Category Archives: Tips

XYZprinting Da Vinci 1 3D Printer – Tap Handles, Stir Plates and More + 3D Printing Tips

XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 3D Printer, Grey

I’ve had my XYZpringing Da Vinci 1 3D Printer since the end of 2014.  I’ve used it for a lot of projects including several homebrewing related prints.  A few of those… Pub Style Tap Handle6 ml Measuring Cup for Star SanMagnet Mounting Thingy – more projects are on the way including a completed 5L Capable Stir Plate using the Magnet Mounting Thingy + This Fan and These Magnets.  It’s relatively easy to design your own prints and pre-designed STL files abound on sites like thingiverse.

The Da Vinci 1,0 is 2014 CES Editors’ Choice Award Winner – Most Affordable 3D Printer.  It has a large 475 cubic inch build volume (7.8″ x 7.8″ x 7.8″).  It includes ABS filament.  User Manual, Printer Cleaning Guide and Load Filament Guide are all available as PDF files under the Product Information section.

XYZPrinting DaVinci 1 Purchase DateI’ve been very happy with this printer.  Check out a few tips below.

XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 3D Printer

DIY Stir Plate3D Magnet Mount in Action

Some Da Vinci 1 Tips  -

  • I clean the printer bed with a cloth and warm water first (as suggested in the directions) but then go a step further by completing a final cleaning with rubbing alcohol.  I picked this up from Make Magazine.  It doesn’t take much.  Several drops along with a paper towel or clean cloth do the trick.  This cleans off any residual oil and helps the model stick to the platform.
  • The printer includes a glue stick for helping to affix prints to the bed.  These are just standard UHU Glue Sticks.  I’ve found a thin even coat of glue works the best.
  • A properly calibrated and leveled bed is a big part of getting a quality print.  If your first layer is getting spread out, your bed is too high.  If edges are lifting up, your bed is too low.  I’ve found the built in calibration routine on this printer to be difficult and time consuming.  I started using Gap Feeler Gauge to do a manual calibration.  Note that this is not the factory recommended method for calibration.  I picked up this set of feeler gauges to do this.  I use the .2 mm gauge.  It’s a quick and simple process.  I start one of the demo prints and wait for the printer to warm up and print the purge line on the right hand side of the bed.  As the print head moves toward the middle of the bed to start the demo item, I unplug the printer.  The printer head and bed are hot so be careful and cautious if you decide to do this.  I move the head above each of the adjustment screws and adjust until the .2 mm gap tool just starts to drag on the head.  Complete 3 times at each point and then go back around to double check and fine tune.  This process takes just a few minutes.  Again… this is not the factory recommended solution.  If you do it, do so at your own risk and be careful – the print head and bed are hot.  Also… I did not develop this technique.  I found it on a forum.  It seems to be pretty widely mentioned.  I think the factory solution could also produce good results.  I just didn’t put a lot of time into getting good at it.

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Tip: Checking for Gas QD Poppet CO2 Leaks

CO2 Pressure Gauge

For the most part, checking for keg Liquid and CO2 leaks is pretty straightforward.  Is beer leaking?  Then you’ve got a liquid leak.  That one’s really easy to spot.  If beer is shooting out like a geyser, you’ve got a… fast leak. :)  For gas, you spray the keg down with Star San or soapy water and check for bubbles.  Pretty easy.

One of the more difficult spots to check is an engaged gas QD.  Testing at this point using the spray bottle method is impossible (or at the very least difficult and messy).  Leaks will only surface here when a gas QD is connected.  The problem is, you can’t easily get to or see that area with a QD on.  I have had people suggest immersing the entire gas QD in Star San.  I’ve been told that leaks will produce bubbles and you will be able to see them.  That just doesn’t sound like much fun to me.  I don’t really want to soak my gas QD in Star San.  I’m also concerned that I won’t get enough Star San in the mix to create bubbles that I can see.

I use a pressure gauge to do this check.  I remove the gas line and put a pressure gauge on the keg.  Then I use a China Marker (easy to remove wax) to mark the pressure and wait overnight.  If the pressure doesn’t drop, the keg is leak free.  It’s worth noting that if the beer is still carbonating the pressure may drop as part of the carbonation process.  If that’s what’s going on with your beer, just leave the pressure gauge on the keg longer until it levels off.  If it keeps dropping, there is a leak.  If it levels off and stays, you’re leak free.

Another option is to attach only one keg to your regulator and turn of the the CO2 tank.  This allows you to use the low pressure gauge to monitor the keg.  The benefit of this method is that you’re testing everything – line, manifold, QD, o-ring and keg.  The downside is you’re taking other kegs offline.

I’m not suggesting this as a replacement for the Star San spray method.  I use it as a complement to that to check an otherwise difficult to check spot.  I use the spray method when I keg a beer and use the pressure gauge method periodically or if I otherwise suspect a problem.

I’m also quick to replace o-rings, especially on the gas side.  I have a couple full tanks of CO2 to a bad gas post oring.  These typically cost just pennies (See: Bulk Keg Orings and Keg Repair Part Numbers).  I would much rather be safe that sorry when it comes to the time, cost and inconvenience of replacing an empty CO2 tank.

Related:

Keg O-Rings: Dip Tube – Silicone · Post – Silicone · Lid – Silicone

Also: Keg Repair Part Numbers

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Hands On: Eva Dry E-500 with Kegerator Condensation Trial

eva dry 500 kegerator condensation review

I have a converted chest freezer kegerator that (years ago) was building up with condensation.  Literally, standing water.  At that point, I had not added a collar, so it’s not like it was a major air leak.  The seal was factory tight.

I looked for solutions and finally settled on the  Eva-dry E-500.  This uses a renewable desiccant material.

The beads inside this unit absorb moisture.  As they do that they change color.  When they have gone from blue to pink, you know it’s time to “renew” the unit.  This is done by removing it from the kegerator and plugging it into an outlet.  The integrated heating element drives off any built up moisture.  When the beads turn blue (overnight), you’re ready to go.  I don’t have to do this often, usually every couple months.

Back of the Eva Dry E-500

Absorbs Excess Moisture.  No batteries or wires required.  Easily regenerated.  No messy spills or refills.  Environmentally safe.  100% renewable.  Ultra space saving.

CE and UL Listed

Bottom of the unit.  This flips out when it’s time to recharge.  It lays flat during normal operation.

Close up on the freshly recharged desiccant beads

Stock photo

Trial:
I recharged this unit on June 22.  I’ve known that this works, but I wanted to put some numbers to it.  Pictures and testing were completed in my collared deep freezer based kegerator.

I checked this around once per week.  Here is a picture of what I would call the first significant signs of moisture build up.  This was taken on August 10th.  That’s 49 days into the test.

Here’s what the beads looked like on August 10th.  The beads are what I would call and translucent pink-ish.  I left the unit in place for another week to see what would happen with moisture content.  It predictability… continued to get worse.  On the 18th, I recharged the unit and wiped down the inside of my kegerator to test conditions without the Eva Dry in place.

This picture was taken 8 days later at my first weekly test.  This is what I would call a similar level of moisture after only 8 days vs 49 days with the Eva Dry.  I have no doubt that water would end up pooling in the bottom of my kegerator, in relatively short order, without the Eva Dry in place.

I took the final weight of these on 8-17.  My Escali Primo has it coming in at 876 grams.

And again the next day after recharging.  It came in at 772 grams.  A full 104 grams of water was driven off during recharging.

Using my Top Find Fast Weigh MS-500-BLK I measured out right at 104 grams.  I used the tare feature so this is actually 104 grams of water.  It nearly fills a taster glass.  This represents what the Eva Dry absorbed.

I’ve had this same unit since October of 2008.  This trial took place around August of 2013.  As of this edit (March 2015), this unit is about 6 and 1/2 years old.  Other than a slightly curling label, this looks like new and it certainly works like new.

The Eva-Dry E-500 has kept my kegerator dry for years.  It is a Top Find and I’m glad to have it!

Eva-dry E-500 Renewable Wireless Mini Dehumidifer

This is a Top Find!

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Putting Together a “Brew Day Box”

Why a Brew Day Box?
Over the years I’ve homebrewed, I’ve utilized a number of storage/organization strategies.  Some could be defined less as strategies and more as “piles”.  These strategies have ranged from, cardboard boxes, to big totes that I threw everything under the sun into to using smaller shoe box size containers and breaking everything out into categories.  The shoe box size organization method has worked well and other than a few large totes for bigger items, it’s what I’m currently using.  At some point after going to that, I realized that when brew day rolled around, I had to collect items from a number of these containers.  I usually forgot something and had to look around, multiple times per brew day trying to find whatever I lacked.  That evolved into putting together a container just for brew days.  I cleverly :) call that my Brew Day Box.  This container houses nearly all the small odds and ends that I use when brewing.  I’ve also tried to make sure those things don’t really need removed at other times.  For example I use a refractometer regularly, not just on brew day, so… I bought another refractometer.  It took a while to get there, but, for the most part things in my Brew Day Box stay there.  This keeps everything in one place and I’m not wasting time trying to find stuff when I should be brewing.

What’s in the Box?

1.  Five Stainless Steel 2.75 ounce Prep Cups from Crate and Barrel – Here

Stock Image

These cups are from Crate and Barrel.  I use them for portioning hops and other boil additions.  I used to use larger cups from Ikea.  Those were okay, but they were too bulky.  I like these stainless cups a lot.  They are a great size and they nest to save space in the box.

Stainless Steel Small 2.5″ Condiment-Prep Cup

2.  500 mL Polypropylene Lab Containers from Bel-Art – Here

This 500 mL lab grade bottle is safe at boiling temps, it’s also autoclave and microwave friendly.  I use this container for rehydrating yeast.  Check out the Tips Page (tip #1) for my technique on that.  I use dry yeast enough that I wanted this in my brew day box.  My brew day refractometer also fits in this, so it saves some space and protects that piece of equipment.

I bought 12 of these in early 2011 and I’m still using the first one (in June of 2013).

Bel-Art 106320007 Scienceware Polypropylene Precisionware Wide-Mouth Autoclavable Bottle with 53mm Closure, 500ml Capacity, Pack of 12

3.  An inexpensive lighter from the dollar store

4.  Teflon Tape for weldless fittings

5.  A pair of Messermeister Take-Apart Scissors – Here

These are take-apart for easy cleaning and sanitizing

They also have a handy bottle opener

These get great reviews from a number of sources.  They have worked great for me.  Check out my Hands on Review – Here

Messermeister 8-Inch Take-Apart Kitchen Scissors

6.  A CDN DTQ450X Quick Read Thermometer – Here

 

This is a great brewing thermometer.  Check out my Hands on Review – Here

CDN DTQ450X ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer

7. KitchenArt Adjustable Tablespoon – Here

I use a measuring spoon for measuring yeast nutrient additions and other boil additions.  This is another space saver.  I wanted to easily fit everything in one shoe size box.  At one point, I kept an entire set of measuring spoons in the box.  This replaced that whole set.

KitchenArt Plastic Adjust-a-Tablespoon, White

8.  FastWeigh MS-500 Gram Scale – Here

This Top Find Gram Scale is great for measuring hops and other boil additions.  I’ve found it to be very accurate and it’s a great size.  Check out my Hands on Review – Here.

Fast Weigh MS-500-BLK Digital Pocket Scale, 500 by 0.1 G

9.  Taylor 5849 Quad Timer and Whiteboard – Here
This allows me to time up to four hop additions and also has a handy white board for noting what hops go in when.

Taylor 5849 Quad Kitchen Timer with Whiteboard

10.  Leatherman Wingman Multi Tool – Here

Another great bang for the buck with regards to space.  This thing is really well made and includes lots of features including pliers, wire cutters a knife, screwdrivers, a bottle opener and lots more.  Made in the US. Check out my Hands on Review – Here.

Leatherman 831426 Wingman Multi-Tool

11. Dual Scale Refractometer – Here

Refractometers use a sample size of just a few drops and can be used to measure gravity throughout the brewing process.  Check out Northern Brewer’s Priming Sugar Calculator for an easy way to estimate after fermentation begins.

Economic Beer Wort and Wine Refractometer, Dual Scale – Specific Gravity and Brix

12. Irwin 9 in 1 Multi-Tool Screwdriver – Here

Stock Photo


9 Functions


Disassembled


The nut driver works on all of my worm type tubing clamps

This is a handy screwdriver that gives you a lot of functions for the space.

IRWIN 2051100 9-in-1 Multi-Tool Screwdriver

13.  Rubbermaid Box – 10 Packs – Single

I have dozens of these boxes.  I like this specific model because: 1. The sides are clear.  That makes it easy to see what’s inside.  2. The lids are easy to snap on and take off. and 3. They stack nicely on top of each other.

You may be able to find these in a local store for less.  I’ve bought some online and stumbled across them another time in a local store for a couple dollars each.

Rubbermaid 6.5 Quart Clever Store Non Latching Bins 10 Packs – Single

Top View – Everything Loaded in the Box


Front View


The lid snaps on easily

A Brew Day box has been a big time saver for me.  Having most of the small stuff in one spot makes the brew day go more smoothly.  I recommend putting something like this together.\

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3 Pack of Metallic Sharpie Markers – Good for Dark Surfaces (like Kegs)

Metallic Sharpies

3 Metallic Sharpies from… Sharpie.  Metallic Sharpies are great for writing on dark surfaces, like… keg handles and bases.  Typical black Sharpies are black and don’t show up on… black very well. :)

Sharpie Metallic Fine Point Permanent Markers, 3 Markers, Colored (1823815)

While we’re on the subject of writing instruments for the brewing area, there are two other types of markers that I like to keep around…

Dixon Phano Peel-Off China Marker Pencils, Thin, Black, 12-Count (00081)
These are wax markers.  They write on most smooth surfaces.  The writing stays in place pretty well until you give it a good scrub.  Seems like I use these most often for putting a tick on a pressure gauge to keep track of changes.  I’ve also used them for labeling buckets of grain.

Sharpie 13601 Industrial Fine Point Permanent Marker, Black, 12 per pack
Industrial Sharpies contain a stronger ink compared with regular Sharpies.  It is heat and water resistant.

Features:

  • Super-permanent black ink is great for metal, foil, glass, film, and plastic. Withstands temperatures up to 500-degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fade and water-resistant.
  • Made for industrial, laboratory, and commercial use.
  • 3.25 inches long by 1.125 inches wide by 6.125 inches high. 0.335 pounds.
  • Made in the USA

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Reader Tip: (5) 10 cc Syringes + Sanitizing for Pennies a Batch

Thanks to HBF Reader Ricky for this tip!  There are 8 Ways to Connect with HBF

10cc Syringe (Pkg. of 5)

5 Pack of 10 CC Syringes.  Use for measuring 6 mL of Star San to make 1 Gallon of Sanitizing Solution.  See: Using Star San in a Spray Bottle.

10cc Syringe (Pkg. of 5)

Related: Star San in a Spray Bottle · 3D Printed 6ml Measuring Cup for Star San

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(5) 10 mL Syringes for Sanitizing

BD 10ml Syringe Slip Tip 5pack

5 Pack of 10 ml Syringes.  Use for measuring 6 mL of Star San to make 1 Gallon of Sanitizing Solution.  See: Using Star San in a Spray Bottle.

BD 10ml Syringe Slip Tip 5pack

Related: Star San in a Spray Bottle · 3D Printed 6ml Measuring Cup for Star San

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