Safe State Communiqué
FIRST STEPS; PART 2: THE FARADAY CAGE. LIFE AND DEATH
In this communiqué we’ll identify the most important component of our on-site EMP defense. The Faraday Cage is our primary life raft. This allows us to survive in the post EMP environment. This is how we organize our local community.
- Note 1: The picture below is a Safe State compliant enclosure. Although it is a homebuilt enclosure (I built this in 2011), it meets the minimum requirements identified in the Safe State Countermeasure Manual (see chapter 1). Specifically, it has not been tested or “certified” by a qualified testing facility, but it meets the design standards prescribed by the Army Corp of Engineers.
- Note 2: The homebuilt option has many advantages, but it’s filled with danger. We can avoid these dangers with design standards (see below). Additionally, the Safe State Project is planning a research mission that tests a much simpler Faraday Cage for home use. Using a qualified facility (RS-105 standards), several homebuilt enclosure designs will be explored. Official results will be open source (see Project Updates).
To be certified as a HEMP proof enclosure (in accordance w/military specs), the costs can be high. A HEMP proof enclosure of this size (20’ x 10’) would cost thousands to test, thousands to ship, and thousands to install. For now, certification is expensive, but for the smaller enclosures and the modular enclosures, the costs might be justified.
If you want rapid, high confidence shielding, acquiring smaller, certified enclosures may be the best option (if you can afford it), but the homebuilt option can be a viable alternative. These can be low-cost and compliant (high confidence). Whether you purchase or build your own, these are the basic standards you’ll need to know.
The Faraday Cage is a simple metal enclosure. It’s not rocket science, but it does have several design standards that must be understood, achieved, and maintained. The Safe State countermeasure refers its users to Army Corp of Engineers/Engineering Pamphlet EP 1110-3-2 for these standards, but here’s a quick overview.
Standards: The military has high standards. Appropriately, many of the design features for military-grade HEMP proof enclosures are built for complex operations and high confidence survival. We only need high confidence survival. No bells. No whistles.
The enclosures needed for civilian defense have a very simple operating environment. No need for fancy points of entry (POE) where multiple people will enter and exit several times a day. No need for rapid deployment features like ruggedness and high structural integrity. No need for “in-use” enclosures where electronic equipment is operated from within the protective interior by design. The list goes on, but the one (1) standard we must all share (military, industry, and civilian) is Shielding Effectiveness (SE).
Shielding Effectiveness (SE): The shielding effectiveness (SE) of the enclosure determines its ability to shield its contents from outside interference/HEMP. Currently, the U.S military requires a shielding effectiveness of 100-dB. Without delving into the science of pulse waves, we can take the 100-dB requirement for military operations and assess its purpose. High confidence survival. Given the high amplitude pulse of modern-day EMP weapons (50,000 – 200,000 volts per meter), the 100-dB requirement has been determined to be an effective defense against HEMP. To obtain this level of shielding effectiveness (100-dB) we need to look at two (2) critical factors.
Material—Types of Metal and Thickness: The U.S military has a variable range for type and thickness, but the standard ¼ inch steel plate is common. Slightly less (or more) is acceptable for obtaining 100-dB, but it now comes down to continuity. Full, total, and complete electrical continuity around the entire enclosure is required. No gaps. No holes.
Electrical Continuity: Structural design is critical. Where atmospheric conditions and temperature fluctuations can cause expansion, retraction, and erosion, due to poor design/improper materials—the continuity (metal to metal contact) can be lost at all seams and point of entry (POE). Extreme care must be exercised.
Whether a continual weld (steel plates) or modular panels (AL, CU, other) structural design and proper planning can maximize long-term continuity. Modular panels can be assembled using prescribed techniques and hardware so that no gaps (due to installation, expansion, and erosion) will be present. Welded construction is often preferred.
- Note 1: The above picture is a re-engineered steel tank with all seems welded. Over time, the welds hold strong under expansion and retraction.
- Note 2: The POE (Point of Entry) is the weak point. Critical design is required.
POE (The Access Door): This is where many Faraday cages lose their continuity and SE over time. Where the civilian enclosures only require an access door (POE) for loading/unloading and visual checks (see CERP check), this gives the homebuilt Faraday Cage builder a cost-savings over the repeat access door requirements sought by other industries. By using simple copper fingerstock on all portions surrounding the POE, sufficient pressure can be maintained to ensure positive continuity at all times when the door is closed.
Note 1: (See the access door pictured above). Notice the multiple bolt holes. These holes are staggered above/below the underlying copper fingerstock (which are mounted behind the door). When all bolts are secured, even pressure is applied to the fingerstock throughout the circumference of the access door.
Note 2: Rule of Thumb. All contact areas must be bright. No holes bigger than a pencil lead. Long gaps must be avoided.
CERP CHECKS (Continuous Enclosure Reliability Program)
When designed properly, continuity should be easily maintained, however; visual checks to ensure integrity must be done at regular intervals. Both the status of enclosure continuity and the observed health of stored equipment must be confirmed. POE and all seams must be inspected. No equipment should be touching the enclosure and all equipment should be separated from the enclosure by a non-conductive insulator (rubber mat/plastic riser, etc.). Moisture levels and extreme cold/heat must be managed (underground can help/look to the marine industry for moisture wicking).
Depending on your location, CERP checks (visual inspections) will be needed every 30-90 days. These visual checks ensure high confidence survival. They can save your life.
LIFE AND DEATH – BEWARE!
Proper design, adequate material type and thickness, absolute continuity, and periodic CERP checks are the minimum requirements for countermeasure compliance. For commercially available products and enclosures, buyers beware.
There is an enormous number of fake products. False advertising is everywhere. A mylar or foil lined bag designed to keep your phone safe from a solar flare has no purpose. A solar flare (even a Carrington event level CME) will not destroy your cell phone. It will destroy the cell towers, and the power and communications infrastructures, but not your phone (which will be rendered useless for communication post CME). These bags will not protect your phone from EMP. Currently, the non-rigid “faraday cage” bags sold on the market range from 20-40 dB, which is insufficient against HEMP. On their own, they have little purpose in the survival environment. As a secondary enclosure, however, they have value.
Low-cost Alternatives: Compliance with the Safe State countermeasure standards seeks to ensure high confidence survival preparedness within our homes and communities. Low cost alternatives to these standards are constantly sought by the Safe State team, and many of these alternatives are being evaluated. The Faraday cage within a Faraday cage method, using an insulator between the multiple enclosures has promise. Additionally, below ground installation can add additional SE.
For example: Three metal garbage cans (large, medium, small) separated by insulating membranes may offer an acceptable level of SE (80-100dB). However, to confirm high confidence survival, these simplified concepts for enclosure design and material (basic hardware store systems) require certified testing. Currently, no official documentation is available. For the public interest, Safe States is working to secure this information. See Projects Updates below.
Safe States is starting a weekly podcast. Standby for official announcement.
The first county-wide test project is scheduled to begin in 2020. All local supply chain participants (farm, agriculture, other) will be assessed for community production potential in the grid-down environment. Cost for compliance/preservation of production capabilities versus production value/output (post grid-down) for community survival will be measured. Standby for more updates.
Low-Cost, Homebuilt, Certified Enclosure Testing: 100 dB Challenge. Standby for updates.