Today, I would like to take a look at what might or might not be work­ing after a spec­u­la­tive EMP event regard­less if it’s a man­made or nat­ur­al based dis­as­ter. I think there is a lot of spec­u­la­tion about the types of gear, vehi­cles, elec­tron­ics, etc. that may or may not be work­ing post EMP.  How­ev­er, what I think you will notice is that there are sim­i­lar­i­ties in what may or may not work. Let’s take a look:

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (specifically automobiles)

As any self-pro­fessed prep­per knows that is inter­est­ed in prepar­ing for an EMP event, your vehi­cle may or may not be affect­ed depend­ing on the make, mod­el, year, etc. where it’s parked, what it’s cov­ered with (we’ll get in to that in a sec­ond) that gets hit by such an event.  Real­ly, I am not an expert and do not pro­fess to be; but want to share what I under­stand would be the most like­ly case if you need­ed or want­ed to have a vehi­cle post EMP event.  That said if your car or truck was built before 1990, and more specif­i­cal­ly, if it was pre-1980 would be ide­al…

Exam­ple:  I per­son­al­ly own a 1990 Jeep Wran­gler YJ which has a com­put­er.  From 1987 for­ward, I believe they all have com­put­ers and elec­tron­ics of some sort. The Jeep won’t run cor­rect­ly with­out a prop­er­ly pro­grammed com­put­er.  As I under­stand it, these are the only elec­tron­ics in the vehi­cle and con­tained in one pack­age that can be unplugged and a new one plugged in.  All I need to do is buy a cou­ple of refur­bished com­put­ers, have them pro­grammed for my Jeep, keep them in a fara­day cage (pre­sum­ably) and in the event of an EMP, unplug the old com­put­er, and plug in the fara­day cage kept com­put­er.  I do not believe (and I could be wrong) there are any elec­tron­ics in the alter­na­tor or oth­er com­po­nents of the Jeep of that year.  If there are, if some­one could point that out, it would be help­ful so that I can get spare parts in the Fara­day Cage.  But, this is as I under­stand it.

Today, how­ev­er, my 20XX Toy­ota 4Runner is full of elec­tron­ics.  And I mean full.  I don’t think the car will start at all if there’s an EMP event.  With all the reliance on sep­a­rate com­put­ers for var­i­ous activ­i­ties, it would be like the car had a fatal heart attack while sleep­ing.  The best thing I think I could do at that point would be to drain the gaso­line, sal­vage what I could off the car, and move on to the what is impor­tant to my fam­i­ly and myself at that time.  My wife’s car would be in the same boat.  Drain the gaso­line, and strip what might be essen­tial or sec­ondary prep/concern and move on to what’s impor­tant.

There is a the­o­ry that some vehi­cles would still be able to start, where some elec­tron­ics may not be affect­ed, and some would be. See the video from Arthur T Bradley, PHD (also the Author of The Sur­vival­ist series) as he spec­u­lates how this may or may not work.  I look to Dr. Bradley as an author­i­ty of sorts because he actu­al­ly an EMP Emit­ter at his dis­pos­al for test­ing pur­pos­es, as you will see regard­ing the EMP cloth he dis­cuss­es in his video…  How­ev­er, the down­side of all those new cars on the road, espe­cial­ly in the NYC, NJ, East­ern PA area where we are locat­ed is that there will be giant mod­ern-day boul­ders act­ing as road­blocks on the high­ways and side roads… And if an event were to take place at rush hour, for­get it.  It’s not a boul­der, it’s a long tail of not being able to get any­where.

That said, if you are prepar­ing a vehi­cle for an EMP event, I sug­gest go pre 1990, and prefer­ably pre 1980, even if it’s a 1976 Buick Sta­tion Wag­on.  You’ll still be bet­ter off than me at the moment.  (It real­ly is time to look at a cou­ple refur­bished com­put­ers for the Jeep, and keep one in a fara­day cage in the makeshift trunk).

ATVs and Motocross Bikes.  One of the guys in our crew has an ATV.  He loves it.  Hell, I love it.  It goes every­where.  How­ev­er, I am pret­ty sure, and I have to ask him, that there are no elec­tron­ics that it con­tains that would be hit by an EMP event.  The same goes for an old endure motocross motor­cy­cle (think kick­start).  If you’re lone wolf­ing it, a motor­cy­cle might be a safe bet.  I know because we used to com­mu­ni­cate via Email, after I read sev­er­al of his books that Scott Williams over at Bug Out Sur­vival wrote about his first-hand expe­ri­ence with Motor­cy­cles as Bug Out Vehi­cles in his book “Bug Out Vehi­cles and Shel­ters”  To that end, Creek Stew­art, also wrote an excel­lent book on Bug Out Vehi­cles called “Build the Per­fect Bug Out Vehi­cle: The Dis­as­ter Sur­vival Vehi­cle Sur­vival Guide,” and if I remem­ber cor­rect­ly, he also touched on the EMP based points I speak about above.

Last thoughts on Diesel Vehi­cles before I for­get.  What I know about Diesel vehi­cles can fill a thim­ble, and I’ll fill that thim­ble up for you… Most mod­ern diesel trucks (the 2000’s) run with computers/chips that help reg­u­late sen­sors, etc.  My “under­stand­ing” how­ev­er is that those trucks use those sen­sors, etc. for reg­u­lat­ing emis­sions and oth­er points in the vehi­cle, that with some plan­ning and inge­nu­ity can prob­a­bly be removed or dis­abled to make that vehi­cle more mechan­i­cal­ly oper­a­ble than elec­tron­i­cal­ly oper­a­ble.  This is some­thing I under­stand that might be near impos­si­ble with mod­ern gaso­line vehi­cles.  The oth­er option, if you know what you are doing and because there are not that many areas to be addressed is to hit a scrap (junk) yard, and load up on the sen­sor computers/microprocessors that you would require and keep them in a Fara­day cage until you might need them.  There, you’ve got a full thim­ble from me on what I know about Diesel.  I am hap­py to hear com­men­tary from any­one with more expe­ri­ence in this area to share with the greater com­mu­ni­ty. (Oh, and if I’m wrong, please let me know that too.  I am human).


Tube Shortwave Radio | Suburban Survival BlogWell, you now know your Pio­neer Radio that inter­faces with your iPhone or Android phone aren’t going to be work­ing after an EMP event.  You also know that you’re car will “most like­ly” not run after an EMP Event.  But, what of oth­er elec­tron­ics you may or may not have in your home.  Your old mechan­i­cal record play­er that sits in the back clos­et from when you were a kid?  What about an old radio or ham radio for that mat­ter that runs on tubes and not elec­tron­ics???  First­ly, every­thing you have in your fara­day cage “should” work fine.  Your Motoro­la two way radios, your Baofeng Hand­held Radios, your old iPod, with your clas­sic rock on it (assum­ing the bat­tery isn’t per­ma­nent­ly dead), the extra Ama­zon Kin­dle you have in there with your elec­tron­ic sur­vival library on it, etc.  All those items should work…

If, you have access to old ham radio with tubes, a short-wave radio with tubes, any­thing that is tube based you may be okay if it’s not already bro­ken.  Tube-based sys­tems are not “elec­tron­ic” in nature and should not be affect­ed by an EMP.  As I under­stand it (and this is hearsay from anoth­er video I watched) that dur­ing the 1950s when the gov­ern­ment was test­ing nuclear devices and the EMP effect was being stud­ied, they real­ized that their tube-based plat­forms were not dam­aged by the EMP effect.  Of course, buy­ing these old tube-based devices sounds good in the­o­ry.  They’re not inex­pen­sive, but you also need to have elec­tric­i­ty in order to run them, and, those that have devices in a Fara­day cage have to have a way to charge their devices in order to con­tin­ue to keep them work­ing.  More on that lat­er in this post.  This is just some food for thought on elec­tron­ics.

What are some elec­tron­ics you might want to keep in your Fara­day Cage:

Power Tools (without Electronics)

It’s no secret we men like our pow­er tools.  I love’em, and wouldn’t work around the house ever with­out at least my cord­less drill… Most cord­less drills dri­ven by a bat­tery have some micro­elec­tron­ics embed­ded to reg­u­late pow­er, speed, etc.  So unless you are keep­ing any of them and their bat­ter­ies, and charg­ers in a Fara­day cage, an EMP would most like­ly ren­der a such a cord­less device use­less.  How­ev­er, there are a num­ber of tools that are dri­ven by elec­tri­cal pow­er that you can use that have no elec­tron­ics in them at all.  I have an old elec­tric cord­ed pow­er drill that has no elec­tron­ics, and assum­ing my bat­tery back­up and/or gen­er­a­tor is run­ning, I’ll be good to go in the short term.  This, how­ev­er, should not be the only route you go.  You should think about man­u­al tools (man­u­al drills, plan­ers, etc) to take the place of those tools that may have elec­tron­ics in them today.  If we get fried by an EMP, man­u­al tools may be the only way to get some­thing done, repaired or built.

Basic motor dri­ven tools such as push lawn mow­ers that pull start, should not be affect­ed.  How­ev­er, if you have a gen­er­a­tor with an invert­er built in, then we have to chat about elec­tron­ics which may be includ­ed in that invert­er, that “may be” be affect­ed dur­ing an EMP event.  Unless your gen­er­a­tor is in a fara­day cage today, you might want to look at the EMP proof fab­ric to cov­er your gen­er­a­tor as described in the video ear­li­er in this blog post.

A note on flash­lights.  I’m pret­ty sure most mod­ern prep­pers adhere to some sort of EDC reg­i­men.  Mean­ing, you car­ry a pock­et knife, pen, wal­let, keys, phone, maybe you con­ceal car­ry (if you don’t live in an over­bear­ing state), and prob­a­bly car­ry a flash­light… And, I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s an oLight, Fenix, ATACTICAL (this is what I car­ry and I can­not kill the thing for a $20 flash­light) or some oth­er brand.  The down­side of all these tac­ti­cal lights?  They all have some micro­elec­tron­ics in them to con­trol the bright­ness or the strobe.  In fact, the ATACTICAL light that I own came with a bat­tery with a micro-USB charg­er that plugs right into the bat­tery to recharge it.  Sigh, more micro­elec­tron­ics.  It would be smart to keep a few of these flash­lights in your fara­day cage and invest in a flash­light or sev­er­al that do not have elec­tron­ics.  The down­side here is you may have to go back to a light that has a reg­u­lar light bulb and a slide on and off vs. the sleek and tac­ti­cool look of the lights we car­ry today.

Power:  Solar Panels and Solar Systems

“If” you have a solar sys­tem set up, it is also “spec­u­lat­ed” that most solar pan­els will stand up to an EMP event.  Some may have elec­tron­ics on the back­sides that daisy chain in par­al­lel or series to addi­tion­al pan­els, but as I under­stand it (again, what I know fills a thim­ble so any addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion would be great­ly appre­ci­at­ed), may be okay.  The caveat (hearsay again) is that there may be a reduc­tion in out­put (not sure why) though, unless some­thing on the sys­tem back-feeds to a pan­el and there is some sort of burn out.  Not real­ly sure.  One thing is cer­tain how­ev­er, and that is that your charge con­troller will be fried, because it is full of elec­tron­ics that reg­u­late the pow­er going to the bat­tery bank, keep­ing it from back-feed­ing, and halt­ing the charg­ing to a trick­le when the bat­ter­ies are full as to not over­charge them and keep them topped off.  Depend­ing on the size and scope of your solar sys­tem you should keep one or two of these in your fara­day cage, espe­cial­ly if you have a one – five-pan­el sys­tem with a cou­ple bat­ter­ies that is portable.  If you’re bug­ging out in a camper or oth­er bug out vehi­cle and you can bring some portable pow­er, you know how impor­tant it can be.

That said, all mod­ern invert­ers also con­tain elec­tron­ics, and are sus­cep­ti­ble to an EMP event, espe­cial­ly if they are in use.  It would be smart to keep a spare invert­er or two depend­ing on the pow­er needs you have to pow­er lights, recharg­ing devices, etc. and more.

This is my the­o­ry about what might still be run­ning after a SHTF EMP event.  Please reg­is­ter here and let us know what else you think may or may not still be run­ning.  We’d love to hear from you and get your thoughts on this.


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