February 10

Culvert Pipe Food Dryer…

So I got me some leftover plastic Culvert pipe.

FoodDryer4

Plastic Culvert pipe has many uses…other than being for culverts.

What to do with this I thought to myself? Then it came to me… Make a food dehydrator out of it! So this is what I came up with…

FoodDryer

Finished Food Dryer with old blower from a Christmas “Blow up Snowman”

So using a old blower fan I had from a worn out Christmas “Blow up Snowman” some plywood, some plastic window screen, and a couple of “Banned” 100 watt light-bulbs, I proceeded to build this little contraption.

FoodDryer1

Those are real 100 watt “Edison Bulbs” – Contraband these days in the USA…

Using two ceramic light bulb sockets and 2 100 watt light bulbs I first created the lower section that generates the heat for drying. Note that there are concentric ring of holes around the bottom of the pipe and where the plywood meet so that air is constantly moving, carrying heat upwards.

FoodDryer2

single sections of pipe-rings with window screen held in by zip ties.

The pipe is cut into “Rings” that are done ins a way so that can stack like plates on top of each other. Then using plastic window screen and plastic zip ties, you create the food holding trays. As these are all high heat plastic (they withstand up to 400 degrees) they are dishwasher safe!

FoodDryer3

Hot water heater thermostat turns off the bulbs if things get too hot inside.

The blower goes on the top to suction the air out of the dryer and keep a constant flow of air moving. The metal dissipation plate forces the air to move around the food completely so there are not spots where air is trapped. The hot water heater thermostat is there as a safety precaution to shut off the light bulbs if it gets too hot inside.

I have dried tomatoes, bananas, many spices, etc in this dryer and it works very well. I would probably make the stack-able rings a bit more stable if I were to do it again, but all in all this is a single day project that can really add to your food processing skills and give you a bountiful harvest of dried seasonings, “sun dried” tomatoes, and other dehydrated delicacies!

-DTM.

February 7

A Cold Smoker for Meat and Cheese…

I like a good smoked cheese… Problem is, when you buy it at the store, it is very expensive.  Then you find out (if you care to look) it’s not really smoked at all! (at least not most of them).  No, instead most so-called “smoked cheese” you get at the store has been “Flavored” with liquid smoke, and then it’s been brined in a “colorant” that makes the outside brownish to give it that “Fresh from the smoker” look.

Pish -Tosh to all that! I want real smoked cheese!

hotsmoker

This can smoke your ribs… but not your cheese!

What to do?  Well you cant smoke cheese in a traditional hot smoker, such as a bullet smoker:

Not unless you like a burned, melted mass of glop.  I don’t prefer that…

No, Cheese must be smoked in what is known as a “Cold Smoker”.  I decided I wanted to smoke cheese and a variety of other things so it was time to build one of my own. So I decided to build mine as a 2 by 2 by 4 foot box out of scrap plywood as seen here.

 

 

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The Back of my smoker sticking out of my workshop on a cold day.

Here are several more pictures of the smoker…

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Front of Smoker

 

 

 

 

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Inside shot of the smoker showing racks and the smoke distributor on the floor.

 

 

 

 

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This shows the smoker with the racks and the distributor removed. Note the creosote collector – some spilled out when I was moving the smoker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The smoker has a “smoke distributor” on the bottom – which is basically a false floor with large holes cut out to allow the smoke to permeate the entire box.

The smoke pipe runs down the entire length of the smoker so that the smoke cools, and so that creosote (which makes food bitter) is condensed and collected in a little tuna can at the bottom.  This has to be cleaned out after every smoking session.

The racks are 1.5 inch dowels that sit in cutouts on the side of the smoker.  The food to be smoked can be laid directly on the dowels, or (in the case of cheese and smaller items) placed on dollar store cookie cooling racks that then sit on the dowels quite nicely.

The door seals shut by using 2 lengths of cotton clothesline.  The clothesline seals against the door when it is shut for more or less an airtight seal.

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The Smoker loaded up with some chicken and a small turkey.

When loading up the smoker with meat, I always keep a drip pan underneath to try to keep as much of the raw meat drippings getting in the wood.  You cant stop it all. so you wipe down the inside with Clorox between smoking sessions (not needed when doing things like cheese or when smoking salt).

Now for the most important part of the smoker – the smoke generator!

The smoke generator is the box that sits atop my smokier, raised up in the air.

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The smoke generator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could have gone the rout of using a commercial smoke generator such as the “Smoke Daddy” Cold Smoke Generator but that would not be in keeping with my nature of “Build your own” – besides, the smoke daddy compels you to use their special “smoking wood sawdust chips”.  I wanted to use any kind of wood I can purchase from local sources, or cut from trees such as apple orchards, etc.

So, I built my own from an old Army Equipment box.  The way a smoke generator works is by using a negative pressure venturi inside an enclosed container which is where the smoking chips are burned without oxygen. The box is an hardened aluminum box with snap-down lid. The iron pipe goes through the center of the box, and where it passes through the box there is a hole. The arraignment looks like the schematic shown here.

SmokerSchematic.jog

The venturi (the blue tube that comes to a point in the diagram) pulls the smoke and keeps just enough air flowing into the box to keep the coals going once they are started from the two “touch-holes” on the outside of the box.  What happens is that the air moving through the venturi causes a vacuum in the larger tube which then pulls smoke and air from the seal box into the larger tube which then enters the box.  The larger tube is over 4 feet long so that the smoke cools down, and releases much of it’s creosote (a bitter chemical you don’t want on your food).

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Smoke Meat and Beer… Mmmmm!

The smoke then proceeds into the smoking box, where it emits from the base as cooled smoke.

Shown here, I am using Cherry Wood Chips purchased at my local “Harris Teeter” Grocery. The large beer next to the smoking chips is a delicious brown ale my brother Jamie made and bottled himself – nothing goes better with smoke and meat than a good, ice cold brew!

I shall update with more pictures of the smoke generator as I get time…

-DTM

January 26

Converting an inexpensive AC Welder to DC Service…

About 9 years ago I converted my standard Lincoln AC “Buzz Box” Welder into DC Service. I did this by building a massive full wave bridge rectifier. It has provided great service and welds very nice – DC welding is acutally quite a bit easier than AC welding, and in fact, this DC full wave Bridge is clean enough for Tig welding should I ever get the bug to do that.

Here is how I did it. (Excepted from my old original website hosted on Comcast – and it is still there even though I haven’t been a customer in over 9 years!)

Welding can be done with AC but for better welds and for work on thinner sheets of metal, DC is needed. Lincoln sells a inexpensive AC arc welder that can handle as much as 225 amps of current at about a dollar per amp. A DC welder of this current can cost twice as much, and a Mig welder of this current is way more. I decided to buy the cheap Buzz Box and then convert it to do what I want. First I built this DC arc conversion. Next I will build a Mig and Tig extension and then I will have a fairly complete welding system for very little money.

The basic parts – check out those massive diodes!

I acquired these four 300-amp,200-volt diodes from Ebay for $7.00 apiece. They originally sold for $90.00 each. You can get this stuff cheap and there. The old transformer will be used as the choke coil (see circuit diagram).

Close up of the diode, these suckers are Huge! The measure in at 3 inches across.

The heat sinks for the diodes and the cooling fans in the back ground.

The heat sinks are prepared.

Using copper strapping to make the connections have as low resistance as possible for the massive welding current.

The terminals and heat-sinks must be connected such that the heavy current (as much as 225 amps) can flow unrestricted, and so that cooling is possible in both air or in a oil bath, and so that the whole is structurally sound. To insure all of this I used both aluminum and copper strapping scavenged from the transformer shown earlier. Notice how the aluminum is wrapped with the copper.

Below is a diagram of the full wave bridge. Again, while the circuitry is simple, the actual physical construction is challenging due to the heat dissipation requirements and the current carrying requirements.

Schematic Layout

Completed Rectifier in the welding cart.

A view of the completed air cooled full wave bridge mounted on its nylon header. The header is made from a nylon kitchen cutting board. The box is an old main-frame computer power supply box.

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The finished DC rectifier showing connection end

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Rectifier showing Choke and cooling fans

 

This welder has given me 9 years of great service – never overheated, and I have never had any issues with the rectifiers. A great way to build an awesome system and save money. Your just not going to be able to buy something of this ruggedness without spending a ton more money.

-DTM

January 26

Jumper Suit, Panal Van, and a Traffic Cone…

I have long believed, and still do, that if you have the three items mentioned in this title – a workman’s jumper suit, a nondescript panel van, and a single orange traffic cone, you can get away with just about anything.

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With these 3 things I can take over the world – and so can you!

Think about it. The official government seal of the “Department of Redundancy Department” the jump suit, the hardhat, the traffic cone, why you could help yourself to just about any of a cities infrastructure without anyone taking notice. When was the last time you paid any attention to someone working on traffic lights or putting up spy cameras, or NSA cellphone snooping devices?

Think I’m kidding about those snooper devices? Check this out – in Seattle, they have peppered the city with little boxes like this which are part of the “Aruba Mesh Network” which allows them to collect all of your non-encrypted phone calls and texts… (well, it collects your encrypted ones too, but if you did your homework, they wont be able to see/hear those…).

Aruba Mesh Network node.

So lets say you are a curious individual who wants to know what your government is up to these days… You get the aforementioned Van, jumpsuit and hard-hat, and don’t forget the traffic cone! You may want to throw in a clipboard for good measure.  Then you go visit one of these nodes.  Take it apart and see how it works. Load it with some new software that keeps tabs on those who are keeping tabs on you. Be advised, that you are treading on dangerous waters here – you don’t want to end up like Edward Snowden unless you know what you are getting into…

Think about the implications…

January 26

About This Site…

Celtic Cross Engineering is more than just an “Engineering Blog” Much more! It is my ultimate Mad Scientist Blog, Lab Notebook, and Instructions for others of the same bent.  Those who wonder about this world and this life we live, who want to know the deep questions: Why am I here? What Great Mysteries are out there to explore? Or how about questions like these:

  • Is the speed of light really a constant? What if it is not?
  • What about Magick?* or Alchemy? Why does reality seem like it should be magical, but most people say that it’s not?
  • Can you transmute elements without the use of a cyclotron?
  • How can I make a good smoked cheese without paying a fortune?
  • Is it possible to extract free energy from the vacuum?
  • Do fossils prove evolution, or disprove it?
  • Does a raised bed garden produce more food than a traditional in the ground variety?
  • Can radio waves travel through the ground?
  • What about abandoned technologies? (ie: things that were superseded by new technologies, but perhaps were not investigated to see how far they could be developed?

Things like that…

So, below are the basic categories of the various posts.  These are not pure blog posts – the dates basically reflect the day the post wast started but I will continue to update/add-to/change posts as I work on those ideas or experiments.

Let’s Explore!

Basic Categories Within Celtic Cross Engineering…

* Let me clarify: “magic” is when you pull a rabbit out of the hat.  “Magick” is when the rabbit pulls you out of the hat. In either case, you ought to keep an eye on the hat.

Category: Uncategorized