Flint & Steel + Horseshoe Amadou = Fire

Today I’m presenting to you a method of fire lighting, using flint, steel and some horseshoe amadou.

Not so far from where I live there’s a marl cave. There is an abundance of flint in those caves.
Marl cave

The firesteel or steel striker is made by Launditch who I met on BushcraftUK.com.

The horseshoe amadou I collected and prepared myself. I’ll explain in detail how I did this in a future post, but in basically you collect the horseshoe fungus, cut out the amadou, cut it into slices, boil it in water with ashes, flatten it with a baton and let it dry.

Broken Fenix LD20

Right after a battery replacement my trusty Fenix LD20 didn’t function anymore. Even after checking the head and tailcap, the LD20 refused to light. A very bad feeling was coming over me…

Maybe the batteries were dead, although the charger told my other ways. Same result with other batteries and since there isn’t much that looks that might go wrong, my only help would be the internet.

Immediately after entering my keywords I stumbled on a site called Light-Reviews.com. There it was mentioned to tighten the retaining ring that sits inside the tail cap.

Fixing tailcap

A twist of the wrist later, using my Leatherman Charge TTi, my Fenix LD20 was working again. Please note to tighten the retaining ring counterclockwise.

Artificial Fatwood

A time ago I was looking for fatwood, but i couldn’t find any. The only thing that I could find was really dry and porous wood. When I came home I decided to make my own fatwood. Fatwood is just wood and fat (resin 🙂 ) so it shouldn’t be so difficult to make it myself.

I took a small saucepan and filled it with paraffin which I saved from all the candles my wife burned the last two years. Once melted I dropped the pieces of wood in the paraffin.


The bubbles you see on the picture is not the paraffin that’s boiling, but the air that’s coming out the dried wood and being replaced by paraffin.

Once all the bubbles were gone I let the pieces of wood cool down, so the paraffin could harden out. A few hours later I tried the first piece of self made fatwood.

The first two times I tried to light the fatwood (and all other attempts after this video) were successful as of the first or second strike. Only in this video (which is uncut) it took me 21 strokes to get the fatwood burning. It just needs that one little hot sparkle…

Installing Ubuntu 9.10 On An External USB Hard Drive

Last week, I bought myself a new external Iomega Select Portable Hard Drive. I do not have a laptop of my own, but my employer allows me to use the one from my work at home. That’s ok as long as you want to use it for what it’s intended: to work. If you want to surf the net, or want to use it to download pictures from you camera, you’ll face some limitations. You can’t use or install a browser of application of your own choice.

That’s why I got the idea to install Ubuntu 9.10 on an external USB hard drive. It will be my own operating system and I can configure it how I want. I can even install my own applications. Actually you’re not installing them on the laptop, but on the external hard drive. You are only using the laptop’s hardware.

But as I do own a PC, running Windows XP, I didn’t want to use the entire hard drive for Ubuntu. I also wanted to have some free space to make backups. That free space needs to be NTFS formatted, and to get this done, I took me some time.

Good as I’m, I’ll tell you how I did it in a few steps, beginning with downloading the iso file of Ubuntu 9.10 from this location.

When this is done and before burning the iso on a CD, you must do a MD5 checksum to be sure the iso didn’t get corrupted while downloading. I used WinMD5sum from nullriver.com to compare the UbuntuHashes with the one of the iso.


If the checksum is ok, you can burn the iso on a CD. For that I’m using ImgBurn.

When your CD is ready, remove al internal hard drives from you laptop, plug in your external hard drive and boot your laptop from the CD. Be aware your BIOS is properly configured to boot from CD.

As of then I followed the step-by-step instructions found on softpedia.

Like described in the step-by-step instructions I created 3 partitions. A swap partition of 2 GB a ext4 partition of 30 GB with mount point / and a ext4 partition with the rest of the available space with mount point /home.

Be sure to install the boot loader on your external hard drive. This is also the reason why I removed the internal drive from the laptop: less chance to screw it up!

After a while Ubuntu will be installed to your external hard drive. If everything went well, you can boot your laptop now from this external hard drive. But if you’ll plug in this drive into a Windows machine, it won’t recognize any free space as it’s not formatted in NTFS.

To do this I rebooted the laptop with the CD without having the external drive connected. Then I did choose to test Ubuntu without installing it, I plugged in the external drive and opened GParted. I unmounted the last and biggest partition, and reside it to about 30 GB. The newly free space was formatted NTFS.

Now I’m having a bootable external USB hard drive running Ubuntu, which can still be used to backup files created on my Windows XP desktop.


DIY: Ammo Box Lock

I just finished another very small DIY project, which I want to share with you. I made an adjustment to an ordinary ammo box so you can lock it.

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Things you need: an ammo box, a u-bolt, some screws-nuts, whashers and a lock. Furthermore you’ll need a drill an a file.

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First we mark the spots where we want to drill the holes. We’ll use a puncher to make little dimples to give the drill a starting point and some better grip. We’ll keep the lid of the ammo box closed, and we’ll drill through the lock and the ammo box in once. So we’re sure the holes are perfectly alligned.

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How I do it, I don’t know. But I always manage to srew things up when I’m trying to make / break something when I’m using a drill. One attention point for me (and also for you) the center of the hole you’re going to drill needs to be a little further away than 1/2 diameter of your drill from another hole. If this is not the case you’ll end up with a hole that looks like the right hole and you riks your drill will get stuck and hurt yourself. So the left hole is ok, the right hole could be better.

Now we screw two screw-nuts on the u-bolt and add two washers. We stick the u-bolt in the two drilled holes, put two washers and screw-nuts on the other end of the u-bolt and tighten them.

Close the lid and the u-bolt appears. You can use a file if things are not closing smoothly.

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Tadaa: an ammo box with a lock.

Photographing Water Droplets

It all started after browsing through Strobist.com, and viewing David Hobby’s Strobist DVD’s. I wanted to try to photograph some bouncing water droplets.

Like with most things, the preparation and the cleaning up afterwards take more time than the actual shooting. I used a big black oven plate as a water basin. A big piece of cardboard had to serve as background. I preferred to have a white background, but I didn’t have any, but if you set your strobe’s power high enough, everything will become white.

I tight up a little zip-lock bag on the ceiling’s light and punched a hole in it. The hole however seemed to be to big. I got to many droplets at the same time. Also the bag was turning around, which made it hard to keep the focus right.

I placed my Canon 430EX II camera left on a piece of foam, pointed towards the background and triggered with a cheapo eBay wireless flash trigger.

Of all 360 pictures I managed to make in less then 10 minutes, the following were the nicest.
Water Droplet

Water Droplet

The setup:

Two days later I found out a way to make a nice and easy Droplet generator, using only a Schell tap and an empty milk container.

Duppel Generator

With this own made droplet generator it’s a lot easier to make all the droplets fall on the exact same spot, and thus enable you to always focus right.

Check out the result:

Water Droplet 2

Making Fire With A Bottle Of Wine

Let me show you how to make fire with a bottle of wine.

Just like if you were using a magnifying glass it’s all about bundling as much as sun rays as possible and make them come together on one small spot. I used a small bottle of South African Chenin Blank from a local discount warehouse. I think it speaks for itself if I tell you that it will not work with red wine, as it will block to much the sun rays.

Probably I’d better drink the wine and filled the bottle with clear water, but that was not necessary for this small experiment.

Making Fire With A Bottle Of Wine

Making Fire With A Bottle Of Wine

Making Fire With A Bottle Of Wine

What you see is a smoldering piece of dried leaf. I have to admit I didn’t get any flames on my quickly gathered pile of tinder, but that would have only be a matter of time. I saw once a episode of href=”http://lesstroud.ca/”>’Survivarman’ Les Stroud in which it took him almost 4 hours to get a fire going using a lens from a broken video camera.

Cotton Balls And Petroleum Jelly

Cotton balls catch easy fire. Cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly keep easily fire. Below you can see a comparison video of two similar sized cotton balls. One of them is soaked in petroleum jelly. The regular one burns only for about 1 minute (even a little less) and the one with petroleum jelly burns almost 5 minutes.

Having some cotton balls in your fire starting kit is great, having a petroleum jelly cotton ball in it is even better!

Starting Af Fire With Birch Bark

Starting a fire with some birch bark is a piece of cake. Even when the birchbark is still wet, it will light as if it was a dry piece of paper soaked in gasoline.

When you are on a hike, and you plan to make a fire later the day, it’s a good idea to collect already some tinder when you find it. Collecting upfront birch bark when you are in a birch tree forest might look stupid, but can you imagine your frustration when you want to lit your fire and you are in the middle of a pine tree woodland, or desert and the last birch tree was 20 km ago.

Always be prepared!

Android On A HTC Diamond or Raphael

If you have a HTC Diamond or a Raphael and you want to experience how Android feels like, you should check out the Android ports of Connect-UTB. The installation is very easy and doesn’t need any tweaking nor configuration. Just download the package, copy it to your HTC, do a reboot and click on the executable.

What you get to see is what Android looks like. Unfortunately it’s far from functional and besides opening some simple applications or moving widgets you can’t do much with it. You can’t even make a phone call. Although making an outbound call is possible, you can’t hear eachother.

It lacks a decent soft-keyboard which is pretty needfull since the Diamond has no onboard keyboard. It’s fun to play with, but that basically it. Don’t use this port to judge Android, because “the real deal” rocks big time! Just see it as a teaser.

Android on HTC

Android on HTC