Growing Wheat Grass and Juicing

(Please read updated version first at http://www.ranjan.in/?p=74 )

Recently I came across benefits of drinking wheat grass juice and I was amazed with what nature has in store. I searched extensively (as usual!) on net and went through lot of material to understand the complication of growing it. In USA lot of support from commercial entity is available to support those, who want to grow it. There are kits available and supplies along with various tools are available to make it easy. I thought I would still write out my experiences in trying to grow and giving other people a hope that one can do it without much problem in India as well. I am very lazy person and If I can do it, so can you!

Some one may ask why wheat grass is so special. It turns out that it is not so very different from many other grasses. For example, maize or barley grass are also quite good and so are many others. However among them what grass juice is more beneficial. I would not want to go into those details since there is plenty of material available on net.

Let me try to put rest of the information in form of FAQ!

  1. How much time it takes to grow what grass for juicing? – It takes about 6-7 days to grow to about 6 inches, when it should be harvested for juicing. This depends on climatic conditions and so on.
  2. How to organize this so that I can get juice every day? – What is important is to have this juice fresh. Ideally it should be consumed within 20 minutes of juicing.  So what is best is to have seven containers in which to grow this. It should be sowed every day in a different one so that after six to seven days, you start to get fresh grass every day. Once you harvest from one container, you can reuse that and continue doing that. It is also possible to reuse the same plant once or twice more.
  3. What should be the size of container? – For one person the round pot here seems sufficient, whereas the larger rectangular one is sufficient for three persons(see my comments in the next Blog on this).
    Pots for one person
  4. What should be depth of soil in the pot? – One to two inch depth is enough. So one could have more shallow pot. My larger rectangular pots are better that way.
  5. What soil to add ? – One can add good gardening soil. First time I went to local nursery and asked them to fill it in the pots and had some extra too. While buying the larger pots, I got it filled with the persons selling the pot itself. Soil should not be soggy and should not stick together. One can spread it to dry faster before using it. One should add compost fertilizer before sowing. It has been suggested to not use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides etc.(See my comments in next Blog about this)
  6. Which wheat to use? – I bought it from local grocery shop. They did not have any choice so used whatever they had. If there is choice, one can use bigger grains.
  7. What quantity of seeds should be used? – I use two and half table spoons full of wheat for smaller pot and six table spoon for larger one.But you can adjust as per your experience, this is just initial guess.
  8. What preparation to do before sowing? – Wash and soak wheat for about 12 hours or overnight. Then tie it in thick damp cloth for another 8-10 hours. In Indian warm weather, you should see wheat sprouting by this time. Once is has sprouted a little, it is ready to be sowed.
  9. How to sow? – Spread the wheat in single layer touching each other so that it is as dense as possible without overlapping. Spread a very thin layer of soil on the top of this. Now spray very small amount of water to just make tit damp. More water can be bad here. Cover the pot with damp newspaper sheets so that damp environment is maintained inside. If it  is too hot cover with a plastic sheet or some other thing to keep the seeds in damp environment. Respray twice a day or so to keep it damp. Once you see little sprouts coming out, you can start to expose it to fresh air. Direct strong sunlight for long time may not be good for plants in early stage.
  10. When it is ready to be harvested ? – Keep spraying water every morning and evening and plants should keep growing. Once it has reached a height of 6 inch or so, it is ready to be harvested.
  11. How to harvest? – I use a pair of scissors with long enough blade to cut the wheat grass as close to soil as possible. I bought a sturdy Tailors all metal scissors for this as cheap ones with plastic handle do not last long.
  12. How to Juice? – Wash the grass properly and juice it in spice grinder by adding little water. It would become like a paste in this and now one can strain it through a thin cloth to get juice out of the pulp. It is suggested to use a low RPM machine to do this to keep temperature low during this. Higher temperature destroys  some beneficial enzymes.  One could use other means of extracting juice as well. I could not find a low RPM machine in India, but they are available abroad though expensive. I am using normal spice grinder for the time being. However I have ordered a hand juicer from eBay (India) for something that looks like this(one below that is on Amazon.com) :
  13. How to drink? – It is best taken in morning on empty stomach. It is suggested to not gulp it down at once but consume it slowly as if you are eating it.
  14. What to do after harvesting? – One can reuse the plant couple of times more after which it starts to get little harder. I am still experimenting with this.
  15. Can I freeze grass? – One can keep it upto 2-3 days in freeze but Juice should be consumed within 20-30 minutes of making it.

There is lot of material on the web and you can go through it. I am a learner and not an expert! See my comments in next Blog on this.

TinyOS-2.x zigbit serial communication

As mentioned in the previous post, due to the fact that we were downloading the Motorola S-record file ‘main.srec’ via Serial Bootloader (using meshprog on Linux), fuse bits were not getting updated. If we had used JTAG interface (e.g using DRAGON Kit) and aurdude, this would have happened. S-record can have application code as well as fuse bit setting, unlike Intel Hex format.

This meant that the default TinyOS setting of 8 MHz for clock rate was not appropriate for this since Meshbeans are set for 4 MHz by default. So to get the Serial Communication working, we had to make the following changes:

1. Check the following  in

tinyos-2.x/tos/platforms/meshbean/hardware.h

=> change clock rate to 4 MHz by

#define MHZ  4

=> Change here the default baud rate, if you need – 57600 works fine for me

#define PLATFORM_BAUDRATE 57600L

2. make sure that:

“The file chips/atm128/Atm128Uart.h contained some wrong constants, which produce  strange results. The correct ones can be found in the ATmega 1281 datasheet and are:
ATM128_38400_BAUD_8MHZ_2X = 25
ATM128_57600_BAUD_8MHZ_2X = 16”

This change would not have effect on 4 MHz clock that we are using but its best to correct them anyway. Anyother Baud Rate combination can also be added.

I must add here that give a choice use a crystal which gives less errors  – e.g. 3.6864 MHz instead of 4 MHz , similarly 7.3728 MHz instead of 8 MHz. (See the ATMega128a manual).

3. With these changes done, now one can try TestPrintf utility. Do read this README file :

http://www.tinyos.net/tinyos-2.x/apps/tests/TestPrintf/

I was first looking at serial data using MiniCom – this was producing some unprintable characters including what is expected. One has to use the Jave client to get the proper message displayed as output of Printf command. I used the following command to get the data displayed right:
java  net.tinyos.tools.PrintfClient  -comm serial@/dev/ttyUSB3:57600

Here /dev/ttyUSB3 is the port to which my meshbean module was connected vis USB port.

This would give the this  output in a loop:

Hi I am writing to you from my TinyOS application!!
Here is a uint8: 123
Here is a uint16: 12345
Here is a uint32: 1234567890

TinyOS-2.x on Zigbit – Baud rate mismatch

We tried to use TinyOS on Meshnetics Meshbean modules based on Zigbit module containing both microcontroller and radio transceiver. Fortunately a port was made available as a contributed code. I got many student group to start using TinyOS on Meshbean modules. However no one could get the UART communication through USB port working and all the projects which needed this got stalled. I took up this task as I got little free now to figure out what may be happening. It looked like a Baud Mismatch problem since we were received some characters but no baud rate setting was making it come right.

I think I have now understood the problem and however need to try it out tomorrow to make sure that my guess is correct. I am writing it up now and would verify later.

TinyOS port by Distributed Computing Group, ETH used JTAG interface to download firmware into the Meshbean module. This had the capability of programming fues bit as well. What we have been doing is to use Serial Bootloader to program the modules. This does not have the capability of programming the fuse bits. My guess it that due to this the Baud Rates do not match to the right value since clock related fuse does not get set appropriately. I also noticed the default settings of fuse bits are different in Meshnetics software as compared to TinyOS :

Meshnetics : 0xFF, 0x9D, 0x62.

TinyOS : 0xFF, 0x99, 9xE2

So Meshnetics default settings may not work specially since CKDIV8 is the most significant bit of low fuse byte (0x62 vs 0xE2) and can have impact on the clock rate.

I plan to use Dragon to do JTAG programming of Meshbean modules and verify my guess! If it works, we can work on doing Time Synchronization development for seismic measurements.

[Added later : My hunch was correct. Dr Philipp Sommer, who is managing TinyOS port on meshbean also confirmed same. I adjusted some parameters based on his suggestion and it nearly works now. Would update more details in a separate blog.]

Joomla Media Manager image upload fail

One of my websites, which uses Joomla as CMS got hacked as I had not paid attention to securing the site properly. After this I did go through the site carefully trying to remove any possible loopholes.

Recently I realized that Uploading images through Media Manager or any other means were failing to upload. I tried various things but nothing was helping. I am listing some of them here:

1. Checking the Directory permissions. Even tried changing the unsafe mode of 777 to all the relevant directory. Did not help.

2. Tried disabling Flash based uploader – did not  help.

What it did was to give an error message of following kind:

JFile::read: Unable to open file: ”
Warning: Failed to move file!
Error. Unable to upload file.

3. I followed up on this and eventually found that If I do not use the “open_basedir” feature in php.ini to make it more secure by commenting it out in php,ini file, it works fine.

;open_basedir = /home/www

4. As of now, I do not understand why this happened and would like to understand if I can still use this feature to keep site safer.

Meshprog – USB device opening failure on Fedora 11/12

I had been using meshprog to program Meshnetics Zigbit Evaluation Modules on Linux. I discovered that it was not getting programmed on Fedora 11 or 12. It took me some time to figure out what was happening. I am recording this here in case some one else faces the same problem. Here are my observations:

1. Meshnetics modules use UART to USB converter from Silicon Labs – CP2102. This has idVendor=10c4, idProduct=ea60 as shown by Kernel message.

2. I found that /dev/ttyUSBx to which it was getting attached was not opening by Meshprog

3. System log showed the following :

May 22 20:56:28 ranjan kernel: usb 4-1: cp210x converter now attached to ttyUSB3
May 22 20:56:30 ranjan NetworkManager: <info>  (ttyUSB3): ignoring due to lack of mobile broadband capabilties
May 22 20:56:30 ranjan gpsd.hotplug: gpsd_control(action=add, arg=/dev/ttyUSB3)
May 22 20:56:30 ranjan gpsd.hotplug: socket /var/run/gpsd.sock doesn’t exist
May 22 20:56:30 ranjan gpsd.hotplug: launching gpsd -F /var/run/gpsd.sock
May 22 20:56:30 ranjan gpsd.hotplug: socket /var/run/gpsd.sock doesn’t exist
May 22 20:56:30 ranjan gpsd.hotplug: can’t reach gpsd

4. So it looked like it was trying to attach it as a GPS device by starting gpsd

5. I located the hotplug rule for this and disabled that. In Fedora 11 it s in :

/etc/udev/rules.d/99-gpsd.rules

I commented the line :

#SYSFS{idVendor}==”10c4″, SYSFS{idProduct}==”ea60″, SYMLINK=”gps%n”, RUN+=”/lib/udev/gpsd.hotplug.wrapper”

6. Now it works !