Brewdoo Helps Keep the Office Coffee Fresh

Until about lunch time, the coffee goes pretty fast in our office. Only a few of us drink it well into the afternoon, though, and it’s anyone’s guess how long the coffee’s been sitting around when we need a 4:00 pick-me-up. It would be great to install a coffee timer like [Paul]’s Brewdoo to keep track of these things.

The Brewdoo’s clean and simple design makes it easy for anyone in the office to use. [Paul]’s office has two carafes, so there’s a button, an RGB LED, and a line on the LCD for each. Once a pot is brewed, push the corresponding button and the timer is reset. The RGB LED starts at green, but turns yellow and eventually red over the course of an hour. Brewdoo has a failsafe in place, too: if a timer hasn’t been reset for four hours, its LED turns off and the LCD shows a question mark.

[Paul] knew he couldn’t touch the existing system since his company leases the equipment, so the Brewdoo lives in an enclosure that [Paul] CNC’d with custom g-code and affixed to the brewing machine with hard drive magnets. Although [Paul] designed it with an Arduino Uno for easy testing and code modification, the Brewdoo has a custom PCB with a ‘328P. The code, Fritzing diagram and Eagle files are up at [Paul]’s GitHub.

Brewing Beer with a Sous Vide Cooker

[Ken] found an interesting use for his sous vide cooker. He’s been using it to help him with his home brewing. It’s unlikely that the manufacturer ever intended it to be used in this manner, but as hackers we don’t really care about warranties.

Beer brewing is as much of an art as it is a science. There are a lot of variables that go into the process, and tweaking any one of them can result in your beer tasting different. There is one process during brewing that is called mashing. Mashing is when you soak malted grains in hot water to pull out the sugar. The amount of sugar that gets extracted is very dependent on how long the grains are soaked, and the temperature of the water. If you want your beer to taste a certain way, then you want to ensure that the water stays at constant, repeatable temperature.

As a home brewer, [Ken] has been using his stove top to heat the water. This gets the water warm, but in order to keep the temperature consistent, he has to constantly monitor the temperature and adjust the knob accordingly. Who wants to sit around and do that all day? He needed something to control the temperature automatically. Enter the sous vide cooker.

Sous vide is a method of cooking in which food is placed into an airtight bag and then submerged in a water bath with very strict temperature control. The process takes a long time to cook the food, but the result is supposed to be meat that is cooked perfectly even while also retaining all of the moisture and juices. [Ken] figured he might be able to use a sous vide cooker to control the temperature of the mash instead of a water bath.

His experiment worked wonderfully. He used the stove top to help get the mash up to the close temperature, then the sous vide cooker was used to fine tune things from there. [Ken] says he was able to achieve 75% efficiency with his mash, which is exactly what he was going for. Continue reading “Brewing Beer with a Sous Vide Cooker”

Automated Tea Maker

[Pariprohus] wanted to make an interesting gift for his girlfriend. Knowing how daunting it can be to make your own tea, he decided to build a little robot to help out. His automated tea maker is quite simple, but effective.

The device runs off of an Arduino Nano. The Nano is hooked up to a servo, a piezo speaker, an LED, and a switch. When the switch is turned to the off position, the servo rotates into the “folded” position. This moves the steeping arm into a position that makes the device easier to store and transport.

When the device is turned on to the “ready” position, the arm will extend outward and stay still. This gives you time to attach the tea bag to the arm and place the mug of hot water underneath. Finally the switch can be placed into “brew” mode. In this mode, the bag is lowered into the hot water and held for approximately five minutes. Each minute the bag is raised and lowered to stir the water around.

Once the cycle completes, the Nano plays a musical tune from the piezo speaker to remind you to drink your freshly made tea. All of the parameters including the music can be modified in the Nano’s source code. All of the components are housed in a small wooden box painted white. Check out the video below to see it in action. Continue reading “Automated Tea Maker”

Dead Simple Hack Allows for “Rebel” Keurig K-Cups

If you haven’t actually used a Keurig coffee machine, then you’ve probably at least seen one. They are supposed to make brewing coffee simple. You just take one of the Keurig “k-cups” and place it into the machine. The machine will punch a hole in the foil top and run the water through the k-cup. Your flavored beverage of choice comes out the other side. It’s a simple idea, run by a more complex machine. A machine that is complicated enough to have a security vulnerability.

Unfortunately newer versions of these machines have a sort of DRM, or lockout chip. In order to prevent unofficial k-cups from being manufactured and sold, the Keurig machines have a way to detect which cups are legitimate and which are counterfeit. It appears as though the machine identifies the lid specifically as being genuine.

It turns out this “lockout” technology is very simple to defeat. All one needs to do is cut the lid off of a legitimate Keurig k-cup and place it on top of your counterfeit cup. The system will read the real lid and allow you to brew to your heart’s content. A more convenient solution involves cutting off just the small portion of the lid that contains the Keurig logo. This then gets taped directly to the Keurig machine itself. This way you can still easily replace the cups without having to fuss with the extra lid every time.

It’s a simple hack, but it’s interesting to see that even coffee machines are being sold with limiting technology these days. This is the kind of stuff we would have joked about five or ten years ago. Yet here we are, with a coffee machine security vulnerability. Check out the video demonstration below. Continue reading “Dead Simple Hack Allows for “Rebel” Keurig K-Cups”

Automated home beer brewery — best laundry room add-on ever

All-grain home brewing takes time… a lot of time. We’re not going to pretend like a good batch of beer isn’t thanks mostly to the artist that is the brewmaster, but at the same time it’s pretty amazing to see a compact system like the one above that can boil a batch of wort without much help from you.

[Zizzle] built this machine as his entry in the Renesas contest. You can see the development board there just to the left of the brew kettle. It’s network connected with a web interface that allows you to take recipes from Brewtarget and import them directly to the system. All you need to do is make sure that you load up the grain basket and boil addition modules to match your recipe. The bot takes it from there, filling the kettle, preheating that water, lowering the grains and maintaining temperature for the mash, and completing the boil with additions from the servo-controlled PVC pipe pods. Experienced brewers will notice a few steps missing, like the sparge, and a quick way to cool the finished wort. But this does take a huge part of the drudgery out of our hands. If only it had a clean-in-place system… then we’d really be happy! Don’t miss the video after the break and take a moment to check out the build-log posts.

Continue reading “Automated home beer brewery — best laundry room add-on ever”

Hackaday Links: Friday the 13th, 2009

Thecoolingcoil1 (Custom)

This wort cooler looks beautiful. No, it’s not for removing warts, it’s part of the brewing process for the nectar of the gods. Even if it wasn’t meant to create alcohol, we would be drawn in by those pretty copper curves.

rc900 (Custom)

We’re not surprised at all to see this remote-controlled bowling ball. We’ve seen remote-controlled spheres several times and this just seems like the logical conclusion. We wish there were some build details though. [via neatorama]

_live_media_site577_2009_1106_20091106_070015_TN00-PanAm-sh11 (Custom)

When [Anthony Toth] an aircraft enthusiast, decided remodel his garage, he shot for the sky. He has recreated the first class cabin of a Pan Am 747 circa the 1970s. It took him nearly 20 years to scavenge the parts and over $50,000 to pull it all together. [via makezine]

F9BRC5KG1QWAWR9.MEDIUM (Custom)

This super cheap simple cable tester caught our eye. There’s nothing complicated here, pretty common sense really. Why didn’t we think of it?

ph11 (Custom)

Over the years, Asimo has become a household name. At least in geek households. We’ve seen him go from crazy looking walking microwave prototype, to giant scary space man monster, to the lovable little guy we know now. You can see the full evolution of Asimo in this picture series.

Untitled-1

Got an old box camera? Want to use it with modern 35mm film? Here’s a guide to getting it to work. It mainly just involves making a simple mounting bracket.

galaxydress_1 (Custom)

We like LEDs a lot, but this is getting ridiculous. This dress has 24,000 LEDs. They power it with iPod batteries spread throughout the dress. This cuts down on the bulk and helps distribute the weight.

temperature-controlled-mug-pcm (Custom)

Coffee cup technology hasn’t changed much in the last bazillion years. We’re pretty sure cave people carved them from stone, and now they’re made from ceramic which really isn’t that different. Some researchers are changing all that, and designing a coffee cup that is supposed to regulate its temperature in a new way. This mug is manufactured with internal convection channels and is made from a material known for its temperature regulation called PCM. Interesting, but it will probably cost much more than a simple insulated thermos. [via neatorama]