Built-in Coffee Table Lightbox

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[Flyingpuppy] sent us this tip about her cleverly-concealed pull-out lightbox drawer. Her resolution for the new year was to make more art, so she filled this coffee table with art supplies and decided she’d draw while relaxing in front of the television. She also wanted a lightbox nearby, which originally involved hacking the entire tabletop with some acrylic, but she eventually opted for a simpler build: and it’s portable, too! The drawer’s lights are battery-powered, so you can pull the entire thing out of the table and drag it onto your lap, if that makes drawing more comfortable.

[Flyingpuppy] sourced seven inexpensive LED units from her local dollar store, which she mounted to the back of the drawer with some screws. The rest of the drawer was lined with white foam board, the bottom section angled to bounce light up onto the acrylic drawing surface. Because she needs to open the case to manually flip on the lights, she secured the acrylic top magnetically, gluing a magnet to the underside of the foam board and affixing a small piece of steel to the acrylic. A simple tug on the steel bit frees the surface, providing access underneath. Stick around for a video below.

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Addressable RGB LED Coffee Table

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[Alexander] has just put the finishing touches on his Addressable RGB LED Coffee Table and it looks amazing!

Making use of his local hackerspace, Sector67 in Madison, Wisconsin, he learned how to use woodworking equipment to build the table out of nice curly maple wood sheet.

Next up he purchased two 4′x8′ pieces of 2.8mm bamboo plywood — even had to rent a U-Haul just to get it back to the space. Talk about dedication to a project! Having never used a laser cutter before either, [Alexander] was quickly fed up with the crappy laser interface software, so instead, he hand wrote the shapes as SVGs in notepad and then converted them to DXFs. That sounds like a rather slow way to do it, but he thinks it ended up being quicker since it’s all straight lines. Two hours of laser time later, and he had a series of slotted strips to create the grid for the LEDs.

To really light up his project, he’s using nice big 12mm RGB LEDs that he’s ordered off of eBay — they came in four strands of 50 which made it super easy to wire. A beefy 5V 12A PSU provides the juice, and an Arduino takes care of the addressing. He’s even hidden the main power cord through one of the legs!

It’s a gorgeous build, and an impressive project for being a first-timer on most of the equipment used. See for yourself in the short video after the break.

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Functional NES controller coffee table

For reddit user [the_masked_cabana], button mashing has taken on a whole new meaning.  His gigantic NES controller coffee table makes it hard to punch in the Konami code without breaking a sweat.

Even before discussing the electricals, this is one impressive build.  Each component was cut from multiple layers of MDF and assembled with screws, glue, and putty.  Once they were sanded smooth, he used layers of carefully applied Krylon paint to achieve a plastic sheen that is remarkably faithful to its 5″ counterpart.  For the more precise lettering, custom cut vinyl stickers did the trick.

Of course, looking the part is only half the battle.  Tearing apart an original NES controller, he soldered wires to the button connections and ran them to eight arcade style buttons located under the replica button covers.  A collection of bolts and springs keep everything aligned and produce the right kind of tactile feedback to the user.  A removable cable in the back provides the connection to the console.

If a four foot NES controller isn’t practical enough for you, he also added some storage space in the base and a removable glass cover that converts the controller into a coffee table.  For more details on the build, check out the reddit discussion.  You can also find an eerily similar working NES controller table in this geeky coffee table roundup from five years ago.

Grow your own coffee beans

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Unlike T-shirts, sneakers, cell phones, children’s toys, software, appliances, virtually everything made of plastic, and food, people really seem to care about who makes their coffee. Instead of buying guilt-free free trade coffee, [spikec] over on Instructables decided to actually do something to uproot the evils of consumerism. He’s making his own coffee, at home, with a real coffee plant.

[spikec] bought a coffee plant a few years ago off eBay. Coffee plants are actually trees, and with careful pruning they can be maintained to a reasonable size. But what about the weather? Well, for [spikec], who lives in the 7a USDA hardiness zone – a strip that runs from southern New Jersey to the Texas panhandle – he just brings the plant inside when it’s cold.

Once the coffee fruit turns ripe, [spikec] picks the beans, husks the fruit, and puts the beans in a dehydrator. From there, it’s a trip through a small coffee roaster and into a french press.

[spikec] only harvested about a half pound of beans. That’s still very impressive for growing a bonsai coffee tree a thousand miles outside its native range.

Monitoring a coffee pot with an Arduino

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Coffee has always been an important part of the internet; the first webcam ever was in the Trojan Room of the Cambridge University Computer Laboratory to monitor the contents of a coffee pot. Now, instead of webcams, we have Arduinos and a bathroom scale. Not particularly similar to a webcam, but more than enough to keep track of how much coffee is currently available at DoES Liverpool.

Being a techy workshop/studio, coffee is always in short supply at DoES Liverpool. Instead of getting up and checking the pot, [Patrick] thought it would be a good idea to monitor the contents of a coffee pot online. He’s doing this with a bathroom scale underneath the coffee machine connected to an Arduino Ethernet module. By measuring the weight of the coffee pot and subtracting the known empty weight, [Patrick] can get a pretty good idea of how much coffee is left in the pot, and how long the coffee has been sitting there.

The data from the Arduino is fed to an Xively feed that displays the current status of the coffee machine on any computer with an Internet connection. Far more sophisticated than the first webcam ever, and a very useful tool for everyone at DoES Liverpool.

Precise temperature control of a coffee urn

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Hackaday Alum [Nick Schulze] decided to help out a friend who needed a controller to hold water at a precise temperature. Coffee guzzling hackers of the world should rejoice, as [Nick] targeted a coffee urn as the vessel for the project. What he came up with was a couple of custom boards and a roll-your-own temperature probe which does a fantastic job of regulating the temperature of the liquid.

Needing to switch the mains going to the heating element he immediately thought of an AC chopper circuit based on a Triac. What didn’t come to mind immediately was the need to detect the zero crossing. In the image above you can see nearest the urn his high voltage board. Below that is the zero crossing detector circuit. For feedback he created his own temperature probe using a TC1047 temperature sensor. After soldering on a filtering cap and the leads he dipped it in JB Weld to make it water tight. If you’re using this for coffee may we recommend seeking out a food safe probe.

After successful testing he added a user interface and buttoned it up in the enclosure seen in the video below.

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A coffee machine with an attitude

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[Armin] and his crew at BerkelaarMRT were contacted by the Museum of Communication in The Hague to see if they could build a coffee machine that was operated only by voice. It sounded like an interesting challenge, so they took on the job and came up with a very awesome interactive coffee machine.

The interactive coffee machine is based on a coffee maker made by Animo with the ability to make cappuccino, espresso, or just a straight coffee. The electronics are based on a Motorola Xoom 10″ tablet with an Electric Sheep module from Sparkfun. This, along with a custom-made PCB with optocouplers, to allow the buttons on the coffee maker to be electronically activated.

When anyone walks up to the coffee machine, a Maxbotix sonar module detects their presence and a small animated coffee cup asks what they’d like to drink. The cute little cup then prepares the drink and waits for its next human.

There’s a video of the machine in action available below. it’s in Dutch, but anyone will be able to get the jist of how the animated coffee machine operates.

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