Beyond Content Creation

Admittedly, this is the first summer class I’ve ever enrolled in, and I was not very happy about ending that streak. However, looking back on the last two months I’m really glad I chose this class even though it’s going to render all future summer courses inadequate. Not only was the class unique and fun, but I also gained invaluable skills and began a life-long commitment to making. Before this course, I considered making to be somewhat mysterious and certainly beyond my expertise. I never would have considered the possibility of owning my own Arduino or learning how to use a 3D printer. Now, I have the confidence and the basic skills to at the very least attempt to make, hack, and remix, and I’m looking forward to continue expanding my knowledge.


I believe the most important aspect of the maker movement is the mindset. Without the confidence and the drive to be a maker, it’s nearly impossible to motivate yourself to tackle a project. In order to provide the community with the opportunity to build their confidence, libraries must expose people to the ideology and manifestations of the maker movement. I never would have considered myself capable of designing my own video game in Scratch or creating an object in a CAD program without gaining awareness of amateurs like me that have not only done those things but expanded even further simply by exploring and reaching out in their community. I hope that through library involvement, maker spaces can move beyond the “boys’ club” stereotype and provide access to the tools and expertise need for anyone to become a maker.


And, any class where I can learn how to brew wine is never a bad one.




Bottling Day

Luckily, my batch of wine cleared up only after around 3 weeks of fermentation, so I was able to bottle it with plenty of time to fix any taste issues. However, the wine actually tasted…like wine! No additional sugar was need to make it palatable. All that was left in the process was to put the wine in bottles and drink it.


Due to some lovely donations, I had plenty of bottles to fill, but they first needed to be cleaned with PBW.





Next, everything needed in the bottle process (the siphon shown below, bottles, bowl, etc.) was sanitized.



After a few minutes in the foam, we began bottling! We knew it would get messy, so towels were placed on the counter and floor. A bucket for collecting the wine that gushes everywhere when transitioning between bottles is crucial. Once it gets going it flows really fast. Also, this task is best with at least 3 people. The more the better.



As you can see, even with the bucket I still made a huge mess on the floor. More towels next time, for sure!

When the wine starts getting low, it becomes significantly more difficult to siphon without disturbing the yeast. No one wants cloudy wine, so we did our best to tilt the jug to get the last of it out.


Unfortunately, the photographer, my girlfriend, had to help with the tilting, so I don’t have any pictures. I promise it was sufficiently awkward, messy process.

We did a pretty good job of getting all the wine out, and we labeled the particularly yeasty bottles just in case!


We used a bottle cap sealer for the beer bottles and screw tops for the rest.



Finally, we cleaned up with more PBW and enjoyed a glass! 🙂



The yeast isn’t very pretty, but our official SCUMakers bottle is!


The Big Day Part 2

Last post, I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger. Even though brewing wine is a fairly simple process, it’s nearly impossible not to run into problems when making something for the first time. My issue was a lack of a stirring device that could fit in the narrow jug opening.


A wooden dowel works as a one-time use fix, but since I was already halfway through the process some creativity was necessary.

Luckily, my mom’s an avid beer brewer and has a large bucket from Norther Brewer like those pictured below.


Also, when we grabbed the bucket we realized that we were actually using a 4 gallon jug instead of the 5 gallon, which the recipe calls for.



So, my mom and I poured the apple juice sugar mixture into the bucket, and I stirred it for about 2 minutes. It’s important to stir it so that a vortex forms for 1-2 mintues. This causes any dissolved gasses to be removed from the mixture.



And then we added the yeast, added the rest of the apple juice, and then poured the mixture back into the 5 gallon jug. (Disclaimer: 5 gallons of liquid is HEAVY, and all of this liquid transfer was not fun. Don’t forget your dowel!)





Finally, we added the air lock filled with sanitizing solution to the top, and I dragged my dad away from the World Cup game to carry the jug downstairs.


Now it will sit for 4 weeks, bubbling away!

Also, a note about clean up. Anything that is used consistently for brewing (the jugs and bucket), must be cleaned with Powdered Brewers Wash or PBW. It is a alkali cleaner rather than a soap, which can leave residue and ruin the equipment.


After the four weeks are up, I will test the wine and add additional sugar as needed. Hopefully, it will be drinkable in time for the Maker Faire!

The Big Day (Part 1)

Today I, with help from my mom, turned 5 gallons of apple juice into a yeasty, sugary concoction that will hopefully turn into wine.



First, and most important step is sanitation.




Sanitizing solution simply needs to be in contact with whatever you’re using, including your hands and workspace, for a few minutes (we used five just to be safe), and there’s no need to rinse. Even contact with the foam sanitizes!


I’m rolling the fermentation jug in order to ensure the solution to come into contact with the entire inside of the jug. Having the additional harness with handles makes life a lot easier, especially when carrying the jug from the kitchen to the basement.

After sanitizing, I began mixing 2 pounds of corn sugar (dextrose) with the apple juice and pouring it into the jug.




I measured out a pound of sugar, poured half a bottle of juice in the jug, and then poured the pound of sugar in the apple juice in order to dissolve the sugar in the juice.






After mixing the juice and the sugar, I poured it in the fermentation jug and repeated the process again with another pound of sugar.


Once the 2 gallons of juice with the sugar mixed in was in the jug, I added in the yeast nutrient followed by nearly all of the rest of the juice.




At this point I ran into my first major problem; I completely forgot about the next step. I needed to mix the juice to the point where a vortex forms for 1 to 2 minutes, and I didn’t have a small enough spoon. Part two will go into how we solved that problem, and how we discovered more during that process! Enjoy the cliffhanger, and remember that foam is your friend.

Brewing with Brewtroller


This video is an episode from Make magazine’s video blog called Make: Live. These guys provide a great demonstration on how Arduino and other micro controllers can be used in home brewing systems. I’m not going to lie, their manual control panel was extremely intimidating, but I think making my digital thermometer  system won’t be nearly as extravagant. I’m going to start the brewing process next week, so expect lots of photos documenting the beginnings of wine brewing.




Brewing with Arduino

First off, I’d like to ease any worries about my home-brewed wine that I will prepare for the Maker Faire:

1. I will use a ton of sanitizing solution. 

2. This awesome instructable claims that brewing wine is idiot proof. 

3. My Mom, who brews beer and majored in Chemistry, is going to help me and provide the majority of the equipment.

4. I’m going to (attempt to) build a digital thermometer using Arduino to better monitor the fermentation process.


Since many makers are homebrewers and homebrewers are makers, there are several different projects and kits combining Arduino with the brewing process. There are even a few advanced, open source kits available for purchase:

BrewPi is a temperature controller that uses a combination of Raspberry Pi and Arduino. It provides a web interface and graphs, and it can be used to build fermentation chambers.

Brew Troller also monitors and controls temperature. It also has the capability to monitors vessel volumes and control valves and many other brewing functions. 

Both systems are customizable and on GitHub.


Due to time constraints and lack of experience, I’m going to stick to a simple Arduino system that uses a digital thermometer to monitor temperature. I’m hoping to have real time temperature updates sent to my phone or to a website. I will be ordering my Arduino this weekend and buying a lot of fruit juice!



Photo credit:

The Beginning.

My decision to take the first Content Creation course offered in a library science program stems mostly from pure interest in the subject. However, I was also motivated by my desire to validate my previous education. I have my A.A.S. in Media Arts, which means I paid a lot of tuition to work with a variety of digital media programs including photoshop, logic, and final cut pro.


After the brief introductions I received on each area of media creation, I connected with digital video editing’s combination of skills, including organization, logic, and creativity, and pursued the field as a possible career path. After working on a failed local TV pilot and failed TV concept, I refocused my attention on my education. I remain passionate about digital media and pursue it as a hobby, but I’m rusty due to the rapid technological developments and lack of software access. I’m hoping this course will not only allow me the opportunity to refresh my digital skills, but also expand them to include the physical realm of vinyl cutting and 3D printing.


Maker Spaces in libraries allow patrons to gain experience with programs like photoshop and final cut pro without spending significant amounts of money on buying the software and hardware and taking courses with experts. Community members and library staff provide the expertise and collaboration necessary for patrons to conceptualize, design, and create anything they need to enhance their lives, while the library provides the tools. I view maker spaces in libraries as a “hack” of libraries – informational resources that already exist are repurposed and enhanced by the addition of tools to make a better library experience.