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Kroger Private Selection Salsa

What started out as one of my Critique this label posts on Facebook turned into a full review of this salsa. Some of the comments from others included “Tomatoes are listed 4 times.”, “It’s staunchy design.”, “Pretty generic. Too many fonts…”, and “Tomatillo salsa should not have tomatoes in it.” So here’s my take…

First I’ll start off by saying I bought this because it was on sale for $1.99 USD. I like a good medium salsa, and the “Smoky, Tangy” flavor sounded good. It’s definitely got a smoky flavor to it, though I would call this a “hot” salsa instead of a “medium”. I can handle hot stuff just fine but I really think they should label this hot instead of medium. If they do have a “hot” I don’t think I want it.

My main complaint about this salsa is the amount of liquid content. This is not a “thick and chunky” it’s the opposite, a “loose and watery” or something, though putting that on the label would probably affect sales. I decided to run the salsa through a strainer to get some idea of the amount of liquid in it. See the photo below.

Wow! I got about 5 ounces of liquid, which accounts for more than 25% of the contents of the jar. So even though this salsa was $1.99 USD I really only got a jar that was about 70% full of salsa after the excess liquid removal process. (I also wonder if most of the hotness was in the liquid, because it did not seem as hot after I de-liquified it.)

In conclusion, it’s an okay salsa. Will I buy it again? Probably not. Though the low price was appealing, once I finish the three jars I have (?!?) I’ll probably move on to another brand.

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Fan Noise Synth

On a recent trip abroad the wife and I ended up taking an overnight trip for two days & nights and needed to drown out some of the noise at the place we were staying. At home we use the Sleepy Noise Machine which actually plays an audio file of a fan running to create some white noise. We don’t travel with the machine though, so my first thought was to use my iPad to play one of those 10 hour long YouTube videos of a fan running…

Problem 1. The hotel said “Free WiFi” which, you know, there was, but it was not actually connected to the Internet. Whoops. Problem 2. I could have tethered my iPad to my phone for Internet access but since we were traveling abroad the slow data rate and roaming data make that a bad idea. So…

I fired up AudioKit Synth One, screwed around with customizing a square wave, set it to hold the note, and pressed a few keys to get a (satisfying?) imitation fan noise, which you can hear in the video below.

I think I’ll probably just load some suitable audio files onto the iPad before the next trip abroad just to be safe, but I was pleased I came up with a solution when needed.

(When playing the video below you might think “That sounds nothing like a fan!” and, it sort of doesn’t, but trust me, in a hotel room where you want to drown out the noise from the next room… it’s close enough!)

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MIDI Controller 4 Button LC

I was contacted by someone who really liked the Four Button MIDI Box I had built but was hoping for a less expensive version, so I built one. The Four Button MIDI Box had some specific design requirements regarding size and power, which made it more expensive, but this version (dubbed “LC” for “Low Cost”) does not have such constraints, uses a different source of power, and different components.

This one actually gets power via Micro USB, so any old cheap phone charger should work just fine. Also, while this specific one only does MIDI out via the 5 Pin DIN port, it is capable of doing MIDI out via USB as well. In fact, it can send different data out of the DIN port and the USB port if desired, which is kind of cool.

I usually start these kinds of projects doing some simple sketches to get an idea of size & scale of things. Once the customer and I agree on things I do a 3D model of the enclosure so it can be 3D printed.

It usually take between two and three prints to get it perfect. Sometimes I just do partial prints of certain parts (like the holes for the jacks) to make sure it’s all good. This time I did the math wrong so I did three prints to get things perfect. (I also printed a spare right away in case it was needed.)

I’m pretty happy about how this one turned out. Leaving a bit more room for wiring inside the enclosure really helps. I also used silicone wiring which is more flexible and easy to shove into place. In fact, I may build another one right away and add it to the shop in case someone else wants one.

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Adafruit NeoTrellis M4 808 Drum Machine

A while back (umm, last year?) old pal Kirby gave me an Adafruit NeoTrellis M4 with Enclosure and Buttons Kit Pack which I believe he got in an Adabox. At the time I was like, “Hey, this is neat!” and put it aside because I was busy with work. Well, I finally found it when I was cleaning the office and decided to dig a little deeper and discovered the demo code it shipped with was already running a minimal drum machine! They had some samples loaded up and it was a super-basic tracker. Fun!

The provided samples were not that great so I grabbed a kick, tom, snare, and hi-hat from the classic Roland TR-808 which, well, you probably know. As for the Adafruit NeoTrellis, it’s is a fun little drum machine! A bit challenging, and definitely minimal, but worth spending some time with. The audio is running out of the NeoTrellis and through a Bastl Dude and filmed/recorded to an iPhone.

Note: I found this guide to Trellis M4 Beat Sequencers which should prove extremely useful! It’s way more capable than I imagined, which shouldn’t be surprising since it’s from Adafruit.

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Parametric Sink Strainer / Sifter

Continuing on the journey of improving my OpenSCAD skills I worked up this parametric sink strainer for the slop sink in our basement. It’s a useful print because sometimes we clean dirty things in the sink (like muddy shoes) and keeping yard waste out of the drain is probably a good idea.

Here’s the sink drain in question. I just measure the diameter and depth of the hole and created a strainer that could fit inside.

It’s not a super snug fit so it’s easy to remove the strainer by just sliding it out when not needed.

You can also make a sifter, which is something I designed and printed before when I needed to sift the rocks out of some concrete.

You can customize the diameter, height, wall and floor thickness, and size and spacing of holes. I didn’t add the capability to switch to round holes versus square holes, but that may be an improvement in the future. There’s also no lip/edge like most strainers have, so maybe that should get added to the list as well. (Or you can check out Customizable Drain Strainer by fardog.)

You can get the .scad file from Printables.com – Parametric Strainer / Sifter. Just open in it OpenSCAD, set the size of things and render your object.