Monday, October 21, 2013

IBC Tote Kiddie Pool

1. You need to get your hands on a tote.  For some, this will be easy.  For others, it will probably cost you.  I see totes on Craigslist for free (rarely), but usually they sell for $25-$50.  Well, that is the asking price.  If you are patient, or know someone that works in water treatment or possibly a beverage plant, you may be able to score one for little to no money at all.

The picture above is just a representative of an IBC tote.  It is not the tote I used nor should it be.  Make sure the tote you use previously stored relatively mild chemicals.  Clear and non-staining chemicals are obviously preferable.  The totes I use contained food-grade citric acid that rinses out completely after a couple of flushes.

2. Sawzall

3. Pool noodles will be used to create a protective edging around the perimeter of the pool.  We need 3 of them.

4. Zip ties.  Lots of zip ties. UV resistant is best since this thing will be out in the sun all summer long.

5. Some sort of drill.

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Anker Astro Slim2 4500mAh Power Bank Review

Legit Mobile Reviews

Astro Slim2 4500mAh Power Bank

Are you tired of your phone’s battery dying during the middle of the day, and finding an outlet can possibly be a chore? Does your tablet need some extra juice to get through the day? Well, Anker is at it again; releasing their newest slim line power bank, named the Astro Slim2. This slim power bank boasts a cool 4500mAh Li-Ion battery, which will help you recharge your gadgets throughout the day, should you need a little jump.

Anker Astro Slim2 4500mAh Power Bank

This lightweight, very slim, seemingly easy to use power bank can be had on Amazon for $27.99 shipped. That sounds like one great deal for a convenient way to give your gadgets a little more power during the day.

Taking a quick look at the outside of the packaging, the front and sides don’t really show you much.

Anker Astro Slim2 Box Front

When you look at the rear, you’ll notice plenty of information in regards to the power bank’s features. We’ll get into those features in a bit, but you can find the tech specs about this power bank below.

Anker Astro Slim2 Box Rear

Anker Astro Slim2 Specifications:

Capacity: 4500mAhOutput: 2x DC 5V / 1AInput: DC 5V / 1AWeight: 113g (3.9oz)Size: 4.88 x 1.34 x 0.39inUnit Recharge Time: 4-5 hours (via USB)MTBF: 500+ chargesWarranty: 18 months

When I popped open the box, everything was in there all nice and neat. I was actually quite deceived by the wording “Accessory Bag” on one of the small boxes, so I feel it necessary to point out. I thought there would have been a small pouch inside with the cables and adapters, but they were all just loosely fitting in the small box. No big deal, but it was a poor choice of words on the box.

Anker Astro Slim2 Inside Packaging

The accessories that are included are the Micro USB cable, Mini USB adapter, and a 30-pin Apple connector.

Anker Astro Slim2 Box Contents

With an 18 month warranty, this should help with your buying decisions, as you know you are getting a quality product.

Anker states the finish is a grippy surface, but in all honesty it doesn't really do that. It’s a matte plastic that has a slight grip to it, but it isn’t rubberized. If it were rubberized, I would say this power bank would be darn near perfect! The finish on it may or may not mess with the finish on whatever you rest it against. In my case, I did not notice any new scratches on my Galaxy S3 after having the power bank and it in my pocket for a couple days.

A quick tour around the Anker Astro Slim2 Power Bank, up top you’ll see four LEDs (left hand side of the below picture). These LEDs are a white in color and represent 25% increments for the battery charge.  When you're down to the last 5%, the last LED will begin to blink. While charging this power bank, the appropriate LED will blink, indicating where it is at in its cycle. I would strongly recommend putting this face down if you charge this in your bedroom at night, as the LEDs are pretty bright, but not "ultra bright LED" bright.

Anker Astro Slim2 Top LEDs

On the flip side, you won’t see much more than the labeling for input and output.

Anker Astro Slim2 Bottom Input Labels

Taking a look at one of the sides, you’ll battery specifications, letting you know that there are dual 1 amp outputs. The object on the right hand side is something that I’ll get to in a moment.

Anker Astro Slim2 Printed Specifications

The opposite side houses the full sized USB output. In all honesty, this is the only other flaw that I could find with the design of this power bank. This should have been placed on an end, not on a side. Now when you want to charge via this port, you have to contend with the width of the power bank plus the USB end sticking out beyond it a couple inches. Talk about not cool!

Anker Astro Slim2 USB Port

Alright, remember that mystery object that I mentioned just a moment ago? Well, when you pull this out, this is the integrated Micro USB cable. Yes, this too is rated at 1 amp output, which is ideal for quickly charging your device.

Anker Astro Slim2 Attached Micro USB Cable

When you pair it up with a device like the Samsung Galaxy S3, you will indeed see how nicely they hold hands and play nice. The short integrated Micro USB cable is very nice, so you know you won’t have a huge cable sticking out of your pocket.

Anker Astro Slim2 With Samsung Galaxy S3

Fortunately if you don’t have a device that has a Micro USB charging port, you've always got the full sized USB port to plug in a cable of your choice.

Read on to check out what I found in my brief testing and just a recap of what was said here.

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A Cool Coolbox!

First off, you need to find a decent looking box. I found this one in a cupboard at my school, and after checking no one wanted it (no stealing here!) it was mine for the taking. (The white stuff around the edges here is just a bit of PVA glue to strengthen the box)

Secondly, you need some sort of insulation. Again I got mine from the school, its from a project that no longer gets done so was going to be thrown out anyway. It's extruded polystyrene, better than that white polystrene as it's more solid. Ideally I would have like to used foil backed polyeurethene insulation (ie. Kingspan) but this was free and won't be that less efficient for keeping things cool.

I also used a pouch of Sugru, and when i find something suitable, I will use some sort of sealant.

Ok, on to construction...

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Cinderella Straps

This is what you'll need:

- Pumps
- Some Pieces of leather
- Good sharp scissors
- 4 rings
- A Socketpunch
- A pair of Shoelaces

I'm lucky enough to own a leather-sewingmachine which is perfect for these kind of things. If you don't have one you can sew them by hand or use fabric. (Denim should be nice.)

You can either use the pattern or draw one yourself: the front is 20 cm long and 7 cm wide at the widest point. The smallest point at the ends is 3 cm.
the underside is 20 cm long and 3 cm wide.

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The No-Weld Double-Barrel Smoker (and how to use it)

If you're anything like me, you have probably run into this problem:

1.) I need to smoke meat.  (Not want... Need.)
2.) I have no concept of how to weld, and acetylene torches might as well be magic wands.
3.) I'm cheap.

(Well, as we'll later find out, maybe not so much on the last one...)

Meat smoking has been around for centuries, possibly as long as mankind has been alive.  Originally used for fish, its primary function was believed to have been to keep flies away from the drying meat.  Despite our primitive understanding of the fly reproduction cycle, we still figured out that flies make stuff rot... Rotting was bad... And flies didn't like smoke.  This later lead to the preservation of many different kinds of meat through smoking.

Early smoking would have been as simple as hanging the meat near a fire, and then every time the wind changed, swearing out loud and going to move the drying rack.  As time went on and we learned how to do much more advanced things (such as brewing beer) we would have advanced to the phase of swearing, then telling the kids to go move the drying rack.  Eventually we learned how to build structures and the smokehouse was born, but swearing is still a long and time honored tradition with barbeque. 

With the advent of the smokehouse, smoking of large amounts of meat could be done by a single family, enabling them to put away a surplus of food for harder times.  Unfortunately, not everyone could afford to build a smokehouse, and as time went on, not everyone would even want to.  Keeping a smokehouse going required a significant amount of wood and effort, and became obsolete as soon as grocery stores and refrigeration were available to the common man.

At some point, a man that will henceforth be referred to as "Jesus" realized that with a "smoker" we could have the flavor of smoked food combined with the convenience of a grill and the BBQ Smoker was born.

It may not have really happened that way, but that's how I like to remember it.

In all reality, the invention of "barbeque" is a mystery.  Some attribute the word to the French term "barbe a queue" meaning "Beard to Tail", while others say it comes from the Caribbean Taino Indian word "barbacoa" - which basically means a meat-smoking apparatus such as a "smoker."  In fact, the Taino barbacoa would eventually lead to Mexico's form of barbacoa that is a mouth-watering slow-cooked mess of beef or goat (typically from the head, or more specifically the "cheeks" of the animal) which should be another instructable all by itself.  I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  With America being the melting pot that it is, the Taino "barbacoa" and the French "barbe a queue" were likely to have been merged to refer to the type of cooking that made every part of the animal delicious.

In America, the barbeque, like almost everything considered truly American, originated with the cowboys.  On long cattle drives, they were often left with the "garbage" hunks of meat such as the brisket and ribs.  These cuts would have either had little meat on them, or been incredibly lean resulting in very tough hunks when cooked traditionally.  It's little surprise then that they're the very cuts of meat that have become the staple of today's barbeque. A cattle drive's "cookie" (the resident cook) would travel quickly ahead of the herd in his canvas chuck (food) wagon, and choose the evening's camp site far ahead of the cowboys.  He'd immediately get started setting up shop, and begin slow cooking the cheap meats (and beans) to make them more palatable to the cowboys when they arrived for dinner.  This is also where we get baked beans, corn bread, and most of the other things we associate with a good barbeque.

Today when you mention "barbeque" people will think about throwing a hotdog or a couple burgers on the grill.  But if you invite me to a "barbeque" and there's not some sort of slow-smoked meat involved, I'll hope you step on a Lego.

So an important note about this build:  If you want a "set it and forget it" smoker, this is NOT the smoker for you!

This grill does not have a thermostat or propane (I suppose someone a bit handier than me could add that, though).  This is a raw charcoal and wood burner, which means everything from the outdoor temperature, to the wind, to whether or not the sun is behind a cloud will impact the temperature inside the smoke chamber.  You will have to babysit this smoker (about every half hour) for the entire 10+ hours that you're smoking! Make sure you understand this before you try building the thing then telling me it doesn't work.  This is the nature of this design (and I'd argue every design using wood and charcoal).

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Cook a Perfect Medium-Rare Steak in a Beer Cooler

We've shown you how to get started with sous-vide cooking before, and even how to do it on the cheap, but this video and guide from The Food Lab's J Kenji Lopez-Alt shows you how to get a perfect medium rare steak by cooking it in a beer cooler and then finishing it on the stove—and why you'd want to.

The "steak in a beer cooler" technique isn't new in itself, Kenji explained how to do it at Serious Eats back in 2010, and our primer to sous vide cooking followed their example pretty closely. Still, it can be tricky to get right, and Kenji walks you through the process in the video above in great fashion. If you have the money or the desire to pick up a real water oven like the $300+ Sous Vide Supreme, it can take some of the guesswork out of this for you, and it'll maintain your water temperature without you having to check on it or adjust it, but the beautiful thing about using a beer cooler is that it's insulated enough to hold your water temperature for a few hours without you doing anything to it.

As long as you get the water to the right temp first—by adding either boiling (to bring it up) or cold (to bring it down) water to a large volume of it—you can cook a few steaks with no problem, and hold them at the perfect temperature for hours before serving. Once your steak is up to temp, you can sear it in a hot skillet for a couple of seconds to get that delicious crust on the outside—just don't sear it too long or you risk overcooking the interior. When you're all finished, you'll have a steak with a great crust on the outside and that's perfectly medium rare from edge to edge, without that ugly strip of well-done ringed around a tasty center. Hit the link below for Kenji's full guide.

How to Cook Your Steak Sous Vide in a Cooler | Serious Eats

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