When I first started carbonating, it was with an ISI Whip. That did the job but ultimately I desired something that gave me more control over the level of carbonation (your options with an ISI are pretty much one canister or two) and at lower cost.
My next step was the home-built system. I already brewed beer so having a full kegging setup was appealing anyway.
I at first attempted to follow the instructions I’d heard from Cooking Issues. Purge the air from the bottle, lock the valve into place, and shake until I stopped hearing the CO2 hiss. The only problem I had was the valve never locked. I had to apply a pretty large amount of force (using two hands) to get the valve on at all, and if I let go it popped right off. So I would charge, shake, charge, shake, etc. Doing this about ten times was a pain in the ass but it did get the job done.
Because it was so much slower though, I tried to fix it. I bought a couple other Liquid Bread Carbonaters in case mine was broken. It wasn’t. I bought another ball lock gas disconnect in case that was broken. It wasn’t.
When Liquid Intelligence came out I noticed in one of the pictures that Dave was using the red carbonator. Mine were blue. I had known the different colors existed, but assumed that was the only difference. A lot of digging into product reviews made me realize it wasn’t.
The older red Carbonaters were better-designed. They allowed the valve to lock on, and the spring wasn’t as forceful so you could reasonably push the poppet valve down to let gas escape. The new ones are, some reason, got rid of both of those major advantages.
So I looked around on Amazon and found this. It’s a stainless steel version that does what the old Carbonater used to do. You can lock the disconnect on it just fine. It also has a hose barb at the end sized for standard beverage tubing (like you’d buy at the homebrew store) so you can inject the CO2 into the liquid, rather than the headspace above it, like you do in a SodaStream.
So I thought I’d just share this here. It ships from China so expect to get it a couple weeks after you order it. But it does seem to be very well-made and is much more pleasant to use than the unfortunately-redesigned Carbonater.