South & West of Calgary, AB, weather included sun, cloud, wind, snow, sleet, blowing snow and sun.

My personal health was not at its best for this adventure, I had a minor? chest cold developing, however, I had given my word that I would be attending. I was not to be delayed nor deterred by a cold.
View from the Foot of the Shelter

After the Snow from the East Visited - Second Tarp Added
 The camp location was quite good, as there were ample blowdown trees to use for shelter building. For the first night I used 4 poles to add structure to my tarp shelter. The forecast was for snow overnight, & I did not want my shelter to cave-in with the added weight. No snow arrived that night. The winds were from the West. My shelter provided very good protection from the elements. (My health was not improving, LOL.)

The next day proved to be a typical Alberta Spring day - 4 seasons in a day!! Started nice and sunny. But, them dark clouds were rising in the East. Winds from the East are not too common in Alberta and in the mountains, that can mean prolonged bad weather. By Lunch, the winds had picked up and the flurries began. The weather continued to worsen to snow, sleet and wind driven snow. As these conditions did not totally surprise, time was taken to harvest more poles for my shelter to protect the East face with a second tarp - in this case it was my poncho. This second tarp protected me from the worse of the weather. A few daring snowflakes found their way inside, but did no harm.

With the poor weather and my less than wonderful health, I called it a night early.....just after supper. The fourteen hour snooze did me no harm. I escaped getting wet and cold. In fact, compared to those tenting, I fared very well. With more ventilation I did not have to contend with excessive condensation issues. And for some reason or another, those in tents all reported being cold the next day. I was warm all night.

On Sunday, under beautiful blue skies and bright sunshine we enjoyed the day. Broke down the shelters and returned the poles to the forest. Took a few pictures of the Rockies in Springtime, like the one below. And then hiked back to the vehicles for the drive home.

Until next time....get out and practice your skills!!

The Rockies to the West - Yes, It Was All Worth IT!!!

12 April 2015

Magnetic Field Resonance - Interstellar Propulsion Concept

Ever have an idea lurking about inside your head??? One that sounds crazy at first but might actually be useful if you share it with others??? Well, today I will be posting one of those ideas. I hope someone out there can take this to the next level.

I have been reading a book by Annalee NEWITZ - Scatter, Adapt, and Remember .... How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction. One of the ideas presented was the space elevator, to escape Earth's gravity. Outside the gravitational field space travel is easier and more affordable, in the use of resources. So, I started thinking about gravity and magnetism.........
This leads me to this post. What do we really know about magnetism?? How do we measure it?? Can we exploit the characteristics of magnetism to our benefit for Interstellar Propulsion??

I, personally, am not a scientist; however, I do remember a few things from science class. Like magnetic fields repel and opposites attract. A coil of wire can produce a magnetic field when a electric current is run through the coil, as well as, an electric current can be generated if a magnet is passed through a coil of wire. A compass can tell us which direction is North and an instrument called a dip needle can tell us a large deposit of iron ore is located below our feet. From these observations I will extrapolate my concept.

First, if we had the instrument to measure it, I predict that each planet in our Solar System has a magnetic signature unique to that planet. If that is true, I further predict that all Stellar bodies would also have a magnetic signature unique to that object.

Second, if we knew how to identify these signatures we could record, reproduce and recall them, sort of like dialing in a radio to a specific frequency. With the correct equipment, you can broadcast on a frequency in one part of the world and receive the broadcast in another. To be able to exploit magnetism for propulsion, we need to be able to identify and reproduce that exact field. 

Third, we will need the means to generate large quantities of electricity to convert into magnetic fields of our choosing. Since Matter/Anti-Matter reactors have not been invented yet, we have Nuclear reactors at our disposal. Not the perfect source, but it can be made to do the job.

Fourth, we need to be able to escape Earth's gravity first before being attracted to another Stellar Body.

Fifth, we need the means to navigate in 3 dimensions. This will mean navigational charts that map all clear routes and identify hazards. Bonus challenge, many of these objects are in constant motion.

The "Flying Saucer" has many design features that lend it to be the first shape to try. The circular hull shape would aid in the use of making a coil/magnet system to generate and project a magnetic field. The shape would also allow for change of direction without having to re-orient the vessel to the new direction of travel. The larger size at the center of the craft would help balance it and provide space for living quarters & the Nuclear reactor.

This craft would not need to have the attributes of a lighter-than-air or conventional aircraft. It does not move by lift or need to be aerodynamic. However, the craft must have a self-contained atmosphere and the ability to re-generate oxygen and water. It will be a self-sustaining artificial planet. Albeit, a very small planet.

There would be two modes of travel. MagLift and InterStellar Attraction.

MagLift mode: To travel out of or into a planet's magnetic/gravitational field. This mode of travel will be achieved by matching the planet's magnetic signature. To lift off, the magnetic field of the craft will match the location the craft is at on the planet. Since like forces repel, the more intense the field created by the craft the higher/farther the craft will be repelled by the planet. Once outside the gravitational field, thus, in space the craft would switch to InterStellar Attraction mode. Landing on the surface of a planet would be similar, but reverse. The craft would slowly create the planet's magnetic signature - only this time it would be the opposite field and the craft would be attracted to the planet. The controls for the craft would have a safety system built in, so the "like" magnetic field could be generated very quickly to control the descent if the gravity proved to be too strong.

InterStellar Attraction mode would be used to get from point in the Solar System to another and back again. Once we had a frequency chart of all the Stellar object we have in the flight path we would plot a course to our destination. It may require a couple of "attractions" to closer Stellar bodies before we can establish enough velocity to head for our final destination.

With our current level of engineering and technology on our planet, this could be tested in the near future with robotic crafts before engineering crafts large enough to host human crews. Robots are fun & safe, but Humans are explorers and we will want to get out and explore our Stellar neighbourhood. When I was a boy, I believed by the time I grew up we would have base on the Moon and a colony on Mars. Instead, the vast majority of Humans are contently satisfied that we are using all of our technology and engineering know how to build bigger TV's and smaller cellphones. Facebook has replaced visiting our friends and neighbours and chatting face-to-face. 

Til next time....Remember to dream BIG!!!


30 March 2015

Troll Ice Falls

Small Ice Feature
Been a bit busy of late. So, I figured it was time to at least post a few pics.

Recently, hiked to Troll Falls.....near Nakiska Ski Area, Kananaskis Country, Alberta. In March, the falls are still an icefall, rather than a waterfall.

The hike is easy enough, with plenty of well marked and signed trail options to make your adventure as large or small as your time allows.

We made a side trip out to Hummingbird Plume Lookout before arriving at Troll Falls. It was a good day.

Now, let's have a look at a few pictures.....
Troll Ice Falls - Sideview

Troll Ice Falls - Frontview

Upper Troll Icefalls

Under the protection of the rockwall, there is a spring (still flowing) and a few minor ice features. 

Even in March the main icefall is still well intact. 

From the front, it is challenging to get the whole icefall in a single shot. 

If you spend enough time in the area you will discover trails that lead up on top of the main falls. The mud and ice underfoot can make movement tricky.....watch your step!!

Following the creek upstream, you also discover there is more to see......

Upper Troll Icefalls, not sure if that is the actual name, but it seems to fit. Time was short but further exploring would be warranted to see how many more icefalls are along the path of this creek.

Until next.....go explore something!!!


26 February 2015

Winter Shelter Pictures

Quinzee Snow Shelter
Going Winter camping?? Ever, wonder which tent to take?? Do you have snow?? Is it cold enough??

Leave the tent in the truck. Grab a shovel or two and get to it!! Pile the snow into a big pile. Let it settle and bond. Hollow it out.....viola, a quinzee snow shelter.

I am sure there are a hundred blogs or websites that have detailed instructions for building snow shelters. 

I have posted a few pic's of a recent trip. Enjoy.
Construction Access
Sometimes, creating a second access point can speed up construction time. Of course, you will want to have a plan for how to fill that void before you have to live in your shelter.
Harvest Lots of Snow

Interior View - Looking Towards Entrance

When the snow is not too deep a large area must be cleared to create a pile of snow large enough to live in.

Lakes make great building locations, provided the ice is thick enough. 12" seemed like a good thickness.

The area around this shelter was cleared for about 20' in all directions. The toboggan in the picture is my Pelican 45.

Points to consider.....the interior wants to be hollowed out, leaving the walls and roof neither too thick nor too thin.

We discovered on this trip that some shelters that had too flat of a roof, began to sag. That shelter was found to be too unstable to sleep in over night.

Ideally, you want to have an arched interior shape to provide space and strength.

Best of all, when getting out for a Winter Camp is the incredible scenery. Wouldn't miss that for anything. 

 Until next time.....get out camping!!!

Awesome Scenery!!