Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kitten tamer II - fast fill beer bottles

This is a 22 oz bottle fast fill device.  Use it to grab and dunk your bottles for cleaning and sanitising.   With it you can pick up a empty bottle,  dunk it, fill it and detach from it.  The primary goal was to shorten the fill time by allowing the air to escape from the bottle.

Construction is done with a simple set of tools and readily available parts from a hardware store.

  • 8 inches of 1 inch PVC tubing.  Use the 450 psi.
  • 1 end cap for 1 inch PVC
  • 1 inch connector
  • Plastic drinking straw
  • Fine toothed wood saw.
  • Soldering Iron or wood burn tool.
  • 5/16 drill bit and drill
  • Sharpie
  • Silicon glue
  • Drill hole in end cap.
  • Glue straw to end cap.  To get the straw to set up nice and perpendicular to the cap use another end cap with a hole to keep it steady.
  • Mark up the 8 inch tube for cut and melt lines.
  • Make cuts to 8 inch tube.
  • Bend tube flanges using iron.
  • Create divots using iron on straight flanges.
  • Cut the water intake slot.

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    64 button project

    Thanks for the 64 button shield!.  Don't laugh too much:)

    My project is to have a bunch of button on the surface of a plastic bucket.  Plus each button will have an associated LED.  So there will be two matrix interfaces to be built.  Still working on the buttons.

      Needed a way to get the 8 pin matrix onto a board that I could plug the buttons into.

    All the nodes report in as expected.  I can see them in serial mode.

    My first real soldering project that quickly descended into despair as problems mounted.  Figured out that using the bare metal wire as rails on the front and back of the PCB did the trick.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Pyramid of power

     Wanted a fun climbing structure for the new kid to play on.  Turns out its fun to play under too.  Doubles as a fort too. 

    Strong enough for me to stand on without any shifting.

    Made it from 1 inch PVC then covered it with foam pipe insulation and then duct tape.  Only the two main rings are glued up so the  whole thing will come apart if needed. The top is just a piece of plywood that I padded and upholstered.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Beer antlers (bottle drainer)

    Beer antler helps drain bottles.

    Nine 22oz bottles fit in a 5 gallon pail and I got tired of draining them one at a time.  With the antler you just plug the full bottle into the receptacle and go get the next full bottle.  All made from 1 inch pvc pipe and fittings.

    • 10 feet of 1" pvc 450 psi tubing
    • 1 x 45 degree fitting
    • 5 x cross
    • 11 X  elbow 90 degree
    • PVC one step hot glue
    Tubing cuts:
    • 11 x 2 inch
    • 9 x 2 1/4 inch - cut with cross slot
    • 2 x 18 inch
    • 2 x 10 inch
    • 2 x 6 inch
    Seal one end of the 18 inch tube.  Put a beer cap down inside and seal with silicone.  Just place the cap on the floor and pound the tube down onto it.

    Drill some drain holes on the 10 inch pieces.  Keeps the sealed ends from popping when assembled.

    Hot glue only the connectors on the main strut.  Or do what ever you want.
      Main assembly

      Bottle holder

      Monday, April 11, 2011

      Brewing vessel fittings and adapters

      I was working on my all grain brewing so I needed to assemble one or more brewing vessels.   Everybody approaches building their all grain setup differently based on costs and desired outcome.  There are two basic types; boilers and coolers.  The advantage of making these vessels is cost and being involved in choosing what they are made of and how they will perform.  Bottom line is that you don't want them to leak, leaving any off flavors, and be easy to clean.

      The boiler could be composed of aluminum or stainless steel.   Materials that are affected by heat are out of the question so fittings made of brass or stainless are the primary options.   What becomes the next deciding factor is cost, availability and if you trust brass or not.  Yet another factor is dissimilar metals interacting to produce corrosion but I haven't seen anything like that reported with this material.

      Cost: There are at least 5 pieces of metal that go into creating a fitting for your vessel.
      • Ball valve
      • Washer
      • Threaded stem
      • Locking nut
      • Adapter inside
      The ball valve is the most complex and costly unit in the configuration.  So a price comparison between stainless steel and brass comes down to this.  A brass 1/2 inch valve is anywhere between 4 and 7 dollars.  The same dimension in SS is 11 - 25 dollars.  Going SS fittings will sometimes easily cost as much as the vessel your setting up.

      Availability:  Brass you can find at most hardware stores.  SS is usually only found online. is the best!!!!  Excellent service and parts are sold as kits too.

      Trusting Brass:  I never really determined if there was a potential lead poisoning source to brass.  None the less lead in brass is used to assist the machining of the material. Trace amounts of lead do exist on the surface of the material. 

      Cooler assemblies are different in that your dealing with plastic and thicker walls. When you apply a fitting to a cooler the walls of the cooler may change shape as your tighten the fitting. My next mash tun is going to be another converted keg with insulation.

      Finally and the whole point to vessel fittings is the choice in hose adapters.  You want a connection that is solid and won't pop off spraying you with hot wort.  The cheapest method is to use the barb adapter.  Though cheap, it doesn't allow you to change hose configurations easily.  Next is the quick disconnect adapter which more complex and based on material will cost you more.  Quick disconnects make the job so much easier.

      Hints to assemble:
      • Use gloves when handling stainless steel threads.  Those ridges are sometimes very sharp.
      • Teflon tape needs to be put on in the direction of threads being tightened.  You will know you got it wrong when it bunches up.
      • Have the proper equipment when tightening fittings.  You will have to put some muscle into it and you don't want to slip.
      • Making holes in SS vessel is takes time and care.   Use the right cutting tool for the job and try not to cut yourself on the sharp burs produced.  Use proper cutting oil for the drilling process
      • Water test your fitting before firing up.

      Monday, April 4, 2011

      Junk mail reposting

       Do you get stuff in the mail that you never asked for?  Like those credit card applications with terms that are just plain awesome!  It is a real shame to go to all the trouble shredding and disposing those when you could just put the postal service back to work on the sender's dime.

      I learned this technique from a lovable grandmother.  She was a kind and gentle lady and I'd never cross her.

      Take all the material that was in the original envelope and put it into the reply mail envelope.  Put back into the mail.

      I can't see anything wrong with this as you are not writing messages or putting garbage in the reply mail.  You are just giving it all back.

      Monday, March 28, 2011

      Plastic bag dryer tree

      We needed a rack to air out the small breast milk bags that were collecting.  Those little Medela bags go for 20 bucks for 50.  At the rate we were going through them we needed to reuse what we could.  The bags were small and needed to be open to dry with a little air flow.  Decided to make something to sit over the air vent.
       Used some readily available 1/2 inch poly irrigation tubing and some 8 inch zip ties to compose the dryer rack.  The tubing is used for watering plants so it is non toxic.
      • Three long tube pieces ~20 inches long
      • Three shorter tube pieces ~ 10 inches long
      • One 3 inch short tube piece
      • 15 - 8 inch or longer zip ties.  They come in assorted colors.  I found a whole bag of them for two bucks.
      The three long pieces make up the legs and three of the arms.  The other three short pieces are just arms.  Shorty is the guy in the center.  Just bunch all the tubes together and put a zip tie in the middle.  Once you get them positioned better just add a couple more zips to the middle.  Remainder of the zips are used on the arms to hold the bag more open.

      There is no reason this couldn't be used for larger plastic bags.

      Cheers, happy reusing.

      Tuesday, March 22, 2011

      Kitten Tamer aka: beer bottle dunker

      The "Kitten Tamer" as I like to call it is just a tube with some wire.  This gadget really is quite low tech and anyone can make it with a little time.   What it does is once again cut down on time spent cleaning beer bottles!  I can dunk four bottles at a time and make short work of cleaning them up.

      All the bottles need to be washed first with PBW and then sanitized with Iodophor solution.  My tactic is to immerse a set of bottles in a 5 gallon bucket, drain and set aside for the next bath.  I only have the one bucket and the one sink with fairly limited space.

      In the end each bottle is dunked twice and each time there is that waiting period as the bottle bubbles out all the air.  This is the what the "Kitten Tamer" was born for, saving time.  This is almost another great argument to switch to kegs but that bridge has already been crossed and money spent on bottles.  I'm committed!

      This thing is made from flexible black irrigation tube but any stick or PVC would work. 12 gauge galvanized wire, stay away from stuff that will rust.  You drill two holes perpendicular to each other at one end of the stick and then thread the wire through the holes.  Simple?  To get the loops nice and even try making two overlapping figure eights with the wire first with the proper spacing.  Make sure the ends of the wire meet in the middle:)  Then thread the stick undoing the figure eight just enough to put the loops back in place.  Twist the ends of the wire together and tuck the sharp ends into the tube cavity.


      Saturday, March 19, 2011

      Beer Porter

      Beer Porter
      Time saving techniques are the ever present quest of the home brewer.  If you have ever washed and sanitized 22 ounce beer bottles for bottling beer you know that it is the dog chore of the day.  A typical batch of 5 gallon beer requires 28 22 ounce bottles.  So there is a bit of lugging cartons of bottles to the sink, washing them and then carefully moving them back to the bottling area. 

      I knew that if the bottles were safely held in a group that could be lifted and where individual bottles could be accessed, time could be shaved from bottling.  At the end of the sanitizing rinse the bottles need to be in the draining position too.

       In this composite image you can see the top, side, bottom and two shots of the porter loaded with bottles.  The design is primarily a board with holes evenly distributed.  For the hole spacing dimensions I just put some bottles onto the board and discovered a comfortable spacing.  Hole size came down to the largest wood bit I had lying around about 1.5 inches.  The remainder of the structure creates a platform to both lift and keep the board with holes from warping under load.  I used a bit of garden hose for the handles because it was lying around after the counter flow project.  There is a 3/4 inch PVC pipe that runs the length of the porter to keep the bottles from shifting during transport.   

      Cheers, Happy brewing!