Solar Hot Dog Cooker Does it With Parabolic Mirrors

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For a university project [Adam Libert] decided to make his very own parabolic hot dog cooker. Now, we must say, this is a project that could probably be cobbled together in a weekend from scraps, but since it was for a lab, [Adam] decided to go all out — complete with a perfect laser cut frame.

The objective of the lab was to design a project that can use solar radiation to accomplish a task, and being partial to hot dogs, the hot dog cooker was a natural choice. He designed the parabolic mirror to focus 1/5th of a square meter of sunlight directly at a hot dog. To do this, he laser cut the frame out of MDF, and using tinfoil, toothpicks, and poster paper, assembled the mirror. The whole thing cost less than $5 (ignoring laser time) and can be setup in a matter of minutes.

He determined the heat output of the cooker to be around 10W at the hot dog, which means he was able to bring the hot dog to 150°F in about 10 minutes — which was surprisingly close to his original calculations, because let’s face it, tin foil is hardly an ideal mirror.

Interested in other solar cookers? Why not cover a satellite dish in foil tape? Or if you want a quicker-cooked-hot-dog, why not plug it directly into the wall?

[Ben Krasnow] Did It All For The (Perfect) Cookie

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[Ben Krasnow] is on a mission. He’s looking for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. To aid him in this noble endeavor, he’s created the cookie perfection machine. From cleaning with plasma, to a DIY CT scanner, to ruby lasers, to LED contact lenses, [Ben] has to be one of the most prolific and versatile hackers out there today. What better way to relax after a hard day of hacking than to enjoy a glass of milk and a perfect chocolate chip cookie?

This is actually an update to the machine we first saw back in 2012. [Ben] has loaded his machine up with ingredients, and has everything under computer control. The machine will now dispense the exact amount of ingredients specified by the computer, measured by a scale. Everything happens one cookie at a time. The only downside is that the machine doesn’t have a mixer yet. [Ben] has to mix a single cookie’s worth of dough for every data point. His experiments have returned some surprising results. Too little flour actually results in a crisper cookie, as the wetter dough spreads out to a thinner layer. [Ben] also found that adding extra brown sugar also doesn’t result in a more chewy cookie. Even though he’s still in the early experimentation phases, [Ben] mentions that since it’s hard to make a bad chocolate cookie, even his failures taste pretty good.

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OliveR the Programmable Cooking Robot

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[Oak Robotics] is putting the finishing touches on their programmable cooking robot named OliveR.

It’s not about to make you a souffle (but where did it get the milk?), but it does aim to take the boring parts out of cooking — namely the tedious stirring, adjusting temperatures and the timing of ingredients. While that does make it significantly less impressive than the original title suggests, the team has a blog running of successful recipes — They’ve made some excellent chicken curry, Korean beef, and even Jambalaya!

The team is currently looking for beta testers, and while we’re not too sure what this even entails, you can certainly send them an email and find out! To see a demonstration of OliveR’s cooking skills, hang around after the break.

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Barbot Mixes Drinks Perfectly with Web Interface

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Are you good at mixing drinks? We think this Barbot might give you a run for your money!

Not only does this Barbot have room for 5 different liquors, but you can combine them any way you want with an extremely slick web interface that you can check out for yourself.

During initial setup, you add your chosen liquors to the machine and then using the configure mode in the web interface, you tell Barbot what it has to work with. Once these fields are populated, Barbot will list various drinks that it is capable of mixing with the provided ingredients. It also has a cleaning mode, which allows you to prime the pumps and set administrative access for your parties.

The hardware behind this build is a BeagleBone Black running Ubuntu 13.04 with Apache2, MySQL, and PHP to host the web interface — bind and DHCP are used to create the web portal using a USB WiFi dongle. The online interface directly controls the pumps using PHP via the GPIOs.

To see a full demonstration stick around after the break for the included video.

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DIY Incubator Cooks Bacteria… Or Yogurt!

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Ever wonder what kind of fecal content is in your drinking water? Do you also like yogurt? If so, this DIY Bacteria Incubator is just for you!

[Robin] is part of the BioDesign team for the Real-World project which is an interdisciplinary project featuring biology, electronics, and environmental sciences to bring together solutions for real world water problems. Since it’s a community oriented project they strive to keep it open-source and well-documented in order to share with everyone.

The DIY Incubator is a rather simple tool that can be used to help analyze water for fecal contamination, which is a problem in many third world countries. It consists of a styrofoam box, a light bulb and a home-brew Arduino which provides the PID control of the heat. For bacterial analysis, regular coliform bacteria live at 35C, while fecal coliform prefer about 44C — if incubated at these temperatures the bacteria will make itself known very quickly (within about 24 hours).

Oh and if you don’t want to find out how dirty your water is, you can also make yogurt instead. Check out a short demonstration of the incubator after the break.

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Roboxotica (Barbot Festival in Vienna)

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Just this past week was this year’s Roboexotica 2013! The annual event was the world’s first and is perhaps the finest festival of cocktail serving robotics out there!

Founded 15 years ago in San Francisco, Roboexotica brings together scientists, hackers, and artists from all around the world to build the most awesome drink dispensing technologies. It’s also an opportunity to discuss innovation, science fiction, and the world of robotics to come — after utilizing some of the robots of course!

The photo above is of one of the popular bots from this year — it’s called the Minecraft Cocktailbot. It dispenses the liquor out of its floppy drive, but only when you control it from inside a game of Minecraft!

More of the barbots present at Roboxotica can be found on the main site. We think our second favorite is the Bunnybot. It defecates peanuts — the mightiest of all  in pellet-form bar food.

Stick around after the break to see the Minecraft Cocktailbot in action!

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Repairing and Adding Bluetooth Control to an Induction Cooker

When his 6 years old induction cooker recently broke, [Johannes] decided to open it in an attempt to give it another life. Not only did he succeed, but he also added Bluetooth connectivity to the cooker. The repair part was actually pretty straight forward, as in most cases the IGBTs and rectifiers are the first components to break due to stress imposed on them. Following advice from a Swedish forum, [Johannes] just had to measure the resistance of these components to discover that the broken ones were behaving like open circuits.

He then started to reverse engineer the boards present in the cooker, more particularly the link between the ‘keyboards’ and the main microcontroller (an ATMEGA32L) in charge of commanding the power boards. With a Bus Pirate, [Johannes] had a look at the UART protocol that was used but it seems it was a bit too complex. He then opted for an IOIO and a few transistors to emulate key presses, allowing him to use his phone to control the cooker (via USB or BT). While he was at it, he even added a temperature sensor.

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