Fermentation Chamber

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So if you don’t want an all singing all dancing BrewPi (which lets face it, it’s expensive) you can invest in an STC-1000

What’s the difference?

The BrewPi has a web interface, the STC-1000 doesn’t.  I can set up a fermentation profile on the BrewPi, but if I’m in the house, I can manually change the STC – as long as I remember.  The big difference is the price – £150 for a BrewPI, compared to a finished cost of £70 with an STC system (this is assuming a 2nd hand £25 fridge and a £15 tube heater).

So for a non-complex ale that needs a fermentation of 18’C, which would I choose?  The STC.

For a wheatbeer, starting fermentation at 12’C and rising steadily over 14 days to 21’C? The BrewPi.

What equipment do you need?

Fridge £25
Tube Heater £15
STC-1000 £13
Extension Cords £3.99 x 2
Project Box £4
Choc Box £1

So about £66

And the instructions? Try Here

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Garden Potting Bench

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This weekend we did some clearing out (almost qualifies as a spring clean).  I also got round to splitting up some pallets and utilising an old sink to make a potting bench. Among its regular tasks is somewhere to clean the chickens water bowl which is usually full of poo and straw 30 seconds after being put into their run.

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Another brew is on for the national home brew competition.

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Gary made a stand for the fermenting fridge so that I don’t need to use an old log to keep stable. It’s build to bomb proof standards.

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And Ben was so cold he took the got seat. Actually he also ran electrical cable round the workshop to enable us to use the fridge without having to run extension cords everywhere.

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Crust conductor

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A bit of a dream of mine was to get a bus and stick a pizza oven on it touring festivals etc serving good pizza. But I’ve been pipped to the post by the crust conductor. I first became aware of them last year when my work colleague asked  about pizza oven construction and mentioned his sister had one that needed a bit  of finishing.

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It took a while to go visit, but finally we had a free weekend and they’d just reopened after the Christmas break.  As we walked on board we were hit by the smell of wood smoke and pizza from the oven – I was quite surprised by the setup as well. As you can see there were no complaints about the pizza of the chance to sit behind the wheel.

The real bonus of visiting them in Peckham is the brick brewery adjacent to the bus.

Great pizza and beer – all weathers in the bus but I really see it taking off in the summer in the outdoor seating area.

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Chickens

chickens on garden furniture

The advantage of it being winter now is that we can let the chickens freerange.  This means the rhubarb is gone.  Completely.  They really like rhubarb.

Next to go is the comfrey (my bocking 14 variety) which is in the process of being decimated.

Apparently even the garden furniture is fair game (as below).

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Going Solar?

LGPanelsThis post was supposed to be about how I was having a shiny new 3.6kw system installed.  Sadly, not.

The original proposal was to have 12 LG 280w panels, attached with Enphase micro inverters wired into a generation meter.  This was because they’d be on my East roof and my South roof. The total would give me about 2.6-2.7kw of generation (from a 3.6kw system.  Whilst there’s an awful lot of negative media being thrown about by Solaredge and Enphase (what seems to be the biggest comparable competitors) one thing is sure.  Micro Inverters work best on shaded split systems and Optimisers work best on single string installations with a single inverter where there’s no shade and you’re on the optimum angle.

With that in mind I was fairly happy with the Enphase system.

My selected installer came out and we had a long chinwag and were pretty much ready to sign contracts.  In the course of answering some of my questions, I checked google maps and we both realised that where we were talking about the panels would be North East, not East.  If you’re not aware of where the sun rises, it’s mostly South East to South West in the UK.  If it rises in the North, your continent has slipped below the equator.

So what to do? Well I do have a very nicely laid new flat roof.  It _could_ if we’re lucky get a few panels on it.  My garage roof is best because I ought to get seven rows of two panels at the perfect angle to generate the most power during the day.  Actually, 14 panels on a single roof, facing South, potentially in a string situation with a SolarEdge system probably would work better.

My single most annoyed gripe about the Enphase system is the pay per play system.  I’m not too sure what the current deal is, but basically I have to pay £250 to have a box which’ll monitor my system.  If I allow it to connect to the net, it’ll send my generation stats to a pay for service.  I can’t actually use my box to its full potential without setting up some sort of man in the middle attack (due to some dodgy SSL handling it’s possible) and coding some sort of interpreter.  All I’d like to do is make a page on Waark which shows you my stats if you like that sort of thing.  I might pay £250, but to activate my account, I apparently need to pay an additional $250 (not sure what that actually equates to in the UK, in truth it might be £150-250 and I’m not doing that for a webpage on a blog)  I’ve heard rumours they’ve gone back to  a pay per year service which in itself seems silly.  Which is a real shame as it looks so much cleaner and better designed than the Solaredge system, which is cheaper.

I’d also get monitoring software thrown in, which would be cheaper than Enphase.  Trouble is, my garage roof was laid by morons without a tape measure. or, a clue it seems.  It’s filled with woodworms as well, mostly made out of 2×4 and 2×6.  Mostly.

So, my current plan is get the gear on the new flat roof so we have a registered 4kw system for the current FiT payments.  Get garage roof updated to 8×2 and regraded and move the panels over to the garage roof once it’s done.  Whether my installer can be convinced to do me a Solaredge (or similar) install with the LG panels will have to be seen! It might save me a few quid considering I’m going to have to completely remove the garage roof…!

 

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Normal service is resumed

Whilst the normal site carried on as normal, the mobile version of this site was a little more racy. Sorry about that. I only found out today when I popped on with my mobile at work and got a little more than I expected…

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Tesco Hudl 2

Well, it has to be said the Hudl2 comes at a bargain price. I’ve had a couple of problems since I purchased it. On my very first day of ownership it crashed badly – one minute it was working, the next I couldn’t seem to even restart it. I ended up plugging it in and oddly that seemed to bring it back – even though it had a full battery.
It crashed again a few days later (the next time I actually was using it in anger) and the unlock screen was smeared across the landscape view. Again, I reset it and everything was fine. A few hours later, dead again – with only being plugged into a plug socket making it come back to life with 75% charge. Very odd!

Other days I’ve used it fine since, so maybe just bad luck. Today I’ve watched several hours of videos and one thing is clear – it’s a power hog.
First off, I tried plugging it into my laptop to charge. No dice, even though it’s a socket with the power symbol for charging devices on it (I assume 1A), whilst it “charges” with the screen on, you’re just delaying the inevitable – the device discharges quicker than it can be replenished.

So why not use a 2A plug? Fortunately I’ve got one of those too… but again, whilst watching video, it slowly discharges (albeit slower!)
So who caries a 2A and a 3A plug? I do. Well, I have an Anker battery pack which charges at 2A and outputs at 3A – and very handy it is too. There seems enough charge being output to satisfy the Hudl2 and I can watch video AND charge the device at the same time.

I’ve not checked the charger that comes with the Hudl2, but it may well be a 3amp charger, which puts it in league with my laptop and explains why most normal chargers won’t be beast enough to power the hudl.

Charging with 3A is noticeably faster than the 2A – in 20 minutes, my device has gone up by 6% whilst watching a video (this in itself is not surprising if you know anything about current) but it shows the draw from the device outstrips 2A supply sockets, so watch out, they will be getting fairly warm. Best to stick with the manufacturers plug – don’t use your other older chargers from previous devices.

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Leatherworking

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After a couple of weeks away at this year’s bushmoot I undertook a leatherworking course. One of my projects was a tankard, so I thought I’d have a go at home. Turned out much better than expected

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Afterwards on the Sunday I had a go wet forming a card wallet

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And a woggle or two for the scouts

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Pumpkin…

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Found this. It’s got a bit big.

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Garage

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So the old kitchen has gone into the garage and the brewery has its own space. Next is to make it food safe! Bodge job on the extractor fan to get steam out efficiently.

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