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 Thingiverse.com 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 https://abebooks.com 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…

george@ure.net

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