Saturday, 11 July 2009

Mini Bull Designs Uno#1

MBD Uno#1 and MBDCult remote fuel supply
Price:£21.85 at time of order (US$35.00) including shipping
Supplier: Mini Bull Designs
Burner & pin/stake to mount it on
3x longer pins forming the pot stand
1x 1oz(30ml) bottle with automatic feed system and fuel hose

What it does:
A miniature meths stove - a burner, pot stand and remote fuel bottle with a 30 minute runtime. The stove can be stopped at any time and any unused meths in the system recovered to the reservoir for later use.

Look and feel:
First impression on unpacking the Uno is that the shippers forgot to include it in the package! The build quality appears to be excellent - although there is very little 'stuff' to peer at... The burner unit is maybe the half the size and bulk of a sparkplug. There are a set of what look like nails - three long ones (130mm) and one shorter one (70mm). Weights are 7g for the Burner and 2g for its shorter ground pin/stake. The set of 3 pot stand pins come in at 9g, totalling 17g on the scales.
The Remote fuel supply (a 1floz, 30ml HDPE bottle) has a normal cap and when that is removed, it can screw into the remote feed base. The hose connects to the feed base. Collectively these remote feed parts come to 25g.
My scales made that 41g all up.
Also rather generously included in the pack was a 2nd hose and a 6in[1] length of spare wick.
(the lighter in the photo below isn't part of the stove, is included just for scale)

Initial Testing:

The stove was assembled as per instructions. 4 pieces of 'wall' from a Honey Stove were used as a windshield and heat reflector. Starting with a Tibetan 375ml mug full of water, the Uno#1 was ignited and an Alpkit MyTiMug placed on the supplied pot stand, the water added and lid placed on the mug. No fuss, no excitement, just heat. The reservoir bottle bubbled occasionally as the spare fuel level dropped. Time to first steam (at which temperature I could make coffee) was 9 minutes. Time to full boil (for tea) was 11 minutes. After recovering the fuel in the system back into the reservoir the bottle was about 12ml down from the starting point. Re-igniting the burner without the hose attached gave another minute of burn time with just the meths in the wick.

Having progressed from a 'head' sized Trangia Tracker (which is greatly missed as one of the most weather resistant stoves I've owned) through an MSR Whisperlite (known in this household as 'the mad cooker') to a collection consisting of an MSR Pocket Rocket gas and a handful of meths stoves I'm still amazed at how small this little jobbie is. It really is that tiny that the parts could be in a jacket pocket and you'd have to check to make sure you'd remembered to bring it with you! Yet it still has enough grunt to make a cup of tea in around 10 minutes. My biggest worry is dropping it never to be seen again. To that end I'm thinking this is also a 'keeper' for the expedition kit and I'll be adding a 2nd meths burner of some kind as a backup or to alternate with as I see which cope with different outdoor conditions the best. A pressurised stove, such as The Penny Stove , will certainly boil water faster but it goes with the fuel put in at the beginning. It is possible, but fiddly to put it out and recover what is left but nowhere as easy as with the Uno. I think I'm convinced by the meths argument. The stoves work and I can easily see how much fuel is left. An empty meths bottle can be recycled anywhere taking plastic bottles, I'm unsure how easy it is to recycle a gas cylinder, but it is certainly a big lump to be carried around until it can be safely recycled.

I'm thinking that the MSR Pocket Rocket is going to be retired to weekend backpacking - oh well, at least it wasn't that expensive!

[1] Units - yes I know I mix-and-match. I blame the crazy English system where I was taught metric at school yet everyone in the real world used imperial. My wife still insists on giving me length measurements in inches and feet despite me insisting that I don't understand. And when will we switch to using kilometres for distance? The OS maps have been marked in 1km squares for as long as I have been using them yet speed and distance are still sticking with the old system. Then they wonder why we're confused. Bah, humbug. Bother, I think I ranted. Too late now...

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