> Articles by: siliconghost

Dry Rubbed Chicken Thighs

Recipe - Dry Rubbed Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This surprisingly simple rub is fantastic on all poultry, but I especially like it on chicken thighs. This recipe results in very juicy and tender chicken without the extra fat from skin. My family raved about this recipe and devoured all the chicken so I figured it was worth posting.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 - 6
  • 2 Tbsp Kother Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Smoked Paprika (Don't skip this - it makes all the difference!)
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • Canola Oil (for pan)
  1. Mix dry ingredients together well in small bowl and rub thoroughly on chicken (both sides). Let rub sit on the chicken for up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. If you have a vacuum marinade container, this can be reduced to about an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 and preheat an oven safe skillet to med-high on top of stove.
  3. When skillet is hot, add Canola oil, making sure that a thin layer is covering the entire bottom of pan (add slightly more or less depending on size of your pan).
  4. Add chicken to pan, upside down. Cook undisturbed for five minutes.
  5. Flip chicken and cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer skillet to oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Chicken is done when dark meat reads 180 degrees F when measured with an instant-read thermometer.


Vermonter Tip #142 – DIY Wood Rack

A Strong Wood Rack For About $12

A Super Strong DIY Wood Rack For About $12

DIY Wood Rack


Bitter cold winters can be tough to get through. For those that burn wood, you know that bringing it in from outside can be a real pain. I decided to build these racks for the convenience of storing wood in my garage during the winter, thus reducing the frequency at which I needed to replenish from my outside woodshed.  Simple 2×4 construction makes this wood rack an easy DIY project that can be completed in just a an hour or two.  With removable sides, this rack can be easily broken down for storage during warmer months.


What’s In A Cord?

A cord is the amount of wood (when arranged so pieces are aligned, parallel, touching, and compact) that occupies a volume of 128 cubic feet (3.62m). This corresponds to a well stacked woodpile that is 4 feet (122 cm) high, 8 feet (244 cm) long, and 4 feet (122 cm) deep.

A cord of wood is defined as 4' x 8' x 4'
A cord of wood


Keeping your wood vendor honest

Two of these DIY racks completely full (and a bit heaping to take into account 6″ lost from side supports) are a good representation of a full cord of wood. It is very easy to determine if that cord of wood you ordered was really 3/4 or even 1/2 cord. Loading wood for delivery is usually done by eye with some type of bucket loader. It is quite possible for you to get less than you are paying for (or more if you are lucky). If you find that you’ve been considerably shorted, most wood suppliers will be happy to make up for the difference after you explain that you have racks like this that make it obvious.


Before we get started, I want to note that you can buy pre-made brackets for building similar racks. I have listed a couple options below from While this would lead to a much faster project, I opted for a manually assembled version for several reasons:

  • I needed something right away
  • I enjoy building things. This was a simple afternoon project
  • When I first looked, I couldn’t find brackets under $20. I wanted to build four racks and didn’t want to spend that much on brackets alone.
  • Some of the cheaper  brackets available are made of plastic. Others are steel but look like they are pretty thin gauge. Having used such brackets on my first rack, I’m confident that they are not nearly as strong or durable as my all-wood construction.

The brackets from Amazon can be found here:

On With The Build

Materials For This Wood Rack

QTY Item
5 8' 2×4's (these go on sale occasionally, and you don't need the best grade available)
4 5/16-in-18 x 3-1/2-in Hex Bolts (Lowe's P/N 59065)
4 5/16-in x 1-1/4-in Fender Washers (Lowe's P/N 136623)
4 5/16-in Split Lock Washers (Lowe's P/N 63409)
4 5/16-in-18 Wing Nuts (Lowe's P/N 882029)
Box 3.5" Deck Screws

Printable Materials Listing

Note: The Lowe’s part numbers above are provided for convenience only. You don’t need these exact parts as long as the item type is similar

Tools For This Project

  • Tape Measure
  • Carpenter’s Square
  • Hammer
  • Saw (ideally, a Miter saw, but you could even cut by hand if needed)
  • Drill
  • Drill-bit (5/16″)

Step 1 – Cut The 2×4’s

  1. Set two of your 8′ 2×4’s aside. These will be used for the overall length of the rack.
  2. Cut two of the 2×4’s exactly in half, resulting in four 4′ pieces. These will become the “arms” of the rack.
  3. Cut six 1′ pieces from the remaining 2×4. These hold it all together.

Step 2 – Assemble The Base

  1. Lay your 8′ 2×4’s on edge on a flat surface
  2. Place a 1′ section of wood between the two sides flush with the end
  3. Pre-drill holes for the screws on one side of the base
  4. Attach side to the 1′ piece using two deck screws
  5. Now attach the other side of the base using the same process
  6. Repeat for the opposite side of the base, effectively creating a large rectangle frame such as shown in the following diagram:

 DIY Wood Rack - Diagram 1

Step 3 – Add Arm Braces

Now we are going to assemble the are brace slot on each side of the frame.

  1. Place a 1′ section of 2×4 inside the rack on edge
  2. Use two 1′ pieces of 2×4 temporarily to determine the exact spacing required for the brace (as shown below).  Use a hammer to gently tap the brace against the wood to ensure a tight fit.
    DIY Wood Rack - Building Braces
  3. Pre-drill holes for the screws on one side of the brace
  4. Attach side to the 1′ piece using two deck screws
  5. Now attach the other side of the brace using the same process
  6. Repeat for the opposite side of the base, effectively creating a large rectangle frame with brace supports such as shown in the following diagram:

DIY Wood Rack - Diagram 2


DIY Wood Rack - Arm Brace - Critical For A Sturdy Rack!
Arm Brace – Critical For A Sturdy Rack!


Step 4 – Adding Arms

  1. Place two 4′ sections of wood into the arm brace slot as shown below.
    DIY Wood Rack - Adding Arms
  2. Place a 1′ section of 2×4 on the top of the arms and draw a line at the center of each arm 2×4
    DIY Wood Rack - Pre-Drilling Arm Connector
  3. Pre-drill holes for the arm tops and attach to the arms using four deck screws
  4. Pre-drill holes at the base of each arm going all the way through the base and arm.
  5. Attach arms using Hex Bolts, Fender Washers, Lock Washers, and Wing Nuts as shown below:

    DIY Wood Rack - Making Arms RemovableDIY Wood Rack - Wing Nut To Quickly Disassemble
  6. Repeat the arm assembly process on opposite side of rack


Step 5 – Admire Your New DIY Wood Rack (s)

DIY Wood Rack - Finished Racks

DIY Wood Rack - Finished Rack!
Finished Rack!

Brilliant Idea Backfires – DIY Sparkling Wine

Don't Try This At Home - Sparkling Wine with Soda Stream

Don’t Try This At Home – DIY Sparkling Wine

Don't Try This At Home!

Another Brilliant Idea Backfires!

Youtuber Larry G. and his son Noah tried using a Soda Stream machine to make sparkling wine.  You can pretty much guess what happens next!

I have to admit, I probably would have tried it too if I had a Soda Stream.  The kid’s spidey sense was kicking in near the end. He should have stopped when he wanted to rather than listen to Dad 😉


2014 ManganLabs Gift Guide

Mangan Labs Gift Guide

Welcome to my 2nd annual ManganLabs Gift Guide!
2014 ManganLabs Gift Guide Happiness!

Once again I’m proud to bring you the ultimate gift guide for finding creative and unusual gift ideas for everyone on your list.

It’s no secret that I’m a gadget guy.

I’m always on the lookout for new and unique items. There is something on this hand-picked list for everyone, young and old! I have categorized items below at a high level.

It’s no coincidence that most if not all of the items list below are from  Being a member of the Amazon affiliate program allows me to earn a very small incentive for referring you to their site.  If I refer many people it adds up, all helping to fund continued development of this site and more cool projects in the future.  Your support is greatly appreciated.  With that said, I WILL post links to items that are not available on Amazon or found to be significantly lower priced from another source.  I’m a product consumer just like you and it would be against my better judgement to point people to Amazon if a much better deal or truly unique item can be found elsewhere.

New items will be added to the top of this list daily from Friday Nov 21st to Friday December 19th (and I already have several items in mind that are not available on Amazon) Bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates!

If you have suggestions for items to add this year, please use the contact form here.


NEW! (Check Back Daily For More Fresh Picked Ideas!)

Toys / Games


 Just Because

For The Alcohol Consumer





Need more ideas? My 2013 Gift Guide can be found here and it has lots of items that are still popular today!

Need even more inspiration?  Below is a list of even more sites where you can find unique gifts:

Build A BassMaster Carnival Game

BassMaster 3000
The BassMaster 3000

The BassMaster 3000

Want to build your own carnival game? This is a great project to build for birthdays, work parties, or just for the fun of it!

The electronics really bring it to life.  An Arduino Yun was used to monitor the sensors, host a web slideshow with candid pictures of the winners (shown on nearby monitor), and trigger the lights and sound.  The video below shows how it works:

If you want to build your own, the full detail (including Arduino source code) can be found on Instructables here.

Shameless Plug For Votes!

I  entered this tutorial into three “Instructables” contests listed below (Sensors, Epilog Challenge, and Summer #mikehacks).  I would really appreciate it if you would take a minute and vote for my Instructable for each of these contests.  Note that voting does require an account on Sign-up only takes a minute and my experience has been that they are very good about not sending SPAM your way or selling your email address.

By winning or placing in these contests, I could potentially get some great tools and supplies to build bigger and better things!

To vote, simply visit each contest using the links provided below.  You should see my BassMaster entry listed on the page. Thanks in advance for helping me out!

Sensors Contest (Vote For Me HERE!) UPDATE – I’m a finalist in the Sensors Contest! Thanks for your votes!
Epilog Challenge VI (Vote For Me HERE!)
Summer #mikehacks (Vote for Me HERE!)

Arduino Unplugged – Wireless Sensors

This weekend I started playing around with the nRF24L01 RF modules.  These things are a fantastic low-cost option for creating wireless communications between two Arduino micro-controllers.

nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz Wireless Modules
nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz Wireless Modules

These are multi-node modules where many modules can transmit back to the same “master” node.  You can also find long distance versions of the same module online that claim to achieve 800-1K meters (2624 – 3280 ft)  in distance!

This example shows a simple LED being controlled wirelessly.  You can get about 300ft of distance between the two devices. Possibly more in clear view.  I was able to walk around my entire house and still trigger the LED remotely. The options are endless for what you could do with this when it comes to wireless sensors and remote monitoring.

My next step – Shrink the transmitting side down to a ATTiny85 version of the Arduino, bringing the cost of each transmitter down to about $5.

ATTiny85 – At about $1 each, these are perfect for dedicating to a project in place of an Arduino

Stay tuned for more details and an update on the project as it gets closer to completion.

Happy Arduino Day!

Happy Birthday Arduino!

To celebrate Arduino Day, has several fantastic deals on Arduino boards valid one day only for “Arduino Day” which is today, March 29th.

I would recommend the $9 “RedBoard” for anyone just getting started. The $3 mini boards are great if you have a little experience and are looking for a low cost dedicated Arduino for your projects.

They are allowing back orders on these awesome prices.  Don’t miss out on these great deals.

Also note that today from 4 – 8pm is the “Launch Party” for Generator, a new VT Maker Space with lots of cool (expensive) gadgets for your building needs. They will have a cash bar from 6-8pm and Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup. What more could you want?

Have fun and let me know if you build something.


Get Over 1/2 Mile Range With Wireless Arduino Projects

Break Your Arduino Free From Wifi

A $20 wirelesss development board based on Arduino is about to enter the market.  Makers everywhere are excited about the possibilities this brings to their projects.

Flutter Wireless

 Our goal is to provide the community with access to inexpensive and reliable wireless technology. That’s why we built flutter. Based on Arduino, flutter is a wireless electronic development board with an ARM processor and integrated hardware encryption.

Flutter is a successfully funded Kickstarter Project that raised $149,906 of it’s original $80,000 goal.

Flutter offers the following features:

  • 1,000+ meter range
  • 1.2 Mbps max data rate
  • 915 MHz operating frequency
  • Atmel SAM3s ARM CPU at 64MHz
  • Cryptographic key storage
  • Mesh networking
  • 3.3v system voltage
  • 10-40mA current draw (normal use)

Unlike many wifi-based products, flutter boards talk directly to each other – no routers or servers required. All you need to make a flutter network is two flutter boards and power. Whether you’re preparing for Burning Man or just building a project for your next hiking trip, flutter has you covered.

Due to begin shipping in April, this product has serious potential for some amazing wireless projects.  I can’t wait to get my hands on a kit.

For more details visit the Flutter Press Page, Flutter Website, or the original Flutter Kickstarter Page

Arduino Classes in Essex, VT

Arduino is an electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It is intended for creating interactive objects or environments. The sky is the limit on the things you can create.

Interested in all the “Maker Craze” with Arduino? Not sure where to start?

Arduino Yún
Arduino Yún

John Mangan of will be presenting a series of classes on the Arduino microcontroller in two tracks. The beginners track is for people who have zero experience with Arduino.

A series of separate hands-on classes will follow with increasing levels of difficulty (and fun!). An optional Arduino starter kit will be available for purchase and use in the hands-on sessions.

The details of each class are still being planned. The introduction class will be a one-hour session. Hands-on workshops will be 2 hour sessions and will require students to bring their own PC or Mac to participate. Classes are planned to be offered in Essex, VT, but details on the venue are still being finalized.

Class sizes will be limited and pricing will be very reasonable. Interested? Sign up to my mailing list below to be notified when more details become available.

Enter your email address to be notified of updates:

Delivered by FeedBurner 2013 Geek Gift Guide

Welcome to my first annual Geek Gift Guide!
2013 Geek Gift Guide
It’s no secret that I’m a gadget guy. I’m always on the lookout for new and unique items. There is something on this hand-picked list for everyone, young and old! They are in no particular order and new items will be added to the top of this list daily during the first two weeks of December. Check back regularly for updates!

If you have suggestions for items to add this year, please use the contact form here.