Making Carbonated Mineral Water

I really like the refreshing taste of San Pellegrino, but dislike that this water is bottled in Europe, shipped over water and delivered to me in Milwaukee, where we also have water.  San Pellegrino costs about $1.75 per liter, and comes in recyclable bottles. The homemade version I’ve been making for the last four months costs less than one penny per liter, and is made in my kitchen in reusable bottles.   The cost of the equipment was less than $150, which paid for itself after I’d carbonated my first 100 liters of water.

The equipment required is relatively simple: An aluminum tank that contains 5Lbs of CO2, a gas regulator, a hose ending with a locking Schrader air chuck, a plastic bottle, a bottle cap with a Schrader valve stem mounted in it and two hose clamps.  All of these items are visible in the photos below.

Carbonation Caps With Fittings

The aluminum tank and gas regulator are available locally at restaurant or homebrew supply stores, or online from places like or  Prices at these latter two places are $85 – $100 for the pair.  I filled the CO2 tank for $9 at a local beer retailer.  I purchased the locking chrome plated air chuck, the stainless steel hose barb connected to it, the hose clamps, and the steel wire reinforced hose from a local hardware store for $15.  The Schrader valve stems were purchased from a local auto parts store – they are fully chrome plated, and are sold as replacement car tire valve stems for $2 each.

I initially used standard industrial air hose fittings instead of Schrader valves, but ran into several problems.  Only one side of this type of fitting seals when the mating fittings are disconnected.  This means that after a liter is carbonated and the hose is detached from the plastic bottle, either all the CO2 in the hose leaks out, or some of the CO2 leaks out of the bottle.  Also, inexpensive industrial air fittings are either made of steel or bronze and begin to corrode due to exposure to the carbonic acid formed when the water is carbonated.  Chrome plated Schrader valves have neither of these problems, and are even less expensive than industrial air fittings.

The carbonation process is also simple.  I fill a plastic San Pellegrino bottle 80% to 85% full of Brita filtered water chilled to ~36 degrees (standard refrigerator temperature), I squeeze all the air out of the bottle and tighten the plastic cap with the Schrader valve onto it.  I fully open the CO2 tank valve, set the gas regulator valve to 55 PSI (typical commercial waters are carbonated to about 20 PSI), squeeze the locking Schrader air chuck, and lock it onto the bottle.  CO2 immediately begins to flow, and inflates the bottle instantly.  An audible hiss continues as the CO2 pressurizes the bottle, which I shake vigorously for 20 to 25 seconds, after which time the CO2 hiss has stopped.  The hose is then disconnected from the bottle, and the water is carbonated!

All these details are important to successful carbonation.  The empty space in the bottle (the 15% to 20% of the bottle that doesn’t contain water) is critical to allowing the CO2 to get and stay in suspension.  The amount of CO2 that is soluble in water increases with colder temperatures.  Squeezing out all the air allows for more CO2 to fit in the bottle.  Shaking the bottle increases the rate at which the CO2 dissolves in the water.  All of these factors make for more fizzy water (which is the goal, right?)

The taste of San Pellegrino can be more accurately replicated with the addition of minerals.  With the addition of 1/8 tsp of Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) and 1/8 tsp of calcium chloride, one achieves the 210mg/L of Calcium and 60mg/L of Magnesium that San Pellegrino has!  Both of these minerals are wine/beer brewing additives, and can be purchased from local homebrew supply stores.  Check here for more mineral additive possibilities, and the book “The Good Water Guide” for the mineral composition of most commercial waters on Earth.  I find that carbonating to 55 PSI rather than a more reasonable 20 to 25 PSI makes for so much more joy that I (and my kidneys) don’t miss the extra minerals.

If you want to make this setup at home, please follow these safety guidelines.  There are several which are very important, as a gas cylinder is somewhat dangerous, as its internal pressure is between 700 to 800 PSI, depending on temperature.   Carrying the cylinder by its valve is a bad idea.  The tank should be secured at all times so it doesn’t tip over and damage the valve.  When it is transported, it should always be upright and it shouldn’t be left in a car sitting in the sun, as the internal pressure will increase hundreds of PSI.  The regulator you purchase should have a pressure safety valve which releases at ~60 PSI to vent excess pressure and prevent your plastic bottle from exploding.  Similarly, your hose should be rated for higher than the pressure you intend to carbonate to.  You should never carbonate in glass bottles.

I measured the pH of my 55 PSI carbonated water, and found it to be 4.6, whereas the pH of Coke is a much more acidic 3.2, as shown below.  The pH of my water prior to carbonation was a perfectly neutral 7.0.

Basic and Premium StrobeTV

Do you ever want to watch a movie at home, but can’t decide between your favorite two?  Maybe your favorite TV show is about to start, but you’re still watching a film on DVD?  Perhaps you and a friend can’t agree on which film to watch? Well, you need not fret if you’re an early adopter of StrobeTV – a new device that enables the viewing of TWO films simultaneously on a single television by simply alternating between them!  The basic version features two knobs for fine-tuning your experience.  One sets “impatience,” which is how long you’ll view and listen to one film before switching to the second film.  This can be set from once every10 seconds and mere fractions of a second! The second knob controls “preference” or the relative amount of time spent watching the first or second film – perhaps you want to view the first film 60% of the time, and the second 40%.  Or, might it be 25% first and 75% second?

If you’re the proud owner of the Premium StrobeTV, a world of customization is achievable using the eight three position switches and two knobs.  The upper row of switches configures the experience you’ll enjoy for an amount of time set by the upper knob.  When this time expires, your experience is set by the lower row of switches for the amount of time selected by the lower knob.  Naturally, the process repeats, endlessly alternating between your two chosen forms of entertainment – be that TV, DVD, Netflix, gaming consoles, etc.  Perhaps you feel you’ll miss out on important action while you’re watching one film? Premium StrobeTV allows you to listen to the left and right audio channels of the second film, while you view the image from the first film!  Maybe you’re more comfortable reserving the left speaker for playing the left channel audio for the film you’re not currently viewing?  Or maybe the audio alternates? With StrobeTV, the possibilities are virtually endless.  Premium StrobeTV has an enhanced switching range, from once per 15 seconds to over forty times per second, ensuring you won’t miss a single detail!

Premium StrobeTV features an ingenious 2 meter long  cable that allows the controls to be at your fingertips, while the wiring remains hidden away.  Note that Premium StrobeTV, like its more economical sibling, allows for the switching of four signals: right audio, composite video, left audio, and a forth signal of your choice!


Mechanized Cylindrical Sign Build for Parade Joy (Update 4)

We’re coming to the end of our South Shore Frolics Parade Float builds! This has been an incredible process. Last night we put the graphics on the cylindrical sign, and stood back to enjoy the glory of our handywork. 

Thanks to Tom, Kevin, Matt N., Bob, Mike, Shane, Elizabeth, Adam, Sean, Kristin, Amanda, Jason, Aaron, and anyone I might have missed who helped get this together!

I pose next to the completed thing. Intense!!!


Mechanized Cylindrical Sign Build for Parade Joy (Update 3)

The Mechanized Cylindrical Sign Build is getting close! Last night the sign was bolted to the vehicle, a window was cut, and screen was put into the window. This piece is really starting to come together!!!

View out the window.


View out the top from inside.

View of the seat and window.

Safety is everyone’s job.

That is one mad machine!


Mechanized Cylindrical Sign Build for Parade Joy (Update 1)

The Milwaukee Makerspace has agreed to participate in one of Milwaukee’s finest traditions, the “South Shore Frolics Parade”.

The “South Shore Frolics” formerly known as the “South Shore Water Frolics” is a Bay View institution. The current celebration of summer & joy starts on Saturday July 16th at 11:00 in the morning with a parade leading to South Shore Park, after which there is a festival and a variety of activities including fireworks for the remainder of the weekend. The Frolics is an event that I have participated in as long as I have been alive, and it is a very integral part of my summer. Of course I was thrilled when the Makerspace agreed that this was a worthwhile use of our time and talents.

Our goal for Milwaukee Makerspace’s representation in the parade is to produce some electric vehicles, ride some previously produced power wheels racers, as well as present a unique parade float. 

Thus far the main work was completed by Tom Gralewicz who re-powered the Makerspace’s “pots of gold” (two electric vehciles that have a parade heritage) with new motor controllers. Now that we have two functioning platforms, we of course wanted to turn one of them into an 8′ mechanized cylindrical sign. (that will resemble a beverage container) 

The build on that commenced last evening. Here are some photographs from the madness & joy:






Matt N. always measures twice and cuts once. 


I don’t know how many times these guys measured, but they always made the right cut!


Here the team cuts the circular bases that will anchor the piece. In the background, there is a serious discussion about logicstics…or something. 


Matt G. shows us the pride that comes with making.


Kevin B. tests out the fit and finish of the first circular support on the vehicle platform.

So far so good! I can’t wait to see how this comes together!

Come and see us at the South Shore Frolics Parade!
Saturday July 16th, 2011
Parade starts at KK & Lincoln at 11:00am
Joy will be had by all!
If you consider yourself a Milwaukee Maker, you are welcome to walk the parade rout with us & represent making in Milwaukee!


Spaceship Chair Tested By Space-Man!

*Extra! Extra!*

Dateline: June 14, 2011, Milwaukee Makerspace

Ron Bean recently wowed the world & the Milwaukee Makerspace with his new invention, the “Spaceship Chair”. Now everyone is wowed again now that an actual real life Space-Man has come down from the cosmos to test the chair. No word on what galaxy he was from, but he was quoted as saying, “This chair is out of this world!”

We have this one verified image of the Space Man enjoying the comfort of Ron’s Spaceship Chair!

Congratulations to Ron for bridging the intergalactic boundaries with his universally adored chair!

For more information please check back here at !

For Milwaukee Makerspace news, I’m David R.

Junk Bot 1.0 lives!



   Hi, I’m David and this is my first post on the Milwaukee Makerspace site. I’m a video producer by trade, so you’ll be soon seeing some videos from some of my projects, however if you’re on the site you might have already seen some of my work. In late March I put together some videos of the Makers talking about what they make and what they think the Milwaukee Makerspace is. 
   Anyway, I didn’t even know what a Makerspace was myself till my friend Matt wrote me an e-mail and said, “If you want to walk the walk, come down to the Milwaukee Makerspace.” Needless to say I had no idea what that meant, but as soon as I stepped foot in our beautiful space with the warm welcoming logo above the hangar, I figured it out pretty quickly. 
   I have never done any robotics or electronics in my life, but seeing what the makers was up to inspired me. I picked up a soldering iron and started small. I’m the kind of Maker that works their way up to the big projects. Initially my ideas for projects mostly relate to my profession of video production. I would like to make a low to the ground camera platform, for wide angle shots, and a flying rig for some limited ariels. One thing at a time though, first I have to make something that works.

Introducing… JunkBot 1.0!!!

JunkBot 1.0 is my first attempt at what I want for a ground based camera platform. It sorta kinda does everything i want it to, but isn’t very robust. It’s functions are:

– Moves forward, back, turns using tank style steering
– Has a pan tilt camera mount
– Can wirelessly transmit video from the bot to a ground station
– Is controlled via a standard RC controller
– Falls apart slowly after about 15 feet of travel

My build process was:

1. Find plastic platform and half project box at the Makerspace “Hack Rack”
2. Get 2 continuous rotation servos & wheels. (Parallax servos sold at Adafruit)
3. Get an RC controller I am happy with (Futaba 7C 2.4ghz)
4. Get 2 servos and mounts for the pan tilt functions of the camera mount
5. Get 900mhz wireless video transmitter (RangeVideo)
6. Make front tire out of foam and a coat hanger
7. Strapped it all together with Velcro (TM).

I used my GoPro camera because it’s small, light, and gets 

the job done. I really love those cameras.

I got to show JunkBot 1.0 at the Makerspace Grand Opening and I think it went rather well. Next up I need to make some improvements:

– Better platform
– Better pan tilt
– Better propulsion
– Make it out of quality materials
– Add in some autonomous functions

But, you have to start somewhere, right? So we’ll see how this all goes. JunkBot 2.0 here I come!

Thanks for reading,