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Telling Time after SHTF

telling time after shtfAfter SHTF will we still be able to look at our wrists and instantly know what time it is? We still will need some method to count the hours and plan our days. What will be your method for telling time after SHTF?

Telling Time after SHTF

Time to get up, time for bed, time for this or that. We are a schedule based organism. If the grid is gone or the corner store, how will we get power or batteries for our watches? Self winding and manually wound watches are one option, but even they need a master watch maker if things go awry.


  • Find the Big Dipper and use it to locate the North Star.
  • Envision the North Star as the center of a clock and draw an imaginary line from the North Star through the two pointer stars of the Big Dipper. This imaginary line will act as the hour hand of a clock.
  • Now imagine a 24-hour clock, where the hour hand moves counterclockwise, opposite to the motion of a normal clock's hour hands.
  • When the pointer hand points straight to the top of the imaginary clock, the time would be midnight.
  • To calculate other times, you need to perform this calculationTime = Dipper Time – 2 X the number of months since March 6.
  • On March 6, there is no need for this calculation. The time on the imaginary Big Dipper clock will be the actual time.


If the sun is directly overhead or 1/2 way through it progress through the sky, you can estimate that to be very close to noon. Then you divide the 2 halves of the sky into the number of hours from sun up to sun down, compensating for the season. This can be a very rough estimate of time, unless you are very good at this. A  rule of thumb is to hold your hand out, at arms length, with the first four fingers of your hand parallel to the ground. Your finger's width should represents approximately 15 minutes of sunlight. For example, if I held up my hand and measured 10 finger widths from the horizon to the current location of the sun, there would be somewhere around 150 minutes, or 2 and a half hours, of sunlight left. This only works as a rough guess, and as you approach the poles this method becomes much less reliable. There is also the difference of people's finger sizes. Someone with veyr thick or very small fingers will get different results.

Sun Dial

A sun dial is a time proven method of telling time, that use a shadow or the edge of a shadow while others use a line or spot of light to indicate the time.
sundial2 sundial1
Sun dials have been used for centuries or millennia, and can be built as a DIY project, or purchased.

Solar Watches

It seems that Solar powered watches have come on the scene in the last few years. Citizen has a pretty innovative Eco Drive, solar watch. Citizen Eco-drive's solar cell stores energy in a rechargeable mangenese-titanium battery. The battery should last a very long time, according to Citizen engineers. They project that after 20 years the battery should retain 80% of recharge capacity. That's very impressive, but let's say you don't want to pony up over $100 for a Citizen Watch, then what? Casio also makes solar powered watches. A Casio brand watch should be one that most people can afford, even me, on my budget prepping lifestyle. Thanks to ancient technology and  innovations in solar technology we will still have the ability to mark the passage of time after SHTF! We will still be able to plan our day and coordinate events with others. What will be your method for telling time after SHTF?

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