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A Faraday cage works by three mechanisms: (1) the conductive layer reflects incoming fields, (2) the conductor absorbs incoming energy, and (3) the cage acts to create opposing fields. Field cancelation occurs when the free carriers in the conductive material rapidly realign to oppose the incident electric field. Yes, as long as the holes are small with respect to the wavelength of the incident electromagnetic wave.
Yes, there are many conductive enclosures that can be used, including ammo cans, metal garbage cans, anti-static bags, and even old microwave ovens. Anti-static bags are readily available to protect electronic components against electrostatic discharge.
Does anyone know if you can use packing peanuts to insulate and keep the contents of the cage from contact with the exterior walls? Question about gaps: If I use an ammo can with a rubber gasket to make the ammo can (and radio equipment) waterproof, having to repeatedly re-seal the can with conductive tape seems like a real pain. I read on another blog that an old microwave oven (old plugged of course) could be used for small items. I have several 30 gallon metal trashcans setup in a similar manner, except I don’t use any coffin locks, or anything else on the lid since its already tight fitting.
An EMP is not a continuous event, it is a burst of energy that is released, the damage is done, and then it’s gone, unless it is caused by a solar storm which could last for several hours or even days. As stated in the article, a solar storm is not likely to produce effects that will hurt small electronic items, unless they are connected to an external long wiring system, which could include the electrical grid, your landline telephone, your local cable TV provider, all of which contain long enough antennas to induce large voltages onto the system, and into connected devices. The Carrington Event of 1859 cause problems with telegraph offices because the telegraph wires between the offices acted as a large antenna system, which collected the energy and delivered it to the devices connected to it. If vulnerable equipment is not in the protected enclosure during the event, then it could be subject to damage. The truth is that no one knows for sure what will work without knowing the exact characteristics of electromagnetic pulse and that is impossible to know in advance. I know that lightning isn’t RF or an EMP but it is a huge energy source and I predict EMP will be just as unpredictable. As a EE I think that this article was spot on; although perhaps a little more complex in the description of the physics than it would have to be . I dont think you all got my point, You have explained what an EMP does and how long it lasts, but you, me and everyone here does NOT know when one will happen. What you keep in your Faraday cage always are the spare electronic parts for your car or truck, your spare ham radio, your extra laptop computer, etc. If you have a set of 2 way radios that work ok in your area, and you are happy with them, then buy a second set and put them in the cage. I keep hand held wallis talkies for communication on the farm and with my neighbors Ina faraday box. But go ahead and use the garbage cans, the ammo cans, the aluminum foil packets, the coffee cans, etc.
It’s good that you do such important work with things for a living because if you had to interact with people you would be out of a job.
As somebody else in the radio field, I am going to have chime in to state that your information is not correct, either here or your improved explanation below. Some articles I’ve read refer to super EMP devices, nuclear devices designed for maximum magnetic yield. If it does happen, I figure it at least gives me a fighting chance, and if I do have a break-in, chances are that the burglars will overlook that antique.
You’re absolutely right about the multiple layer effects working better than a thick conductor. I have a lead lined ammo box , that was originally used to transport radioactive pharmaceuticals in for small stuff .
Instead of thinking of a faraday cage like you would an umbrella in a rainstorm, think of it instead like a sponge you are standing under. That is perhaps the best analogy I can come up with for how a faraday cage is supposed to work. I’ve had to harden communications sites, some of the most vulnerable equipment to emp, to survive direct lightning strikes.
A Faraday cage can be made out of any metal container such as tin canisters, filing cabinets, metal desks, garbage cans, or ammo cans.
Start with a metal container and something to insulate the items inside from coming into contact with the metal: newspaper, magazines, cardboard, or styrofoam, which is my preference. Some people say that if you wrap an item in a plastic baggie as your insulating layer, then wrap the baggie in tinfoil, that's all you need to do.
Another reason for the extra layers of protection is that I'm going to be grounding this Faraday cage by attaching it to plumbing pipes. Next I've sealed up all the cracks and crevices in the metal box using aluminum tape, which is on the same shelf as the duct tape at your local hardware store. Here I've clearly labeled what's inside the sealed box, to make it easier to locate stuff on the day after Doomsday. A closer view of the twisty wiring wrapping numerous times around the handle of the box and the copper pipes. Perhaps you have a car with remote keyless entry, and want to prevent it from getting broken into by teens with a power amplifier.

If you'd rather not spend the money and think you can cook up a solution in your own kitchen using appliances, it's not that easy. There are still some things you might have on hand, though, that can be converted into a Faraday cage at little cost. Steal This Idea The tinfoil hat joke comes from somewhere, and that somewhere is the Faraday cage. File It Away A metal file cabinet requires just a few tweaks to be turned into a Faraday cage. A better precaution against solar events is to unplug electronics and use quality surge suppressors. If the cage is made from something non-conductive, the free carriers are not mobile enough to realign and cancel the incident field. The conductivity of nearly any metal is good enough to allow the carriers to easily realign to cancel external fields.
Each has its own level of effectiveness as covered in my book, Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms.
They can be purchased in many different sizes, including some large enough to hold radio equipment. Engineers who work in electromagnetics often use “shield rooms” to conduct experiments because they do an excellent job of filtering out interfering signals, providing in excess of 100 dB of shielding. There can be no conductive penetrations into the room, or it will seriously degrade the shielding.
A steel trash can with a very tight fitting lid does a pretty good job of acting as a Faraday cage. I tested ammo cans for my book, and they didn’t do great because of the less than perfect seam going around them.
Yes, your cell phone may get fried — but, as you said, the rest of the network may get fried, too. A ground provides a safe place to direct excess current from lightning strikes, power line surges or static discharge to protect your more delicate electronics.
A high altitude nuke EMP will generate upwards of 25,000 volts per meter within a close distance and 5000 volts per meter out to around 1500 miles from zero. Some where around 200,000 volts per meter of wire at zero and 100,000 volts at the horizon. I don’t expect to have a serious auto accident, but that doesn’t mean I don’t buy coverage for it.
I didn’t have time to talk about that in this article, but it is discussed in a youtube video that I did. It's true that when you treat a radio or cell phone this way, the signal is lost, which indicates that electronic waves are not able to get through the barrier.
Not only does this prevent stray ions from penetrating the box, but it also prevents water from burst pipes from getting into the box. The easiest way to do that is to attach it to copper plumbing pipes, which go into the ground, thereby bleeding the electrical charges away from the box.
I have several places in my home where the copper plumbing is accessible and I try to spread my various Faraday cages out so that if one gets crushed or drowned in a quake, I still have the others to fall back on.
A Faraday cage is an enclosure that shields against the entry or escape of electromagnetic fields.
These directions on Instructables require just a few common pieces of hardware, some cables, and the cabinet itself. As long as the conducting layer is greater than the skin depth, it will provide excellent shielding because the absorption loss will be large.
For example, if silver (the best conductor) is used in place of aluminum, the skin depth at 200 MHz is reduced to about 4.5 microns. A poor-man’s shield room can be made by lining a small closet with heavy-duty aluminum foil, covering all four walls, the floor, the ceiling, and the inside of the door. I tested this as part of my book, and found that it varies greatly depending on the fit of the lid. It would be fine sitting inside a Faraday cage as long as you’re not scrubbing your bare electronics against it. An EMP is a high frequency radiated event (not conducted like a bolt of lightning), so the goal is to simply shield the sensitive electronics from the high electromagnetic fields. EMP is a high energy radio wave, but radio waves are not current flow, otherwise they couldn’t go through air which is an insulator. I only have a couple walkie-talkies, a transistor radio and a couple flashlights in it, with no batteries in them. Check out disasterprepper videos (or my name) and you’ll find one on Faraday Cage testing. I prefer a more substantial Faraday cage than a single layer of ungrounded tin foil, but I tend to be a *little bit* OCD about my preps, so I'm going to hedge my bets and use BOTH tinfoil AND a metal box, so I'll be doubly protected.
If you do not have copper pipes conveniently exposed, you can tie your wire to a stake driven into the ground or a metal fence post or some such.
No TV, Cellphones, Radio, Stop lights, Street lights, automobiles – anything that has electronic components would be worthless.
It's named after 19th century scientist Michael Faraday, but there are many modern reasons for using one.

Or you're a doomsday prepper just waiting for a gigantic, Earth-enveloping electromagnetic pulse to rise up in the sky and wipe out all electronic communication.
Shoplifters use this to their advantage by coating the inside of bags to prevent detection. Arthur Bradley, author of Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms, answers a few basic questions and perhaps debunks a few myths. The enclosure itself can be conductive, or it can be made of a non-conductive material (such as cardboard or wood) and then wrapped in a conductive material (such as aluminum foil). The bottom line is that an ungrounded cage protects the contents from harmful electromagnetic fields as well as a grounded one. It resides in my basement and the electronic items in it don’t seem to care if it looks dated. I am not sure of your experience, but I say this as a NARTE certified EMC engineer who has worked in electromagnetics for 20 years. I don't want my EMP preps to get ruined by flooding, so the extra layers are worth the extra effort.
Even if you cannot ground your Faraday cage, it should still offer you more protection than no Faraday cage at all.
It really does seem surprisingly easy to create one out of a few relatively inexpensive materials easily acquired from your local hardware store. As an example, consider that for a frequency of 200 MHz, the skin depth of aluminum is only about 21 microns. The results from testing three different types of bags are provided in Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms. Here I've made sure everything is thoroughly labeled so that if I'm frantically searching for my walkie-talkies, I don't have to rip open package after package in order to find them.
A police precinct in Greenfield, Massachusetts tried to prevent the remote wiping of phones it confiscated by placing them in microwave ovens.
When selecting an ESD bag, consider not only the shielding effectiveness but also the physical ruggedness of the bag.
Also, lay a piece of plywood or cardboard on the floor so that it can be walked on without damaging the aluminum foil.
The author directs you to his book to find the effective shielding of the various recommended containers, but this is at pretty much the lower end of shielding effectiveness. I want to think I can get around when TSHTF happens without the dependence of a cellular device,Who are you going to call?
You can make your very own Faraday Cage to store back-up electronics to be used if or when an EMP strikes, for just about $15 using supplies from your neighborhood hardware store.
Therefore, wrapping a box in a couple of layers of heavy duty aluminum foil (typically about 24 microns thick) provides the necessary conductor thickness to protect against high-frequency radiated fields. Rooms built in this way have been shown to offer more than 50 dB of shielding up to several hundred MHz. So unless you are preparing for an EMP (or an engineer), you may not have heard of one before. A faraday cage is the only thing protecting you from being blasted back in time 200 years.What Is A Faraday Cage?I’m no engineer and so even if I tried to explain the research I discovered about electrons and canceled out particles I’m sure I would butcher it to the point of offense. I can however give you a short description:Firstly, a faraday cage is called such because it was invented by Michael Faraday.
This particular disaster I haven’t done too much research on and couldn’t tell you the legitimacy behind it. I however have done a significant amount of research to validate the possibility of an EMP terror attack.Once again, I will save you the rambling and give you the Sparknotes – EMP stands for Electromagnetic Pulse.
An EMP is a burst (or pulse) of electromagnetic radiation so strong that it will fry pretty much any kind of electronic device (It doesn’t matter if it’s on at the time or not – Tom Cruise was lying to you about that in War of the Worlds).One way an EMP can occur is by detonating a nuclear bomb in the atmosphere. This is particularly terrifying because now it is understood that a nuclear bomb doesn’t need to reach the ground in order to do catastrophic damage.
This means any terrorist organization no longer needs to concern themselves with smuggling in a bomb on the ground. It just needs to get airborne and you’ve got millions of people without power.Now our military has all of their equipment safe from an attack like this but the average citizen does not. Yikes!Enter the faraday cageBy building a faraday cage you can protect your electronics by storing them inside.
It’s not necessary to spend the amount of money many of those places will ask for a simple metal cage with some insulation.Here’s How to Build Your Own with About $15SuppliesThis is probably my most simple DIY project to date. Whatever you put inside of this cannot be touching the metal can – only the cardboard insulation. If you happen to find a design that calls for the use of wire mesh instead of solid metal, be sure to get some with the smallest holes you can find. Remember, you want the openings smaller than the electronic waves that will damage your stuff.Other than that you’re good to go. This really is one of the cheapest and simplest DIY projects you can do and it will be so worth having when everyone else’s electronics are trashed and you’re still up and running.What do you think?

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