FM Radio with the Kids

So 2 of my kids want are interested in building a FM radio. The other one wants to build a R/C car that goes at least 55 mph. I order the FM radio kit yesterday. The R/C car is a future project.

I looked at a lot of kits and diy radio books but because the kids want to do it I went with a small kit that only deals with FM, has an illustrated PCB, and comes with educational instructions. It does require soldering but that is a skill I always need to improve on and they need to learn.

I ordered the Elenco FM radio kit for less than $20 delivered from Amazon.

If we mess it up it won’t break the bank. Plus of it works I can order an other one sho both girls have their own FM radio they helped make.

I hope to learn some from this because lately I want to build a stereo from scratch. I don’t have any experience in audio circuits so this seemed like a good place to start and if we all 3 stay with it then it will be a fun journey.

New Lab Setup

So I’m working on setting up a new lab to learn Citrix Xen Desktop among other things. Here is how I’ve configured it to start.

1 – QNAP NAS presenting storage via NFS

4 – Hosts with 8GB RAM each

1 – GigE Switch

This works out really well since I can get 3 – 4 VMs per host and the storage is all in one place. I know I need to be learning VSAN but I don’t have the equipment setup for that right now. That will be in the future. I’ll be using ESXi as the hypervisor since I haven’t found a place that uses Xen and I need to update to VMware 6.x. On the Windows side I’m looking to setup an AD domain for the house, a SQL server for holding all the DBs for the test environment including vCenter, Sophos firewall for home to keep the kids in check, and use the QNAP to store all the photos we take. I will be testing Citrix MCS and PVS with a trial version of the NetScaler. The trial version of Netscaler is why I went with the Sophos for the non-test firewall. Not sure yet if I am going to route all traffic through the Sophos or just the stuff I want to keep an eye on for the kids.

I’ll update when the lab is finished.

Stone IPA Keg Kicked

So my wonderful wife purchased a 5 gallon keg of Stone IPA for my birthday and it is now kicked. After I quit screaming “NOOOOOO!!!!!”, I was actually happy that I had the opportunity to have kicked 5 gallons of Stone’s wonderful IPA. Best wife ever! If you run into her make sure to tell her how cool she is. Remember behind every home brewer is a wonderful spouse. I’m lucky.

BrewPi Manual Install on Weezy

So tonight I’m giving the manual path of installing BrewPi on a Debian Weezy VM. I want to see if I can get BrewPi up and running without the Raspberry PI and the BrewPi Shield.BrewPi

Nothing against the great BrewPi devs but I wanna see if I can make the setup so easy that not tech people in my homebrew club can get it working without being turned off by all the tech and DIY you have to do.

I’ve got the VM and pulled the files down from the GIT repository.

Did not need to run SUDO since I was just logged in as ROOT. I know. I know it is just a first run through and wont be production so that’s OK.

The install script was setup to run SUDO so I had edit it in VI to remove those commands. Everything was loading fine until the APT-GET bombed out. I ran each package individually and only 1 would not run: python-configobj. I’ll have to research that package if it wont run without it. Basically just delete line 179.

For some reason I’m listening to Nemisis and Too $hort. Oh the memories.

OK. Edited the to remove SUDO and now the Cron job runs and the website loads!

BrewPi Web Interface


Script is not running  but I’ll check on that. BrewPi docs say I need to program the Arduino next.


Is School Night for Scouts Good for September?

So last week was school night for scouting in our district. It went really well we more than doubled in size. But I had 2 parents ask about joining in January since their son plays sports in the fall. Now Pack 422 might be unique since our charter organization only allows us to meet one night a week in only one room with a large garage space attached so we cannot meet any other day of the week. I also got a lot of questions about dues and had to explain those who sign up at school night have to pay a prorated amount that covers them from September to December and then pay the full amount in January. Wait I already had a discussion that included January and joining.

So the question popped in my head of moving school night for scouting to after Christmas break?  That would make recharter and collecting dues much easier. Plus we have a campout the day after school night that no one other than existing scouts know about and can plan for followed 2 weeks later by Fun with Son which is followed itself 2 weeks later by Gold Rush and Popcorn. That along with the required paperwork and don’t forget that school only started 2 weeks before school night and it can get extremely overwhelming for parents who are new to scouts.
So what about January for school night?

Arduino with the Kids this Saturday

So this Saturday the wife is going to be out of the house for a significant part of the day so I decided to find some Arduino projects I can do with the kids.

Not sure if they will all be a success but here are the ones I’m going to try.

Arduino Projects for Kids on a Saturday

  1. Super Simple Adjustable Strobe for Arduino 
  2. Super Simple RIFF musical instrument for Arduino 
  3. Creating an Electronic Die

And along the way to finding those I ran into a cool document on how to create games with Scratch which kids learned this year in school.

Mash Temperature or Fermentation Temperature?

Whis is more important Mash Temperature or Fermentation Temperature?

So I’m thinking of getting into full grain brewing and as usual my brain starts working on trying to figure out “the best way” to put together the all grain brewing setup.3 Tier Brewing System

The hot liquor tun or the sparge water tun which is the first step is only used to hold hot water so that is not too complicated. Naturally I first started looking into the Mash Tun, which in a 3 tier brewing system is the second step but it is where the magic happens before the boil. We are engaging enzymes to manipulate chains of sugar to feed the yeast in this step so it had to be important and you have to keep the temperature at set levels to not mess up the enzyme magic sugar splitting. The mash temperature also affects the mouth feel and lots of other aspects.

Well with all good hobbies there are always options, so many you head could explode, and there are always very expensive options.

But it turns out after doing some research and asking members of the Carolina Brew Masters that it is fermentation temperature that is more important to the taste of the beer not the temperature control of the mash.

Fermentation temperature is much easier to control since all you have to do is regulate the temperature of your fermentation vessel to the range of the yeast you are using. That is as easy as an old freezer and a temperature control unit that can be purchased for around $80 or you can make one from parts on Amazon for $45 if you you are a maker.

I’ll right up some plans on the configuration I’m going use in another post. Might even delve deeper into why fermentation temperature is so important as well.


Belgian Wit Extract Recipe is Kegged

So the first beer I brewed for my wife is a Belgian Wit extract recipe. It is now kegged next to my 2x IPA in the beer fridge.

It started 6 weeks ago with a DME kit from Alternative Beverage on South Blvd. This time I was looking for the “Her’s” brew to go in the left tap. That was part of the deal to convert the freezer in the garage to a kegerator, one tap for her and one for me. Not a bad deal since I get to make beer for two people instead of just me. It’s also nice to share brewing as a hobby with my wife.

So… Continue reading “Belgian Wit Extract Recipe is Kegged”