Well the end of the world as we kind of know it has drawn a few weeks closer and as promised in part one of this historic and important series on Keeping Entertained During the Immanent Apocalypse I did indeed watch The Wombles. I also purchased a solar panel, and planted some tomatoes. With these skills and products in hand I reckon I've lifted my ranking of "ability-to-survive-the-apocalypse-in-style" from 1,800,000th to about 1,250,000th. Not bad. I should be number 1 or 2 in 1.5 years, by my estimates.
Making good use of the things that we find.
First up. The Wombles. Although the guy at the counter thought I was making up the whole concept of rat-creatures that recycle, my local parasitic virus of a video store (blockbuster) did indeed have a copy of The Wombles - Orinoco Springs into Action.
For those who choose not to remember... "the wombles live in a burrow under Wimbledon Common and spend their days building all kinds of ingenious inventions with hilarious and unexpected results!" Maybe hyping it up just a tad, but a good watch none the less.
The first thing I was surprised to learn was that the theme song is "The Wombles of Wimbledon Common are we" and not "The Wombles of Wimbledon, common are we". I did some searching in to Wimbledon Common and it is true that they are not so common, and perhaps were killed off at some point since the making of this video in the seventies.
There is no point re-inventing the wheel, so we wont worry about the practical application of any of The Wombles ideas, though as a side-note I accidentally left the tape in the VCR (remember them!) for 35 days and accrued an overdue fee of $11. No more late fees indeed. Still, it was worth every cent I say.
The good stuff.
With my Womble studies over, I checked out e-Bay for some solar powered goodness. There were quite a few panels for sale. The one I purchased cost me about $70 with postage. I went and did some cursory research had saw the same model in Jaycar for nearly $100, so I was feelin' pretty good. While waiting for it to arrive I picked up a crappy multimeter and a book called "Solar Electricity" which sounded pretty relevant really. It had some really good information (like, did you know that a 12 volt car battery is really 6 2 volt batteries next to each other? Of course you did... you probably own a car). Unfortunately Solar Electricity was really aimed at the caravan-towing traveller, rather than the apocolypse-surviving faux-hippie. I don't know if I recommend this one yet.
Hankering for a hands-on application, the big day finally came. A badly packaged solar panel arrived at my door. It looked like the parcel had been run over by a number of different things. Luckily when I opened it up the picture on the front was photoshopped to imply that a bunch of panels had been left unharmed after being brutally attacked by an SUV (Though it also showed a race of alien creatures that drink whiskey and listen to solar powered boom boxes)
After contemplating the meaning of the packaging aliens, I put the panel in the sun, and connected the aligator clips to the multimeter. The numbers sprung in to action... 1 volt... 2 volts... 5, 10, 18 volts... Electricity! From the sun! Wow. It was producing 4.5 watts of power too. Whatever that means. I gotta read that book again.
I got the power.
What to do with it? It turns out that I was lying about owning Computer Battlechess. And I think you need some sort of power regulator or something to use it on a laptop. So I thought "After Computer Battlechess, and a laptop, what would I want to power in a post-apocalyptic entertainment system?" and the answer was of course, a Light Emitting Diode. You don't believe its possible? Just check the images baby....
Well, that wraps up that. I'm pretty much self sufficient now. If society broke down tomorrow, I'd be your man. Though only if you needed to know how to build a time machine in Wimbledon Common, or power 1 to 3 LED's in medium-to-bright sunlight.