Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Making Great Wine From Frozen Fruit Concentrates

If you have ever wanted to make your own wine but thought that making good wine was difficult, then think again. Making wine is easy, especially if you make it from frozen juice concentrates. You can make grape, apple, cranberry or any other kind of wine you like by just browsing a grocery store's freezer case.

Equipment you will need can be found in the kitchen. To make one gallon of wine you will need a plastic or glass gallon jug, two twelve ounce containers of frozen fruit concentrate, two pounds of sugar and a glass or plastic bowl which will hold at least one and a half gallons. In addition you will need some granulated yeast. Wine yeast, which may be sold in some specialty grocery stores works best, but you may use granulated bakers yeast if you wish.

First, place the frozen concentrate in the refrigerator to thaw out. It can be used frozen, but it is much easier to mix in the sugar syrup if it is thawed out.

Next you will want to get the yeast started. For one gallon, use one level teaspoon of the granulated yeast. Whatever yeast is left in the packet may be sealed in a plastic bag and placed in the refrigerator until needed for the next batch of wine you make. Put two teaspoons of sugar in a glass of warm water and stir until it is dissolved. Then dump the yeast into the warm sugar water and stir well. Place this in a warm location until it starts to froth. This can take anywhere from a couple of hours to several hours, depending upon the temperature of the room and the freshness of the yeast.

After the yeast is started you may make the sugar into syrup for use in the wine. To make the syrup boil the two pounds of sugar in one half gallon of water, stirring often to keep the sugar from scorching. The sugar solution will clear when it is done. Take the syrup off the stove, cover and set aside until it is cool. Usually this will take a couple of hours, so by the time the starter is ready, the sugar syrup will also be cool enough to use.

Now you are ready to make the wine. In a one and a half gallon to two gallon bowl, pour the fruit concentrate. Now add the sugar syrup. Then add the fermenting wine yeast. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and leave this in a warm place for a few days. After a few hours the wine will begin to ferment. This ferment may be quite vigorous, so you will need to leave the wine in the bowl a few days so it doesn't overflow.

Once the ferment slows down, thoroughly clean a plastic or glass gallon jug. Using a plastic or glass kitchen funnel, pour the fermenting wine into the jug. Top up with cool tap water until the jar is a couple of inches from the top. Place a small piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar and secure with a rubber band. Place this in a cool, dark room. The ideal temperature is sixty to seventy degrees Fahrenheit. The ferment will take approximately two months.

When the ferment is finished, siphon the finished wine into a second gallon jar using plastic tubing which is suitable for food use, being careful to not disturb the sediment at the bottom of the jug. The wine is now ready to drink, but will benefit from aging for several months to a year.

Good wine may be made in this way from frozen fruit concentrates quite easily and quickly. While not gourmet wine, it will be a delightful vin ordinaire which is quite economical to make. After you master it, you may experiment with different ingredients, yeasts and juices to make a wine more suitable to your tastes.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

History of The Kite - Kites At War

The kite was used as a military tool very early in its history. The Chinese were the inventors of the kite and were the first to use the kite for warfare. Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty used a kite to allow him to evade an enemy city's defenses. He needed to build a tunnel under the city's walls, but required a tool to help him determine how far to dig the tunnel. He had a kite flown over the city, marked the line and pulled the kite in. Engineers then began to dig the tunnel. When they reached the length determined by the kite string, they started ascending. The tunnel entered the city in the courtyard. His troops were able to enter the city and captured it. The Chinese also used kites to lift fireworks over enemy troops, terrifying and dispersing them. Kites of different shapes and sizes were also flown to deliver signals to soldiers in the field.

From China, kite technology spread to other Asian nations. Thailand made good use of the kite in many ways, including the art of war. King Petraja used kites to deliver what many feel was the first aerial bombing in history. A subject principality, Nakhon Ratchasima, known also as Korat, rebelled against his rule. King Petraja had kegs of gunpowder tied to kites flying over the rebel fortifications. These were then ignited and the explosions caused enough dismay and confusion among the rebels that they surrendered.

During the Crimean War an interesting concept using kites were tried. Admiral Sir Arthur Cochrane came up with the idea of using kites to tow torpedoes into Russian ships. He set up some practice runs which were successful. But the idea was never implemented due to the fact that enemy ships were not always positioned correctly in relation to the prevailing wind to allow the kites to hit their targets.

World War I saw several uses for kites, mostly as observational devices. The French deployed a kite corps which consisted of a car, trailer and a motor driven winch. Most of the combatant armies used kites for observation early in the war. The arrival of the airplane caused these divisions to become obsolete and they were disbanded. The Germans used a specially designed box kite system on their submarines. The fact that an observer lifted to an altitude of 400 feet could see almost 250 miles over open ocean gave the submarines a bit of an advantage because they could see their enemies before being themselves detected.

A man named Harry Sauls designed a kite he called the barrage kite to fly advertising banners over tourist areas. The kite was found useful in protecting merchant ships during World War II. A strong wire was used as the kite line and flown from strategic places on the ships. The wire was invisible to airplanes and strong enough to cut off a wing or destroy a propeller. The kites played a deterrent role in holding off enemy dive bomber attacks against the ships.

During World War II gunners on aircraft carriers used clouds for target practice. This practice did not provide a very realistic simulation of an attacking aircraft. Lieutenant Commander Paul E. Garber served on the aircraft carrier USS Block Island. Observing the limitations of the system, he decided to come up with a better target. He designed a kite for this purpose and challenged the gunnery crews to hit it with gunfire. To their chagrin, the kite proved a difficult target. His commanding officer observed this and ordered Garber to build more kites. He managed to come up with kites which mimicked the movements of an attacking aircraft, and the gunnery crew’s accuracy increased immensely. This helped the crews to destroy attacking aircraft at a much higher rate.

A box kite was also a key component of a device called the Gibson Girl during this war also. The apparatus consisted of a kite, antennae and hand crank radio. The Gibson Girl was standard issue on United States and British bombers. An airman shot down and adrift on the sea could deploy the kite with the antennae attached, and use the hand crank radio to signal his position. The Gibson Girl saw action as late as the Vietnam War.

Kites were used extensively during the course of history for many different military uses. From their inception by the Chinese to World War II and as late as the Vietnam War, kites have had their use as weapons, observational tools and signal devices.
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© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

History Of Kites In Aviation

Kites have been very instrumental in the history of aviation. Most of the early aviators used kites to develop their theories before actually taking flight. The first humans to gain the distinction of flying among the birds did so with the aid of kites.

During the kite’s very early history in China, and later Japan, man carrying kites were built. There are many stories in the lore of both these countries of kites bearing men aloft. These kites were used primarily for military purposes as observational tools. Marco Polo (1254 - 1324), after his wanderings in China, documented the many uses for kites there.

The first scientist to use kites to study aviation was a Franciscan friar named Roger Bacon (1214?-1294). History remembers Roger Bacon for his scientific studies in many different fields including mathematics, optics, and astronomy. Bacon was the Western World's first true scientist, preceeding the emergence of widespread scientific study in Europe by about 500 years. During his experiments with kites, he came to the conclusion that if a craft were properly constructed, it could be supported by air in the same fashion that water supports a boat.

It wasn't until Sir George Cayley (1773-1857), almost 500 years later, that serious work was again done with kites in the field of aviation. Cayley, because of his work, is often called the "Father of Aviation." A native of Scarbourgh, England, this English baronet was an inventor who created the basic design of the airplanes flown today. Many of Cayley's designs for aircraft were developed during the ten year period from 1799 through 1809. He designed and built an aircraft which flew like a kite which had a movable tail and could be maneuvered.

Otto Lilienthal, a German engineer, dominated aviation history in the late 1800's. He is known mostly for his work with gliders, but his early experiments in the 1870's were primarily with kites. The lessons he learned from the kites he built and flew led directly to the many gliders he designed and flew. Over 2000 times he took to the air in flight. One fatal day his glider stalled at an altitude of around fifty feet. The glider crashed and he severed his spine. He died the next day.

Orville and Wilbur Wright represent the culmination of this long, historic process. They studied Lilienthal's designs and decided to base their initial designs on his. Using a biplane box kite they designed in 1899, they tested their theories on aircraft control. The kite framework of this kite was hinged, allowing it to twist. It was controlled from the ground, using four lines, one tied to each corner of the frame. They learned to control the kite using this system, and could make it bank, dive and climb.

The following year they constructed a glider, using the kite as a guide. This glider had enough lifting capacity to lift a man, but they decided fly it like a kite at first, using the same ground control system they had devised for the kite. Their experiments with this craft led to the design, construction, and eventual success with the flight of the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk in 1903.

Kites have had an instrumental role in the rise of the science of aviation. From the Chinese in the fifth century BC to the Wright Brothers in 1903, the kite has made its mark in the history of flight.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Who Invented Kites and Where Were They Invented?

Who invented the kite? And when were they invented? For the answer to those questions we have to dig far back in history, because people have been flying kites for thousands of years. A kite floating far above the earth seems to be such a simple thing. But if you stop to ponder its ancient lineage, the kite appears much more majestic.

Both China and Malaysia can legitimately claim honors as the kite's birthplace. There is evidence of kite flying as far back as the sixth century BC. China has written records of kite flying dating from 559 BC. Kites have been a part of Malaysian culture for millennia. It is an entirely credible possibility that kites were invented independently in both countries.

In China two philosophers, Mozi and Lu Pan, are generally given credit for having invented the kite. These two brilliant men were contemporaries, and they had access to all the materials necessary for successful kite building. The silk making process by this time had been perfected. Silk fabric and thread have the properties of being strong, light in weight and impervious to moisture. These qualities make silk an ideal material for both the sail and the kite line. Bamboo grows abundantly in China, and is a superlative framework component. Mozi was a trained engineer who had wide experience constructing bird models and weapons of war. Lu Pan was a skilled carpenter who designed and built many things from wood, including model birds. One of his bird models was reputed to have been held aloft by compliant winds for three consecutive days.

Documentation of kite flying in Malaysia is scanty, but there is a very long tradition of it there. Materials available to the Malaysians were large tree leaves and bamboo. It is easy to imagine that leaves blowing in the wind created the inspiration for the invention of the first kite. Leaf kites are still flown in Malaysia, some of them are very elaborately designed.

So when were kite invented and who invented them? The answer to that question may never be definitely known, but China and Malaysia are the two best candidates for where, and Mozi and Lu Pan seem to have the best resumes to qualify for who invented them. But we do know that kite flying originated in one of these two countries and from there spread to the rest of the world.

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