Yup, that's right! My wife had been reading some cool crafty blogs and I am always up for learning about something new so I got involved. We headed out to JoBeth to find a book that all the online blogs say is a must-have for DIY cheese and butter making (they had it, much to my surprise)! It's called the Home Creamery and it's a fantastic book to get you started making your own cheeses and butters!
It was sooo easy and far better tasting than store-bought butter. I even had Natalie cut some fresh chives from the garden and I added that with some garlic powder to make a more savory butter! Fantastic stuff!
Whole whipping cream getting smooth now!
Right Before the butter starts to form!
Ah, time for some elbow grease!
Getting rid of the remaining buttermilk.
Salted and ready!
I was waiting on an order I had placed with Tayda Electronics (they rock) for my One-Wire temperature sensors.
If you haven't heard of One-Wire or these particular sensors you need to check them out. They are made by Dallas Semiconductors and they are amazing. They are a bit $$, which is why I opted to have them shiped from the philipeans directly. I got them for $1.60/each as opposed to ~$5.00/each from any of the domestic online retailers. The shipping only took ~8 days and the shipping was only ~$4.00. Can't beat that huh?
Anyhow, I got them in and wanted to see them in action, so I threw together a quick circuit which reads the temp and displays it on a LCD screen I had laying around (got it here). The end result is a quite nice and very accurate thermometer! I've posted my code and some high-res pics in the attached ZIP file below if you are intrested. Get your LCD working as outlined in the adafruit document and then hook up the one-wire sensor.
A few months ago, Natalie started playing around with making her own lotion bars. While she was researching, she came across numerous folks blogging about making them but also making soap. It's something we were both interested in since we started going to the farmer’s market downtown. The old-fashion soap was simple, far longer lasting and had no nasty chemicals in it, we loved the several bars we purchased. The problem is, it's quite expensive compared to the Irish Spring you can pick up at any China-Mart. We figured it had to be cheaper to make it ourselves and the knowledge of how to do so would be priceless. Becoming more self-sufficient is something we both feel can't hurt.
This week-end was our first attempt at soap making. We had purchased the lye online with some other essential oils and dyes here. We decided very early on we'd use the Cold Process method of making soap as it yielded a very hard soap that lasted longer and was just more similar to how my grandmother had made her lard-lye soap.
As you can see, we made two batches of soap. One for me (the red bar) and one for Natalie (the brown and yellow) one. Mine was scented with a Karma knock-off (from lush) and Natalie decided on Oatmeal, Milk and Honey. They both smelled fantastic and turned out better than expected. We are going to attempt to make a cinnamon scented batch tomorrow to prepare for the gift-giving season ahead.... (and yes, I did make the wooden molds and wire cutting block). More pictures below of our first attempt...
(Natalie's Oatmeal, Milk and Honey Soap)
(Natalie's Oatmeal Soap showing yellow swirls from top)
(Both our soaps waiting to be cut)
(Cutting my soap)
Ah the power of Altoids! And now it has the power to charge your IPod with as much minty power as does at killing that early morning coffee breath!
It's been out there for a while but I finally broke down and ordered the parts to build my own. This really is a perfect way to learn, easy enough for the beginner and has amazing charging capacity with normal AAs! Great details here if you are interested in making your own. If you are not intrested in wiring one up, let me know, I can hook you up with a finished model.
BTW, adafruit.com shipped my order within an hour! Now that's what I call customer service!
I decided on Saturday that I'd try my hand at building a setup with the Arduino to detect sound. I found the perfect schematic online here from the guys over at SparkFun.com. They have a really nice breakout board for an Electret Microphone but it's ~$8.00 and I already had the stuff on hand to build my own. I think I'll still pick one of theirs up at some point, just to have around. It's quality built and tiny. I've attached the Schematic and the code with additional high-res pictures below for anyone more interested. I used an OpAmp to increase the voltage and had the code check for a threshold. Once the threshold had been exceeded, it would light up the red LED. The end result looks very similar to one of the old-school VU meters. You can adjust the gain on the amp by increasing the R5 resistor. This would make an excellent sound detector or even could be hooked up to a small speaker, it's a simplistic mono-amplifier after all...
Being a .Net developer, I figured I needed to know how to get my applications to talk to the Ardunio board via the USB serial port. Took a few hours to get the Ardunio code working, but here is the final results.
I setup a simple VS2008 C# project (you'll need to modify to compile with VS2005) to turn a LED on and off by clicking a button on the form. You'll need to change the hard-coded COM port to the correct one for your setup and hook up the LED (don't forget your resistor) to the digial PIN 12 on the Ardunio board.
- A few things to note:
- I'm using a fixed char command "INLENGTH" which will need to be updated if you wish to increase the command char length.
- I've used # to pad the command when I don't have a 6 char command.
- LED must be on digital PIN 12 (you can change this in the code of course).
- COM port is hard-coded in the .Net code for my setup, change to correct COM port on our computer.