As a high school teacher, yours truly deals with chalkboards on a daily basis – for up to three or four hours a day. In the classroom, I will take a well-made chalkboard over a dry-erase board or projector any day, but not in my house. The merits of the chalkboard are many: chalk is cheap, you can see how much of it is left, chalkboards work when the power is out, they don’t distract students, they give the teacher time to think about the rest of his or her poorly-planned lesson… I could go on. The drawback, is the dust. Even the so-called “dustless” chalk produces mountains of the stuff.
So, while the idea of having a chalkboard wall for you and your friends to scrawl over ad libitum – if you use it often, you will have to deal with a lot more dust. As such, you might want to think twice if you have fabric sofas, fancy linen, or if you would describe yourself as allergy-prone.
The first time I saw the BBQ Dragon was on Kickstarter. The potential to have a charcoal grill up to cooking heat in 10 minutes almost sounded too good to be true. A year later, I got the opportunity to see for myself – and was pleasantly surprised.
What is it? On the surface, the BBQ Dragon seems to be little more than a high-output fan, not unlike the sort that you would find in any hair dryer (hair dryers, incidentally, are another great way to get a grill burning quickly). What sets the BBQ Dragon apart is that it runs on batteries and can be clamped onto the side of your grill – two pretty big pluses.What I Love About It
The BBQ Dragon gets the grill burning much, much faster and with much less effort than conventional methods. Chimneys are great and everything, but they typically only get you enough hot coals to start the rest of your grill. The Dragon can help you prepare a whole grill worth of charcoal in a good deal less time than it takes to get the chimney ready – and the hands-free aspect means that you can work on other tasks, while the fire is starting.
Most importantly of all,?it makes firing up the grill much less of an ordeal, which almost certainly means more barbecues. I have yet to have a grill ready in ten minutes, but it has come close enough for me to declare myself satisfied.What Displeases Me
The BBQ Dragon is a thirsty beast. If you make the mistake of not ordering the rechargeable battery pack, you will want to put some rechargeables into it – it can easily chew through four AAs in a couple of sessions and it runs much better when fully juiced. D cells would have necessitated some redesigning, but would have been much more practical.
There is no way around the battery issue, that is the price that you pay for making a powerful motor cordless. In this author’s opinion, that is a reasonable price to pay. The build quality of most of the Dragon is outstanding, but when you get to the soft plastic battery handle, it gets a little disappointing. It should be made out of metal, as should the speed controller. Speaking of the battery handle, the cap is quite hard to remove – for something that you need to remove fairly frequently, that is rather annoying.Verdict
While there are a few things that I would quite happily change about the BBQ Dragon, it does what it is supposed to do very well. It is not the perfect fire starter, but it is a very satisfactory one. I have no hesitation in giving it four out of five stars.
Fixing a punctured bicycle tire is reasonably easy, but it is way too much of a hassle to deal with mid-ride – which is why most distance riders travel with a spare tube or two. With the PatchNRide, that could very well become a thing of the past.
How does it work? Use the onboard leak detector to find the hole, stick the tip of the PatchNRide into the hole, press a button and wait for the adhesive patch to be applied from inside the tire. Once that is done, you can pump up the tire and get back on your bike. It sounds to good to be true – but at $30 for pre-order (and $60 thereafter), it is just cheap enough for a roll of the dice.
Italy’s first woman in space, Samantha Cristoforetti, will be bringing a little taste of home with her in the form of a modified espresso machine, which resulted from a collaboration between Italian coffee maker Lavazza, the Italian Space Agency and Argotec (the company that supplies food to the European Space Agency).
Making espresso in a zero-gravity environment is a complicated process, as such, this machine has to be able to withstand a massive 400 BAR of pressure (a regular espresso maker pulls in at about 15 BAR). That, combined with the “unconventional” methods of pressurization and aspiration, is likely the reason for this machines hefty 44-pound dry weight.
As of yet, there is no word on what the ISSpresso machine cost to build – but we roughly estimate the price of blasting it into orbit. At roughly $10,000 per pound of payload, the shipping alone comes in at $440,000.
While your author is normally a fan of robot slaves of any description – and grilling-related technology, he is struggling to foresee any scenario where this robotic grill cleaner could be considered useful. The problem is not the product itself, per se but rather what it does: cleaning my grill is the one household chore that brings me pleasure… but then again, I own a modestly sized grill. Would cleaning a Weber Ranch Kettle be as enjoyable? I very much doubt it.
The product description on Hammacher Schlemmer gives a pretty good rundown of what the Grill Cleaning Robot does:
The device has three electric motors and a built-in CPU that rotate three cylindrical brushes to propel the robot across the grill grates and remove burnt bits of food and grease in just a few passes. The brushes’ brass bristles won’t scratch stainless steel or porcelain surfaces and they are removable and dishwasher safe. The device can be set to clean for 10, 20, or 30 minutes and its rechargeable battery provides up to four hours of power after a four-hour charge via the included AC adapter. For use on warm grills below 250° F, the robot will sound an alarm if the cleaning surface is too hot.
All that is pretty cool, but what it seems to me that in utilizing the Grill Cleaning Robot, you would be sacrificing the zen-like experience of brushing down a hot grill, for the mundanity of plugging the thing into the charger, unplugging it, taking out the brushes, sticking them into the dishwasher, taking them out of the dishwasher and sticking them into the robot… and the stress of making sure that the grill is not to hot. Me, I like to keep my barbecuing simple and uncomplicated.