Protecting your Radio from an EMP: Part #2

note: article first appeared in May 2016.

This is the second article in a two-part series cover the subject of how to protect your radio from an EMP strike. In the first article I went over material regarding what an EMP strike really is and how to view it as a “risk” to be mitigated. I then went into the real-life aspect of it, the economic affect, and touched on the viability of Faraday Cages. I then went into detail regarding my solution. But I teased you into coming back to read this article.

If you haven’t read the first article you should, it will help this article make a lot more sense.

< Click here to read the first article >

Here are the steps to my solution –

(Yeah, yeah, yeah…I miss-spelled “foil” and used “fail”. Sorry about that…but now you know what I mean. No, I didn’t want to take the time to go back and correct the wording on the graphic.)

(Yeah, yeah…more misspelling. “You” vs. “Your”  Get over it…I am giving you a lesson in EMP protection not helping you learn to spell….obviously).

(No! You are not missing a step…that was me. I skipped a number while producing the graphics. There is no Step #17. But, so I can save face…Step #17: Review your “package” to ensure you’ve done a quality job so far.)

Summary –

The whole concept is to insulate the gadget from any electrical charge. And that is accomplished two ways –

  1. Provide insulating material that keeps electrical charge away from the gadget…and keeps the outer metal layer(s) from contacting the radio.
  2. Using multiple metal shells to redirect (i.e. disperse) electrical charges away from the gadget.

The bubble wrap is used as the insulating material. That keeps the gadget from contacting anything metal. Then the aluminum foil is used to disperse the electrical charges around and away from the gadget. Multiple layers reduces the risk of “gaps” in the protection…and to a lesser degree helps cover more frequencies due to more layers.

The concept of the aluminum foil is very similar to that of your car or airplane being hit with electricity. It is not the car’s rubber tires keeping you from being electrocuted. It is the metal exterior of the vehicle or airplane absorbing the electrical charge and redirecting it (dispersing it) around the entire shell of the vehicle vs. having the electricity pass through the vehicle or airplane and hurting you.

The reason that multiple layers of bubble wrap and aluminum foil is used is simple…improving the likelihood of success. If a single layer was used = low likelihood of success. Three layers of aluminum foil = much higher likelihood of success. Add in the metal trash can exterior for a forth layer = way higher likelihood of success. You also have six layers of bubble wrap plus the 1.75″ of Styrofoam cooler and you have a whole lot of insulating material.

For the average person that is about as good as it is realistically going to get. Will it work? I already answered that, “I don’t know.” I think the likelihood of gadget survival is very, very high. But, even military grade “hardening” of their sensitive electronics may fail based on a number of unknowns and other criteria. There are too many factors that play into exactly how an EMP strike might affect our country…and your electronics.

But, I can tell you this…You gadgets won’t survive if you do nothing. Following my solution gives you a pretty dang good chance of ending up with a working radio post-EMP strike.

Good luck and post question and comments!

Note #1 – I am not worried about the antenna itself very much. There are no electronics in the actual antenna. But for caution’s sake, I would use a single layer of bubble wrap and a layer of foil. Throw that package in the Styrofoam cooler with the packages of radios.

Note #2 – I use double layers of aluminum foil to reduce/eliminate the chances of a gap in the metal layer. Same is true for double layers of bubble wrap.

Note #3 – No US Post Office supplies were mis-used or destroyed in this project. Any use, or resemblance of use, was fictitious. All names were changed to protect the innocent. I later re-used the UPSP supplies for their intended purposes.

Note #4 – DO NOT ground the trash can. If you ground it, the electricity will try to take the shortest path between the strike impact and the point where the ground is attached to the can/earth. That could mean that the electricity would pass through the can vs. dispersing around the can. Passing through the can might mean passing through your gadget.

Note #5 – Protect the batteries as you would the radio. Treat them the same way. However, try to make them a little easier to get to. You will want to charge them up at last twice a year. Failure to top off their charge may result in battery failure.




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