Barilla’s Open Source Tool For Perfect Pasta

Cooking pasta is perhaps one of the easiest things you can do in the kitchen, second only to watching a pot of water boil. But as pasta maker Barilla points out on their website, you can reduce your meal’s CO₂ emissions by up to 80% if you simply let the pasta sit in the hot water rather than actively boil it the whole time — a technique known as passive cooking.

The trick is getting the timing right, so in a fairly surprising move, Barilla has released the design for an open source device that will help you master this energy-saving technique. Granted it’s not a terribly complex piece of hardware, consisting of little more than an Arduino Nano 33 BLE, an NTC probe, and a handful of passive components wrapped up in a 3D-printed case. But the documentation is great, and we’ve got to give Barilla credit for going way outside of their comfort zone with this one.

Magnets in the 3D printed case let it stick to the lid of your pot, and when it detects the water is boiling, the gadget alerts your phone (at least for this version of the device, an Android or iOS application is required) that it’s time to put in the pasta. A few minutes later it will tell you when you can turn off the burner, after which it’s just a matter of waiting for the notification that your passively-cooked pasta is ready to get pulled out.

Like the prop making video Sony put out after the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, we recognize that on some level this is an advertisement for Barilla pasta. But if developing useful open source gadgets that can be built by the public is what a company wants to spend their advertising dollars on, you won’t catch us complaining. Hell, we might even spring for a box of Barilla next time we’re in the store.

Continue reading “Barilla’s Open Source Tool For Perfect Pasta”

Will A Kettle Filled With Alcohol Boil Dry?

The average home kettle is set up to switch off automatically when water reaches its boiling point. But would a kettle filled with alcohol, which has a significantly lower boiling point, actually turn off? [Steve Mould] set out to find out.

The prediction was that a kettle full of 40% strength vodka would boil dry, as the vodka would evaporate before it actually got to a hot enough temperature to cause the kettle’s cutout mechanism to kick in. The experiment was done outside to minimise the dangers from the ethanol vapor. As it turns out, the vapor from the boiling vodka is about 80% ethanol and just 20% water, so eventually the mixture left in the kettle is mostly water and it boils hot enough to trigger the cutout mechanism.

However, the experiment doesn’t end there. Trying again with 99% ethanol, when the fluid started boiling, the kettle switched off even more quickly. So what’s going on?

The kettle in question uses a bimetallic strip, which trips the switch off in the base of the kettle when it gets too hot. There’s also a tube inside the kettle that carries vapor from the internal cavity and lets it pass over the bimetallic strip. When the liquid inside the kettle boils, it forces hot vapor through the tube, out of the kettle and over the bimetallic strip.

This strip triggers at a temperature significantly lower than the boiling point of water; indeed, as long as the liquid in the kettle is fairly hot and is boiling enough to force vapor out the tube, the kettle will switch off. [Steve] points out that it’s a good mechanism, as this mechanism allows the kettle to respond to boiling itself, rather than the arbitrary 100 C point which water technically only boils at when one is at sea level.

It’s an interesting look at a safety system baked into something many of us use every day without even thinking. It’s not the first time we’ve seen [Steve] dive deep into the world of tea-making apparatus, either. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Will A Kettle Filled With Alcohol Boil Dry?”

Hacking Together A Temperature Sensor For Boiling Milk

Ever have trouble justifying your hacking to anyone from another generation? [Domen] presented his mother with a custom-made device that monitors the milk temperature as it boils on the stove, preventing boil-over. And he made the device robust, simple to use, and foolproof. To his mom, it must look like he’s a wizard — able to conjure up home electronics out of solder smoke and some plywood.

Of course, we know better. Inside his gadget is a simple temperature sensor, an ATtiny841, a very nice home-made PCB, a buzzer, an LCD, and some pushbuttons. [Domen] rubbed together a few pre-existing libraries, and had a working prototype inside a nice wooden box on the quick. It’s a simple hack, but imagine how this must look to a muggle. For the detailed incantations, check out [Domen]’s GitHub for the project.

Continue reading “Hacking Together A Temperature Sensor For Boiling Milk”

Boiling Acid Used To See Chip Die

When a project starts off by heating acid to its boiling point we say no thanks. But then again we’re more for the projects that use ones and zeros or a hot soldering iron. If you’re comfortable with the chemistry like [Michail] this might be right up your alley. He used boiling acid to expose and photograph the die from several integrated circuits.

The title of our feature is a play on words. In this case, die refers to the silicone on which the IC has been etched. To protect it the hardware manufacturer first attaches the metal pins to the die, then encapsulates it in plastic. [Michail] removes that plastic case by heating sulfuric acid to about 300 degrees Celsius (that’s 572 Fahrenheit) then submerges the chips in the acid inside of a sealed container for about forty minutes. Some of the larger packages require multiple trips through the acid bath. After this he takes detailed pictures of the die and uses post processing to color enhance them.

This isn’t the only way to get to the guts of a chip. We’ve seen nitric acid and even tree sap (in the form of bow rosin) do the trick.