There’s no debating that metallic sodium is exciting stuff, but getting your hands on some can be problematic, what with the need to ship it in a mineral oil bath to keep it from exploding. So why not make your own? No problem, just pass a few thousand amps of current through an 800° pot of molten table salt. Easy as pie.
Thankfully, there’s now a more approachable method courtesy of this clever chemical hack that makes metallic sodium in quantity without using electrolysis. [NurdRage], aka [Dr. N. Butyl Lithium], has developed a process to extract metallic sodium from sodium hydroxide. In fact, everything [NurdRage] used to make the large slugs of sodium is easily and cheaply available – NaOH from drain cleaner, magnesium from fire starters, and mineral oil to keep things calm. The reaction requires an unusual catalyst – menthol – which is easily obtained online. He also gave the reaction a jump-start with a small amount of sodium metal, which can be produced by the lower-yielding but far more spectacular thermochemical dioxane method; lithium harvested from old batteries can be substituted in a pinch. The reaction will require a great deal of care to make sure nothing goes wrong, but in the end, sizable chunks of the soft, gray metal are produced at phenomenal yields of 90% and more. The video below walks you through the whole process.
It looks as though [NurdRage]’s method can be scaled up substantially or done in repeated small batches to create even more sodium. But what do you do when you make too much sodium metal and need to dispose of it? Not a problem.
Continue reading “Common Chemicals Combine To Make Metallic Sodium”
If you are a wine, beer, or cider maker, you’ll know the ritual of checking for fermentation. As the yeast does its work of turning sugar into alcohol, carbon dioxide bubbles froth on the surface of your developing brew, and if your fermentation container has an airlock, large bubbles pass through the water within it on a regular basis. Your ears become attuned to the regular “Plop… plop… plop” sound they make, and from their interval you can tell what stage you have reached.
[Chris] automated this listening for fermentation bubbles, placing a microphone next to his airlock and detecting amplitude spikes through two techniques: one using an FFT algorithm and the other a bandpass filter. Both techniques yielded similar graphs for fermentation activity over time.
He has a few ideas for improvement, but notes that his system is vulnerable to external noises. There is also an admission that using light to detect bubbles might be a more practical solution as we have shown you more than once with other projects, but as with so many projects on these pages, it is the joy of the tech as much as the practicality that matters.
Ok, there are some worthy laws in place regulating the sale and distribution of alcohol — and for good reason. For many a bootlegger, however, the dream of renovating an old trailer from 1946 into a mobile bar is a dream that must– wait, what? That already exists?
It’s no mobile workshop, but the bar was initially built to accommodate guests at their wedding. [HelloPennyBar] has shared the reconstruction process with the world. Inside, there’s everything you’d need to serve beverages, including a (double) kitchen sink. In addition to a water tank, a pair of car batteries serve as the central power with electrical work installed for interior lights, a small fan to keep the bartenders cool, exterior lights, a water pump, the trailer lights, and more exterior lights so the patrons can party the night away.
Before you say anything, [HelloPennyBar] says they would need a license to sell alcohol, but alleges that for serving alcohol at private events in their state it suffices to have an off-site responsible serving license. Furthermore, a few helpful redditors have chimed in regarding battery safety and cable-mounts, to which [HelloPennyBar] was amenable. Safety and legality noted, the mobile bar must make for a novel evening of fun.
We’ve seen plenty of Arduinofied home brewing setups, and kegerators are a fairly standard project for the types of people we hang out with. What we haven’t seen a lot of are home stills. There are unfortunate reasons for this. First off, distilling alcohol is illegal in a few parts of the world if you don’t have a license or tax stamp. Second, vapors explode. Third, wood alcohol is poison.
That said, [TegwynTwmffat’s] project for the Hackaday Prize is the coolest and the safest alcohol still we’ve ever seen. It’s fully automated, small, safe, and there are video game noises sprinkled about the user interface.
The boiler for this nano still is constructed out of a keg, but that was just the starting point. [Tegwyn] removed the bottom of the keg, installed a new bottom, and coupled that bottom to a hot plate. The top of the keg was modified to accept a 2 inch brass fitting that was beautifully welded into place. From the boiler, the alcohol vapor goes into an air-cooled condenser, and all this equipment is housed in a welded steel frame. You couldn’t make something out of aluminum extrusion that looks this good.
The electronics include a hydrometer, an electronic alcohol vapor sensor, several temperature sensors an Arduino Mega, and a GPRS module for controlling the entire setup over the Internet. At various points in the distillation process, the Arduino plays audio files of a robot voice saying what’s going on in the still.
Right now, [Tegwyn] is distilling barley wine and cider into alcohol. The volume produced isn’t much — the keg is only 10 liters, after all — but this is one of the best stills we’ve ever seen. You can check out a video of [Tegwyn] walking us through the project below.
Continue reading “Hackaday Prize Entry: An Automated Still”
[Federico Musto], one of the Arduinos in the Arduino vs. Arduino saga (which finally came to an end last September) may have fabricated his academic record. This news comes from Wired, providing documents from the registrars at MIT and NYU stating [Musto] never attended these institutions. Since this story came out, [Musto] has edited his LinkedIn, listing his only academic credential as a kindergarten in Torino, Italy.
[shininglaser] built a tinnitus machine. What’s a tinnitus machine? It’s a device that, when activated, produces this sound: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. [shininglaser] built this tinnitus machine out of a pair of speakers, a cardboard box, a few batteries, and some sort of board with an epoxy-coated blob. We have no idea what the circuit looks like, but you could do this with any normal signal pulsing at around 15-18kHz (address pins on a CPU for bonus nerd cred) or a simple 555 timer.
Captain Crunch needs our help. He’s facing some serious surgery, and even if it’s successful, there’s going to be a lot of stuff insurance doesn’t cover.
We can use Libreboot again. A few months ago, the Libreboot project left the GNU project after an issue with an employee at the Free Software Foundation. Hackaday chose not to report on this only because the accusations levied against the FSF were hearsay. I should emphasize this: the only reason we chose not to report on this is because the accusations were hearsay. Now the Libreboot project is under more democratic management and they’re working on the Thinkpad X220, the greatest Thinkpad of all time. Neat.
Here’s a quick and easy tip to get metal fume fever. Build a foundry out of a galvanized trash can! No, don’t worry about that galvanized coating, it’ll burn off. Oh, he’s doing this indoors. What’s carbon monoxide? Why am I sleepy?
One of the most popular methods of homebrew PCB fabrication is the toner transfer process. Compared to UV-sensitive films and CNC mills, the toner transfer process is fantastically simple and only requires a laser printer. Being simple doesn’t mean it’s easy, though, and successful toner transfer depends on melting the toner to transfer it from a piece of paper to a copper clad board.
This is heatless toner transfer for PCB fabrication. Instead of using a clothes iron or laminator to transfer toner from a paper to board, [simpletronic] is doing it chemically using acetone and alcohol.
Acetone usually dissolves laser printer toner, and while this is useful for transferring a PCB from paper to board, it alone is insufficient. By using a mixture of eight parts alcohol to three parts acetone, [simpletronic] can make the toner on a piece of paper stick, but not enough to dissolve the toner or make it blur.
From there, it’s a simple matter of putting a piece of paper down on copper clad board. After waiting a few minutes, the paper peels off revealing perfectly transferred board art. All the usual etching techniques can be used to remove copper and fabricate a PCB.
This is an entirely novel method of PCB fabrication, but it’s not exactly original. A few days ago, we saw a very similar method of transferring laser printed graphics to cloth, wood, and metal. While these are probably independent discoveries, it is great evidence there are still new techniques and new ways of doing things left to be discovered.
Thanks [fridgefire] for the tip.
We’ve seen BarBots that will automagically pour you a drink, but how about one with RFID? How about one with Facebook integration, so your friends know how much of a lush you are? Wait. Facebook already tells them that. Huh.
[Andy] and [Daniel]’s latest build follows on the heels of a lot of similar cocktail bots; an Arduino controls a few solenoid valves connected to a CO2 supply and a few bottles of liquor and mixers that allow drinks to be dispensed at the push of the button. Where this project gets interesting is its use of RFID and Facebook.
The user interface was coded for Windows 7, with an RFID tag (ostensibly issued to each guest) allowing a unique login that checks an SQL server to see what privileges the user has. The app pulls the user’s Facebook profile photo down and displays it in the corner of the screen, and with the server keeping track of how many drinks (and of what kind) they had, with the right permissions it should be possible to post that info to their wall. Because we all know what you did last night, even if you don’t.