With the explosion of reasonably priced personal electronic devices like smart phones and tablets it has become much more feasible to store information in these devices for later use in a survival situation. When these devices are coupled up with a portable solar recharging device it would enable their continued use in the case of a long term failure of the commercial power grid without expending precious fuel to run a generator just for recharging these devices.
The amounts of memory in these devices continues to grow at almost an exponential rate as the cost and physical size of the memory is dropping rapidly. Couple that up with the extremely long battery life of a tablet like the Asus Transformer and you have a readily usable platform to view your information as well as utilize GPS applications if you need to be on the move (assuming that the GPS satellite constellation is not disabled or scrambled so only military receivers will function).
Before going much further on this topic, it is important to note that these devices need to be protected if you are going to rely on them in case of some kind of catastrophic event that can produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) such as a massive solar flare or the detonation of a nuclear device. Traditional anti-static bags that are used to protect sensitive electronic components can fit the bill in many cases, this is what they were designed for. The upside is that they are light weight and inexpensive. The effectiveness of these can further be enhanced by storing the bagged item(s) in a larger metal container thus “nesting” them.
When it comes to portable power that can be renewed from the sun, the line of products from Goal Zero (http://www.goalzero.com/) is one of your best bets when it comes to portable systems, they have numerous sized systems depending on your needs.
For fixed locations the solar panel kits from Harbor Freight are a very economical solution that will fit the bill for recharging small electronics, just make sure to purchase a decent quality charge controller elsewhere. 12V to USB kits are prevalent on eBay and can be added for under $10, small inverters for 120V are also available, but they are inefficient and can drain your batteries fairly quickly. The real upside to a fixed solar installation is that you can also use low draw 12V LED lighting during the evening hours.
So, what can you store on a device that may be useful you might ask? The answer is almost anything that you can imagine that is in a digital format.
- Digitized versions of important documents
- Survival guides (as many as you can get your hands on)
- Medical texts
- Wild plant identification guides
- Planting guides
- Shelter plans
- Emergency procedures
- E-books for education and entertainment
- Military field manuals (these cover just about every subject imaginable)
- And the list goes on….
One important note here, make sure that you protect the information that is contained in these devices. Encryption is the preferred method, Android based devices offer the option of encrypting all of the memory in the device preventing it from even booting up is the proper pass-phrase is not entered. All the information that you have collected is a valuable asset, it is very important that you protect it from inappropriate access as well as the functionality of the device itself.
When you get right down to it, the electronic devices provide the ability for you to store the equivalent of several large public libraries of books in a single USB thumb drive, if there were to be a long term disruption of services the stored knowledge that you have on those devices can be absolutely invaluable.