Precise temperature control of a coffee urn

coffee-urn-temperature-controller

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

coffee

[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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Phase one of a robot coffee maker

coffee fry

A coffee machine that brews a fresh pot of joe,  automatically putting coffee in a filter, filling the coffee maker with water, brewing, dumping the grounds, and adding sugar and cream, all without any human interaction. Some may call it the fevered dream of a madman. Others may call it a vending machine. All we know is [Phil] is working on his own version of this robot par excellence.

This is only phase one of a robotic coffee machine build, but so far [Phil] has a single cup coffee maker that can fill itself with water and dump its grounds automatically.

The electronics are based on a PIC18F4550 that controls two mechanical relays that control the solenoids, one solid state relay that controls power to the coffee maker, and two stepper motor drivers that open the lid of the coffee maker and dump the filter into the wash bin.

It’s an awesome build and we look forward to the next stage of this awesome, truly homebrew build.

 

A drip coffee maker for camping

drip

[TE] goes camping, and on his excursion he likes to take just the bare necessities. A sleeping bag, a tent, food, but above all else, coffee. Most camping coffee makers are a percolator design, which is widely regarded as the worst way to make coffee ever. With a little bit of ingenuity, he created an improvised drip coffee maker for camping, just the thing for a nice cup of brew in the wilderness.

If you were to make your own drip coffee maker, your first inclination might be to use a funnel, put in a filter, pour in some coffee, and load it up with hot water. This was [TE]‘s first design, but he quickly realized the hole in the bottom of his makeshift funnel would clog very quickly. After investigating his electronic drip coffee maker, he discovered the bottom of the basket had a series of baffles that allowed the filter to drain over its entire bottom surface. But how to replicate this in a piece of DIY equipment?

The solution came from [TE]‘s wife, who pulled out an apple slicer. This allowed the filter to sit a little proud in the basket, allowing for an efficient draining of coffee. Simple, effective, and nearly impossible to break; that’s very good camping equipment.

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PixelBrite is an LED wall/coffee table done right

pixelbrite

The scope of this project is almost as jaw-dropping as the cost of the parts. [LeoneLabs] calls the project PixelBrite. It’s a highly-polished modular RGB LED panel system, and he’s not keeping it a secret. We think it’s reasonable to call the build documentation mammoth. If you’re a fan of fast-motion assembly videos he’s got you covered there as well.

It’s interesting to compare this build to some of the Daft Punk tables from years back. It shows how economies of scale in the hobby electronics industry have helped new and affordable products to emerge. For instance, this offering is a 10×10 grid which is outside of the normal 8 pixel wide orientation dictated by 8-bit microcontrollers. The reason for the change is that this doesn’t use a matrix built with point-to-point soldering. It uses a string of RGB pixels (WS2801).

The enclosure is also a thing of beauty. The dividers that make up each cell are laser cut foam board. This makes the joints very tight to prevent light from leaking into the next cell. The housing is acrylic held in place by an aluminum rail system. Need more than one panel? No problem, a single connector chains one panel to the next. But we did mentioned the cost of materials. Unassembled you can expect to drop over five hundred bones for the pleasure of seeing this thing blink.

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Copper kettle just for the hipster coffee scene

04-copper-kettle

Handmade coffee is a feature we need to write. But for now we present this copper kettle which is designed to pour out the boiling water very slowly in order to achieve the perfect cup of slow-drip java.

[CHS] made the kettle for his friend [Nate]. The entire process starts off with an arc of flat copper sheet which makes a slightly conical cylinder when curved until the two ends meet. Getting a water tight seal on this seam is imperative and it took four or five tries to reach perfection.

To get the kettle in shape [CHS] improvised a mandrel out of a thin slice of railroad track. After polishing it smooth it goes on the inside of the copper and gives him something to hammer against. We think this step is magic… It’s kind of like the old sculpting adage that you remove everything that isn’t what you’re trying to end up with. The beauty of the piece really pops out as the final curves are hammered into the work.

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Low water indicator for coffee maker couldn’t be simpler

low-water-indicator-for-coffee-maker

The coffee maker which [Donald Papp] uses every morning has a water reservoir on the back that can last for several days. This means he forgets to check it and from time to time will return to find that nothing has brewed. He decided to add a low-water indicator to the machine. His approach is about as simple as it gets and we admire that accomplishment.

If it were our project we’d probably try to complicate it in one way or another. The use of a microcontroller and ultrasonic rangefinder (like this tank level indicator from a February links post) would be overkill. No, [Donald] boiled down the electronics to a homemade switch, a blinking LED, and a battery. The switch is a flexible piece of metal attached to a plastic cap using some monofilament. The cap goes in the reservoir and floats until the water gets too low, it then pulls on that metal, completing a circuit between the battery and the LED. That’s it, problem solved.

Now he just needs to plumb the coffee maker into a water line and he’ll really be set.

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