"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Simplicity at Its Best

I told you I was going to do this thing.

Make an incubator/dehydrator/yogurt maker.

The total cost for the basic model is about $18. The only other cost for screen to make the racks was $14.
The aluminum foil coated foam board was $9.25 and the wide roll of aluminum foil duct tape was $8 +.  Total time on creating just the box was about 45 minutes.  I hope to make the inside drying racks today.

I bought the 4' x 8' sheet of foam board at Home Depot. They don't carry it at the ACE in this little town, so it was a 35 mile round trip to Blairsville, GA.  Everything I needed for manufacture is in the photo.  Of course, I already had the drywall square and the retractable utility knife.  I like that model knife for certain projects because it uses the breakoff blades and can be extended much farther out than a conventional utility knife. It's much better for cutting softer materials, such as insulation, or materials where you keep dulling the tip, since you just snap off a little section, and voila, you've got a fresh tip.

Three panels assembled
I like to use the material wisely and not waste very much, so I divided the board according to even divisibility. So the basic panels I cut were 16" x 24".

The board only has aluminum foil on one side and a thin plastic white and printed material on the other.  You want the aluminum on the inside of the finished piece.  I wanted the box to stand up off the floor a little so that if I decide later to pop a bulb in from the bottom, I still can.  I drew a line from the edge at 3.5" and then taped the second panel on, then repeated the process on the other end of the bottom panel  to get what you see in the second photo.  The aluminum tape is very, very sticky, so you have to work carefully if you don't want to be ripping the surface of the foil up.  Peel the backing paper off the tape only as you get it into position.
3.  The bottom of the box

If you are working outdoors in the sunlight, you are going to have to wear sunglasses. I would have done this inside, but I wanted the best pictures.  And I have to admit that the picnic table makes for a great working surface.

4.  Basic finished box
The fourth panel is going to become a side that gets taped in at what looks like the top of the third photo. Taping outside corners is easy.  And you don't put the other side in until you tape the inside three panels, since it's easier to work the tape with the fourth side still off.  Taping both inside and out gives the box maximum strength.  If you wanted to make a really heavy duty version of this, you could build a wooden box to your own specs first and then just cut the panels to line the inside.  But this box is incredibly light and easy to move around, and with proper care will last a good long time.
5. Making one of the lids

You have to trim the 3.5" off the top of the two end panels once the sides are in place, then finish taping the inside corners.  If you really don't care about aesthetics, then it's done.  All you need now is either a glass or clear acrylic sheet to go on top for solar use, or cut another panel or two to make a solid lid for indoor, lamp use.  I have both.  I taped two panels together at the edges with the aluminum facing out on both sides.

I don't like the unfinished look of the white/printed/taped outside of the box so I bought a couple of spray cans of flat black enamel.  Not the $4 a can stuff, but the 97¢ stuff that HD sells.  If you're gonna put lipstick on a pig, you don't use Estee Lauder.
6. Finished box with acrylic cover

Oh, yes, mea culpa, I forgot to mention that a clear acrylic sheet (24" x 18") from Home Depot is going to run you about $10 with tax.  But it will pay for itself because you will save at least that much in electricity in a month for a small bulb to heat the inside with electricity.  On a cloudless day, the temperature in the box got up to 144° F with only a tiny air gap at one end of the clear sheet. I will learn to vary the temperature by how much of a gap I leave at the top.  When it comes to using the box as an incubator or yogurt maker, I will use a small wattage (25 - 40w) incandescent bulb and a slide rheostat (dimmer) switch, which at very low power will let me maintain 105° F very precisely for an indefinite time.  Yes, I made one of these before and I used to make batches of my own yogurt all the time.  Far better than what you can buy in the store.  Leave a comment and remind me to share the recipe if I don't do it before too long.

When I post again about this contraption, I'll provide photos of the lamp and slide dimmer arrangement.

Well, there is way too much to do, and the sun is starting to come up.  Sukkot is on its way.  Got a shipment of rye grain and garbanzo beans yesterday. Ground some up and made fresh bread and, boy, oh boy, is it ever good!

May you have a blessed day.        HaYom Tovah.


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