Friday, January 22, 2010

And you all called me MAD!!!

I think I've told Rachel, literally a dozen times this afternoon/evening "I never thought I'd actually get it to work". Referring to my PID'd espresso machine. BUT I DID! I honestly thought this hair-brained scheme was cool in theory but would have inevitably lead me down the road of a new espresso machine. But literally, by the grace of God, it worked.

Now, the photo your about to see may be kind of scary, be sure to hide the image of the hideous franken-machine from the elderly, children, people who wish to have children, or people who were once children. Parental discretion is advised:


Now, what you see here is a blue lunch box type tin, holding the PID unit proudly displaying 207 degrees fahrenheit, and a 80mm computer fan cooling a homemade solid state relay board with two burned out SSR's (but hey, two still work!). Now the espresso machine has a horrendously wired up brew water boiler, and pump and solenoid valve in parallel to two gorilla-glued switches. Don't worry folks its perfectly safe and was actually ran like this today for testing. It will be all rewired with new wires and connectors with appropriate electrical safety isolation, because I know you are thinking you are at risk for electric shock just by looking at the photo.

But anyway, let me say it again, IT WORKS AND I DON'T BELIEVE IT. It even made ESPRESSO! It even tasted okay! Actually, here at Guam, we don't have any place that brews good espresso except for Honolulu Coffee Co. in downtown Tumon (like 25min away). And I have been so hard up for espresso I thought it was always delicious. In Honolulu it actually is, but, my test shot was a awful 15sec. pull (its supposed to be 25 sec for you un-learn-ed type) and it was actually superior to HCC. I am pretty excited about this project.

What I need to do to finalize it is: rewire the boiler and switches to really clean up the insides. Put the upper housing back on. So no one has to see its insides anymore, ESPECIALLY before my mom shows up. Make a more permanent and fashionable home for my PID, fan, SSR board. Repair the SSR board (don't take too long). Then, my one and only long term plan is to program an Arduino microcontroller to take over for the PID module. That way I can have it control both the brew and steam boiler. The two boilers together are too much for a standard 15A circuit breaker and are too stupid to cycle between the two, especially at start up. Kitchenaid had an ingenious power saving scheme with it's electro-mechanical relay to cycle between the two boilers, but its all gone now.

This weekend I'll rewire and put the cover back on so I can start having espresso in the morning on a regular basis.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

For your viewing pleasure

It is that time of the year...NO! Not my annual shower, but Christmas. Rachel recorded me and my rest of my trio messing around at small group. Some modernizations of some classics.

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Back in the swing of things

Since, I've been back I have been busy at work at restoring the house. Tons of yardwork and exterior cleaning, car maintenance, etc...you know normal 'man' stuff. This last weekend was my first weekend I had time to roast coffee, so with my new Christmas present, I filmed the process so the few people who follow my blog or the random stragler can replicate it at home. Remember, home roasting is not to put professional roasting companies like Intelligentsia or Counter Culture out of business, because you wont and can't. But you will be able to make as good, if not better coffee at home for cheap. Enjoy.


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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Did you know?

The sucky economy has caused my mutual funds to climb ~30% since like 2 months ago. Granted its still ~30% lower from its all time high, but there has been great growth.

Also Rachel is starting to look pretty pregnant. See!

Catching up Pt. 2

Then, after working on the yard. Rachel's food processor and blender broke kind of. So I fixed them both. Her food processor has got this button and a ridiculously over complicated linkage system of nylon/plastic pieces in the bowl handle and food chute that prevents the machine from turning on if the chute and bowl are chocked inside. Well the little pieces wore out and now the button would never press, therefore the food processor would never turn on. So, I opened it up and bypassed the switch. Not without first going to the hardware store and buying some tools to do it. SWEET! NEW TOOLS! Plus it was for Rachel so its a perfectly justified purchase. Now our blender we use a lot. More so than any normal human beings. Hey, its not my fault Rachel makes delicious pina coladas. That plus she uses it for a ton of other random things. So daily pina coladas, daily fruit smoothies, plus other random crap made the little plastic gear thing the motor spins break some teeth off. Alittle gorilla glue should give us another six months or so of trouble free blending (this has happened before and gorilla glue fix it for a while). I wish manufacturers would make these little pieces metal for psycho power users like us. (No pics, not that interesting)

Ok, now, my neglected PID/espresso machine project has gotten alittle love this weekend. I have a functioning circuit of the PID working with the boiler's heating elements. THE CIRCUIT WORKS! Just not reliably. It gets VERY hot. If you start it up, the elements turn on for a long time until the PID starts to modulate temp around 190F. So from 80F to 190F the elements are on pulling a lot of current through my homemade solid state relay board. So hot that it will start to boil and smoke the thermal grease between the thyristor and heatsink (thyristor being the component that carries all the current for the elements). This boiling degrades the thermal conductivity of the grease so much that when you turn off the PID and then turn it back on it will not conduct the heat to the heatsink and the thyristor will burn up. I lost a SSR this way, one is enough. To prevent this from happening again I needed an enclosure to house my SSR and provide air flow. Well I looked all over Guam for a sturdy enclosure for a week and found one at the arts and crafts store. It's an acrylic box that house a computer fan for air flow and is large enough for the fan, the relay board, two PID's, and wiring. This will be outside the espresso machine when finished and most likely be an eye sore but it will work. This bad boy set me back five bucks. Try not to be too critical of my lack of craftsmanship. As soon as I attempted to jigsaw a hole in the lid it pretty much exploded from the vibrations. It's thinner acrylic than what I am used to but I did manage to salvage most of it and it will still work.

Catching up

Yeah, yeah, yeah...It's been awhile since I posted anything. I've been busy like everyone has. But, I have caught up in my productivity this last weekend. The weather has been the worst I've ever seen on Guam this last week. Rain the entire week! No, you don't understand. It just about rained constantly the entire week. Maybe 10hrs without rain this week. From Saturday, August 1st to Friday, August 7th, nothing but rain. Fortunately out of nowhere, we were blessed by an entire weekend of little to no rain.

Rachel went out of town 3 weeks ago, and came back a week and a half ago. During that time I pulled some real long hours at work. Hence no updates during that time. Then she came back and we've been going out a lot so no updates, til now!

Last weekend we went wine tasting at Top o' the Mar. A restaurant ran by MWR here on Guam and we had friends over for a BBQ, sorry no pics of either event.

We didn't do much of anything throughout the rest of the week. I practiced for church on Thursday, two duty days, nothin' big.

This weekend I worked on my lawn. I had an area right outside my front door that was growing up whatever it could. So I killed everything living, laid some plastic/anti-weed wrap across it, put some scalloped pavers in as a border, and put bark down. Turned out awesome I think.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm gonna be a Dad!

Yes, my wife is very pregnant. 10weeks pregnant. Last Friday I took her to get an ultrasound and the baby is about the size of a large peanut, but has a heartbeat and is healthy. I am pretty excited, I don't care what the sex of the baby is. Here is the ultrasound results: