What would we do without milk in modern day society? Although lactation originally evolved as a way to provide a newborn mammal with nutrients and the other essentials during the first weeks of their life, milk has for thousands of years now been a staple food in human cultures. Whether from cows, camels, sheep or other mammals, each year humans consume many liters of this mythical substance, with our galaxy’s name – the Milky Way – coming courtesy of Greek mythology and a spilled milk incident.
A major issue with mammalian milk, however, is that it is only produced by females for a certain time after giving birth, which requires for example a dairy cow to constantly go through pregnancies, which is both cumbersome and not very animal-friendly. Simultaneously, the newborn offspring cannot drink this milk, but must be provided with an alternative. For these reasons synthetic milk is becoming an increasingly more popular animal- and environmentally-friendly alternative.
For years now, companies such as US-based Perfect Day are producing milk that’s for all intents and purposes identical to cow milk, with the added advantage of being free of lactose and other problematic additions. The best part of this all? It’s all done with existing fermentation techniques.
Continue reading “The Dawn Of Synthetic Milk: When Milk Becomes More Like Beer”
A while back, [Emiel] aka [The Practical Engineer] created a hands-free Oreo dispenser for his shop. This was a necessary addition to his fleet of handy tools, and allowed him to multitask much more effectively by using a sander, for example, at the same time that he needed to eat a cookie. Of course, this time-saving device was missing one crucial element: milk. [Emiel] is back in this video to show off his milk-dispensing upgrade to his original Oreo dispenser.
A few ideas were considered before [Emiel] decided to build a separate unit for the milk dispenser, so as not to create a gigantic mess any time an Oreo was delivered, and also to maintain some decorum in the shop. He rebuilt the Oreo dispenser with a 3D printer and then also 3D printed the milk dispenser. The chin-activated switch inside the device turns on a small pump which squirts milk into the user’s mouth, presumably after an Oreo has been delivered.
There are a few problems with the build, but most are easily solved by replacing non-food-grade parts with plastic that is more safe for being around consumables. The only other thing we can see here is that it might be a little hard to keep things clean, both inside and out, but most Oreo-related builds like this one have at least some problem with cleanliness that isn’t impossible to keep up with.
Continue reading “Hands-Free Oreo Dispenser, Now With Milk”
It’s easy to forget how much illness and death was caused by our food and drink just one hundred years ago. Our modern food systems, backed by sound research and decent regulation, have elevated food safety to the point where outbreaks of illness are big news. If you get sick from a burger, or a nice tall glass of milk, it’s no longer a mystery what happened. Instead we ask why, and “who screwed up?”
In the early 20th century though, many food-borne illnesses were still a mystery, and microbiology was a scientific endeavor that was just getting started. Alice Catherine Evans was an unlikely figure to make a dent in this world at the time, but through her research at the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA), and later at the Hygienic Laboratory (now the National Institute of Health) she had a huge impact on the field of bacteriology, the dairy industry, and consumer safety. Continue reading “Alice Evans: Brucellosis, Or Why We Pasteurize Milk”
Plastic milk bottles, when your project or prototype needs an urgent source of plastic, they are often the first thing to hand. Convenient and flexible, but strong at the same time and usually free, they’re the ultimate source of material in a pinch. However, when it comes to actually manipulating the HDPE plastic they’re made from, there’s often a challenge. It’s easy to cut, but not so easy to join. Conventional glues can have a hard time, making it difficult to bond.
Enter [zimitt], and a spot welding solution for joining HDPE with ease. Ok, so ‘spot welding’ might be a little optimistic given the speed of this process, but it’s useful nonetheless. To heat the plastic, a cheap soldering iron is recommended. A low wattage, straight-to-the-wall one does well, especially as they commonly have the washer-style end shown in the picture. To protect the plastic from burning, a BBQ mat is used – they’re temperature resistant and usually made with a PTFE surface.
First, place the two sheets of plastic face to face and sandwich top and bottom with the BBQ mat. Apply some heat to the mat with the soldering iron then, after a few seconds, remove the iron and provide pressure with a flat object to bond the plastic. [zimitt] used an espresso tamper for this which was ideal.
The results are impressive, and [zimitt] experiments with different plastics as well. Of course, you should exercise caution when attempting anything like this, given the health risks present when heating up different types of plastic.
HDPE is easy to recycle at home, and we’ve seen a lot of great uses: a plastic joiner’s mallet, plastic tiles, and even a filament extruder for 3D printing.
There are those who reckon the humble bowl of breakfast cereal to be the height of culinary achievement. Look askance if you must, but cereal junkies are a thing, and they have a point. The magic comes not from just filling a bowl and adding a splash of milk, but by knowing which cereals to mix together.
Who needs all that fussy mixing, though, when you can automate and customize your cereal dispensing chores? That’s the approach [Kevin Obermann] and [Adrian Bernhart] took with their Cereal Dispensing Machine, even if they went a little further than necessary. Laser-cut plywood forms a four-station carousel for off-the-shelf dry-good dispensers, each of which got a stepper motor to replace the wrist-twisting. The original motors were a bit too wimpy to handle the more rugged morning selections and were eventually upgraded to gear motors. The platform that supports the dispensers also holds all the electronics, including an ESP32 to run everything and host the web app needed to choose your poison. Plus RGB LEDs, because breakfast should look like a rave. Sadly, the team ran out of GPIO pins and were unable to run the peristaltic pump needed to add the milk. There will always be version 2.0, though.
If cereal isn’t your automated breakfast of choice, we understand. Perhaps a more [Wallace] and [Gromit] style breakfast machine would do, or a robotic peanut butter sandwich any time of day is a treat.
Continue reading “Carousel Of Cereals Mixes And Matches Custom Breakfast Blends”
[Sebastian Foerster] hasn’t been at his blog in a while. He and his wife just had twins, so he’s been busy standing waiting for formula or milk to warm up. Being a technical kind of guy, he took a look at the tools currently on the market to do this, analyzed them, and decided instead to do it himself.
[Sebastian] looked to his Nespresso Aeroccino – a milk frother designed to give you hot or cold frothy milk for the top of whatever beverage you decide to put it on top of. It made the milk a bit too hot, 60°C, but once it got to the temperature, it would shut off, so if [Sebastian] could get it to shut off at a lower temperature, he had found the solution!
After taking the Aeroccino apart and going over the circuit, it seemed like a simple design relying on a resistor and NTC (negative temperature coefficient) thermistor connected to an ATTiny44 microcontroller. [Sebastian] didn’t want to have to reprogram the ATTiny, so he looked at the resistor and NTC. The resistor and thermistor create a voltage divider and that voltage is read in by the microcontroller through an analog pin. After looking up some info on the thermistor and replacing the resistor with a potentiometer, [Sebastian] could adjust the shut-off temperature while measuring with a thermometer. When he got the temperature he liked, he reads the value of the potentiometer and then replaces it with a couple of resistors in series.
Now [Sebastian] gets the babies’ bottles ready from fridge to temperature in about 25 seconds. He doesn’t have to worry about keeping an eye on the bottles as they heat up. We’re sure that getting two bottles ready in under a minute is much better on the nerves of new parents than waiting around for ten minutes. For more fun with thermistors, check out our article on resistors controlled by the environment or check out this bluetooth bbq thermometer!
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”