intjonathan: (Default)
You've probably heard about this if you've talked to me in the last week, it was a fun project.

The fridge was about 1/3 full of microbrew sixpacks, and when I saw this shiny little counter-height number at Costco, I couldn't resist.
beer fridge by niralisse on Treemo
It's a Sanyo SR-4433S, and Costco had it for $150. They have some similar models online, but none have the freezer compartment design this one has, which turned out to be important.

The optimum environment for storing beer and wine is about 50F, 70% humidity, dark, stable, and steady. As built, the fridge filled all these requirements except the first two. The built-in thermostat was set way too cold, and caused any moisture in the fridge to ice up in the freezer section, removing it from the air. Even on the lowest setting, it never got warmer than 40F. Great for keeping your milk fresh, but terrible for beer. I futzed with it for a few days until I broke down and disassembled the thing. It turned out to be easier than I thought.
beer fridge by niralisse on Treemo
See that coiled up thing in the front? That's the thermocouple for the thermostat. Originally, it ran under the cold plate and through the clips in the back, across the back of the plate. I removed it from the clips, routed it around the front of the cold plate, and coiled it under the coldest part of the plate.
beer fridge by niralisse on Treemo
The thermocouple originally ran under here. The channel under the cold plate is for a drip tray, useful when defrosting but kind of useless in such a warm fridge. Besides, the wine bottles don't fit with the drip tray in.
With the thermocouple confined, I could now lie to it.
beer fridge by niralisse on Treemo
I filled a 1 quart ziploc freezer bag with very salty water and placed it over the thermocouple. Salt water freezes at low temperatures, lower than even direct contact with the cold plate would generate, so the bag would stay close to the thermocouple and not do a bunch of freeze-thaw cycles that would affect temperature stability.
To help out humidity, and offer a buffer to the iced up condensation under the cold plate that builds up when the compressor kicks on, I filled the ice tray with water and put it on the annoyingly placed shelf in the bottom of the fridge.
beer fridge by niralisse on Treemo
(I had to put some no-skid stuff under it because the shelf is tilted forward for some reason.) It's not a real credo, but it helps stabilize things until I can get a hygrometer.
With the bag in place, I got another 7F out of it. 46F is as cold as it ever gets now. Not quite the magical 50F, but certainly a big improvement. I'm not sure what other easy tricks I can do to provide a colder environment for the thermocouple. I'm considering encasing it in the chilled water in the ziploc, but I can't quite get at how I would seal it up. The other option is to simply replace the thermostat, it's a very simple design that runs off 110V AC and has a thermocouple and a trigger line. That would cost money and engineering, however, when a little free science seems to have me 80% there.
beer fridge by niralisse on Treemo
It kicks on about 3 times a day, making it very cheap to run, and keeping temperature fluctuation within 2-3F. That, and the beer tastes great!
intjonathan: (Default)
I must be feeling better. My catharsis project for Productive Saturday was a home made pot rack.

Pot racks are great, but if you try and buy one stock, they're at least $50 and go into the hundreds. Then there's the matter of finding one that fits your space, etc. and it can add up to a real hassle. Thinking that was all a bunch of noise, I looked online for a bit and amid the idiot suggestions of using bathroom grab bars, closet rods, and shelving brackets, I settled on 1/2" pipe and s-hooks. The only wild card was attaching the pipe to the wall somehow. I wanted something like a shelf angle bracket, only smaller and in a configuration that would hold the 1/2" pipe without requiring me to drill through it.

After checking all the likely sections at home depot, I concluded that it would be much easier to hang it from the ceiling. I didn't want it to hang very low at all, as I've not a ton of height to work with, so chains were out. I just needed something to screw into the ceiling that I could hang some s-hooks on. Turned out a lot simpler than I thought:

saturday project by niralisse on Treemo

Stainless steel eye bolts and 3" s-hooks anchor the pipe to the ceiling, while 3" zinc-plated s-hooks hold the pots and pans. Screw on some pipe caps and I was good to go. The hardest part was finding a joist, I wanted it further from the adjacent wall, but the joists ran parallel to the wall 16" away, so I had to bring it to within 2" of the wall to find a joist. It's damn secure though, you could do pull-ups off of it.

You could add chains to bring the assembly lower, or use 90 degree fittings to create a square one, whatever you want. If you're stuck attaching it to the wall, you'll need chains and hooks instead of simple eye hooks.

I can't believe I didn't find a design this simple anywhere else online. Internet, it turns out, is no substitute for instincts.

pot rack by niralisse on Treemo

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June 2012

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