Posts Tagged DIY

DIY: Starting Up A Business–10 Things To Ask Before Pursuing A US Government Contract

Over the years, folks that have small companies or wanted to start companies, have asked how you get government contracts. Specifically overseas government contracts in the war zones.

Well, to be honest, I am not at all an expert on this side of the business. I do not own a security company, nor have I ever pursued government contracts. I am a security contractor that has been hired either as an employee or as an independent contractor, by companies that have already won government contracts overseas in the war zones. But I have never contracted with the government directly.

With that said, I am always willing to share what little knowledge I have on the subject of government contracting. So when I find cool articles like this, I like to share them because they are educational to me–but also to the community as a whole. Especially to those interested in getting into the game. Plus folks can add to it in the comments, to make this more tailored to overseas stuff.

The deal I would like to add to this post is that in order to get started, you can get all sorts of great information for free by scheduling an appointment at your local Small Business Administration office. Call them up, tell them you want to get into government contracting, and they will connect you with a government contracting mentor/specialist. Someone that is already established and is willing to mentor you on what you need to do.

You can also do this on your own by just contacting a contracting specialist with a company, and asking them what they know. Become a student of government contracting, and seek out as many sources of current information as you can about the process. Talk it up with those that are in the game and have actually won contracts for companies, and copy what they do.

Another idea is to just pay for the services of a firm or firms that specializes in getting you started. The article below mentioned writing proposals and how important that is to getting a contract, or using the services of a Insurance Broker to find the right insurance for your company. If you do a search on Google for ‘government contracts’, you will see companies in the paid for ads highlighted in yellow at the top of the search page, whom specialize in getting you started. Like with anything in life, there are some things you can do yourself, and there are other things that are just smarter and more cost effective to pay someone else to do.

I cannot comment on who is the best at this, and it will require you to do some shopping around as to whom to go with. But you can pay someone to get you started, and especially with all of the paper work required. Also, if you live in a state that is not exactly close to the contracting world back east, then these firms might be the ticket to get you in the game.

As for my international readers, obviously this post is directed at my US readers. But for those companies that have US offices and are able to use local US surrogates to get into this game, then I am sure there are a few more layers of bureaucracy and regulation to go through. If anyone has information on that process, I am all ears. I also imagine a good contracting specific lawyer would be handy for that.

Anyways, check it out below and for you experts/contracting officers or CEOs that know the process intimately, definitely speak up if you have some tips. The WBJ will be doing future posts on how to choose a public relations officer and commercial insurance, and a big hat tip to them for putting this out there. –Matt


10 things to ask before Pursuing a government contract
Washington Business Journal
Friday, October 5, 2012
We asked several experts what new entrepreneurs should think about when pursuing a government contract. Next up in our biweekly manual of sorts for startup businesses: how to choose a public relations firm and commercial insurance broker.
1. What types of contracts are there? Types of government contracts include fixed-price contracts, which generally provide a firm price for the work, and cost-reimbursement contracts, which provide payment for allowable incurred costs. Other types are incentive contracts, time-and-materials contracts and sealed bidding contracts. Research them to see what effect each would have on your company’s finances.
2. Will you look at my past performance? You must be an expert in the area related to the contract you are pursuing. If you want to be a government technology contractor, for instance, you should be able to show proof that you excel in your technology through previous contracts and work. In recent years, governments have been putting more emphasis on a company’s past contract performance when selecting contractors.
3. What are the contract requirements? Read the solicitation thoroughly and make sure you can fulfill the requirements. For example, you might be required to sustain your business financially until the contract expires, maintain Applicant Flow Logs, which record various details about your job applicants and hires, and send annual letters to recruitment sources.

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DIY: Defense Distributed And The Democratization Of Weapons Manufacturing

Check this out. I first heard about Defense Distributed from Danger Room and this group is totally dedicated to the concept of democratized weapons manufacturing. This goes along with my prior posts about the concept of Opensource Military Hardware.

This concept is also a threat to the major weapons manufacturers out there–hence why the company they leased their 3D printer from ultimately chose to take it back. Who knows, and both sides of this issue are presented in the posts at Danger Room.

The other thing that perked me up was the use of crowd funding in order to get this going. They used Indiegogo as a funding tool for this project in order to raise the $20,000 to get it started. Below I have posted the group’s goals and here is a link to their website. –Matt


1) Create the world’s first 100% 3D printable gun
GOAL: Develop a fully printable 3D gun
Our initial Wiki Weapon (A) design has no moving parts and relies on a separate, inserted solenoid to fire. We begin with this design to learn from the ABS material itself, but this is a method of trial and error. At $5 per cubic inch, we are at the point where we need outside funds to produce and complete a proof gun. The result of the lessons we learn from WikiWep A will instruct the design and development of Wiki Weapon B, a fully-printable gun comprised of near 100% printable parts.
2) Adapt the design down to cheaper 3D printers
Goal: Adapt the design so it can be printed on less expensive 3D printers-without compromising safety.
These guns will be almost completely plastic, so melting and failing in your hand will be a concern. Only after testing a few dozen designs to failure will we discover the right limitations to be comfortable rating a WikiWep as safe for one use. Basically we need to break some guns. This is the seed money for the second phase of development. We want to minimize negative media about the safety concerns of untested firearms and the inevitable suggestions that governments should protect us from ourselves.
3) Become The Web’s Printable Gun Wiki Redoubt
Goal: Further embrace the “Wiki” root of the project and establish a printable gunsmithing commons.
Instead of hacking off central planners directly, why not ignore them into irrelevance? In response to our project’s feedback and instincts, we open up this site to the world to share and participate in the creation and distribution of knowledge relevant to advancing 3D printable weapons.

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Syria: DIY Armored Trucks–The T-HOMS75

Now this thing is an interesting creation and I will tell you why. It is wedge shaped, which indicates to me that it could be used for barrier busting. Like knocking down sandbags/walls and getting in some quick shots with the mounted DShK. Then they pull away so they can reload and maybe attack from another point.

The wedge shape is also great for deflecting incoming small arms fire, or maybe even some cannon fire from the front. So on the streets of Homs where every inch of territory is being fought over with a vengeance, something like this was probably purpose built to deal with an issue the rebels identified.

Another cool use for such a vehicle is creating mouse holes in walls. So if you are able to punch a hole in a wall, then your assault team can run into those breaches and either make an escape or obtain a tactical advantage in a fight. They can also rescue downed rebels in a fight if they had to.

Who knows, but it definitely looks like they are taking some notes from the Libyans in their war and the Narco Tanks in Mexico. They probably checked out all of the ‘Mad Max’ designs back in the day in Iraq as well.  Interesting DIY Armor and if anyone has anything to add about this vehicle, I would be interested to hear what you got. –Matt



….Something much weird of the anti-aircraft pick up was recently spotted in Homs, Syria. It’s a sort-of improvised Suzuki pickup converted into armored vehicle capable to open its way through barriers and sand bags, equipped with a Doshka machine gun.

Dubbed T-HOMS75 by the Zaman Al Wasl reporter that took the first pictures of it, the vehicle is operated by a crew three people (driver, gunner and assistant): the gunner stands behind the drivers cabin with the gun placed on top of it.

It is capable of a maximum speed of 80 km/h (due to the added weight) and gives protection against light and medium machine guns, allowing to move in places guarded by snipers.

From the Aviationist.

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DIY: 3D Printable AR-15 Magazine

Now just as a disclaimer, I am not at all saying that this thing is safe or a good magazine to use for actual field work or the range. But, what it is good for is modeling and giving life to an idea.

On the other hand, this technology and the materials used are only getting better/cheaper/stronger/lighter. So there might be a day where you are hanging out on a forum like Lightfighter, and exchanging notes with other ‘makers’ about how to make cool new weapon and equipment parts using a 3D printer. You already see that on forums like this when it comes to textiles and sewing.

I also mentioned in the past about using a 3D printer to make UAV’s, or how SOCOM was interested in using this technology. With the examples below, the thing I was thinking about is using these printers to make the obscure little plastic parts that are essential in all types of equipment being used out there. Lots of ideas for this stuff and we will see how it evolves. –Matt


AR-15 Rifle Magazine
by crank
This thing is a Work in Progress.
Expect the files and instructions for this thing to change.
Print at YOUR OWN RISK, Neither the creator of this object nor is responsible for anything that happens because you printed this object! ?This is a near fully printable 5.56mm X 45mm or .233 REM AR-15 magazine. It is current only a 5 round magazine. I left my printed spring design out on purpose for saftey reasons. However, with a little printing experimention and some range time it can be made easily.?What is included is the magazine body, anti-tilt follower, and floorplate. ?I have used this magazine, no jams or feed problems….. YET. It works, but be reminded it is only a printed ABS magazine. If you end up using a printed ABS mag spring be prepared for stress relaxation of the polymer over time, especailly if it is kept loaded over a long period of time.
Print at YOUR OWN RISK, Neither the creator of this object nor is responsible for anything that happens because you printed this object! ?Well, the zombies are at it again………and you forgot your magazines out in your vehicle. Doh!?1) You Have a need for an 5.56mm X 45mm AR-15 magazine.

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DIY: Printable UAV’s, DIY Drones, And Dronepedia

This is a quick one, and falls under the Opensource Military Hardware concept.  Imagine this–building a weaponized drone using open source maker’s sites like DIY Drones and Dronepedia and utilizing a 3D printer to make hundreds if not thousands of them? That is where all of this stuff is going, and the possibilities are endless.

The other reason why I wanted to bring this up is that this kind of thing is definitely competition for the defense industries that specialize in UAV sales. Why buy an expensive drone from a company when you can just print out a bunch of them? And because anyone can access the information on how to build these things, then now you have the ability to continuously improve your drone program based on the input of the crowds.

My last point to bring up with this is that as this technology becomes cheaper and more available, then the odds of these things being used by criminals or terrorists increase. The other day, a DIY crew made a drone that could hack into computers via Wifi, and it is only a matter of time until we see the bad guys use this stuff to do all sorts of interesting things. Or even today’s terrorists/enemies, and all of the possible deadly uses of drones.  Cartels or pirates could also get into the game of making and using drones. Especially for pirates, because drones could help them to find vessels to take down. Perhaps having shotguns for site security will be a required weapon in the near future? Or some kind of grenade launcher outfitted with special rounds to counter drone attacks?

Now what I would be interested to see is a drone that could be launched by an RPG launcher, and either used for surveillance or as a flying missile. A drone that you could quickly get into the air and use it as a ‘bird of prey’ for a fire fight.  Or something that you could launch and have it fly farther than any of your unit’s weapon’s effective ranges, and have the ability to locate and destroy an enemy across the canyon or up in the hills. Something like that could end one of these DShK cross canyon ambushes, and especially if you did not have CAS on deck to deal with the attackers. While everyone is returning fire, this drone could be launched and flown above enemy positions so precise targeting data could be collected, or targets of opportunity could be taken out by the drone itself. –Matt


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Publications: The Frequency Of Wars, By Mark Harrison And Nikolaus Wolf

“In other words, the very things that should make politicians less likely to want war – productivity growth, democracy, and trading opportunities – have also made war cheaper. We have more wars, not because we want them, but because we can. Finally, under present international arrangements this deep seated tendency is not something that any one country is going to be able to control.”

This paper was fascinating and I highly recommend reading it.  Some of the findings will be surprising to some folks, and especially the cause of increased war. Or even ‘whom’ is the cause of increased war…

I also wanted to tie this into my Opensource Military Hardware post, because this DIY concept meshes well with the conclusions of this paper. Opensource concepts, like DIY wireless nets that the Fablab is producing, or opensource software construction, are ideas that are spreading.  It is the ability to empower individuals or communities to create the kind of product or service that they want, based upon their needs and financial standing.

To not depend upon someone else to make it for you, but to have the means to design and create it yourself is a powerful thing. It is about choice and not being dependent on someone else. You can either buy the store bought, expensive cookies, or learn how to make those same cookies with a little work and some research. Or you make those cookies, because the store no longer has those cookies.  And if you can make that cookie cheaper, and even better than the store bought cookies, all because you were well informed, like with a recipe wiki or some forum, then now you can see the power of this concept as applied to other industries.

To piggyback the conclusion of this paper, opensource will probably be the next trend that will further empower states and non-state actors to wage war. And specifically poor countries and 4th generation war practitioners. Organizations at war, no matter what their wealth and size, will always have a military industrial base.  It could be a couple of guys in a garage, welding rocket pods to jeeps, or it could be a massive industrial complex that produces stealth bombers and tanks.

I think what is interesting to ponder though, is that with today’s wars, the small scale industrial bases of today’s enemies, have certainly been able to hold their own against the west’s massive industrial bases. It is as simple as some ‘maker’, creating an EFP at the cost of ten dollars, and using that device to destroy a multi-million dollar M-1 Abrams tank.  Of course there are other examples of competing industries during times of war, and we are witnessing such things in Libya or Mexico. All of these groups are trying to figure out how to exploit the weakness of the other side’s weapons and hardware.

With more collaboration and information sharing, the learning curve for how to exploit these weaknesses increases. Opensource concepts really speed things up, and I think organizations around the world will recognize the power of such a thing. Simply because they will see how it is applied to ‘productivity growth, democracy, and trading opportunities’ and come to the conclusion that this could also be used to make war ‘cheaper’. Cheaper gives politicians a choice and the ability to say ‘we can’ go to war.

As a sidebar, it is also interesting to note that contractors are a big part of today’s war fighting, because we too give politicians the ability to say ‘we can’ go to war. That whole adage that ‘you go to war with the army you have, not the one you wish you had’, has kind of been tweaked thanks to the concept of contracting. A country can go to war with the army ‘it was willing to pay for during times of peace’, and instantly supplement that force with a highly flexible support mechanism. A support mechanism that ‘you do not have to pay for during times of peace’, and one that gets absorbed back into other industries and society when war is over. Probably the biggest advantage of this support mechanism is that it ‘chooses’ to serve and work in a war.

Politically speaking, not having to implement a draft is incredibly attractive to a country’s leaders, and further gives them the ability to say ‘we can’ go to war.  Using an army of choice, equates to organized violence that is created out of passion/desire/commitment, and not created by forced labor. Might I also add that a well compensated contractor, still must make a commitment to exposing themselves to a war. Thus this choice is as much a patriotic choice, as it is a financial one for many that go. Because if it was all about the money, then all of society would rush the door called ‘contracting’ and compete in this industry. As it stands now, there is only a select segment of society that is willing to risk life and limb in a war and service in the military or as a contractor is something they have committed too.  And personally speaking, I would much rather participate in a venture of the willing, as opposed to being a slave in an army of slaves.

Of course then we go back to the discussion of just because we can, should we?  And that is a matter for politicians and the country they have sworn to protect to get into. All I am trying to do with this post, is to ponder this study and speculate on the future of warfare. –Matt

Wars steadily increase for over a century, fed by more borders and cheaper conflict
28th June 2011
New research by the University of Warwick and Humboldt University shows that the frequency of wars between states increased steadily from 1870 to 2001 by 2% a year on average. The research argues that conflict is being fed by economic growth and the proliferation of new borders.
We may think the world enjoyed periods of relative freedom from war between the Cold War and 9/11 but the new research by Professor Mark Harrison from at the University of Warwick’s the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy, and Professor Nikolaus Wolf from Humboldt University, shows that the number of conflicts between pairs of states rose steadily from 6 per year on average between 1870 and 1913 to 17 per year in the period of the two World Wars, 31 per year in the Cold War, and 36 per year in the 1990s.
Professor Mark Harrison from the University of Warwick said:
“The number of conflicts has been rising on a stable trend. Because of two world wars, the pattern is obviously disturbed between 1914 and 1945 but remarkably, after 1945 the frequency of wars resumed its upward course on pretty much the same path as before 1913.”

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