Any fan of apocalyptic science fiction knows that infrastructure rapidly starts failing in a large scale disaster. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, your immediate concerns should be necessities like water, food, and shelter. But eventually you’re going to want to improve your situation beyond those basic survival needs. Doing so will require information, as it’s unlikely that you know how to dig a well, farm food, or build a trebuchet for laying siege to neighboring warlords. That’s why Evan Meaney created the Crash Recovery Device, which is a Raspberry Pi-based laptop that can withstand an EMP.
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) can be generated by a nuclear explosion or a massive solar flare, and is capable of destroying all unprotected sensitive electronics — namely those that utilize integrated circuits. While the effects of an EMP may not be quite as widespread as science fiction novels tend to depict, there is no doubt that you’re going to lose your smartphone and access to the internet in the event of a large EMP that hits nearby. If that were to happen, would you have any idea how to survive? That information is readily available online, but you’d need a way to access it without the internet.
That is exactly what Evan’s Crash Recovery Device is capable of providing. It’s a laptop — if you use the term loosely — built around a Raspberry Pi. The design is based heavily on Jay Doscher’s Raspberry Pi Recovery Kit, which was made for the same purpose. The internal structure is 3D-printed and housed within a Pelican-style case. To withstand an EMP pulse, the entire protective case is lined with copper. That makes the case act as a Faraday cage, which causes an EMP to dissipate before it reaches any of the sensitive electronics. Power is provided by a large 12,000mAh battery pack, and that can be recharged via any external source, such as a generator or solar panel.
It is, however, the ability to provide information that makes the Crash Recovery Device particularly useful. It has the entirety of Wikipedia and Wikivoyage on a self-hosted webserver, as well as a library of survival guides to cover more in-depth topics. Those can be accessed through the laptop itself, which has a 7” touchscreen LCD and a compact mechanical keyboard, or by other devices through the onboard network switch. Additional provisions, such as a few accessible GPIO pins, make it possible to use the Raspberry Pi to control other systems. You could, for example, use it to automate irrigation in your post-apocalyptic stronghold. If you’re the type who likes to prepare for disaster, the Crash Recovery Device is well worth your time to build.