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omskivar
07-31-2016, 12:01 AM
I have a group of characters traveling across several US states to a specific address in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Since two of the characters have smart phones, they've been using the GPS to find their way. Eventually, though, the battery's going to run out, and the power isn't going to be up forever.

One of the plot points I've come up with is the characters getting lost once their phone batteries die, and having to find a map to get them to the right location. However, a friend told me they should be able to just charge their phones from abandoned cars. Is this plausible? And if so, how long would this be a viable way to charge a phone? Wouldn't the car have to be running? (Honesty time: I've never actually charged my phone in the car. I just charge it every night when I go to bed.) So far I've just been ignoring the phone issue, and my characters have been staying away from roads anyway.

I love my smart phone, but right now I'm feeling like a writer for a bad horror flick trying to figure out how to get the characters' phones out of the way.

jimmymc
07-31-2016, 12:59 AM
Assuming you are using an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or similar phone that operates with around 3.8 volts, yes you could charge the phone from a charged twelve volt car battery running or not. Running is better because the voltage output from the car would be around 14.5 volts and voltage flows downhill—from high to low.


You could also steal some solar cells from water level monitoring stations usual found near a bridge over a river.

Dennis E. Taylor
07-31-2016, 01:01 AM
Phone chargers for the car are common, although depending on the car, the cigarette lighter plug might not be hot without the car turned on. If you know what you're doing, you could just pop the hood and wire it to the battery. That'll do for a month or two, until batteries start to go flat.

Another option is to just own a solar charger. If you're driving long distances, you can be charging one phone while using the other. To let the batteries die, just have bad weather for several days in a row.

MaeZe
07-31-2016, 01:04 AM
My first thought was abandoned car batteries as well. You could pull a MacGyver and rig a device by rewiring the ends of jumper cables to a phone charger cable.

jennontheisland
07-31-2016, 01:05 AM
Hikers carry small backpack mounted solar panels to do this. There are all kinds of light, portable solar cells available today for fairly cheap.

You can also get what I call "charge carriers" pretty cheap. One was given to me by RadiosShack when I bought some stuff there. (small black box about 1"x1"x2" with USB ports in each end) You charge it at home from a USB, then carry it around and use it to charge your phone. Carries one full charge for most batteries.

Duncan J Macdonald
07-31-2016, 01:09 AM
Of course, I'm snarky enough to wonder if the ground stations that keep the GPS Satellites in their proper orbits with the correct time-hacks are still functioning ...

MaeZe
07-31-2016, 01:09 AM
Hikers carry small backpack mounted solar panels to do this. There are all kinds of light, portable solar cells available today for fairly cheap.

I also have a portable radio and flashlight which was invented years ago that you wind up a special spring that runs a generator as it slowly unwinds. One minute of crank time gives you about 30 minutes of power. It also has a solar cell and will run in the Sun without winding.

Different model but like this one:
https://www.amazon.com/Rothco-Solar-Wind-Radio-Black/dp/B003U0BCRW

Perks
07-31-2016, 01:11 AM
Of course, I'm snarky enough to wonder if the ground stations that keep the GPS Satellites in their proper orbits with the correct time-hacks are still functioning ...

I do wonder how long these things would last. I mean, I don't want to find out in real life or anything...

jennontheisland
07-31-2016, 01:12 AM
My first thought was abandoned car batteries as well. You could pull a MacGyver and rig a device by rewiring the ends of jumper cables to a phone charger cable.

Now, now. As long as we can charge our cell phones everything will be fine.

Susannah Shepherd
07-31-2016, 03:34 AM
Real-world example: after the earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2010-11 charging phones from an idling car became the standard means of keeping in touch (there were also community centres with diesel generators where you could go to do it). I never heard of anyone charging directly from the car battery, probably because it never got to the point where the city ran out of gas. I'm presuming that would take a bit more technical nous to avoid frying your phone?

A lot of effort was also put into making sure the backup generators at the cellphone towers stayed powered up. It's not just the phones (or satellites) that need a power supply; if the transmission towers or wi-fi hotspots run out of juice, it doesn't matter whether the phone is charged or not.

Perks
07-31-2016, 03:38 AM
Just as an aside, gas does degrade to the point of unsuitability. I do enjoy me some Walking Dead, but gasoline won't be any good somewhere between six months and eighteen months after sitting around, from what I've heard.

omskivar
07-31-2016, 03:44 AM
Thank you for your answers, everyone! This is very helpful indeed. I had no idea there were solar chargers for cell phones. I don't know that my characters would have one -- the one character who's an outdoorsy-type person is also in the military and isn't exactly carrying a lot of personal items -- but it's good to know that exists.


A lot of effort was also put into making sure the backup generators at the cellphone towers stayed powered up. It's not just the phones (or satellites) that need a power supply; if the transmission towers or wi-fi hotspots run out of juice, it doesn't matter whether the phone is charged or not.

From what I've read, it seems like the phone would still receive a GPS signal regardless of whether or not the cell towers were still running, since it's a one-way signal from the GPS satellite to the phone. My MC might not be able to call home anymore, but she could conceivably still figure out where she is.

omskivar
07-31-2016, 03:50 AM
Just as an aside, gas does degrade to the point of unsuitability. I do enjoy me some Walking Dead, but gasoline won't be any good somewhere between six months and eighteen months after sitting around, from what I've heard.

One of my favorite video games, The Last of Us, is pretty bad about this, too. It's set 20 years after the cordyceps fungus mutates and turns people into fungus zombies, but there are several points where you have to start up a generator, and one section of the game revolves around acquiring a car and driving it from just outside Boston to Philadelphia. I'm all for trying to be realistic, but sometimes in order to enjoy certain genres you just have to ignore the more technical inaccuracies and chalk them up to the Rule of Cool.

Susannah Shepherd
07-31-2016, 04:34 AM
Thank you for your answers, everyone! This is very helpful indeed. I had no idea there were solar chargers for cell phones. I don't know that my characters would have one -- the one character who's an outdoorsy-type person is also in the military and isn't exactly carrying a lot of personal items -- but it's good to know that exists.

Where is your character's home town? It's the sort of thing that people might keep in an earthquake/hurricane kit if they live somewhere prone to natural disasters. We have one of those crank-handle chargers at home - hmmm, must check if it would actually charge a modern smart-phone as opposed to an old-school brick!

Good point on the GPS.

Dennis E. Taylor
07-31-2016, 04:41 AM
I never heard of anyone charging directly from the car battery, probably because it never got to the point where the city ran out of gas. I'm presuming that would take a bit more technical nous to avoid frying your phone?


The little nub on the end of the thing that plugs into the cigarette lighter is the positive pole, and the two nubs on the outside are negative. Take a set of jumper cables, connect the positive to the center nub and the negative to the outside nubs, and you have a working car phone charger.

omskivar
07-31-2016, 04:50 AM
Where is your character's home town? It's the sort of thing that people might keep in an earthquake/hurricane kit if they live somewhere prone to natural disasters. We have one of those crank-handle chargers at home - hmmm, must check if it would actually charge a modern smart-phone as opposed to an old-school brick!

Good point on the GPS.

His hometown is in Alaska, but he only lived there until he was ten and was forced to move in with relatives in Chicago. My MC is from Vermont, but she's been going to school in Indiana, where the story starts.

AW Admin
07-31-2016, 05:10 AM
I'd use a solar charger; you can build your own pretty easily or you can do a trickle charge from a car battery that you charge with solar panels.

For long term rpeated use, I'd rather use a marine battery and standard solar chargers used for electric fences.

Also many smart phones have an actual compass, using a magnet, not GPS.

https://www.quora.com/How-does-a-compass-work-in-smart-phones-What-sensors-are-used-and-how-do-they-show-the-correct-directions

Introversion
07-31-2016, 06:06 AM
From what I've read, it seems like the phone would still receive a GPS signal regardless of whether or not the cell towers were still running, since it's a one-way signal from the GPS satellite to the phone. My MC might not be able to call home anymore, but she could conceivably still figure out where she is.

To get the GPS signal, yes. To turn a GPS coordinate into a point on displayed map, probably not. Seems likelier it'd be using its data plan to talk to Google's or Apple's map servers to do that?

tiddlywinks
07-31-2016, 06:24 AM
You mentioned one of your guys is an outdoorsy military type...so, perhaps a good old fashioned topo map and compass might come in handy at some point? And it seems like something a character like that would be likely to have and use.

And Perks is right on the money re: gas. I've seen closer to a year for the deterioration, not to mention actually finding gas after a certain point. Plus the whole contortions you'd have to go to to get the gas since no electricity means pumps don't just run automatically (sorry TWD, much as I love watching you).


Now, now. As long as we can charge our cell phones everything will be fine.

:roll:

ETA: there would be a point where I wouldn't necessarily trust the phone, anyway. But that's just me. ~ Winks, who would rather keep her machete sharp than worry about getting eaten while trying to charge her phone.

morngnstar
07-31-2016, 06:50 AM
Assuming you are using an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or similar phone that operates with around 3.8 volts, yes you could charge the phone from a charged twelve volt car battery running or not. Running is better because the voltage output from the car would be around 14.5 volts and voltage flows downhill—from high to low.

It really won't make much difference. The voltage out of the USB adapter is regulated anyway. Running means you won't drain the battery, but I'm pretty sure you could get a large number of charges out of a single car battery before it died.


Phone chargers for the car are common, although depending on the car, the cigarette lighter plug might not be hot without the car turned on.

That might be an issue.


My first thought was abandoned car batteries as well. You could pull a MacGyver and rig a device by rewiring the ends of jumper cables to a phone charger cable.

I wouldn't recommend it. Electronics not only require the right voltage, modern USB chargers actually "talk" to each other with electronic signals to tell each other they're compatible before they'll let charge flow. The result could be frying your phone or simply nothing happening, but not likely actually getting a charge.


You can also get what I call "charge carriers" pretty cheap. One was given to me by RadiosShack when I bought some stuff there. (small black box about 1"x1"x2" with USB ports in each end) You charge it at home from a USB, then carry it around and use it to charge your phone. Carries one full charge for most batteries.

Yeah, and maybe they even come pre-charged at the store, so just smash and grab a dozen of them.


Of course, I'm snarky enough to wonder if the ground stations that keep the GPS Satellites in their proper orbits with the correct time-hacks are still functioning ...

They don't keep them in their orbits, they just keep their clocks accurate. But the clocks won't become wildly inaccurate that soon. The location you get will start to lose accuracy, but still good enough for basic navigation.


The little nub on the end of the thing that plugs into the cigarette lighter is the positive pole, and the two nubs on the outside are negative. Take a set of jumper cables, connect the positive to the center nub and the negative to the outside nubs, and you have a working car phone charger.

That would work, as long as you are still keeping the USB adapter in the loop.

jennontheisland
07-31-2016, 09:23 AM
-- the one character who's an outdoorsy-type person is also in the military and isn't exactly carrying a lot of personal items -- but it's good to know that exists.

I would be very surprised if this character was unaware of, and didn't have solar cells. They're extremely common and pretty cheap. And even if no one is carrying a lot of "personal items" (I'd call a power source a necessity, rather than personal) it would only make sense for someone to have a power supply beyond gas, which is heavy, and gone once it's consumed.

Old Hack
07-31-2016, 11:37 AM
You mentioned one of your guys is an outdoorsy military type...so, perhaps a good old fashioned topo map and compass might come in handy at some point? And it seems like something a character like that would be likely to have and use.

And Perks is right on the money re: gas. I've seen closer to a year for the deterioration, not to mention actually finding gas after a certain point. Plus the whole contortions you'd have to go to to get the gas since no electricity means pumps don't just run automatically (sorry TWD, much as I love watching you).

Petrol goes off very quickly. Its viability depends on what you're trying to run with it: if we try to run our chainsaw on petrol which has been inside our fuel carrier for more than three or four weeks, we have problems. But we can put that fuel into our petrol-driven car without a worry. Perhaps because it's diluted so much by the rest of the fuel in the car's tank.

Diesel, on the other hand, remains viable for years. We have a large tank of it to run our backup generator and to fuel our tractor and digger, and it goes on and on.


From what I've read, it seems like the phone would still receive a GPS signal regardless of whether or not the cell towers were still running, since it's a one-way signal from the GPS satellite to the phone. My MC might not be able to call home anymore, but she could conceivably still figure out where she is.


To get the GPS signal, yes. To turn a GPS coordinate into a point on displayed map, probably not. Seems likelier it'd be using its data plan to talk to Google's or Apple's map servers to do that?

That would be my understanding, Introversion.

Paper maps are very useful things. We have a whole library of them here.

omskivar
07-31-2016, 06:52 PM
You mentioned one of your guys is an outdoorsy military type...so, perhaps a good old fashioned topo map and compass might come in handy at some point? And it seems like something a character like that would be likely to have and use.


Paper maps are very useful things. We have a whole library of them here.

I agree, and I want my characters to have to use paper maps. At this point I'm mostly trying to determine the best way to get rid of the phone, and I'd like to know what all the options are so I can rule out certain avenues. I'm thinking it would probably be better to just have the phone become lost, destroyed, or otherwise rendered unusable.


To get the GPS signal, yes. To turn a GPS coordinate into a point on displayed map, probably not. Seems likelier it'd be using its data plan to talk to Google's or Apple's map servers to do that?

So even if it can receive a signal, it might not be able to translate that into a usable map. Good to know.

jennontheisland
07-31-2016, 10:29 PM
Wait a sec. Data plan... Why are there still data plans? Are cell towers still transmitting signals? What's powering them? How far into this zombie apocalypse are we?

If you want to make the phones useless, get rid of data plans.

veinglory
07-31-2016, 10:52 PM
Most electronic stores will sell solar chargers. I have one.

The transmitters shutting down is more realistic solution. A lot of things all have to function for cell phone services to even be available. And sat phones are not in every radioshack.

Purplesnow
07-31-2016, 11:06 PM
Just jumping in here...

but can't you buy a manual thing, where it runs on kinetic energy? That you turn a handle and it creates power...

Though I much prefer the car idea :)

morngnstar
08-01-2016, 12:04 AM
The transmitters shutting down is more realistic solution. A lot of things all have to function for cell phone services to even be available. And sat phones are not in every radioshack.

On the other hand, resistance groups with some techies might be able to keep a few towers running, maybe create a patchy network, the kind of thing you'd be able to pick up on a clear night. Maybe even with a "data plan", although you wouldn't be able to connect to any site in the world 24/7. More like it could serve local information like a map of the local area. E-mail would be possible since it's on a store-and-forward system. It might take a week to hop across the patchy network.

But just to get your latitude and longitude you don't need a data network.

PeteMC
08-01-2016, 12:35 AM
Interesting question - the Internet at a core level is virtually indestructible but your phone carrier probably isn't, and even Google only have so many datacentres and so much fuel for the backup generators. I used to work at a Tier 4 datacentre that drew about 3MW (not a lot - there are a few that pull over 100MW) and we only had enough diesel on site to run it for a week without grid power.

GPS will work pretty well for years if I understand how the satellites work, but unless your characters know what to do with raw coordinates it won't be much help once their maps app stops responding.

If you don't want them to have useable phones that's fairly easy to explain - trying to rig a charger off a car battery and frying the phone would work for me. I think it's if you *do* want them to have working comms that it gets a lot harder to explain after maybe a month into the scenario.

Bolero
08-01-2016, 12:48 AM
Just an aside on petrol degrading - technically it doesn't degrade as in chemically change into something else. Petrol is a mix of different fractions of different volatility (getting into carbon chain length of alkanes here....:) ) but anyway, the most volatile bits evaporate first and they are needed in the mix for the engine. If you set fire to it, it would still burn....:)
Diesel is longer chain molecules to start with.

AW Admin
08-01-2016, 01:01 AM
GPS and other satellites have core security routines; they'll shut down if they don't have a human log in.

The 'net won't continue to run without live trained, security rated humans at core access points; again, there are security protocols—in part related to natural disasters like earthquakes.

You can use a smartphone with WiFi and local routers to create a subnet. This has some potential for intrusion warning and communication.

WiFi routers can be strung to extend coverage; so you won't have the Internet, but you can build your own local VPN. You can use it with things like entry systems, camera, beam controllers.

omskivar
08-01-2016, 01:05 AM
Wait a sec. Data plan... Why are there still data plans? Are cell towers still transmitting signals? What's powering them? How far into this zombie apocalypse are we?

If you want to make the phones useless, get rid of data plans.

At this point it's maybe a couple of weeks? I'm still waffling on how fast everything falls apart. No matter what I'll probably have to do some extensive re-writing and fact-fixing on the second draft.

PeteMC
08-01-2016, 01:07 AM
GPS and other satellites have core security routines; they'll shut down if they don't have a human log in.


That's interesting, I didn't know that. I rather thought the GPS network was just sort of "there" now that the satellite grid is up. Does it belong to a particular government / governing body, do you know?

Duncan J Macdonald
08-01-2016, 09:37 PM
That's interesting, I didn't know that. I rather thought the GPS network was just sort of "there" now that the satellite grid is up. Does it belong to a particular government / governing body, do you know?

The answer is yes, and there are several systems and owners. Here is a list from www.quora.com (https://www.quora.com/How-many-countries-have-their-own-GPS-system)

Global navigation satellite system (GNSS)
1) NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) -USA 32 medium earth orbit satellites operations since 1978
2) GLONASS - Russian since 1995
3) Galilio - European Union - 30 MEO satellites some are operations since 2014 , expected to be in full service till 2020
4) Beidou-2 - China , 30 MEO satellites , expanding current regional service into global by 2020

PeteMC
08-03-2016, 01:03 PM
Nice one, thanks!

King Neptune
08-03-2016, 05:56 PM
Satellites have limited lives. Even with everything else in place holes will start showing up in coverage of GPS within ten years. The satellites need to be positioned regularly.

WeaselFire
08-04-2016, 03:04 AM
Okay, here are some actual facts for the situation:

GPS in a cell phone relies on both the GPS satellite system and the cell tower locators. Since cell towers will go down, they're only powered by generators for so long and employees are not braving zombies to refuel them, cell phone GPS services will lose accuracy. The GPS functions in a cell phone, unlike the units in military and commercial aviation, are only capable of a receiving a very limited number of satellites. In addition, without the ability to "call home" to the cell company, functions stop working rather quickly. For some phones, they will even cease to work.

Since the OP needs the characters to lose GPS cell access, a viable solution is for them to try to use a battery source that is non-standard for car chargers, such as a motorcycle battery, and accidentally short the cell phone charger, rendering it incapable of charging. It's as simple as:

---

Dave hooked the cell phone charger to the salvaged battery from the tractor using the wires he pulled from the farm's phone lines. The connection sparked and a thin wisp of smoke rose from the charger.

"What the..." Dave exclaimed.

"Crap, did you just blow our phone charger?" asked Sarah.

"I'm not getting any lights on the phone," Dave replied.

"You jack..." said Steve, stopping as the bushes at the end of the field began to part and a shambling form dragged through, followed by others. "Move it!"

Dave dropped the useless phone and charger, pulled the 12 gauge out of the tractor bucket and backed away, watching the zombies continue to pour through the opening barely 50 yards away.

---

Jeff

neandermagnon
08-04-2016, 09:47 AM
If he's a military/outdoorsy type I think he'd probably resort to using maps and a compass before the phone batteries die out if he's in the countryside. If they're away from urban areas, the mobile phone reception will be crap to non-existent, even if the GPS satellites are still working. The whole idea of relying on GPS while hiking or whatever in the great outdoors seems very foolhardy.

In an urban area, GPS/sat-nav makes more sense but I get shitty satellite reception on my car's GPS on rainy days and no reception at all inside most multi-story car parks. Even without a zombie apocalypse, having a road map in a car just in case is a good idea.

There are plenty of ways to charge a mobile phone, e.g. car charger, solar charger, etc. but IMO it's more likely that they'd need to resort to maps due to failure to get good reception even if the batteries are fully charged.

Uncle Poop
08-04-2016, 05:49 PM
GPS satellites will stay in orbit for years, the issues are getting signal (those crazy towers you always see in town) and the inaccuracy of the satellites. GPS satellites need regular adjusting too keep them accurate, within a week they would be wildly inaccurate.

Why could they not just have made a route via a program like google maps and saved it in the phone? No need to worry about gps satellite orbit deterioration or the fact of trying to get the signal in the first place. That way all that is needed is to concentrate on keeping the phone charged. Which has been pointed out car batteries or solar power could do that. There are so many wearable products now including backpacks and shirts that can charge your phone throughout the day.

morngnstar
08-04-2016, 06:11 PM
GPS satellites will stay in orbit for years, the issues are getting signal (those crazy towers you always see in town) and the inaccuracy of the satellites. GPS satellites need regular adjusting too keep them accurate, within a week they would be wildly inaccurate.

Citation for this? The issue is clock drift. Given a speed of light of 300 million meters per second, to be off by a kilometer you have to be off by about 3 microseconds. This is order of magnitude, since the beam comes at an angle and there is redundancy so that one satellite that's way off will be ignored. Will the satellite's clock run 3 microseconds fast or slow in a week? I wouldn't know. My computer, without updating from network time, tends to drift a few minutes over a year, so it's certainly possible. It's also possible they put better clocks on the satellites. It's also possible they didn't, knowing they could rely on the base stations.


Why could they not just have made a route via a program like google maps and saved it in the phone? No need to worry about gps satellite orbit deterioration or the fact of trying to get the signal in the first place. That way all that is needed is to concentrate on keeping the phone charged. Which has been pointed out car batteries or solar power could do that. There are so many wearable products now including backpacks and shirts that can charge your phone throughout the day.

That might work. I know my map app caches maps and plotted routes so they're still usable when there's no data coverage. But what happens if you turn off the phone? And you'd be able to see the directions, but without GPS you wouldn't know where you are on that map. Fine if you stick to the roads, but maybe in a zombie apocalypse you'd want to avoid well-traveled routes.

Uncle Poop
08-04-2016, 07:15 PM
Citation for this? The issue is clock drift. Given a speed of light of 300 million meters per second, to be off by a kilometer you have to be off by about 3 microseconds. This is order of magnitude, since the beam comes at an angle and there is redundancy so that one satellite that's way off will be ignored. Will the satellite's clock run 3 microseconds fast or slow in a week? I wouldn't know. My computer, without updating from network time, tends to drift a few minutes over a year, so it's certainly possible. It's also possible they put better clocks on the satellites. It's also possible they didn't, knowing they could rely on the base stations.

You can check out sites like http://www.gps.gov/systems/gps/control/. Which this link shows the Control Segment that talks about the 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS) and the control stations set up around the world that control everything from the launch and set up of GPS satellites to the disposal of said satellites. The average life of a GPS satellite is 7 years (different types and newer ones are a bit longer) and currently a majority of GPS satellites are midway through their life spans. But new satellites have been launched in recent years.

http://www.space.com/29222-geosynchronous-orbit.html is a link to what geosynchronous orbit is (which no gps satellite is in) and how orbits are strictly maintained by a governing group. Satellites can interfere with each other's signals and those that are nearing the end of their lifespan are pulled out of their orbit before they run out of fuel. We have to remember that a planet's gravitational pull will pull things out of the planet's orbit. So objects like the International Space Station and satellites of all kinds need control boosters and fuel to stay in their orbits. They are actually supplying the ISS soon and pushing it's orbit to a higher altitude to make it more fuel efficient, they will cut fuel consumption in half my just moving the ISS a few miles higher.



That might work. I know my map app caches maps and plotted routes so they're still usable when there's no data coverage. But what happens if you turn off the phone? And you'd be able to see the directions, but without GPS you wouldn't know where you are on that map. Fine if you stick to the roads, but maybe in a zombie apocalypse you'd want to avoid well-traveled routes.

There are apps like CoPilot and a few others that allow you download maps and plot routes and save them to the phone to bring up as needed. These apps are meant to be used when you have no wifi or gps signal, you do have to download the maps and all but it is a way to have access to the map when needed.


I am going under the assumption that this is occurring years after the beginning of the apocalypse and not during. Which, unless by some miracle even a master control GPS Station was protected, there is only so much the facility could do to maintain the satellites and only could do it in the area of the sky it can "see". There are also ground GPS systems I am seeing on some sites I am searching and they are are less reliable the further you move away from their stations. Again that is assuming they maintain power after the apocalypse.

I love space and although I know nothing about all the science I did remember some things about orbits and satellites. I needed to check the above sites to make sure what I remembered was right.

Magnanimoe
08-11-2016, 08:15 PM
My wife and I use a biolite stove (https://www.amazon.com/BioLite-BL-CSA-Wood-Burning-Campstove/dp/B00BQHET9O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470931952&sr=8-1&keywords=biolite+stove) when we go camping. It fits in a backpack and you only need some twigs and a fire starter.

dirtsider
08-11-2016, 08:49 PM
The Red Cross sells a portable radio and flashlight with combo solar/crank charger. And this is only one version.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/home-gift-eton-nfrx3wxr-multi-powered-am-fm-noaa-weather-radio-with-led-flashlight-red/26244590?ean=0750254806124&st=PLA&sid=BNB_DRS_Core+Shopping+Media_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP830&k_clickid=3x830

While it can be bought through a lot of different websites, I'm sure a lot of electronic and/or camping/hiking stores have something similar. I know I picked up a solar panel charger last year due to power outages due to ice storms.

On one hand, it could be a situation where it's been too cloudy to use the solar charger but they either forgot to use the crank generator or didn't crank long enough to fully charge the phone. Then, when they realize that, using the crank generator would make too much noise for them to use it as the noise would attract the wrong kind of attention.

This is also cover having a portable radio and flashlight.

morngnstar
08-11-2016, 09:30 PM
You can check out sites like http://www.gps.gov/systems/gps/control/. Which this link shows the Control Segment that talks about the 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS) and the control stations set up around the world that control everything from the launch and set up of GPS satellites to the disposal of said satellites.

I'm not really worried about satellites drifting out of their orbits. I think they will maintain approximately the correct orbit for some time.


I am going under the assumption that this is occurring years after the beginning of the apocalypse and not during.

I assumed it was days or weeks.

stephenf
08-11-2016, 11:42 PM
Returning to to original question . You can't just shove a wire in a phone and connect it to a car battery . It is posable to make a battery , but the connection problem would be the same . I would just break into a phone shop a use a new one.

James D. Macdonald
08-12-2016, 04:34 AM
Even with the GPS and cell phone system as it exists today fully functional, people who go into the woods thinking that their smartphone/GPS is all they need can die in the woods.

About three weeks ago we had a couple of guys who tried: tourists, wanted to go fishing, planned to be on the road home by noon. At six p.m. they came staggering out of the woods, one of them on the ragged edge between heat exhaustion and heat stroke (air temperature was 92F). Both dehydrated. One severely hypoglycemic. Food and water weren't part of their plan, since they'd only intended to be out for a couple of hours. The GPS hadn't helped them. I'm guessing that a night in the woods without shelter, air temperature dipping to 45, would have killed them both, and they'd be starring in the next Missing 411 book by this time next year.

Cell coverage doesn't exist in large parts of the US (primarily rural areas), and the GPS maps aren't entirely accurate. That's right now here today, even without zombies. With zombies, and random cell towers going down due to lack of power/fuel, worse.

Have your guys use map-and-compass (the military guy can teach them), and use little "hunter radios" for comms. (e.g. http://www.outdoorsmantime.com/best-two-way-radios-hunting/)

As for getting rid of the smartphones, why not have bad guys rob them? That also happens today.