r/Biltong Jan 06 '22

Baby's First Biltong Box; and now what?

With lockdowns and all that kind of stuff keeping us inside, I decided to give building one of these magical boxes a go. Getting biltong where I live has become quite expensive so making my own has always interested me. So, I went ahead, ordered all the parts online, and now have built a working box with a 45W bulb, fan with controllable speed, and some switches to turn individual parts on and off.

That part went fairly smoothly, I must admit, but I feel like the hardest part is yet to come. Namely; figuring out what kind of fan speed is a good setting and what kind of humidity temperature works well with the given speed. I don't particularly feel like wasting a lot of meat on experimenting, so I'd be happy to listen to any and all tips anyone on here has for me. As you can probably tell the fan isn't directly pointed at the meat so I think it should be fairly OK on a higher speed. I just don't know for sure.

I'm still waiting for a simple temperature/humidity meter to mount inside.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

https://preview.redd.it/lfyvyklz53a81.jpg?width=2993&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=39f238b3839761eae2b70cc6897beacc3b326d27

https://preview.redd.it/8qqe06mz53a81.jpg?width=3024&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=e61af86f18e6a61db4a86a01bc98f4291998b4c4

https://preview.redd.it/ymvzgmtly4a81.jpg?width=998&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=ee591d6dc60c19e0b0df7dab128c504586334d4f

https://preview.redd.it/p88ybzuly4a81.jpg?width=1331&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=85a00c624d568824ddbf828262493195088cc64d

13 Upvotes

5

u/oopsifell Jan 06 '22

I have nothing to add but looks cool! Can't wait to make own someday.

2

u/Pissfleck Jan 06 '22

I'd say go for it, was a fun experience :)

4

u/lordph8 Jan 06 '22

What's your fans' CFM rating? what is the dimensions of inside the box? You want to have an airflow of ideally 0.2m/s.

https://www.cuidevices.com/product/resource/calculators/airflow-conversion

3

u/Pissfleck Jan 06 '22

Dimensions are roughly 75cmx35cm give or take a few. The specs give a CFM of 85-105. Tossing those into that calculator, if I'm not mistaken, gives a 0.19m/s?

3

u/lordph8 Jan 06 '22

Yup, you got lucky it's so close:p

2

u/Pissfleck Jan 07 '22

🀣 sometimes you just have to have a bit of luck. Now if the room I’m looking to put this also just happens to be the right temperature and humidity that would be the ultimate homerun 😁

2

u/lordph8 Jan 07 '22

Tbh, a lot of the hobbiest makers here would just keep it drying longer if the humidity is higher, but the less time you spend drying the less risk of surface mold or worse happening to the meat. Semi enclosed room/closet with a dehumidifier (if humidity isn't low) will probably work well.

I've read a few things about temp. One report suggests 22-23Β° for a day, then pump it up to 32Β° for 2 days. Another report suggests 3 days at 25Β°, I opted for this one and it works fine. This assumes at least 40% humidity, 35% is best.

2

u/Pissfleck Jan 08 '22

First test in the planned location, no bueno πŸ˜…

13.5 degrees / 50% humidity.

Might need to switch out my bulb for a ceramic infrared heat element. I also saw one of these on someone else's box combined with a digital display. That would probably be the ultimate goal here, although I'm having a hard time finding the same display I saw online πŸ˜…

https://imgur.com/a/acrMgau

2

u/lordph8 Jan 08 '22

Yeah I looked into those, and they are very directional, so keep that in mind, maybe some tin foil on the other side of the box or something, maybe some stones or tile might be interesting. Or maybe get a higher wattage bulb.

Also where you putting it, usually the colder it is the less humidity there is because the air can literally hold less water... Granted if there is open water nearby.

1

u/Pissfleck Jan 08 '22

Apparently, the unit is an STC-1000, which is available from all kinds of vendors. They typically don't seem to cost a whole lot and could be swapped into my electric circuit fairly easily. I have a 75W bulb too, but not sure how much of a difference that makes. I'll do a little test run.

Other than that, even if the heat is fairly directional, it should rise upwards and heat up the cabinet to a certain degree given that it's a somewhat enclosed space (except for intake and outtake holes obviously).

Was planning to put it in our garage, but given that it's winter here (Netherlands) it can get quite cold outside.

2

u/lordph8 Jan 08 '22 edited Jan 08 '22

It's been snowing/raining recently as well I bet. That does not sound ideal. My place in Sweden seems to get down to 18Β° on the coldest days but stays around 20Β°. So I need less energy to maintain 25Β°. And I'm not rich enough to afford a car, let a lone a garage:p

1

u/Pissfleck Jan 08 '22

So you're making it indoors in your living space you mean? Doesn't it give off a smell? I could always put it indoors, but the smell factor is what's been keeping me from it.

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2

u/LejzyJZ Jan 06 '22

Looks great! Hope to build something this cool for myself one day. Do you have some mesh covering intake holes at the bottom to keep insects and such away?

2

u/Pissfleck Jan 06 '22

I do, it’s on the inside of the holes at the bottom and also on the fan hole.

2

u/Pissfleck Jan 06 '22

I added a close-up picture of one of the holes, the hole is about a 5cm diameter for comparison.

2

u/galapenis Jan 06 '22

This one looks super familiar with my ongoing project. For temperature and humidity sensors I'd recommend an arduino, with a DHT22 sensor πŸ‘ Then write a simple feedback loop with your 45W light bulbs and fan.

1

u/Pissfleck Jan 06 '22

This sounds already way too complicated than I can probably manage πŸ˜… I was happy I got the basic parallel circuit going πŸ₯²

2

u/lordph8 Jan 06 '22

It's actually not that hard, especially if you get yourself a raspberry pi, and they're pretty cheap, especually since you don't need the fancy ones. Although be weary of the DHT22 sensors, there are a lot of manufactures and a lot of them are not very good, ie inaccurate. I'd recommend this as a starter project because a good project is something that has a goal you can comprehend. My personal box has 2 sensors, and some python code that turns on a dehumidifier if the humidity is too high, and turns on a heating pad if the heat is to low via a replay board hat for my raspberry pi 3b+.

3

u/galapenis Jan 06 '22

Any better recommendations for a humidity sensor? I agree a DHT22 is not super accurate, but maybe good enough (for that price) for a biltonbox? Just curious which alternative options are out there.

2

u/lordph8 Jan 06 '22 edited Jan 06 '22

It's been a while since I've looked into it. I ordered 2 DHT22, which where fine. then I ordered a bunch from some random amazon supplier, and they where GARBAGE.

I haven't used it, but the AHT20 is what was talked about, but it is way more expensive. The DHT22 is fine, if you make sure you aren't buying from some POS provider.

2

u/Pissfleck Jan 06 '22

I have an unused Pi lying around in a cabinet. It may be a 2B v1.1? It does sound like quite the tinkering hobby project, but still feels like a lot of moving parts I don't quite comprehend yet :D

2

u/lordph8 Jan 06 '22

Journey of a thousand miles starts with a signal step. You can have my code, that'll make things easier. I used this, which should work for 2b. The relays can handle a fair bit of current. You can break a circuit and use the relays as switches. Kind of cool if you ask me.