To USB or Not to USB

 

Surviving without USB

This blog has little to do USB, but it’s the holiday season so maybe we all needed a break from high tech.

This week Portland Oregon got a little snow, 2 inches, (25mm) to be more precise and it pretty much shut the city down. The weather had been below freezing for a couple of days and then this tiny layer of snow fell starting at lunch time when all the kids were still at school and everyone was at work. The result was a mass cluster when folks tried to get home. I arrived back from a trip into Portland airport and my usual 22 minute drive home took me around 5 hours! Traffic was at a standstill everywhere.

 1-snowy-drive

The biggest issue on the roads was that most cars should not have been on the roads, no snow tires, no chains, lack of driving experience in snow and ice conditions. I class myself able to judge others in respect to driving as I coach how to race car drive so like to think I have the qualification to judge. In addition, I looked ahead at the weather and before I parked my truck at the airport I filled it was gas, (petrol) and put my snow chains in. I live at higher elevation meaning the commute back requires a number of long climbs. The roads became a mess, compressed snow which was incredibly slick. Well slick if you didn’t have good snow tires or chains. I drove normally until the hills and after seeing cars dumped at the bottom and a number of accidents, it was time to chain up.

 2-beast-of-a-truck

Yes, my truck can climb trees with these chains on. OK, some say overkill, I say perfect for the situation. I had no issues driving and was even able to help a number of folks. These are not the average chain, these are designed for compact snow and ice… and they worked amazingly.

Along with the cold weather we were also hit with a number of power outages. We live by the understanding that it’s just a matter of time to when these events occur, not if, so of course we were well prepared. For heat we have a traditional fireplace. Power was on at this point but who does not like a comfy fire when it’s freezing outside.

 3-keeping-warm

We lost power a number of times with vehicles crashing into utility poles taking the power lines down. Again for us, annoying but not catastrophic as we have prepared for such cases. We have battery backup boxes to keep the network and home phone line operational. I don’t know what the world would be like without wifi.

 4-battery-backup

For longer power outages I built a backup battery which can be used to power the battery backups when their internal batteries run out.

 5-backup-to-battery-backup

This orange box has two 22ah 12volt batteries. They can be connected in series to create 24 volts to power the battery backups. In addition, when I built this I wired it up to include USB charging ports on the front (Hey connection to the blog). It has a built in trickle charger to ensure the batteries are in tip top condition when you need it.

While we have no issue keeping warm with fireplaces it’s always nice to have hot water as well. We have a tank-less natural gas powered water heater. Now while the water heating is powered by natural gas you still need to plug it into mains power to run the electronics, fans and pumps. This is where my home made inverter power comes into action

 6-inverter 

This home made portable setup is a deep cycle 12 volt battery connected to a 3000 watt pure sine wave inverter. The inverter generates mains power from the 12v DC battery. I plug the water heater into this and hey presto we have hot water for showers, washing etc. I also use this inverter to power my espresso maker, the 2nd most important electronics in the house.

Talking of water, we also have a good storage of water just in case it’s needed. I love these water bricks. They stack and we have a number stored around the house. As everyone knows you can survive for a long time without food but not so long without water. We have a storage of both.

 7-water

So there we go, how to survive without USB, except we don’t as I have USB charging ports for our devices everywhere.

Happy Holidays !!

 

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