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Alcohol stoves for camping

June 06, 2016 — BarryK
I posted a couple of days ago about a simple recipe for the trail, "peas and mash", using my Alocs alcohol stove:
http://bkhome.org/news/201605/peas-and-mash-on-the-trail.html

Here in Australia, we use methylated spirits, readily available everywhere, though in some towns in northern Australia it is kept behind the counter, as there are those who drink it.

I bought my Alocs stove a couple of years ago, from Deal Extreme:
http://www.dx.com/p/locs-portable-camping-alcohol-stove-spirit-burner-black-golden-256330

In its favour, are the simmer-ring (that leaver sticking out) for adjusting the flame down, a screw-on lid with rubber gasket so as to keep left-over fuel, and the stand-cum-wind-shield.
The arguments against it are the wind-shield is not really enough, another is really required, and it is a tad heavy, at 143gm.

I have ordered two more stoves, both due to arrive very soon.
One of these is the Vargo Triad, all titanium, weighing only 28gm. Home:
http://www.vargooutdoors.com/triad-alcohol-stove.html


The main arguments in favour of this stove are the extreme light weight and strength. Against it, it needs a separate wind shield, and there is no means to reduce the flame.
That last one is significant for me -- when I am cooking something, I want to reduce to a simmer after bringing it to a boil. If you want to keep a furious boil going, wasting fuel and possibly burning the pot and food, that's what you will get without a simmer-ring.
Many hikers accept this limitation and work around it.

I bought my Triad from amazon.com. They ship to Australia.

Last, and this is the one that most excites me, is the Packafeather XL stove. Home:
http://packafeather.com/xlstove.html


It weighs only 45gm, and has the neatest flame control of all -- a little knob on the end of a cable.
It does require a separate wind shield, ditto for the two other stoves. I have some thin aluminium for that.
There does seem to be a lot of points in favour of the XL, and I can't, without having actually used it, think of anything against it. All reviews have been positive.

Anyway, the XL should be here in a day or two, and I will post a review, along with another of my culinary creations.

Tags: light

Peas and mash on the trail

May 30, 2016 — BarryK
I am gradually getting organised for another hike, doing a complete review of the weight, trying to get it down.

Apart from that, I want to experiment with new food recipes. A post by "Eremophila" on the Bushwalk forum inspired me:
http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=20234

His peas and potato mash is basic, but should be appetising. I decided to give it a go. Here are all of the items that a hiker would need:


The stove is an Alocs alcohol burner (methylated spirits) that I bought from Deal Extreme awhile back (dx.com).
On the left is the fuel, in a Selleys wood-glue plastic bottle -- chosen because the spout has a screw-on cap, so fuel won't leak inside the backpack.
The other items are small scissors to open the packets, bag-closers, a folding scoop (that came with a saucepan-set from DX), water, and a spoon (my all-time favourite, a plastic spoon from Sea to Summit).

The pot is titanium, 700ml, 115mm diameter, 700mm high, 700ml capacity, very light, sold by Toak (USA).

Some means of lighting the stove is required. I have shown a cigarette-lighter in the photo, however matches are better as it is required to reach down into the stove to ignite the fuel.

I put in two scoops of water, one scoop of dehydrated peas. Lit the stove, brought the pot to a boil. Actually, this Alocs stove boils the water quite fast, and that is where this particular alcohol stove has an advantage over some others -- it has a "simmer ring" to adjust the flame down.


Wait several minutes, until the peas look like they have become soft. Take the pot off the stove, and stir in 1 scoop of potato powder, then half-a-scoop of cheese. The result:


It tastes OK. Not gourmet cooking, but passable when on the trail.

Next time, I will probably adjust it to a bit less peas, and maybe a bit more water. The cheese is a problem, as it would have to be consumed fairly quickly after opening the packet. Apparently, there are dehydrated cheese powders available, but I just bought what I found on the shelves at Coles.

After a days hiking, I would probably double the quantities, for a reasonable meal. Note, I don't have a measuring cup, but I think my scoop holds about 70ml.

Just an extra note: I am currently going through the exercise of reducing the weight of everything, and the Alocs stove is likely to be retired. It weighs, with its stand/shelter, 143gm. I have ordered another that is about 1/3 the weight, also has an adjustable flame. I'll write about that another day.

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New tent and backpack

March 12, 2016 — BarryK
I have purchased ultra-light tent and backpack, and taken them on an overnighter.

Wrote up a report, with photos:

http://barryk.org/light/field-tests/ft2-backpack.htm

Not a comprehensive test of the tent, as the weather was perfect. Reached 30 degrees C, 40% humidity, hazy sky.

I left the fly of the tent rolled back all night, so able to watch the bush around me and the sky. Very pleasant, and the mozzies just buzzed around outside the tent!

Tags: light

Solar power testing 2016

February 03, 2016 — BarryK
I did some testing of solar panels and battery-banks, to charge smartphones and other USB-chargeable devices, back in 2014:
http://barryk.org/light/solar/testing-2014.htm

I have started another round of tests, this time focusing on ultra-light traveling, using a very small panel charging my smartphone directly, no intermediate battery-bank.

It's a work-in-progress, but good result so far:
http://barryk.org/light/solar/panels-small-2016.htm

I have posted about this to an Australian bushwalking forum:
http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=22455

Tags: light

Hiking test

January 25, 2016 — BarryK
It is mid-summer here in Australia, and the weather has been pleasant. Thunder, lightning, rain early this morning, but the last few days have been mostly sunny, temperatures climbing to mid-30s.

Very nice weather for hiking, though it did get a tad warmish yesterday. I was off on the trails, of which we have many in the hills close to Perth.

January 2015 I did some hiking, but carried too much. This time I have experimented with ultra-light.

Here is a field test of my latest gear:

http://barryk.org/light/field-tests/ft1-daylight.htm

Lots of fun!

Tags: light

Mobile-friendly static HTML

January 13, 2016 — BarryK
My web pages are all "old school" HTML. I have dabbled in CSS and Javascript, but mostly create web pages with simple static HTML using tables.

My web pages look fine on a desktop screen, but not so good on a mobile phone. Typically, I create a centered table with a fixed width, and all content goes inside that. Basic structure:

<html>
<head ... > ... </head>
<table align="center" width="700" ... > ... </table>
</html>


On a high resolution mobile phone screen, the table renders very small, with large blank space both sides.

However, I discovered a very simple fix. Just insert this line into the <head> section:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=700">

Remarkable, on my Android phone, my pages scale, both in portrait and landscape orientation, so that the table width fills the screen. Everything, text and images, scale correctly.

See my example page:
http://barryk.org/light/solar/index.html

References:
http://developer.android.com/guide/webapps/targeting.html
https://developer.apple.com/library/safari/documentation/AppleApplications/Reference/SafariHTMLRef/Articles/MetaTags.html

...though, I haven't even read most of that. Just took a punt on the "width" parameter, and it worked.

Tags: light

Remix OS Mini PC

July 17, 2015 — BarryK
Longtime Puppy fan and active Forum contributor cthisbear, posted this:
http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=100300

Actually, I had a few months away from Quirky development, and also wasn't reading the Puppy Forum, except for occasional glances. Today though, had a good read, and found the post from cthisbear.

Which linked to here:
http://www.slashgear.com/jide-tries-again-remix-mini-does-android-pc-15393174/

And the Kickstarter project:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1123481999/remix-mini-the-worlds-first-true-android-pc

I'll be in that! $40 plus $15 postage to Australia, for the 2G RAM model. That's a good price.

I really want to play with Remix OS. I like Android, on my phone anyway. Remix promises to give me a desktop experience, and I can use all the Android apps, some of which I have got to like very much -- such as SafeInCloud, that I reported on recently:
http://bkhome.org/news/201505/safeincloud-password-manager-mini-review.html

I have been experimenting with Bluetooth mice and keyboards with my phone:
http://bkhome.org/news/201505/computing-on-the-go-the-complete-kit.html

...which has been a good experience, and I am excited to find out how much more enhanced the experience will be with Remix OS.

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HB-2000 keyboard design fault

June 11, 2015 — BarryK
In my on-going "traveling light" project, I wrote about the tiny Bluetooth HB-2000 keyboard:
http://bkhome.org/news/201505/computing-on-the-go-the-complete-kit.html

I own a couple of other Bluetooth keyboards, that are unwieldy in comparison. The HB-2000 is smaller and considerably lighter than them, eminently suitable where size and weight are important, such as traveling with a backpack or when a "carry on" bag is one's only luggage.

The HB-2000 is also considerably cheaper than the brand-name keyboards. However, I have discovered a design fault, shown in this photo:


At each side at the front, there are rubber feet, that glue to the printed circuit board. See the cutout in the metal frame.
The problem is that the printed circuit board is only glued, with sticky glue, to the metal frame, and the rubber feet are affixed to the board only, not the frame.

Consequently, after using for awhile, the printed circuit board lifts away from the metal frame, and the rubber feet sink into the frame.

I first noticed this when the keyboard started to wobble on a flat surface. At first, I wondered how the frame could have become distorted, then closer examination revealed the cause.
Is this just stupidity, or didn't the designers care?

I fixed it by moving the rubber feet onto the frame, and might look around for bigger feet that will cover up the metal cutout.

I still love this keyboard!

Another thing that I want to do is construct a cover, to protect the keys when packed tightly inside a backpack or whatever. The cover can be opened up, and I envision having a slot in it, into which my phone can be inserted, so it becomes a mounting base for the phone.
...if anyone has this keyboard, or plans to buy one, and wants to design such a cover, I welcome your thoughts on it.

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