In the recent frenzy of stocking up with provisions as the populace prepare for their COVID-19 lockdown, there have been some widely-publicised examples of products that have become scarce commodities. Toilet paper, pasta, rice, tinned vegetables, and long-life milk are the ones that come to mind, but there’s another one that’s a little unexpected.
As everyone dusts off the breadmaker that’s lain unused for years since that time a loaf came out like a housebrick, or contemplates three months without beer and rediscovers their inner home brewer, it seems yeast can’t be had for love nor money. No matter, because the world is full of yeasts and thus social media is full of guides for capturing your own from dried fruit, or from the natural environment. A few days tending a pot of flour and water, taking away bacterial cultures and nurturing the one you want, and you can defy the shortage and have as much yeast as you need.
Continue reading “Yeast Is A Hot Commodity; Brewing And Breadmaking During Lockdown”
Hackers are quite often the price conscious type, unwilling to pay jacked up prices for cold beverages when they can be purchased warm and in bulk for much lower cost. However, when guests are on the way and time is running out, it’s crucial to chill the drinks down to the right temperature, and fast. To take the guessing out of the process, [Álvaro Díez] and [Tibor Pal] collaborated to create the Chilled Drink Calculator.
It’s a resource jam-packed full of everything you need to know to get your drinks cold, pronto. Based on heat transfer equations and data from empirical studies, the calculator is able to show you just how long it will take to cool practically any beverage to any temperature. There are presets for different types of container and cooling method, as well as information on the ideal serving temperatures for things like wine, beer and soft drinks. There’s even information on helpful hacks to help cool things down more quickly – with the salt and ice bath being devastatingly effective with minimal equipment requirements.
Keep the calculator in your bookmarks for the next time your pals show up with a case of beer that’s been sitting in the sun all day in the back of a pickup truck (Authors note: looking at you, Terry). Alternatively, consider building an advanced cooling apparatus.
It’s always a good idea to keep a few brews in the fridge ready to go, but being able to offer your guests a fresh-poured draught beer is another step above. It’s not trivial, but with a few kegs, a freezer and the right CO2 parts, it’s achievable for the average hacker. [Ben Brooks] had a keezer (keg freezer) setup that had been doing the job quite well, but wanted to take things up a notch.
Wishing to know when it was time to start brewing more beer, [Ben] needed a way to measure how much was left in the individual kegs. Opting to weigh them, initial experiments with a hand-made capacitive sensor failed when moisture in the freezer began to ruin the sensor’s performance. Switching to a strain-gauge based setup enabled more accurate readings to be taken with no drift over time. Solenoids were added to enable the taps to be shutdown outside of beer o’clock, and a Particle Photon and Raspberry Pi were put to work to give the whole project a slick web interface. There’s even a monitor to show guests what’s on tap!
It’s a tidy improvement to a home keg setup, and ensures [Ben]’s guests won’t be left thirsty in the middle of a party. We’ve seen other instrumented beer rigs before, too. If you’re working on your own homebrewing masterpiece, be sure to drop us a line.
Usually, when we are talking about homebrew around here, we mean building your own equipment. However, most other people probably mean brewing beer, something that’s become increasingly popular as one goes from microbreweries to home kitchen breweries. People have been making beer for centuries so you can imagine it doesn’t take sophisticated equipment, but a little automation can go a long way to making it easier. When [LeapingLamb] made a batch using only a cooler, a stock pot, and a propane burner, he knew he had to do something better. That’s how Brew|LOGIC was born.
There are many ways to make beer, but Brew|LOGIC focuses on a single vessel process and [LeapingLamb] mentions that the system is akin to a sous vide cooker, keeping the contents of the pot at a specific temperature.
Honestly, though, we think he’s selling himself a bit short. The system has a remote application for control and is well-constructed. This isn’t just a temperature controller thrown into a pot. There’s also a pump for recirculation.
The common stock pot gets some serious modifications to hold the heating element and temperature probe. It also gets some spring-loaded clamps to hold the lid down. Expect to do a lot of drilling.
The electronics uses an Arduino, a Bluetooth board, and some relays (including a solid state relay). The finished system can brew between 5 and 15 gallons of beer at a time. While the system seems pretty good to us, he did list some ideas he has for future expansion, including valves, sensors for water level and specific gravity, and some software changes.
After reading that the system was similar to a sous vide cooker, we wondered if you could use a standard one. Turns out, you can. If you want to make better beer without electronic hacking, there’s always the genetic kind.
Robots, as we currently understand them, tend to run on electricity. Only in the fantastical world of Futurama do robots seek out alcohol as both a source of fuel and recreation. That is, until [Les Wright] and his beer seeking robot came along. (YouTube, video after the break.)
A Raspberry Pi 3 provides the brains, with an Intel Neural Compute stick plugged in as an accelerator for neural network tasks. This hardware, combined with the OpenCV image detection software, enable the tracked robot to identify objects and track their position accordingly.
That a beer bottle was chosen is merely an amusing aside – the software can readily identify many different object categories. [Les] has also implemented a search feature, in which the robot will scan the room until a target bottle is identified. The required software and scripts are available on GitHub for your perusal.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion in accelerator hardware for deep learning and neural network computation. This is, of course, particularly useful for robotics applications where a link to cloud services isn’t practical. We look forward to seeing further development in this field – particularly once the robots are able to open the fridge, identify the beer, and deliver it to the couch in one fell swoop. The future will be glorious!
Continue reading “Robot Can’t Take Its Eyes Off The Bottle”
The folks at [K&J Magnetics] have access to precise magnetometers, a wealth of knowledge from years of experience but when it comes to playing around with a silly project like a magnetic koozie, they go right to trial and error rather than simulations and calculations. Granted, this is the opposite of mission-critical.
Once the experimentation was over, they got down to explaining their results so we can learn more than just how to hold our beer on the side of a toolbox. They describe three factors related to magnetic holding in clear terms that are the meat and bones of this experiment. The first is that anything which comes between the magnet and surface should be thin. The second factor is that it should be grippy, not slippy. The final element is to account for the leverage of the beverage being suspended. Say that three times fast.
Magnets are so cool for anything from helping visualize gas atoms, machinists’ tools, and circumventing firearm security features.
Continue reading “Beverage Holder Of Science”
Over the past few years, Reddit user [callingyougoulet] has created Boozer, a DIY beer dispenser that keeps track of how much of your brew you have left in your kegs. Installed in a Keezer (a freezer that contains beer kegs and faucets) [callingyougoulet]’s dispenser uses a Raspberry Pi to keep track of things. A series of flow sensors determine how much liquid has passed through them and, when the drink is poured, can calculate how much you poured and how much you have left.
Starting with a chest freezer, [callingyougoulet] built a nice wooden surround as well as installed a tower on top to hold the faucets. The top of the freezer has nice granite tiles covering it, and some LED accent lighting adds to the end product. However, taking the granite off in order to get at the kegs inside takes some time (about 20 minutes.)
Inside the freezer is the Raspberry Pi and four flow sensors, each one connected to a GPIO port on the Pi. After some calibration, the Python code running on the Pi can calculate a pretty close estimate of the amount of liquid poured. There’s also a temperature sensor in the freezer, so that you can tell how cool your beer is.
If the build had stopped there, it would have been a great project as-is, but [callingyougoulet] added twitter, Slack and MQTT outputs as options, so that a home automation system (or the entire internet) can tell how much and when you’ve been drinking and, more importantly, you can know how much is left in your kegs! There are some very cool keg cooling builds on the site, such as, a kegerator built from the ground up, and a very elegant kegerator built on the cheap check them out for ideas!