Understanding Crypto Currencies – Part 4 Blockchain basics and what is a Bitcoin?

It’s been a while since Part 3, I wanted to be very sure of this section so took some time to personally invest further into different crypto’s to make sure I understood the basics, there is still a lot to learn but let’s start with blockchain, this was first described by its mysterious author Satoshi Nakamoto in his white paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, published in 2008.

Due to the amount that needs to be covered and broken down we’ll keep these blogs short.

blockchain-ledger-1000x480When we discuss blockchain, we introduce several key words which need to be explained, Hash and Nodes.

The concept of the blockchain is to ensure that everyone ‘sings off the same hymn sheet’, the only way for this to happen is if everyone agrees and keeps a copy of the same record of transactions (or ledger).

Lets jump back to our island for a moment. If I give a chicken to Fred passing ownership to him, this is witnessed by John and John tells everyone else that the the chicken has now transferred from me to Fred, now everybody has the same information. Fred can do what he wants with his chicken, but I no longer have the chicken so cannot give it to anyone else or reclaim it back.

In this scenario the information that John tells everyone to describe the chicken transaction would be referred to as the Hash, this would contain specific information about the chicken, me and Fred, everyone has the same hash data so there is no confusion. Everyone in this scenario would be described as Nodes, however it would take quite a long time for everyone to get the information and if we had a rule to say that the transaction could not be agreed until all nodes had verified then we would be waiting a very long time.

Not everyone really needs the full details , so we would have several key trusted people who hold the full information and are able to verify with each other that the data is correct, these would be described as full nodes. We could then say that once 6 ‘Full Nodes’ are in agreement then the transaction can be approved.

That’s a very basic description and not strictly accurate, in reality Hash in Crypto are far more complex, designed so that no two hashes of information can ever be the same, with added cryptographic security.



Bitcoin was the first and remains the most well known crypto currency, it works on a peer to peer concept, so just like me, Fred and the chicken, we didn’t have to go through a third party or centralised system to make our exchange, so it is described as decentralised.

Like most crypto currencies, there is a controlled supply of Bitcoin and will only ever be 21 million coins in existence so they can’t be debased, in addition they are described as portable, durable, divisible, recognisable, fungible, scarce and difficult to counterfeit.

Just like hard cash, Bitcoins are kept in wallets, these are electronic wallets or safes that you hold the private key to, loose the key and you loose access to the wallet and its contents, these are then lost forever, therefore very secure and in your direct control.

Next time we will look into setting up a wallet and buying crypto.





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Understanding Crypto Currencies – Part 3 So how did we get to where we are in our society today?

In Part two we looked at how an isolated community may establish a currency, in this blog we look historically at money.

Many countries in olden times had chosen gold or silver as coinage, the reasoning being that the rare metals held their own value in weight. One down side of this was that people chipped away sections of the coins as part payment and even some governments would do the same as a way of collecting taxes.

As time went on many started to replace their gold / silver coins with cheaper metals (known as debasement). One of the concerns was that the coins no longer held the actual physical value in precious metals, so how could they be trusted in trade with other countries?

It was the International Merchants that noticed that one person’s debt held value and could be traded or transferred as paper money, an IOU or promise to pay. Merchant families became clearing houses, the trusted middle man, so rather than gold coins being physically moved between traders and countries, the paper IOU’s could be moved easily instead. Overtime this made these families very wealthy and very powerful, hobnobbing with royalty and governments.

The goldsmiths saw this happening and wanted in on the action. The goldsmiths who held the gold coins on behalf of the people, realised that they could loan out the coins to those who wanted them, so long as the coin owners had a note to state that their coins were safe and secured with the goldsmiths, they were free to issue notes of loan to others based upon this held value. Early forms of Banks were also getting on board and competing with the Merchant notes.

The rulers of the countries started to lose grip steadily as this function passed to the banks, so much so that Wars were being funded by the banks and merchants in the form of government bonds creating sovereign / country debt.

1694, The Bank of England was born, like many banks of the time the issued notes were backed up by the Gold held in the countries coffers. After the world wars and the Wall street crash, the US issued an order to buy up the people’s gold at a low set cost and started to buy up other countries gold distributing $’s worldwide. The $ becoming the world stable currency with other countries pegging their currencies against the $ as it was now backed by ½ of the worlds gold reserve!

In the 1960’s countries started to debase their currencies, foreign nations had had enough of the US printing excessive $ discovering that they held more dollars than the US had in gold, so they started to demand their $ value in Gold.





In a move to halt this Nixon severed the US currency from the gold standard, backing the $ now against Trust!


The inflationary model of currency devalues money every year, year on year, the US $ has devalued 96% of its original value!


Money held in the bank becomes the banks property to what they want, e.g. you deposit $100 into the bank, they can then lend out $97 to someone else based upon their promise to pay it back, the money stays in digital form in the bank.factional reserve $94.09 of this can be loaned out, and again, and again, so the $100 turns into $3333? Money is magically generated based upon debt and trust to repay, known as fractional reserve banking.

If everyone wanted their money out there is only 3% of their money physically held in the bank, as such there wouldn’t be enough cash available. Scary hey!

In Part 4 we will finally start to look at Crypto currencies.

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Understanding Crypto Currencies – Part 2 So is that Money?

Part 1 doesn’t still doesn’t really explain money though?

So, let’s look at this another way, hypothetically if we took a small group of people, 1000 or so, and dumped them on an island (always my go to when trying to understand something!), where they each had their own area of land to settle, some were livestock farmers, some food growers, tradesmen & equipment manufacturers, etc. but there was no existing currency or monetary system in place.

They would need to develop a trade system, so that the tradesmen could eat and the farmers / people could have equipment made and maintained. This could be done simply by bartering goods for an agreed value, two chickens might be equivalent to a bag of potatoes, that may be equal to a small Knife, etc. So, money in this case is an “agreed value of exchange”, the value of the money is “backed by the worth of the item being traded”.

This works fine to point, however not in every case would both parties need the item that was on offer for trade, then it gets a little more complicated, the farmer might not need a bag of potatoes but he does need a knife, the blacksmith needs some potatoes so the farmer takes them from the Grower in exchange for chickens so he can trade for a knife with the blacksmith! Phew!

So, the group may decide to introduce a form of currency that can be traded on the island, this needs to again be backed with the value of the islands goods and services as agreed according to them. The considerations for the physical form of exchange (Money) needs to consider, durability – it’s no good if the money gets destroyed easily as once it’s gone – it’s gone! Also, it’s no good if the money can be easily copied otherwise people would just make their own, however there is a certain amount of trust assumed in a small group.

This is nothing new, past civilisations have used salt, yak dung, leather, shells, minted coins, and even prisons develop their own system of coinage like cigarettes.

For arguments sake let’s assume that the islanders have their blacksmith knock up some basic coinage, 5 sizes of coin and they have commissioned, 1000 – Size 5, 800 –  Size 4, 2000 –  size 3, 4000 – size 2, and 4000 – size 1.

The islanders may decide that the value for the coins is to be based upon the value of the potato? Perhaps, if 1 bag of potatoes is equal to 2 chickens or one small knife, and one bag contains 200 potatoes, and it takes 1 minute to dig 6 potatoes, therefore 360 potatoes could be dug in one hour. So, 360 potatoes = 1 hour’s work, and basing their smallest denomination upon 1 minute of work and deciding that 1 minutes work = 1 small coin. They may also decide that;

  • 5 – size 1 coins = 1 – Size 2 coin
  • 2 – size 2 coins = 1 – size 3 coin
  • 10 size 3 coins = 1 – size 4 coin
  • 10 size 4 coins = 1 – size 5 coin

So in total we have

  • Size 1 – 4000 = 4000 coins
  • Size 2 – 4000 = 20,000 coins
  • Size 3 – 2000 = 20,000 coins
  • Size 4 – 800 = 80,000 coins
  • Size 5 – 1000 = 1,000,000 coins

Total value of coins = 1,124,000 – for short I’ll call these #’s – therefore #1,124,000 worth for the island which equates to 5620 bags of potatoes, 18,733 hours of work, 11,240 Chickens, etc.

This probably has many flaws but it’s a start and we’ll revisit this later.

In part 3 we will analyse our societies and how our money has progressed to modern day.


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Understanding Crypto Currencies – Part 1 A beginner’s challenge

cryptoLike most people I had heard about Bitcoin, Crypto Currencies and Block chain over the past few years, unlike most though I decided to take the plunge and jump in feet first with little knowledge and invested £100 into Bitcoin the night before Brexit (which sounds like a Children’s Story book title!).

Within the first year my funds had seen peeks of around £400+, so I invested another £100 before the US elections with a few smaller amounts at different times and I’m seeing my funds reaching over £800 from the initial small investment.

Wanting to learn more I am putting together a series of short blogs, primarily to help me understand this revolution of decentralised operation and hopefully provide a layman’s understanding to help others.

So, let’s start at the beginning as I try to understand the current system that we are all used to, as in our common currencies, in my case the British Pound.

maxresdefaultWhat is Money?

We know this as the legal tender which we carry as notes and coins and we exchange these for goods and services, each country or Countries (for Euro) has their own money in circulation as defined by each government and usually manged by the central Banks of that country, the common names we know as Pound, Yen, Franc, Dollar, etc.

Most of the currencies can be traded or converted to other country’s currencies, this is especially convenient when visiting that particular country. This exchange is usually done through an exchange kiosk, post office or bank where the rate of exchange fluctuates hourly / daily depending upon the appreciation or depreciation of the currencies being exchanged.

So what does this mean?

Back in the day if I had a £1 note this used to be worth around $2 in the US, today £1 will only get you $1.28! therefore the Pound has depreciated against the Dollar.


This means that buying goods from the states is expensive for people in the UK, let’s say a pre-packaged loaf of bread costs $2.00 in the US and the cost in the UK is £1.25. If we traveled to the US and purchased a loaf of bread (not advisable!), then we would need to exchange our £ to $, so to get $2.00 I would need to pay £1.57 at the post office. Hence, I would be paying more than normal for my loaf.

Appreciation is exactly the opposite.

For businesses, depreciation can be positive for exporting goods to other countries, but on the down side, importing of goods becomes expensive so this can drive towards local production which again can create more jobs so long as there is a requirement for the sale of the finished goods.

Finally, if I wanted to send money to my son in Australia, I would ask the bank to send this from my account to his account, or do this through a money exchange where I pay the money from my bank to them and they send to my son. All of this incurs both charges and exchange rates.

We’ll look further into this in Part 2.

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LK-35 Backpack Modification Part 2

In Part 1 we identified a few design modification potentials for the LK-35, in this blog I expected to have delivered the swed_webbing_setSwedish webbing pouch set, however there has been a further two week delay and the suppliers.

Nevertheless, I have been able to put together some of the options and also had some alternative feedback from forums / groups to what others have done.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUsing the original LK-35 frame I loosened the original back rest strap and passed it through the new Hip belt details in Part 1, this fit perfectly and allowed the hip belt to be securely attached to the frame.



The webbing loops were then ideally positioned to attach to the two D hoops on


the metal frame using paracord at the top and using the MOLLE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAstraps and paracord at the bottom, this meant no free movement of the belt.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



Loaded up the pack seemed very comfortable, however the hip belt felt a little too deep for my waistline but may be better suited to someone who (basically isn’t so overweight!).

I had my son try the pack on and it fit him well.





The colour variance isn’t that noticeable in normal light.

I also added a grab handle, but chose use a existing paracord bracelet with an extra shackle, this works very well although 20170212_211324831_iosI would probably make a new one in olive paracord, I think the function stack of this is that it can be removed and used as a bracelet or be transferred to another unit as a carrying device, and of course the unravelling of the cord for any other use in emergencies. the only down side that I anticipate it the noise potential of the shackle against the frame but this could be overcome with wrap on the frame in that area. Using an idea from McQ Bushcraft to line the inner section of the bag with foam to:

  1. shape the bag in an open position at all times for ease of loading; and
  2. Provide a change mat / clean area to use when camping
  3. Rolled provides a pillow.

I used a 15mm polyurethane foam that to be honest is too thick and bulky. I have since acquired so 5mm foam that I will cut to size and try.

The pack weight including inner foam was 3.2kg

Next, having stripped the pack apart, I rebuilt using the acquired aluminium frame. The frame width was sightly wider than the original so fitting of the bag was tight but acceptable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUsing the the hip belt and webbing back rest strap from the LK-35 the hip setup was fixed to the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbottom of the frame utilising the hole for the original hip belt. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA












The hoops of the hip belt again could be used to securely locate it to the frame. The two existing back rest straps moved up the frame to provide greater support around the shoulder blades.


Loaded up the pack felt comfortable albeit a little stiffer on the back, the legs at the top of the frame protruded a little too far and if used I would probably cut these down to size.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I did have an idea that the larger hollow tubes of the aluminium frame could be used to store a custom compact modular fishing pole or water tube, paracord, poles, spikes or numerous other devices which may make an interesting side project.

lee-1Lee on the UKSN Facebook page had a few modification suggestions that he had tried out on his packs overtime.

  • Stitching of the side pockets leaving the top and bottom unstitched on one or both sides to allow the drop through of an axe or poles.Certainly the tops can be left open to provide an inner additional pocket.lee-5
  • Use of insulation tape around the loops of the bag at the top and bottom of the fame to restrict movement of the pack.lee-4








In part 3 I will hopefully have the pouches to finally fit to the pack, in additional I’ll be trying a new thinner foam liner plus an alternative hip belt.



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LK-35 Backpack Modification Part 1

Inspired by  a video review by McQ Bushcraft I liked the idea of a traditional metal framed backpack, so wanted to try out the LK-35 backpack for myself. lk35The basic pack can be sourced for as little as £12.50 in the UK, cost increases dependant upon the material and grade required.

You can find an abundance of modification options on the internet ranging from side pockets that can be sewn on, additional back supports, waist or kidney belts, ALICE frame straps, etc. one particular option to lighten to the original frame by replacing it with a used a lighter  aluminium frame that I found on a fellow bloggers page in a post by New England Bushcraft. This is something that I wanted to try out on my LK-35 project.

So for my initial pack I purchased a grade A, LK-35 in the Cordura material option along swed_webbing_setwith the Swedish Webbing pouch set to closely match the Cordura at £8.50, the set consists of 2 x pouches, 1 x water bottle pouch, 1 x belt and 1 x harness.

Also for this project I wanted a good size Hip or Kidney belt, there are plenty available in the USA but not so many in the UK. Trying a different search string under Military Webbing Belt, aeb0988b-e085-4427-8380-1f51a633dda7I managed to pick up a olive green MOLLE version for £17.95 which I think will be a good fit providing further MOLLE options to attach onto the belt itself..

s-l1600On eBay I also found a low cost old aluminium frame rucksack to test out the difference between the traditional LK frame.

Coming up in Part 2 I’ll start to put these components together and provide some feedback on potential options.

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Happy New Year

A little late but still I hope everyone had a great Christmas break and have started the year off with plenty of plans to make the ‘dash’ count?

We’re making headway with our small patch of woodland and I’ve started the Permaculture online course with Geoff Lawton which I’ll be reporting back on throughout the year. Hopefully the bees will get though winter so  we’ll have some feedback and yield from them.

in addition we will be looking to doing some planting  both at home and on the woodland.

in the meantime he’s a neat project picked up from an engineering link on harnessing power through tidal lagoons



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