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Tips and Nifty Devices for our hobby!

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#1 -=Zeus=-


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Posted 25 March 2010 - 08:52 PM

Some of the most used equipment in my research has been acquired at estate auctions, rummage sales, and dollar stores. I thought it would be a cool idea to start a thread about the simple things us mycophiles have found that are useful and easily acquired. I'll start with a tip. Look for estate auctions of old country homes. You are likely to find canning equipment, including pressure cookers, jars, lids, bands, canning funnels. Lot of useful stuff. I attended just such an auction last spring and came home with nearly everything that was scattered in boxes in the backyard. Got a few strainers that are perfect for slicing and drying fungi, lots of great sub mixing bowls, even a whole set of miniature jars. I am tempted to create the "tiny-tek" but haven't gotten around to it. Also, a hole-saw kit I bought at Harbor Freight for like 1.99 has proven itself very useful in making holes in tubs quickly and how about it, and good tips for us old poor cheap guys??

Edited by Jupiter, 25 March 2010 - 08:57 PM.
proper english lol

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#2 TastyBeverage


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Posted 25 March 2010 - 09:16 PM

If you live anywhere near a university or a good sized college, they typically will have an annual or semi annual sale of surplus items. You can get bookshelves for your work room, desks/tables and mini fridges which are great for cold dunking shiitakes or storing substrate you can't get to right away. You can keep the mini fridge a helluva lot cleaner than your food fridge too, unless you're OCD like me. :lol: I've seen lab equipment too, anything from glassware to bar scales.

I also second Harbor Freight; i started flipping through their paper catalogs at work, and found plenty of stuff to drool over. Bought my first digital scale from them. Their customer service is pretty good too, the scale arrived broken and they shipped out a replacement immediately. Didn't even require me to send the broken one back. If i was less ethical, i could have scored a free scale and had 2!

U-line is a good place to get bulk plastic bags and sheeting as well.

#3 TurkeyRanch


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Posted 25 March 2010 - 10:16 PM

Good tip Bev, I got lots of lab glass and cultivation tools at a college surplus auction. I am a regular, they know me and I believe they scratch their heads and wonder what the hell I do with all my assorted purchases.:rasta:

Also got my old freezer incubators and working myc fridge at the surplus sale. They also had an actual very high tek glove box, (very fancy) among other items. I have seen autoclaves, but got out bid.

Tip- buying in bulk saves me tons of money. You can get 2000 feet of aluminum foil for 24 bucks at stores like Cash and Carry (restaurant supply store). Ditto on 50 lb bags of Pcorn. $23.50 or there-a-bouts.

It doesn't seem like it saves much money, but you can cut your costs basically in half by buying smart. Plus I hate hate hate having to run out to get stuff before or during a project. :horse:
Having a huge portion of whatever on hand makes me more motivated to start projects.

O another tip- I use a step drill bit to drill holes in my lids. I used to use a stone grinding cone and a dremmel, but discovered the step bit. Mine has less drastic "steps" and I can create a very smooth hole much faster and neater than the dremmel bit. I actually look forward to making more lids. . .

EDIT: Also, go to farm auctions and sales, and support your locally owned independent nurserys and garden supply places for verm, perlite, coir, etc instead of Wally World. They will often order you stuff if they don't have it. You get to support small biz, get better products, save money, purchase larger quantities, and avoid having to be in wal m*rt.

:pirate: TR

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Edited by TurkeyRanch, 25 March 2010 - 10:32 PM.

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#4 failed_chemistry



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Posted 26 March 2010 - 02:30 AM

one piece of equipment I came across was a single range grill to operate my PC.

It's just a small buffet range grill, the kind a caterer might use. cost me $10. proctor silex. i bought it for discreet PC operation. works wonderfully.

#5 Thre365ive



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Posted 26 March 2010 - 03:37 AM

Look for tubs in dollar stores before you go to Wally World. Most of the time, they have them for a good bit cheaper.

#6 ggod



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Posted 26 March 2010 - 10:00 AM

I use picture hanging wire for inoculation loops.
Baby food jars for glass petri dishes.
Baby food jar and a oil lamp wick for an alky burner.
Closet flanges (toilet bowl) to attach glove's in the glove box.
Tyvek suit's for many things.... e.g. sleeves in the glove box (between flange and glove).

Here is my favorite...... and this is the first time I have spoke of it....
.2 micron diffusion stone for automated FAE. (available at brew supply store).

Wood chips boiled in the water before you make agar.


#7 shroom57


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Posted 26 March 2010 - 10:40 AM

Something I've been using lately, to wipe down the GB, and even to wipe the needles between injections are these disinfecting wipes.

Almost zero injection point contaminants and I've been using them for a few months now.

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#8 Hawks2010



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Posted 26 March 2010 - 12:09 PM

just wanted to add to the alcohol lamp that i created one using a similar technique to the one listed about but in place of the oil lamp wick i just used a cotton ball stretched out and then rolled back and forth in your hand like your trying to make a cylinder out of play dough. not a huge difference but chances you have a cotton ball already around are probably higher than the chances of having an oil lamp wick

Edited by Hawks2010, 26 March 2010 - 02:10 PM.

#9 Cyaneus



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Posted 26 March 2010 - 12:56 PM

not a huge difference but chances you have a cotton ball already around are probably higher than the chances of having an oil lamp wick

There was also a video tutorial somewhere of somebody using a thin strip of paper towel rolled up too. I figured it'd just burn, but after it's wet with alcy it keeps. Haven't tried it myself but I need to make one for agar work.

#10 Hawks2010



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Posted 26 March 2010 - 02:09 PM

its really a weird phenomenon that a cotton ball or paper towel or whatever doesnt really burn when its soaked in alky sorry to get off topic... but to get back on topic i dont have a digital thermometer for my incubation chamber but what i do have is a digital multimeter as i work on vehicles for a living and most higher end DMM's will come with a thermocouple attachment this thermocouple turns your volt meter into a very accurate and fast reacting thermometer so definitely not worth running out and picking up a DMM but if you have one laying around it works well

#11 SilvrHairDevil



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Posted 26 March 2010 - 04:55 PM

For those of us with access to them, Canadian Tire stores are pretty good for sale items.

I got my 9 qt PC there new for $50 and my dehydrator is $60.

#12 zodd


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Posted 26 March 2010 - 05:09 PM

i know its awful profiting of off some one eltses misery, but i went to a few reposition auctions a while back.

they had all sorts of stuff going for jaw dropping prices, no point realign a list because it was that long ago all i can remember is what we got which was a big box full of masking tapes 100s of em for £2 still use them today.

#13 PsychoDrogue



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Posted 26 March 2010 - 06:10 PM

I haven't been looking in a while, but i've found many great items at garage sales. My humidifier, dehydrator, shelving, and other stuff were all dirt cheap from garage sales. Im sure many other useful items pop up as well but I'm not a regular garage saler.

Someone here posted a thread about how to make an RSS feed so you can stream craigslist searches for specific items straight to your browser toolbar. very nifty setup when you are looking for something but dont have the motivation to search daily. Another thing craigslist is great for is wanted ads. Many items we use aren't very suspicious when purchased alone. putting a note out there that your looking for someones forgotten 'trash' can score cheap goods.

#14 Spider Monkey

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 11:31 PM

Is there a way to get HEPA air purifiers cheaper than Wally World? I hate shopping there, but I'm on a budget.

#15 Cyaneus



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Posted 27 March 2010 - 12:19 AM

Is there a way to get HEPA air purifiers cheaper than Wally World? I hate shopping there, but I'm on a budget.

I don't know how much wal-mart sells them for. But this place has come recommended multiple times:


#16 Spider Monkey

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 12:30 AM

Maybe this isn't the right place to ask, but how would I identify a "good" hepa air filter at a flea market or yard sale?

#17 TastyBeverage


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Posted 27 March 2010 - 12:53 AM

Maybe this isn't the right place to ask, but how would I identify a "good" hepa air filter at a flea market or yard sale?

From wiki:

Today, a HEPA filter rating is applicable to any highly efficient air filter that can attain the same filter efficiency performance standards as a minimum and is equivalent to the more recent NIOSH N100 rating for respirator filters. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has specific requirements for HEPA filters in DOE regulated applications. Products that claim to be "HEPA-type", "HEPA-like", or "99% HEPA" do not satisfy these requirements and may not have been tested in independent laboratories.

#18 pizark2



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Posted 27 March 2010 - 07:14 AM

small take home trays from applebees are perfect for the small trays I do for print specimens (and a family member keeps sending $25 gift card for there every holiday) you get 3 if you do the 2 meals 1 appetizer for $20 and they are super sturdy perfect depth

thrift stores-got my first small pc for $8 at one

#19 brain police

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 08:36 PM

Is there a way to get HEPA air purifiers cheaper than Wally World? I hate shopping there, but I'm on a budget.

One way I know of is to pick up just a HEPA filter element at any store, and then build a small enclosure out of sheet metal and operate ite it with any old squirrel-cage blower. I made one of these for a friend of mine recently (not for myco work, but they're all the same). I'm sure not just anyone will have the materials lying around to do this, but as a commercial/industrial electrician, I come across this sort of thing all the time.

The other day I decided I needed something to help with FAE for my monotubs. I work every weekday, and that limits the amount of fanning I can provide. I went to KMart, picked up an $8 desk fan and a $7 24-hour timer. I set the timer to kick on for half an hour every 4 hours, and POOF!- I now don't have to fan (I still do anyway, but it doesn't seem like I would have to if I weren't so anal-retentive about it).

Look for tubs in dollar stores before you go to Wally World. Most of the time, they have them for a good bit cheaper.

Most definitely. I also buy alcohol, peroxide, gloves, foil, spray bottles, paper towels, Lysol, and myriad other supplies from Dollar General. I don't know why no one ever thinks to go there, but you should! It's like half the price of even satan-mart on these sorts of things.

Edited by TastyBeverage, 12 April 2010 - 09:23 PM.
cleaning thread

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#20 hyphaenation


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Posted 12 April 2010 - 09:00 PM

Here's my two essential pieces of equipment for the hobby. Both have severed me well for the last few years.

Leaf Shredder/Mulcher

Uses: Shredding straw as well as leaves , paper , dried horse manure balls ... etc

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Anyone who's cut straw by hand knows how much of a PITA it can be. Been there , done that , got the blisters. This machine makes very quick work of a bale of straw. It sucks it up and shreds it into small pieces of various sizes.

Some units are better than others for shredding straw. Threads here on mycotopia show that the "Leaf-hog" vac works quite well. The brand I got didn't work great out of the box so I customized it by welding a sharpened cutting bar to the metal nut holding the plastic fan on. Now it works like a hot damn.

I can't say enough good things about my leaf shredder/mulcher/vac. It has helped me amazingly , especially with edible projects.

Garden-size Woodchipper

Uses: Chipping hardwood branches , knotweed , garlic satlks , hemp

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The woodchipper I have is made for light-duty. It was cheap and has done everything i've asked of it for the last three years. I like to take hardwood branches in areas where they would have to be cut anyways , like under powerlines and run them through the chipper.

The machine can handle fresh branches much better than dry. The dry ones work but are harder on teh machine. For this reason I try wherever possible to use fresh/live branches.

Also I like to run plant stalks through the machine to make chips. Hemp stalk , Knotweed , Garlic stalk , Burrdock etc , all chip up nicely through the garden shredder.

I use these chips for various projects including beds , bulk subs , logs and other projects. By chipping your own branches you have ultimate control over what species goes through the chipper.

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