Data from your coffee maker turned into art

This is what your coffee looks like as it is being brewed. The three different art pieces seen above were generated based on data from different parts of a high-end coffee maker. This isn’t a bargain basement single switch drip maker (we reserve those for NES retrofits) but a top-of-the-line espresso machine. And before you cry foul we’ll warn you that the project is a marketing device for the manufacturer. But we still think it’s interesting so read on or jump directly to the video after the break.

We’re unsure if the sensors are normally included in the machine or if they were added during the hack. An Arduino pulls in data about the brew process from two flow meters, a steam indicator LED, and three thermistors. The measured values are sent to a Processing application which turns them into the generative art seen above. What results is a widescreen display that aims to turn your bleary-eyed wait for morning coffee into something interesting.

[Read more...]

Hackaday Links: May 11, 2012

Three days of work in 5 minutes

[Celso] bought himself a Ultimaker kit and put together a time-lapse video of him putting it together. There’s a lot of work that goes into these machines, but being able to print a nearly perfect cube on the first run is nearly magical.

How about a CNC mill, too?

The folks over at Inventables have put together a tiny CNC mill kit designed from the fruitful mind of [Edward Ford]. The Shapeoko mill is designed around the Makerslide linear bearing system, so you’re getting a lot of precision very easily. Here’s some more info on the Shapeoko

Update the firmware on your RasPi

[Hexxeh] has been playing around with the Linux images for his Raspberry Pi, so he needs to reinstall the firmware on an image quite a lot. He wrote a tool to automate this task, but it should be useful for RasPi users that want to keep kernel and firmware up to date. You can get the rpi-updater at [Hexxeh]‘s GitHub.

Your robotic barista is still always on the phone

Zipwhip is a company that provides a bridge from your phone to your computer so text messages can be displayed on your desktop. To show off their tech, they created a text enabled espresso machine. Everything on this robotic barista is automatic: the cups are grabbed from a warming tray with a servo arm, coffee is automatically brewed, and the last three digits of your cell phone number are printed on the foam to identify each cuppa. Check out the video; action starts at 1:30.

Awesome reading material

If you’re looking for something to read on that fancy tablet computer of yours, here’s every issue of New Scientist from 1956 to 1985. The early 60s issues say fusion power plants are about 50 years away, so we should be just fine in a couple of years.

Espresso upgrade gives you more data with your caffeine

Whether you take it as a single shot or a double, a great Barista want’s to know the details on what’s happening with the espresso machine. [Tobi] was happily generating the morning cup when he realized that the needle-thermometer on his machine wasn’t working any longer. Instead of shelling out a lot of money for a direct replacement, he built his own display and controller for this espresso machine (translated).

He had a few goals with this hack. Obviously he needed to replace the temperature meter, but he also wanted a colorful display and some timing options. He was able to get his hands on a nice little OLED display that would fit in the vacated opening and it only cost a few bucks. He’s got his own mini-mill which came in handy when fabricating a board to host the ATmega16 which drives add-on, but he also used it to make a bracket for the screen replacement.

Now his machine is fixed, looks a bit more modern, and it has more features which are shown off in the video after the break. If you’re looking to add some custom circuitry to your coffee ritual you may also take some inspiration from this similar espresso machine hack. [Read more...]

Kitchen Hacks: Improving an espresso machine

The heat sensor in [Cameron]‘s espresso machine doesn’t work very well. He sees some pretty crazy variations in temperature when pulling an espresso shot, and when the boiler is just sitting there the heater element will heat the water full-bore then shut off for a while. Since this is a pretty low bar from a control theory standpoint, [Cameron] decided on a PID makeover on his espresso machine.

Instead of going with a commercial PID controller like we’ve seen on a few kitchen hacks, [Cameron] decided to roll his own Arduino derivative based on an ATMega328 microcontroller. The newly designed board reads the state of the ‘Steam’ button, a few relays for controlling the heater and the pump, and of course an LCD display.

[Cameron] still has to do a little tweaking to get his PID algorithm down, but already the new control board keeps a much more stable temperature than the old thermostat. The fancy new bezel and LCD display adds a lot of techy class to his espresso machine, to boot.

Kitchen Hacks: [Dino's] egg tricks

[Dino's] latest weekly hack plays right into our Kitchen Hacks theme. He’s sharing some obscure tips and tricks involving eggs.

It should come as no surprise that he knows a thing or two about using eggs. After all, he keeps chickens and you’ve can’t just let good eggs go to waste. Which is where his first tip comes in. Eggs will keep for weeks, but if you don’t know if they’re still good you can put them in a bowl of water before cracking them. Eggs that float are on the way out!

Need some scrambled eggs but don’t have a pan to cook them in? His next feat is to cook up a breakfast of steamed eggs using the steamer nozzle on his espresso machine. It’s messy (egg seems to be flying everywhere) but the final product does look appetizing.

The rest of the video (embedded after the break) shows his methods of making Hollandaise sauce for Eggs Benedict, and how to blow the innards out of an egg-shell.

Now we have a picture in our minds that [Dino's] daily routine is surrounded by eggs… like the egg farmers in Napoleon Dynamite.

[Read more...]

Improving a cheap espresso machine

For those of us that would like a good cup of coffee but don’t want to put up with the ‘burnt butt’ taste of Starbucks and don’t have a decent coffee shop nearby, we’ve had very few options. Most of us have been made to suffer with an el-cheapo espresso machine. [Joe] sent in a great build that improves these el-cheapo models and brings them up to the quality we would expect from their more expensive brethren.

For the best pull from an espresso machine, the great [Alton Brown] says 200° F water must be forced through the grind at around 10 PSI atm. [Joe]‘s espresso machine can’t build up pressure because the heating element is only active when the lever is in the ‘brew’ or ‘froth’ position. To build up pressure in the water reservoir, [Joe] simply added a pressure gauge to the frothing attachment. When the gauge reads the necessary 10 atmospheres, just move the lever over to the ‘brew’ position and enjoy a nice cup of espresso.

[Joe] has already tested the pressure relief valve of his espresso machine. With the gauge in the way, [Joe] can’t make use of his frother, but a secondary valve could easily remedy that. [Joe] hasn’t published his espresso hack anywhere, but he did email us some pics of his build. We’ve embedded them as a slideshow after the break. Check out the pressure gauge on the frothing attachment and the pressure relief valve below.

[Read more...]

Using a router as a Linux-based PID controller

espresso_machine_pid

[Nathan] had an small router kicking around and thought that he might as well put it to good use. He had always been interested in getting a better handle on his espresso machine, and figured that the router would be a perfect Linux-based PID controller.

He installed OpenWRT on the router, then disassembled it in order to get access to the router’s GPIO pins. He built a small PCB that allows him to get temperature info from the machine to the router using i2c. [Nathan] put together a PID package for OpenWRT, allowing him to control the machine over SSH, though he may build in a user-friendly web interface sometime in the future.

He says that most espresso machine PID controllers he has seen come in the form of big ugly boxes slapped on the side of the machine’s case, though we have to disagree with him on that point. Opinions aside, he is going for a minimalist design, and while he says that he is only about half way through the project, we think things are looking promising so far.

When everything is said and done, we hope to get a much closer look at all of his code, schematics, and more information on the router he used as well.

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