Prepping: But At Thingiverse?

No doubt, one of my favorite readers well scream at me about my twisted-up understanding of “digital assets” but for those paying attention, the discussion is worth having.

There are, in Ure’s judgment, two distinct classes of “digital assets.”  The kind that are “offline” and the kind that require “online” to work.

I’ve studied the subject deeply because when, as a software sales guy in complex enterprise ERP systems in the higher education space, I looked at client needs the whole matter of “offline” versus “online” assets came up all the time.  Except there, it was more “school-wide” versus a “department-level” asset.

For example, one department in a college or university might push themselves into a battle to the death over their department’s Access whoosywuzit tracking system.  “We can’t have that online!”  We’d go round and round.  I always won.

Fact is, the thought model I’ve held to since I built my first multiple-user d-Base III (later IV) ERP system in about 1988, was that of an “electric railroad.”  On-time entry on all-data.  None of this time-squandering extra work for us.   This was back when networks tended to be discrete (local Novell) rather that (God help us) TCP/IP.  Or, on lease data lines between campuses.

What I was selling at the time (2002) in higher ed was (and still is) a great semi-connected system.  We didn’t turn on a web-based service bureau (online service bureau model) until later – after my move to Texas.

“Prepping Ure!  What Does This Have to Do with Prepping?:”

Just getting to that.

The same discussion could (should) be had about certain functionality in the prepping sphere. Let’s kick-back and consider what digital assets you might have that could remain useful “in the event of an actual emergency.”

For sure, online services like FB and Twitter being offline won’t matter much.  In fact, I’d bet American productivity recovering from a Hard Grid Down (HGD) event would be 20-50% faster and more productive without people pissing away time chasing “likes” and linkbait.

On the other hand, there are easily found collections of CD’s of all kinds – manuals and magazines.  Military manuals.  Collections of manuals for all kinds of appliances, radio gear, and so forth.  Slide over to eBay and get some “manuals on CD” searching done.

I have a dandy collection of old Popular Mechanics’Shop Notes just about every issue from 1905 up through the early 1930’s.  A few hard copies of later edition are in the guest quarters/gym bathroom for throne room reading.

Missed out on an Industrial Arts curriculum because of the Marxist-socialist infiltration of school boards?  eBay’s your buddy. You can still become “disquietingly independent” on society.

It occurred to me this week, while eyeing my Creality 3D printer (which is still on my fixing to get to it list to assemble) that something which might be useful to do now would be hit and go looking for designs to download for “in the event of an actual…” use.

Here’s a Thingiverse page with 23 prepping items you can download and print.  Not too sure we will need gas mask cartridge adapters printed (since that’s pretty ineffective for all but urban areas), but a few things (a case for half a dozen lighters, for one) might be useful.  Or, give the illusion of organizations which went missing from here 10 years back…

The Thingiverse collection is limited (and in urban collapse, not sure a blood-type tag would help, since people in mid-collapse may not be interested in saving potential food-rivals down the road) but there are other sources.

Probably the best is yeggi (the search engine for us .STL (STereo-Lithography file) collectors.  Their pages on “survival tools” is more than 200-items deep.

Nice thing about 3D printing is you can download the files now (taking up small piece of a thumb drive, or go right to a memory card) and now you have an inventory of “printable things” which – in a world with no grid and no much of anything else that works – will be worth a fortune.

Think about it:  How many people (because you’re a genius and you can see the global fail coming) will have stored food, water, power from your solar, weapons to defend it, PLUS a well-equipped shop for wood and metal-working PLUS PLUS a 3D printing rig for making small plastic parts and assorted cases of filament to print plus printer spares?

The short answer is “Zero.”

If you don’t have a 3D printer in your prepping sights yet, I’ll admit the idea seems a bit far-fetched while the lights are on and lamdas are landing on Ure desk.  But turn them off?  Books like Glover’s  Ref Desk  and old copies of Audel’s on a wide range of topics might be the only sources of paper-backed up material.

Unfortunately, in a civilization sunset event (CSE) it won’t be possible to head for the library, either.  I’ve got a ton of books to get rid of, and yet come to find out, libraries have been “thinning down the stacks” for decades.  You’ll find that collectible books you want are often found on places like as ex-library copies.

Nested Process Manufacturing

Here’s the sort of process that I envision happening when it all hits the fan.

  1.  Lights go out.
  2. We live our low-key way (with the added security systems going online instantly – NIR illuminators in key spots, NV gear at the bedside etc.)
  3. But then I go out to do something with the tractor and bang!  Dadgum plastic diesel fuel filter cup busts.
  4. Off to the Faraday bins and out comes a laptop.
  5. AC power goes on from the big battery bank and solar.
  6. I come in the shop, toss the busted filter cup the unit on the 3D scanner (mainly for dimensions because I’m lazy) – 3D scanners are somrewhat useless unless you put real money behind them.
  7. Then I spend hours trying to get the threads on the unit to look right (or I just look for 3D Kubota tractor STL’s before the power goes off…)
  8. Once done, it’s printed.  Another hour, or so, with needle files to get it just right…and I’m back in business.

At least, in theory.

Another example?  Sure.  The 3D printer has also ended my problem with every few years having to buy a new starter motor gear for the riding mower.  Because yeggi found me the Briggs & Stratton part I need to always have on hand:  One each starter motor gear.

You have the process, now, right?  Cheap laptop with a good battery and charger (solar please), a CD full of parts for virtually everything you own so you can make them on demand for life.

Need some parts for my Dodge 1500 Ram pickup?  Download ’em just in case,.

Got a couple of neighbors with John Deere tractors so here’s how much?  OMG 1,900 John Deere printables?  Sure, most of it is not terribly useful but if I needed a power steering cap in the post collapse world, I have one now that can be printed.

Get lots of ABS filament, by the way. It comes in 2.2 pound (*1 kg) rolls for about $25-bucks a throw.   Strongest of the bunch (puts PLA to shame) and that’s what the next mower gear will be made from.

Three Stage Manufacturing

One last tool we have one hand – another one of those “if we ever need it” are all the pieces to do basic metal casting.  400 gallons of propane, 300+ pounds of clean 6061 aluminum, and one of Lionel’s melting furnaces.  (See Backyard Metal Casting here.)

Three stage manufacturing of fairly “serious” parts proceeds like this:

  1. First you 3D, fix up the print, build and slice the STL file and print it out on your Creality or whatever.
  2. Second step is to take the close-to finished item and cut it in half or in some way so you can make a good green-sand (casting) mold for it.  Now, fire off a few ingots of metal and pour that sucker into the mold.  Cool while you have a beer.
  3. Next day, cause you have no self control, but there’s also no getting up to go to work, you take the aluminum (or copper, or brass, or whatever you cast) over to your lathe and milling machine and tune it up so all the dimensions are right, things are square, and you’ve created something maybe better than the cheap factory part that failed.

Is it a stretch?  Well, it still have a high fun quotient.  But yeah, another case of freeze-dried  beef stroganoff or spaghetti is probably the saner choice.

Write when the lights go out…

36 thoughts on “Prepping: But At Thingiverse?”

  1. Gears should always be made of metal, preferably steel. At least you can weld back and file a missing or chipped tooth into shape.

    Plastic gears should be replaced with a proper shear pin if that’s their real function. Harbor Fright electric chain saws are designed to fail at the internal reduction gear. It’s plastic, and the only way currently to get a new gear is to buy another saw.

    I’m dealing with old plastic parts on my car – 22 years old. Plastic gets hard over time and cracks, especially when you have to bend it to get it removed or installed. Not the best, but the cheapest.

    BTW, look for “Manuals on USB Flash drive” as well as CD and DVD. The latter have size limitations and some vendors are just going with the flash drives. You can always write the contents to optical media if you’re worried about EMP flash.

    • Damn good stuff, Mike.
      Yessir, if you had a micrometer/calipers, some open source dwg files and could export an stl and hit the slicer, you could make up that missing gear toothy whizzy all day long.
      Look around yeggi They have a ton, like HF table saw inserts already and it’s becoming a goldmine for the small and part time designers

      • I bounced your idea off one of my elder counselors this morning for using the 3D printers for parts replacement when nothing is commercially available. His eyes lit up. Yeah, repair parts for tools and equipment makes sense. A library of 3D part files cataloged by manufacturer and model would have long-lasting value. You’ve got our attention.

  2. I bought a side draw holster for my CZ 75 & attached it on the side of the bed using a knit belt to hold it tightly to the side of the headboard. I can now easily draw & fire 16 + 1 immediately in the dark (semi dark – a streetlight proves some inside illumination). The side draw holster angle positions the pistol for an easy draw. I leave the safety on but have trained to immediately release the safety as I draw. It is a down push safety & I rest my thumb on it when shooting.

    When the grandkids are over, I empty the chamber & need to rack the pistol first before shooting.

  3. “If you don’t have a 3D printer in your prepping sights yet,”

    Lol lol lol… The boss said no…I cant have one…

    • The cheapest 3D printers can be had for under 100 bucks. It is terribly unlikely that the first printer you buy will be more than a learning tool. Until you get the hang of it, 3D printing is a PITA. After you catch on, whatever printer you have will be inadequate…

  4. George

    Being able to make replacement mechanical parts is a very good thing.

    But what about electrical and electronic systems? That’s a tough road to walk!

    Prior to transistors and microprocessors electrical control systems of all sizes and types were made from various switches and relays.

    Having a rudimentary understanding of control logic using these devices could make life a lot easier in a prepping situation. As an example our clothes dryer control board died last year. $300 to replace it. I rigged two Potter & Brumfield relays to manually control drum rotation and heater power. A wind up timer with electrical contacts from Home Depot can be used to control drying time. As I had most of the parts in my surplus box my cost was low. The dryer is still working to this day.

    Having some switches and relays in your survival kit just might save you some grief in the future. I recommend you pick relays with 12 volt DC coils and ten amp contacts so it can be used with battery power.

    Relays are still employed in modern electrical control systems. It hard for a microprocessor to directly route 480Vac. They tend to generate a lot of smoke!

    • Mike.. this is a nifty idea to build..
      If we don’t have electricity you wont need relays.
      If the study that NASA did is right and we go through what they predict then those that survive will be pounding our furs on the rocks.

      Since we exported industry our clothes our electronics are all made elsewhere.. even our military equipment..everyone will go back to the days of noah…
      Uts best to learn how to make a sling.

      With this all a person has to do is never forget the spin cycle.. and seriously how many women constantly want to diet..the perfect solution..

  5. Wow George, d-Base III /d-Base IV/Novell. You take me back about 20 years.

    My consulting business was growing, adding employees and doing everything with pencils and paper. I saw the light ahead and realized that I needed to move to the 21st century before it arrived.

    There were not a lot of programmers around then so I stepped down from my position, went back to school and learned d-Base III. I do remember that it was the worst written instruction manual I had ever seen. I mastered a whole new language for a 55 year old chemist (if, then, goto). After 3 months of schooling, I secluded myself for another 6 months and wrote 3 programs for my company (accounting, payroll and time sheets). Didn’t see much of the wife and kids for a while.

    Got help to set up the Novell network to link up my programs throughout the company and found a young d-Base progammer to take over data management.

    We paid our dues George!

    • “doing everything with pencils and paper. ”

      BIC…personally I still prefer pencil and paper.. always doodling..yet as time passes I find that pocket brain gains more power.. I cant recite all the personal phone numbers any more yet it wasnt that long ago that we had our phone on a party line. where the calls for us was seven rings pause seven rings..

      Seriously… if the day comes where your unable to store your data on grains of sand..can you make a pencil..or a piece of paper.. or would thoughts and ideas be scrawled on a chunk of bark with a rock..

  6. Buy a hotter printer that’ll accept nylon filament.

    Also lay in a supply of casting media and compounds (I have several tubs of Alumilite’s “Amazing Remelt” because it melts at 135 degrees and flows clean, and RC-3 AlumaRes casting resin {can’t use it with the Remelt because it cures too hot}, among others.) Casting works much better for parts with internals which can’t be scanned, or for making paraffin sacrificial positives for sand-casting.

    Add a set of good, Swiss Jeweler’s Files for cleanup.

    ‘Much prefer brass or steel gears with shear pins to plastic gears…

  7. How wise is it to rely on solar power for all these gadgets when a nature-caused SHTF event will most likely result in a lengthy period of low or no sunshine? In particular, a pole shift or other event will cause at least one Krakatoa-like volcanic explosion, which would spread ash worldwide that might turn day into night for a year or longer, as has happened in the past. Solar power would be worthless. The only other long-term alternative power source I’ve heard of is windmills, which would likely be toppled by the accompanying super strong winds. Are there any other sustainable long-term power sources, especially ones that don’t rely on battery banks, which are also not sustainable in the long run?

    And how practical/possible is it for someone to amass enough of the material required for 3D printing to be able to make things for years? If these perceived glitches have solutions, I’ll add a 3D printer to my prepper wish list.

    • Thanks for the reminder – time to get 200 more gallons of diesel with preservative in it (good for 10+ years) and a new gen head for the backup diesel charger…

      • Don’t know if the “red” in red diesel is actually a preservative or what but I’ve been filling our tractor up with it a few times a year ever since the storage tanks were filled in the VERY early 2000s. Still blows and goes with a dash of Diesel Kleen. Haven’t been brave enough to try it in the newer F350 yet, though.

      • We’re at the end of the last couple of barrels we put up in 2003 preserved with Stabl and works fine,m too. Good to decant for possible water, keep a water snake, some DieselDri and lots of filters/vitryl glove, but yeah…diesel stores a lot better than, oh, ethanol puke.

      • Is a small wind setup feasible to supplement solar? I’m about 1/4 mile from the bay. Seems like the combo would fit me nicely.

      • I’m still using red diesel from around 2000 in the farm and construction equipment. I’d probably run it in a 12V Cummins or IDI Ford/International, but I’d be leery of running it in a common rail electronic diesel such as a Powerstroke. Too many things that can go wrong and no easy way to fix them. In a crisis you do what you have to though. I’ve run peanut oil in a Bobcat just to get rid of it after a few years, but only in the summer. In cold weather I like to treat the diesels to good fuel.

      • “Don’t know if the “red” in red diesel is actually a preservative or what ”

        It is a dye that is added to offroad diesel (and in some States, No.2) to enable the State rev-a-newers to charge yerass if’fn you use ORD in your on-road MV, and also to sue you for tax evasion. Presence of the dye in quantity is a presumption of guilt.

        I read a news snippet that’d been posted (on either VW Vortex or TDIClub) some years back, where a dieselhead get together happened, out West, somewhere. One of the more smart-alecky attendees brought a test kit and surreptitiously checked everyone’s fuel for the presence of dye while they were partying. There were — like two — out of nearly 180 attendees, whose fuel tested completely clear…

      • “Is a small wind setup feasible to supplement solar?”

        FLDave… it is and it isn’t.. I live in one of the best wind area’s in the USA.. the joke was the did you hear the news…. the wind died down and all the cows tipped over..
        When we decided to put solar and wind up.. we did it to show the kids that we supported renewable resources along with all the other resources.. just use them all wisely..
        some of the things we have done to show the kids has been making several of the things that can be used in a shtf scenario..
        I had the brilliant idea.. show the kids that a wind turbine could even be mounted on the roof.. and it can.. we have a 3kw.. what I didn’t calculate though was even though you can.. should you..
        here is a good publication to read before you get a wind turbine.

        . the other thing is size.. don’t go spending a lot of money on a big turbine if after you have done your research and decide you have good wind.. you choose to get one.. go small.. the big ones need a lot of maintenance.. and if it goes down then you don’t have any power.. you can put up six three kw wind turbines for a fraction of what it would cost to put up one twenty kw system.. then go up.. at least thrity feet..
        I would also suggest you get a tower that can be lowered for maintenance purposes..

    • A pole shift scenario is an extinction event not survivable other than by happenstance. Being able to access potable water or heat with non-electrics will save you in a lot of other low probability severe scenarios. When was the last time you did without electricity for a week in the winter?
      The electric preps make for good hobbies, and are good for bragging rights. But most important, don’t lose sleep over a prepping hobby.

      • Very good advice: Remember, we have a pretty well prepped place – water, food, ammo, ammo, ammo and so toss in a couple of more barrels of diesel and we’ve got the big stuff (and have for years). Sure, seeds and all that, too. For most people, things like prepping with 3D print libraries is more a high-end option if you have a fall back place in a rural area first.

      • I keep this book by my chair.. years ago the book was maditory reading in a class then discussion of it.. along with the story book.. the HAB theory..

        I like to see exactly which direction the pole is.. unfortunately I don’t have the good thingy so I have to do it the catfish way.. mark the poles on a round ball magnet then put them on a level surface.. then measure the direction of the pole.. each year you can see the changes slightly… now considering the hab theory.. what IF… the balance of the earth along with the magnetic change was to happen.. would there be a violent pole shift.. enough to leave mastadons flash frozen with food in their stomachs.. just like plato’s works.. I love this book.. Reloaded/dp/1939149703

        here is another great book well worth a couple of cups of coffee to read it to…..

      • “don’t lose sleep over a prepping hobby.”

        A-Men! I don’t do prepper or survivalist forums except on a directed search, because there’s always an element present who are friggin’ nuts, and obviously have too much money.

        I’ve told George on several occasions my prepping involves surviving an EMP, because those preps include virtually every lesser natural or Man-made issue. I don’t prep for an asteroid strike or Yellowstone Caldera or any such, because those are ELEs, and ANY survival of any of Earth’s species will be by random chance.

        The Sunda Strait is about as far away from CONUS as a place can be on this marble. Krakatoa blew its top in 1883, creating the loudest sound ever heard by Man, and ejecting roughly a cubic mile of pyroclastic ash. CONUS (on the other side of the World, and in a different hemisphere, remember) got a reduced growing season and really pretty sunsets in 1884 and 1885. Yellowstone, when it blows, will be at least 120x as large, and will bathe the entire planet in ~40 years of “nuclear winter.” Why prep for THAT…?

    • Tumbleweed

      Your concern is my concern! I have a 7 KW solar power system. It’s good enough for most of our needs, but not enough if you want full time AC power.

      With that in mind I am pursuing running a gasoline type engine using HHO gas witch is also called Browns gas. It is pure Hydrogen – Hydrogen – Oxygen produced by electrolysis. The engine will turn an AC or DC alternator to produce power at night. In my case I plan to use a heavy duty DC alternator at 24Vdc to charge my solar power batteries. Many other people have done this!

      As of today I have purchased 37 of the 58 stainless steel plates I need to build two HHO dry cells. Information on this technology is abundant on youtube. Each one of my cells is designed to be powered from my solar power system to start running and if my design is correct then be able to Regenerate power from the DC alternator and run by itself. I know it sounds crazy but the alternator puts out 140 amps while the HHO cells only draw 8 amps each. That leaves about 122 amps for other needs. Should work! We will see. This is not free energy but it is cheap energy. It takes equipment and supplies to make it work. The fuel source is pure water with Lye as a solution to make it conductive.

      This was all started by amateur scientist and is now being pursued as business’s that sell equipment. I am building my own system as a learning experience. Since I have an engineering back ground it’s a fun project that I hope will make me more self sufficient. Just add money!

      Here’s an 8 minute video that demonstrates the potential to generate HHO in quantity: .

      The fellow in the video sells equipment. He has many video’s on youtube showing how he builds his systems.

      Be aware that HHO is similar to Acetylene welding gas in volatility, but can be safely handled with precautions and common sense!

      You only make what you need! Never Never Never try to store it ! It is unstable under compression!!!

      Good luck! Now go get edumacated on this topic!

      • HHO Is way to explosive even to use. My suggestion is stay away from it..
        Hydrogen though is a wonderful gas and not really that explosive until you mix it.
        It can be harvested easily.. ( I’ll let you figure out your own way of cracking the water and separating it.. just think about it . Once you figure it out Don’t try to sell it or market from thought is that’s more dangerous than hho gas lol)
        As long as the whole us economy is dependent on oil to stay afloat any and all of that technology will not be allowed or will be greatly discouraged. So if you discover the secret that’s in front of you and you build one build it only for yourself and only you . (Look how long solar has been fighting the negative narrative.. you dont see bloom boxes offered for sale either..)

        Separate the hydrogen from the oxygen.. then compress it and store it in ground up Magnesium Hydride MgH2 filled carbon fiber tanks.
        Easy peasy ….

    • I recently put together a ‘Ham Can’ battery box to power my radios in the field or in case of a power failure. 40 Amp-hours at 12.8 volts is 512 watt-hours in an ammo can. They are expensive, but I opted to use Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries when I examined the specs. If you only discharge to 50% you can cycle these batteries 12,000 times! If this is a daily cycle (like solar) that battery will last 36 years! You would buy 18 sets of lead acid batteries with 2-year life cycles, so compare that cost to the LiFePO4 battery with zero maintenance.

      My commercial solar install has an LDG battery that holds 9.5kWh and recharges daily. The company guarantees it for 10 years, and then they replace it. It’s lithium, but I don’t know the exact chemistry.

      • I just gave that Ted lecture and professor my extra two volt batteries .. about time .. he has a family that is putting in solar with a backup that is shy funds.catfish like myself. I forget the exact amp hours per battery but each cell i think they are 2000 or 2500 amp hours they weighs two hundred pounds..

  8. I am aware that this forum is full of tech heads and I respect their space. However…

    The top four things to disappear first when the EOTW comes will probably be fresh water, food, gas, and batteries. Wait a bit and you can add bullets to the list. Just follow the Caribbean during high hurricane season.

    The problem with electronic devices is there are usually more electronic devices on the other end of the RF signal or power cord. When they don’t work, your device doesn’t work. It’s like restoring a car but not having gas or the know how to drive it. (How many vehicles will die because someone tries to replace gas with diesel fuel, or vice versa?) When the EOTWAWKI comes, a strong back, stamina, a sturdy cart, and a good idea on where to find abandoned things might be more important. Machines make work easier and quicker. When the dark ages return, neither will matter except for maybe keeping a blade sharp.

  9. Hi George & all,
    The best prep location I have seen was a bed and breakfast I stayed in, near Revelstoke BC in Canada. This guy had his own hydroelectric plant running everything from a generator running off a penstock feed of water diverted from a substantial mountain stream. He wasn’t hooked up to the power grid at all, and I would never have known it if I hadn’t taken a hike up the mountain by that stream. That guy is already living off grid, and just doing the B&B to make some money while the current economy is still running.
    Even if his generator gives out, you can get useful work from falling water with a mill wheel, shafts, and belts. I think falling water is the most EMP-proof resource available, and probably should be a feature on our lists of things you want to see on your survival homestead.

  10. Been busy around these parts: Had family run in a marathon on Sunday, and then had a family funeral (not the runner!) on Mon-Tues. Now recovering and getting back at it.

    I agree with your 3D prepping ideas and have had many of these same thoughts. Yes, it can be done but my experience suggests a few caveats:

    • Personal 3D printing is not yet at the plug and play level. Default settings are pretty good and typically give acceptable results. Fussy details such as threads may require tinkering with several settings. Fortunately, once figured out for your specific printer and material it is rather easy to print good parts on the first try. It just takes practice and spools of plastic.

    • I find that downloaded .STL files are hit-and-miss. Most slice OK, but many won’t. Sometimes Netfabb software can fix it, but sometimes not. Have 3D CAD software available to draw your own part if you really need it.

    • Each material has strengths and weaknesses, as you might expect:

    o ABS is strong and machines well for part cleanup (drilling holes, etc.) But ABS can be challenging to use due to its high shrink rate when cooling. This makes it tend to warp and peel up off the bed during printing, especially on big parts. There are ways to deal with this but it takes some time to learn. Also, ABS does not play well with UV so outdoor life is limited.

    o PLA is one of the easiest materials to print and is very popular. It has good dimensional stability, good layer bonding, low warp, and sticks to the print bed well. It is a low temperature plastic so any black items in the hot sun may deform.

    o Be sure to check the temperature limits of your hot end (nozzle assembly) before using higher temperature materials such as PETG or ASA.

    o If you want to get printing quickly, I suggest starting with PLA and then learning ABS. If you want to do the hard work first, start with ABS.

    o Printing characteristics vary quite a lot from one plastic manufacturer to another. If you have a thing that just won’t print, try a different brand of plastic.

    o These materials have a limited shelf life. Once opened I see degradation after about six months to a year. (I don’t know how long they last in the vacuum sealed bag.) Probably not something to depend on 20 years from now.

    A good test part to use is the Benchy Tug Boat: When you get the curves and overhangs printing properly, you can be confident with real world projects. Like upgrading the paper towel holders in your shop?

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