Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One project completed...

So yesterday, after months (years?) of occasionally looking at a partial pile of parts, I finally completed one of my many lesser brewing projects--I now have a stir-plate, for yeast starters and propagation and the like. I'd put together the computer fan and magnet before, but couldn't get a dimmer switch to adjust the speed, and was having difficulty imagining how I'd support the whole thing. Enter the various online forums I habituate, and the thread here. A nice, step-by-step tutorial, complete with photos.

I already had a fan and a project box (fan from an old computer that's slowly being cannibalized for parts, project box that was going to be for the HERMs controller). The HERMs controller (which is complete--just waiting to amass parts for the final build) is going to be powered by a 9V DC adapter (wall wart); I simply got a matching jack for its plug to use in the stir plate. Purchased a rheostat/potentiometer, a knob for it, an on/off switch, and some magnets, and assembled as per the instructions. (Pictures will be forthcoming soon, if I get around to it...)

Add one stir-bar from the LHBS (Maryland Homebrew), and after a little practice, it works fine! Woohoo!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Brew, BBQ, family, and friends.

If ever there was a recipe for a better Brew Day, I don't know what it is. Had a couple of friends over (could have had more--you know who you are!), BBQ'ed some chicken, brewed up a batch of stout (to become Blackberry Stout, when all is said & done), and generally had a good time. The weather has been decent, so we spent the day outside. The yard is dirtscaped (no grass to speak of), and it's a tad hot with no shade out there, but we all endured--copious amounts of homebrew helped, especially the wit. I'd say that a good time was had by all.

Next month will quite possibly be my last brew day until late September or early October--I'll be off on a business trip for about two months. Much experimentation and tasting will be in order while I'm out. I'll try to manage a brew in early July, but there's no telling. Hopefully, I can have the majority of the HERMs system put together by then.

My Lady Wife assisted with a tasting/judging at Sapphire Joust yesterday; she's now even more eager to bring general A&S standards to the brewing community. We (they?) have been a bit lax, or so it seems to me. I mean, the reason I didn't enter the most recent Kingdom Brewer is that I don't/didn't have anything that I would enter into an SCA event--even though a couple of my brews at the time were fantastic--just not documentable. Between that and the cognitive dissonance with the standards for containers, I'm not keen on doing SCA brewing competitions, generally. Maybe in future; we'll see.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Time marches on

Well, the last Brew Day went remarkably well. Beer was brewed, so the important part was taken care of... Additionally, lots of people came over, and the whole event turned into a barbecue/potluck sort of thing. I'd say a good time was had by all... I was able to introduce a couple of people to mead, which is always entertaining; I'm proud to say that the response to my brews was overwhelmingly positive.

In other news, the next Brew Day will be on the 24th of May. I'll probably be following that up in quick succession with a Brew Day early in June. I need to clear out a couple of kegs to move some of the things currently aging; I should be able to empty one or two at the Barony's event at the end of May (On Target), so that should keep me in business for a while.

Progress on the HERMS upgrade continues. I'm waiting on some temperature sensors that I hope will work--I had absolutely no luck with the LM34's. I'm sure they're wonderful sensors (and I'd love to be able to get Fahrenheit temps without conversion from Celsius), but I just absolutely couldn't get the things to work. Hopefully the DS18B20's will do the job. I've got the relay working, and the LCD figured out, and I figured out the I2C interface last week for the clock and data storage. I've got to figure out the addressing for the EEPROM yet, but that shouldn't be a big deal. Otherwise, it's mostly just programming, with a little hardware to put together. Woohoo!

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