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CD3WD: A Mega-Reference for Homesteaders

If I could keep only one reference source in a post-apocalyptic world, I know which one I would choose.

Before I fill you in on my choice, I’ll go ahead and declare that I’m not planning or preparing for “the apocalypse” or teotwawki.  I realize that if I am wrong I’ll just have to pay for my lack of foresight…

This being said, having available almost all of the information needed to reconstruct a functioning society in Mad Maxx times is a pretty cool thing to consider.  This would be the case even if I’m just looking at “how to’s” for a whole slew of things that today we have in place and take for granted.  (If you’re reading this article you probably are much more aware than the average person, so you’ll probably agree with my next statement.)  In my experience, the most basic knowledge and skills are the very ones that are increasingly void in the average person today.  The “average person” category includes those otherwise successful and intelligent people who are just plain clueless on a lot of very simple things; we all know these people.  More often than not, the building blocks of a more self-sufficient lifestyle are built upon these basics.

This long introduction is intended to qualify the usefulness of really basic reference material; information that often seems too primitive to apply in the developed world anymore.  So lets let’s look at the things that are most needed in the underdeveloped parts of the world.  At the same time, we could perhaps increase our quality of life here in “modern” society.  (Plus, a whole lot of the information on this site is just plain interesting even if it isn’t all useful to your particular situation.)

The site I am referring to is cd3wd.com, but this main link isn’t the best entry into this massive online reference (more on this later).  A catchy name, isn’t it?  I’m still not sure exactly where it came from other than it is an acronym, of which the “3wd” part stands for “3rd world development”.  I’m guessing that the “cd” part refers to compact disks, as DVD technology was a luxury at the time this site was conceived.

What is it?  It is a collection of documents and links of mostly public domain documents that were originally created in paper form by various international development agencies. They have been fastidiously assembled and maintained by an expatriate Scotsman named Alex Weir, currently residing in Botswana.  An engineer by vocation, he apparently had an epiphany some years ago and set out on a new mission in life to assimilate the substantial reference information that existed “somewhere”.  The twist was he realized that this information is what is most needed, yet least accessible, in those areas of the world which had little or no internet access.  For the last decade or so, he has dedicated himself to developing this resource and making it available both online and offline (very inexpensively) for those areas where the “bandwidth” gold standard might be a marginally reliable dial-up telco connection.  Does anyone remember those from say…. 1994 or so?

On a side note, this website seems worthy of support both for the motive and the delivery of material to its target- the impoverished areas of the world that modest improvements in the basics of living would provide exponential relief from a miserable existence.  This is the ultimate “teach a man to fish” effort. Consider supporting the site and/or purchasing the inexpensive DVD sets of this content (this is probably a good redundancy to build in ahead of the “apocalypse”, you know, just in case 😉 ).  He will even send you a preloaded 500 gigabyte external hard drive if you wish to spend $180 for convenience.

I recommend entering the site via this link, described as the “now-superceded classic version of c3wd” http://cd3wd.com/cd3wd_40/cd3wd/index.htm

Before you get lost browsing the titles, consider that this page alone contains over 4,300 of them.  In order to get some grasp of how to best present samples in this article, I ended up cutting and pasting the titles into excel so that I could tag and filter/sort titles a bit according to the subject matter.  Remember that these aren’t glossy “Popular Mechanics” or even “Backwoods Home Magazine” or “Mother Earth News” type references.  For the most part, these start with the building blocks for solving problems and dealing with issues that we in the modern western world, in most cases, haven’t even stopped to think about.

The “tip of the iceberg” follows.

Construction / Shelter / Daily Living Related Reference Sources

Think outside of the box with your building materials
Think outside of the box with your building materials

Construction – SKAT Appropriate Building Materials

Woodworking – GTZ Carpentry

Construction – Habitat Low Energy Construction

Construction – VITA – Bridges

Historic Structures – Timber Structures

Water & Sanitation – SKAT Water Filtration

Water & Sanitation – VITA – Water Storage and Treatment

Appropriate Technology – VITA – Cooling Passive

Appropriate Technology – UNEP Fuelsaving Stoves

Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Solar Cooking

Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Solar Distillation

cd3wd425.zip – The Complete Book of Heating with Wood


Agriculture/Livestock/Food Storage Reference Sources

Maybe should be titled "Where there is no vet"?
Maybe should be titled “Where there is no vet”?

Veterinary – BF Animal Disease

Veterinary – IIRR DIY Vet

Livestock – DFID-NRI-Mystole – Raising Ducks 1: How to Begin

Livestock – DFID-NRI-Mystole – A Complete Handbook on Back-Yard and Commercial Rabbit Production

Livestock – DFID-NRI-Mystole – Guidelines for slaughtering, meat cutting and further processing

Fisheries – BF Freshwater Fish Farming

There are municipal codes against  backyard chickens, but are there any against fish?
There are municipal codes against backyard chickens, but are there any against fish?

Fisheries – CDI Tilapia Farming

Food Processing – ILO SmallScale Fish Processing

Food Processing – PracticalAction – Biltong

Food Processing – PracticalAction – Drying of Foods  (Dozens more)

Food Processing – VITA – Flour Mill

Livestock – DFID-NRI-Mystole – Centrifugal Honey Extractor

Livestock – DFID-NRI-Mystole – Cheese making

Food Processing – PracticalAction – Banana Beer (Everyone wants to know how to make banana beer don’t they? 😉 )



Health Related Reference Sources

This title caught my attention.
This title caught my attention.

Health – Hesperian Where There is No Doctor

Health – Hesperian Where There is No Dentist (The title alone made me cringe.)

Health – MSF Med Minor Surgery Remote Areas

Health – TZ Tradit Medical Plants

Health – VITA – ORT – Oral Rehydration Therapy

Health – WHO Care Normal Birth (Yikes)



How to build interesting things that would be extremely handy in a jam (and find a use for that old bicycle in the garage):

Appropriate Technology – VITA – Pedal Power


Little things we might want to try even though we can purchase them cheaply & with ease

Appropriate Technology – VITA – Soap Making

Appropriate Technology – PC Tool Making


Things I wouldn’t expect to be on this site:

Miscellaneous – VSO Math Games

DFID-NRI-Mystole – How to run a meeting  (Obviously, not many people in my organization have read this one; I think I’ll keep this and provide it as a reference to higher management in my firm.)


The list above barely scratches the surface of the breadth of reference information here and on most subjects, the depth of information is phenomenal. To prove this point, I’ve provided all of the related links to “micro-hydro” generation.  I find this more interesting than solar or wind or about any other alternative energy source; I would love to build something just for the challenge.  (Unfortunately, I have no convenient and perpetually falling water source at present, so this will have to wait.)

Appropriate Technology – SKAT Micro Hydro
Appropriate Technology – VITA – Water Power
Appropriate Technology – VITA – Water Wheels
Appropriate Technology – VITA – Water Wheels Overshot
Appropriate Technology – DTU – microhydro – pumps-as-turbines (PDF)
Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Microhydro
Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Micro HydroPower
Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Microhydro III
Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Microhydro Financing
Appropriate Technology – VITA – Hydro Micro (Water Power)
Appropriate Technology – VITA – Hydro Mini (Water Power)
Appropriate Technology – VITA – Hydro Power (Water Power)
Appropriate Technology – VITA – Banki Water Turbine
cd3wd405.zip – Cost Reduction Considerations in Small Hydropower Equipment
cd3wd405.zip – Hints on the Development of Small WaterPower
cd3wd405.zip – MicroHydro: Civil Engineering Aspects
cd3wd405.zip – MultiPurpose Power Unit with Horizontal Water Turbine: Operation and Maintenance Manual
cd3wd405.zip – Low-head hydro power
cd3wd405.zip – Micro-hydropower–a working example…By Greg and Bonnie Chan
cd3wd407.zip – SKAT – The Dhading MicroHydropower Plant:
cd3wd408.zip – A Pelton MicroHydro Prototype Design
cd3wd408.zip – MicroHydropower Schemes in Pakistan
cd3wd408.zip – Nepal: Private Sector Approach to Implementing MicroHydropower Schemes
cd3wd430.zip – A Design Manual for Water Wheels
cd3wd430.zip – Design of CrossFlow Turbine BYS/T2
cd3wd430.zip – Design of CrossFlow Turbine BYS/T3
cd3wd430.zip – Design of Small Water Storage and Erosion Control Dams
cd3wd430.zip – Design of Small Water Turbines for Farms and Small Communities
cd3wd430.zip – Harnessing Water Power for Home Energy
cd3wd430.zip – Hydropower
cd3wd430.zip – Industrial Archaeology of Watermills and Waterpower
cd3wd430.zip – Local Experience with MicroHydro Technology
cd3wd430.zip – Manual for the Design of a Simple Mechanical WaterHydraulic Speed Governor
cd3wd430.zip – MicroHydro Power: Reviewing an Old Concept
cd3wd430.zip – Mill Drawings
cd3wd430.zip – MultiPurpose Power Unit with Horizontal Water Turbine: Basic Information
cd3wd430.zip – Small Earth Dams
cd3wd430.zip – Watermills with Horizontal Wheels
cd3wd430.zip – Directory of Manufacturers of Small Hydropower Equipment
cd3wd430.zip – Micro Hydro Electric Power
cd3wd430.zip – Microhydropower Handbook Volume 233
cd3wd430.zip – Microhydropower Handbook Volume 234
cd3wd430.zip – Mini Hydro Power Stations
cd3wd430.zip – New Himalayan Water Wheels
cd3wd430.zip – Small Hydroelectric Powerplants
cd3wd430.zip – Small Scale Hydropower Technologies
cd3wd430.zip – MicroHydropower Sourcebook
cd3wd430.zip – Small Hydropower for Asian Rural Development
cd3wd430.zip – Micro Pelton Turbines
cd3wd430.zip – Compendium in Small Hydro
cd3wd430.zip – Simple water mills – Cloudburst 1

And just to brush up on your electrical engineering knowledge, should you figure out the mechanical part of micro-hydro,

A way to expand your understanding of electricity?
A way to expand your understanding of electricity?

Electrical – IBE Electrical Engineering Intro










There are over 4,200 more documents & books; poke around some and I promise that you will find something useful regardless of your situation.

About cohutt

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Cohutt has spent the last quarter century deep within the investment business; it has chewed him up on occasion it hasn't spit him out yet. He grows most of his family's produce on his 65 foot wide downtown lot, owns more than one firearm but less than Russia, is an experienced reloader and bullet caster. He's self taught in carpentry and other trades via ongoing (since 1987) renovation and maintenance of his 140+ year old home. He's a tinkerer and maker, project over-reacher, long time husband of his first spouse, father of brilliant adult children, proto-Aspergerian, longtime "Friend of Bill", and a favorite target of his own ridicule. (cohutt's frequent updates of his urban food garden folly at can be found at cohutt.com)

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  1. I love this. Some of this information, I will never grasp, but some I will and do. It is all fascinating and we are so lucky that Mr. Weir has taken the time to research and gather and compile all this wonderful information and make it available to us, AND, I might add, we are just as lucky to find out that it exists.

  2. I ran across another similar collection at http://www.pssurvival.com/
    I have downloaded both, and see some differences, but haven’t had time to really compare the two.
    Thanks for posting the article!

  3. The entire site requires a login now – even the root cd2wd.com

    Not sure what’s going on over there. Those of us who downloaded it might set up a new site and some mirrors for those who would like the info?

    I can be contacted at the TSP forums if someone is interested.

  4. I am desperately looking for a way to access this information for rural development, any ideas?

  5. Weir’s site appears to be down at present. (3/10/2015)

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