Automatic Espresso Loader for those Late Night Hack Sessions

For [Roy's] graduate electronics class, he decided to make something that many in and out of the hacking world would certainly love, an automatic espresso loader.  One can choose from three flavors available. In order to accomplish this, a Parralax Propeller board is used to control three servos that regulate the amount of coffee dispensed, chosen by a handy LCD HMI (human machine interface).

After the coffee is dispensed, the chute swings out of the way. A modified inkjet cartridge carrier (from a dead printer) is then used to compact the beans. Check out the video of this machine in action after the break.

Not only is this machine well built with what appears to be a clear polycarbonate shell, It uses other standard hacker fare, including: servos, recycled printer parts, a Parallax processor, and a LCD display. This machine has only been tested with salt so far, and the “valves” are only simple flat plates attached to servos.  This machine is still somewhat of a prototype, but it’s a really neat hack nonetheless.

Comments

  1. brad says:

    i’m a fan! now, where’s the rest of the automated process? when will it make me a nice americano? :)

  2. veneficus says:

    Good job. But, as an avid coffee consumer, I doubt an ink-jet rail/motor combination would have the power the compact the coffee enough. Also I want to see the hopper in action, espresso coffee is a fine grind so it is likely that it’ll stick to the pvc piping before reaches to the pot. Just sayin… :)

  3. turn.self.off says:

    Bah, a big pot of drip brew do the trick thank you very much…

    All these fancy machines and coffee types…

  4. I bet the tamping is fine, looks like there’s enough momentum from the arm to get that correct.

    But I can see the espresso getting clogged up in the piping. I wonder what the industrial method of handling grounds is… maybe air pressure? Maybe just add a touch of flow agent like Magnesium Stearate…

  5. brad says:

    i bet a well designed archimedes-screw would get those grounds moving just fine…

  6. Roy says:

    Thanks guys,
    The compacting actually works well (I tested it with an already loaded pot). As for the flow dynamics, I used flower to simulate the fine-ness of the coffee, and I measured the angle required to prevent it from sticking to the walls. I did actually consider air pressure, but that was too much work for this class ;)

  7. jim says:

    Pft. Why make it simple when you can have a mechanism to weigh the grounds?

    That said, a stirrer or screw for the hoppers would be cool.

  8. Ben says:

    Roy,

    Awesome project. I appreciate the fact that you made an automated mechanism for the espresso process. I also like the fact that you made practical choices so you could actually get a finished product!

    How does the espresso come out?

  9. veneficus says:

    I think a simple pager vibrator on the pvc pipes can solve the problem and it would be easier to implement than stirrer or a screw implementation.

  10. critic says:

    While it’s nice to see something move, the machine does not deserve its title. Select air flavor one and 3 shots of that, then compact. Imaginary coffee grounds?

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