Composting thermometer

These can be expensive if you want a long probe that is able to reach into the middle of a decently sized pile.

Three years ago when I made my first compost piles I could not afford to spend £250 on a thermometer, so I made one.

Why did I need one with a long stem? (this one is 1250mm long). The piles can be over a meter in diameter and 1.2m tall. I wanted one that would allow me to measure the temperature in the centre and still have a length sticking outside to have something to grab onto. Also I knew that once I move to larger piles or even windrows, I would need this length to reach into the centre.

In November 2019 I began building my proper composting operation, and this thermometer was in daily use, but the flimsy connections and the wire sticking outside bugged me. I knew I wanted something better.

For quite a while I’ve been fascinated by 3D printing, and so my mind kept coming up with images of a case that would tie all the separate bits together.

In December I bought my first 3D printer to learn the technology. I broke it, fixed it, improved it, and had a lot of fun in the process, but in the back of my mind I knew that I bought it to make my thermometer the way I wanted it to be.

In the meantime I worked on my compost and I would have probably until right now if my production tents were storm proof. Unfortunately they weren’t. Below is the result of the first storm mid January:

I was just getting myself back up again, with new piles going, and some older ones with fresh high nitrogen material, when storm Ciara came along… It’s not like I’d done nothing to prepare. The two remaining tents were strapped by 50mm straps tied to 400mm spiral anchors. Not enough sheer strength though…

After this I stayed home and got designing. At that point I may have as well finally focus on making the thermometer a reality. A month of development, failures (it’s important to embrace and learn from them) and successes followed.

This process never stops. With any new product, it’s important to keep improving. What I started off was a bunch of parts stringed together. What I have now is a highly customisable product that is solid and reliable.

I’m very fortunate to have the composting community behind this project, which is very obvious by the results of the crowd funding campaign I put together to make more for others. In three days since launch, almost half of the funds have been raised. (click image to visit)

If all goes well, there will be this very unique product available to the composting community, and I will be able to continue my work.

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