Friday, December 10, 2010

The booze post!

PART 1: Hard Cider

Mmmmmmmm home brewing. So delicious, when it turns out right. Last year around this time I had given home brewing a try and attempted to conjure up some hard cider. Long story short, I immediately dumped it out after trying it. Realizing I made a very simple mistake (who knew the type of yeast mattered?), I decided to give it another go.

First step was to buy a gallon of cider, ensuring that there were no preservatives used. Easy enough. Next, the cider is simmered for about a half hour to kill off any wild yeast that may be present. During this process, I also dissolved in a half pound of brown sugar (I have no idea what differences white/brown sugar have on the final product).

Once all simmered up, I added the cider back to it's original container, and let it sit overnight to cool down to room temp. The following morning, I simply added the yeast to the mix, and put a balloon (which I poked a few holes in) over the mouth of the jug. The balloon acts as an airlock. As the yeast devours sugar and poops alcohol, gas is produced. The balloon allows this gas to escape without letting much air back in.

After the first night, we can see the yeast is quite active!

After a solid 3 weeks of waiting, the cider was ready to go! Compared to my first failed batch, this was delicious! Compared to other brand name ciders, it wasn't bad :P. It's not at all carbonated, so it turns out tasting a bit more like a wine than a cider. But either way, it's quite tasty and packs a bit of a punch!

PART 2: Skittles Vodka

A college favorite! As you may of guessed it, this is nothing more than the fusion of skittles and vodka. All you need is a bottle of vodka (750ml) and a bag of skittles (14oz). Start off by separating them by color, or you can try a mix of flavors if you're feeling dangerous. As you can see, I'm getting prepped for my Ugly Christmas Sweater party.

Before you add the skittles you're gonna have to pour out a bit of the vodka. I just added it to another bottle that I had. Once you've made room, add the skittles.

In the past I used to let this sit hours before I attempted to strain, which I realize now, was completely retarded. All we want is the outer most coating of the skittle. What I found in making this batch is that you just need a few minutes. So I continues sorting the other skittles, and gave the bottles a good shake in between each color. As you can see the skittles are practically solid white, and have expelled their flavor into the vodka.

Next we must strain the vodka, as we don't want the skittles to continue dissolving. I just placed a fork over the mouth of the bottle and poured into another container. Pretty simple!

Dump out the skittles, add the vodka back into it's bottle, and that's it! Easy and delicious!

PRO TIP: The grape skittles, while hands down the best flavor of skittles, makes an AWFUL skittles vodka. It's pretty much cough medicine.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Arcade Machine!

Praises be to Goodwill! That's where I found this awesome homemade arcade cabinet, complete with Neo-Geo tagged on it for a whopping $20!

The best part of this build was that the vast majority of the work was already done for, and I simply reaped the rewards of someone else's hard work :). All that was left to do was acquire an old PC and slap XP on there and MAME, find a TV, and install some controls.

Again, praise be to Goodwill! I came across an RCA Colortrak 2000, which is as cool as it sounds. This TV not only fit within 1/4" of the cabinet, but had a built in receiver, and a glass panel that protected the actual screen. Almost looks like something out of a studio of sorts?

With the TV and computer taken care of, I hopped onto my favorite website for arcade parts, I snagged a pair of joysticks and 12 pushbuttons, and after only 2 days, had the parts in hand and was ready to go. I made quick work of the previously existing front panel with some hole saws...

Then I mounted the controls...

(hah I thought I had a picture of the controls mounted, guess not :P)
And then, the worst part, I had to wire all the controls. I went with the same approach as I did on the Donkey Kong machine, strip the board from a keyboard, trace back the flex circuits to the board, and then wire the switch directly across the two points. This is the mess that ensued...Why I bought solid wire I have no idea, didn't think that one through. Either way, after a few touch ups, the control panel was ready to go. This was as simple as plugging the usb cable back into the controller board, and then into the computer, and then...


Monday, October 25, 2010

Homemade Bacon!

After reading another post online about homemade bacon, I knew I had to give it a spin. After a quick trip to the local butcher shop, I came home with 3 1/4 pounds of pork belly, not prettiest cut of meat by any means...

Apparently all there is to do is load it up with kosher salt and some spices. I went with black pepper corns and garlic, as I read it would give the bacon a more "savory" flavor. The reason it's sitting in a drying rack is because as the salt draws out the moisture, it will begin to drip delicious pork juice, mmmmmm, and at the low low price of $4, it was perfect for the job!

And that's it! I popped that bad boy in the fridge and added some more salt each day. I had taken pictures each day to show it's progress, but the meat itself really didn't change at all. So five days later, I ended up with a nice chunk of cured pork belly!

Now you might be thinking, hmmmm, that darkened up a bit...That's exactly what I thought too, and after poking around a bit and finding that some of the thinner areas were a little tough, I made a realization. I almost made beef jerky instead of bacon. Looking back I'm pretty confident that I was a bit heavy on the salt following the initial application. This pulled TOO much moisture out, and caused the meat to somewhat shrivel and dry. But no worries, this only applied to about 35-40 % of the meat.

Next was to smoke the cured belly for about 3-4 hours. Slight problem, I don't own a smoker, but who cares, I'll just broil it! After a solid 3 hours on a low heat in the oven, I pulled it out and carved off the layer of skin, and behold, bacon!

I sliced it up into the thinnest slices I could manage, which was not thin at all in terms of bacon... (The tiny strips on the left are the result of the over salting)

A sample strip on the skillet...

So how'd it taste? Great! But there was a slight problem...Much like the salt, I had gone overboard on the seasoning, which the fatty parts of the bacon really soaked up. So if you got a leaner slice (lol lean slice of bacon, yeah...), it was pretty awesome, but the fatty bits had a real punch of pepper.

Overall, I'm glad I undertook the task, but all in all I can really only call this a moderate success due to my spice overkill. But hey, now I've got 3 pounds of homemade, sometimes super peppery bacon :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Homemade lens (fisheye/tilt shift?)

Finding myself with some free time before Friday night festivities, I set out to do SOMETHING with this Nikon I had purchased a while ago. I originally wanted to do a tilt shift lens, but with the huge telescoping lens that came with the camera, it wasn't exactly ideal for such a mod. I really had no idea where to start, so I kind of man handled the lens a bit and managed to separate it into 2 different pieces. Again, not really knowing what to do, I messed around with looking through the lenses, holding them at different distances, hoping to find something that looked cool, and I did. By taking the top cap of the lens and flipping it, I was able to create an effect similar to a fisheye, but instead of giving that bubble feel, it would increasingly blur. I also noticed that the closer the cap was to the lens, the sharped the image got.

Here's the cap sitting on top of the lens...
At this point it only made sense to bust out the dremel and get manly on it.
The end result was that I could now place the cap directly against the lens, giving me a fairly crisp shot.Now it was just a matter of attaching the cap to the lens, which clearly was done the only way that made sense, tons of tape. Not just any old tape though, this was the perfect opportunity to use teflon tape! For those unaware, I'm bat shit crazy for this stuff. If there is one thing you should always have handy, it's teflon tape. Now my original intent was to simply hold the cap down, nothing more, but thankfully the wonders of teflon tape presented me with something much more amazing...A tilt shift lens! Now it doesn't allow for too much of an angle, but I get a solid tilt for not intending on even have it as an option. I tore out this morning and took a quick stroll around town just burning the leftover film I had and here is what we got.

This one was taken pre lens modding, tossed it in for comparison.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


So I hardcore fell behind both on progress and updating the blog. I did manage to get a few things done, and round up even more projects to take on, here's a quick overview...

As far as the bike goes, I got mirrors! It's finally street legal!
Of course though that doesn't mean everything is 100% on it. I've been fouling plugs like crazy, and sought out the expertise of Rob at Cycle Recycle downtown. He recommended pulling the jets out of the bike and checking to see if the genius who owned this bike before me stepped the sizing up. The jets are what set the max amount of gas that enters the engine. If these are too big, too much gas gets in, which runs the engine rich, which fouls plugs. So I head home, pop the float caps off, and remove the jets...The carbs with the float caps and jets removed...The jet...
A look inside...
As you can see, I had 120s in there, and when I told Rob that, he pretty much laughed at me. So I picked a new set of 115s and popped 'em in. The bike started up like a dream. Rode it to work that following day (and froze my ass off in the morning), and on the way back it felt like it was starting to lose a little power. I let the engine cool and popped the plugs out, only to find that once again, they were fouled. Ugh. So, back to Rob this past weekend and now I've got a slew of things to check. Thinking about retiring it for the season and beginning the impossible process (for me at least) of taking it apart and doing body work. We'll see how the next few weeks go weather wise...

On the new project front, I found this giant red menace at Goodwill for a whopping $20...
I've already got a PC with a fresh Windows XP install and loaded up with ROMs, MAME, and a front end.

From here I still need to get a TV tuner for the computer, an actual TV to fit inside the cabinet, and I'll have to rig up controls somehow. I had originally thought to build a keyboard emulator, with the hopes that I could get back into microcontrollers, but that seems like it might be a whole project in itself. I'll probably just solder straight to a keyboard logic board like I did on the Donkey Kong machine, as it was both cheap and fairly easy.

On the topic of microcontrollers, I did order a PICKit to program PIC micros, so hopefully I can start back into that. I saw a project where a guy used a micro to send commands into an NES sound chip and use it as a synthesizer, so perhaps you'll see some updates regarding that. Anyway, that's where I stand right now, expect to see some updates on the arcade machine in the next week!

Monday, September 6, 2010

So close to street legal!

So the bike wasn't exactly street legal when the previous owner turned it over to me. Namely it was missing turn signals, had no mirror, and I didn't find out until I took it for a test drive, a non-working brake light. So I swung by a local parts shop specializing in vintage japanese bikes (convenient huh?), and picked up two sets of these fine turn signals.

I tore off the side cover, and amongst a nasty mess of wiring, found the wire harness that controlled the rear blinkers. I plugged one in as a quick test, and who woulda thought? It didn't work. Probing around with the DMM led me to discover that the signal from the actual switch on the handlebars wasn't getting to the rear harness. Unfortunately this meant I had to remove the headlight and deal with this rats nest of wires...
First thing I noticed was that the gray wire, which originated from the turn signal switch, was just dangling there. After tracing around, I found connector it belonged to and reconnected it. I tried the test blinker again, hoping it was as simple as that disconnected wire, and sure enough, it was! At this point, it was just matching up wire colors, orange to the left signal, and blue to the right signal. The blinkers mounted nicely onto the fork, and after much less work than I originally intended, I had functional front blinkers!The back blinkers were a completely different animal. With the switch reconnected, the electrical side of things was a breeze. The issue now was how to mount it. Since the bike had been modified into a "bobber", the back most part of the frame that would of housed the taillight and the turn signals, was hacked off. In it's place was this arc shaped piece of metal that the taillight hung from. After a quick failure with duct tape (had to try!), I decided to go ahead and drill holes into the extra piece of metal.Sadly the area I drilled into was as vertical as I would of liked, and the signals point slightly upward, but hey, it's an ugly project bike, so I'm happy with it! And really, whatever it takes to get it completely street legal.

The only thing left to do if get a different taillight and a mirror. The issue with the taillight is that it's a 2-wire light, so it can either be a riding light (on all the time), or a brake light, which is clearly pretty important. For the time being I have it set up as a brake light and will have to only take it out during the day, but thankfully the wiring is in tact, and it should be a fairly simple install.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

1971 Honda CB750 Bobber

At long last an update!!

So after discovery the awesome that is Craigslist, I kind of went on a selling spree. One item in particular that I was hoping to fetch a solid price for was my 2005 15" MacBook Pro. Expecting about $400, I posted it for $600, just because that's what makes Craigslist awesome. I find a buyer who's willing pay $500, which was just fine by me. That very same day, I come across a listing for a 1971 CB750 for $600. Long story short, I fell in love with it, talked the guy down to $500 since the bike wasn't running, and popped it on a buddy's trailer. So a 5 year old laptop that was on it's last leg for a 39 year old motorcycle that needed a little TLC? Solid trade in my opinion.

So having no mechanical experience whatsoever, I was really banking on the bike not running because of something easy, with "easy" meaning old gas/oil, fouled spark plugs, or clogged carbs. So starting with the easiest of the easy, I removed and drained the gas tank.

I should of snagged a picture of the gas that was coming out of the tank, it was almost a reddish color, which is clearly not the color gas is meant to be. I'm hoping that there isn't any issue with rust inside the fuel tank, which would explain the reddish hue of the old gas. I then emptied the old oil and put 2 fresh quarts into the tank. Next up was the carbs, now this is the extreme limit of my mechanical knowledge. I know the mix gas and air and feed that into the engine, and that's really about it. So I went ahead and just popped them off.

When I removed the cap to the float chamber, a rush of red gas came pouring out. I was feeling pretty confident that this was a primary factor of the bike not starting. Armed with trusty carb and throttle cleaner, I sprayed the shit out of those carbs, and that was really about it. I didn't want to fully disassemble them, considering I would most likely not be able to put them back together. I let them dry, and then mounted them back onto the bike. I also changed out the spark plugs, which didn't make for exciting photography, so no pictures of that.

I had everything reassembled, and it started right up!! Now it wasn't all roses. It was running pretty rough, wouldn't stay running without throttle, and periodically had what sounded like small backfires (timing issue). So fast forward another week and another carb cleaning, I've got it running smoothly (at least I think it's smooth), and took it for a quick once around the block. Once I get it tuned up a bit more, I'll work on putting a video up. Speaking of videos, I still need to get one of the moped up, which needless to say will take a backseat to the CB750, but it will still get some love from time to time.

Oh and I completely forgot to mention the hilarious seat the guy I bought it from put on the bike. It's pretty much a piece of metal thats been upholstered and is held on by velcro! Hilarious I know...

Monday, July 19, 2010


I'm gonna start off by acknowledging that I really fell off the project bus. My computer and TV combine to make one wicked temptress. I'm hoping that I can keep to it a little better and ease myself off of my less productive habits. Anyway, off to the build!

It had been about two months since the death of the Sailor Jerry hookah. We had been through a lot, but poor design on my part made it nearly impossible to clean, and it was getting pretty nasty.

I had come across a lovely new brand of rum called The Kraken. A little smoother than Jerry, but more potent. A clear winner IMO.

I started off with the same basic items, although this time I opted for some higher quality parts. For instance I purchased an actual hose for the hookah, as opposed to the plastic tubing that was used in the last build (although I still use a little bit), and I picked up these metal rods from the nearby smoke shop.

The first thing I tackled was the center pole, that transfers the smoke from the bowl down into the water. A quick application of the Loctite and I had myself a nice center rod.

The last hookah I built, I ran the center rod through the cap of the bottle, allowing it to be screwed in. While this was convenient, I wanted to be able to break the hookah down into the simplest pieces possible. So with some handy teflon tape, I wrapped up the top of the pipe so that it fit snuggly into the bottle opening.
I then did the same around the mouth of the bottle for the bowl to fit onto.
Now I had to drill the hole in the bottle itself, a step I was not looking forward to. With my handy glass bit, and a solid 5 minutes of gentle drilling, I managed to punch through and give myself a hole for the hose. I wasn't too pleased this time around, I remembered the first hookah having a much smoother hole, but once it's caked in Loctite, it won't really matter.
Now for the hose itself. I wasn't sure how exactly to mount it to the bottle itself. This is where I lucked out completely. The plastic I had leftover fit PERFECTLY into the hose. So the plan then became to put a piece of plastic tubing into the bottle, and leave enough hanging out for the hose to slide over.
And that finished up the hookah...or so I thought. I pieced it all together, and then realized that I had forgot to put on the tin lid! This posed a problem, as with the bowl sitting over the center pipe, the lid couldn't sit on the pipe itself, as it did on the last hookah. But then, stroke of genious! I drilled a huge hole in the tin lid, one that matched the diameter of the bottom opening of the bowl. This then allowed me to mount the bowl the same way, as well as left the bottom completely open if it needed to be removed and cleaned.

So here's the beast in all it's glory. Still giving the Loctite some time to dry before I give it a use, and even then I'm gonna give it another cleaning to ensure and leftover bits of glass or metal from the drilling is cleared out. I know tobacco is bad enough, so the last thing I'm wanting in my lungs is tiny bits of metal/glass.