Agave juice was known to native Mexicans as "honey water." Agave plants tend to be most familiar as the basis for tequila, although agave nectar is gaining ground in home kitchens as a wonderful alternative to traditional sweeteners. Agave nectar is made mainly from the juices extracted from the core of the agave plant, most often from blue agave, agave salimiana, agave americana and agave mapisaga. There are many other wild agaves that can also be utilized. The different species produce nectars of varying flavors.
As you huddle inside your home this winter cursing the gloomy darkness, remember that you’re not alone: The season has an even worse effect on your plants. Many common houseplants need far more hours of light than they get naturally in the middle of February, especially if they don’t have direct exposure to a sunlit window. Although the incandescent and fluorescent bulbs most people have in their homes will keep plants alive, they don’t emit light that’s within the temperature range necessary for optimal, or even adequate, foliage growth in light-hungry plants.
OK, you don't have to actually throw away your Arduino, but you might wish to consider this slick alternative the next time you're going to build a temperature-sensing microcontroller project. Or, for that matter, a light-sensing project, or a proximity-sensing project, or a capacitance-sensing project.
This "alternative" is a relatively new kid on the embedded design block called PSoC® FirstTouch, from Cypress Semiconductor Corporation. The Cypress PSoC is better known as a programmable mixed signal array or Programmable System-on-Chip (PSoC). While sporting an 8-bit microcontroller clocking in at a maximum 24MHz and supporting 512 bytes of SRAM, 8KB flash, these rather lackluster specs are offset by four analog and four digital customizable advanced peripheral building blocks (known as PSoC Blocks), and the ability to build a crazy-small microcontroller project.
How small, you ask?
When Kai Grundt announced his decision to build the ultimate snowblower from a discarded V8 engine, a friend of his just laughed. So a year later, instead of showing his buddy the finished product, Grundt showed him what it could do. He buried the man's truck under a seven-foot-tall pyramid of snow. From two houses away.
Editor Jake Ward demonstrates how to use an old plastic container and a can of air to take a beer from lukewarm to mountain-stream cold in just a few seconds. (For another video of this project, visit sonicIntoX's channel at Metacafe.)
Downsize your pocket cargo with a custom-fit keychain. Editor Sean Captain ditches the ring and uses more tool than necessary to trim a small bolt to just the right size for his set of keys. (For a slightly different take on the project, see the site that inspired us: carlitoscontraptions.blogspot.com).
Editor Doug Cantor demonstrates how a drill and a few zip ties can transform a stack of old floppies into a handy box for holding those even older data-recording devices: your pens. For more detailed instructions, head to the original Instructable for this project, courtesy of completegeek.
Satisfy your scientific curiosity and your craving for some Frosted Flakes. Editor Mike Haney shows you how to use an old cereal box and a CD to build a device that reveals the hidden rainbow inside any light source. Find more examples of DIY spectrometers over at Wikipedia.
In the age of mp3s, most people have a lot of old CDs lying around. Instead of throwing them in the trash, though, you can put them to use in a way that's both eco-friendly and healthy. Thread the discs onto the ends of a thin metal rod and secure them in place with bolts to make a usable (and cool-looking) dumbbell. Tape up the middle of the rod to provide a comfortable grip, and you'll be all set for a workout.