Bubble Catcher Watches Your Booze Burp

Making your own booze involves a lot of sitting around waiting for things to happen, like waiting for the fermentation process to finish so you can get on with bottling and drinking it. That involves watching the bubbles in the airlock: once the frequency of the bubbles falls below a certain level, your hooch is ready for the next step.

[Waldy45] decided to automate this process by building a bubble catcher that measures the frequency of bubbles passing through the airlock. He did this using an optocoupler, a combination of LED and light sensor that changes resistance when something passes between them. You can’t see it in the image, but the horseshoe-shaped optocoupler is slotted around the thin neck in the bubble tube to sense when a bubble passes through.

The optocoupler is connected to an Arduino, running a bit of code that generates an interrupt when the optocoupler is triggered. At the moment, this just outputs an average time between bubbles to the serial port, but [Waldy45] is looking to add an ESP8266 to wirelessly connect the Arduino and contact him when the bubble frequency falls, indicating that the booze is ready for bottling.

We’ve seen a couple of over the top beer breweries before (here and here), but none of them have automated the actual fermentation stage, so something like this would definitely be an addition. Cheers!

Hackerspace competition combines drinking and lock picking – need we say more?


The guys from Bloomington’s Fraternal Order of Lock Sport (FOOLS) sure know how to throw a party! At this year’s DerbyCon event down in Louisville, the group put on an awesome event that combined lockpicking and drinking – what could be better?

The Rumble Challenge is lock picking game where six people compete head to head for the best time. Whenever a competitor masters his lock, the competition is paused so that each player has a chance to take a shot from their air-powered shot dispensing machine. Once everyone has imbibed, the next round starts with the competitors picking up where they left off, in an effort to be the next to successfully open his lock.

The game is controlled by an Arduino, which both times the competition and senses when the locks have been opened. The Arduino relays this data to a computer, which uses a projector to display the contestant’s scores on a big screen. As an added bonus, FOOLS member [dosman] added loud rumble motors to the locking mechanisms in order to throw competitors off their game.

The contest sounds like a ton of fun – we’re bummed that we missed it. If you want to see how the game was put together, check out [dosman’s] build log over at the Bloominglabs wiki.

Simple liquid dispenser for auto-cocktails

[Qdot] came up with a simple way to dosing out liquids to use in his Bartris project. As you can see above, flexible tubing is connected to some inverted bottles that house the liquid. A chopstick is attached to a board on one end, and via string to a servo on the other. When the servo turns it pulls the chopstick tight against the board, cutting off the flow of liquid through the tubing. This isn’t as elegant as the system the Bar2D2 uses but it’s a heck of a lot less expensive.

You can check out some of the build pictures in his Flickr pool. He’s included this concept in a project he calls Adult Mario. Watch the video after the break but the quick and dirty is that the more coins you score in Super Mario Brothers, the more beverage is rationed out into your cup. Ah, human lab rats, is there nothing they won’t do for booze?

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