Hacking together a Sous Vide cooker

Those amongst you that are cooks won’t need this explanation, for the rest of us, lets just get this out of the way. Sous Vide is when you cook things at a temperature lower than normal, for a period of time longer than normal to attain specific results in texture. A chef can tell you more intricate details about it, but what we care about is how to impress our friends with a cheap hack and a tasty meal. This video shows how to hack your slow cooker for precise temperature control.  Well, it really shows how to splice a temperature controller into an extension cord, so we guess it could be used for a ton of things, non Sous Vide related.

 

[via Lifehacker]

Meat smoker texts you when it is done

yummmmm

[Peter Rauch] has built this meat smoker that has a touch screen control interface. His system is capable of controlling the cooking by monitoring the internal temperature of the smoker as well as the temperature of the meat itself. His touch screen interface allows him to enter his desired parameters and it basically just takes over from that point and texts him when it is done.  You’ll have to download the pdf to get to the juicy details of his build, but it is an interesting read.

It looks like he’s using a 4-loop Gefran GFX4 temp controller in conjunction with a Modbus remote terminul interface and a TS8010 HMI touchscreen for the bulk of the electronics. It even has protection limits he can set to keep his family from bumping it up to 1200 degrees.

[via Makezine]

Break out the two-ply, Ecobot III poops

Imagine our surprise when this article on Ecobot III and the disgusting video above showed up in our feed. The robot can theoretically be self-sustaining forever, so long as it has a food source. Yes, you read correctly, food.

Typical robots relying on grub burn the biomass to produce heat/steam/energy, but Ecobot III actually digests using Microbial Fuel Cells and extracts energy in the form of hydrogen.

The process isn’t very efficient (yet), and of course waste must be excreted, but we’re inching closer and closer to the day our robot overlords are invincible. The project has come to a halt (we can’t imagine why), but you can still read up on the process, and meet Ecobot’s brothers: II and I.

Related: We’re all going to die, Carnivorous robots.

RFID cat feeder helps with the diet

When faced with having 2 cats with different dietary needs, [Landmanr] had to decide between manually stopping the cat on a diet from eating normal food, or building a dietary robot overlord. [Landmanr] chose the robot route. Using an old cd rom for the opening/closing mechanism, and RFID to distinguish between felines, [Landmanr] no longer has to stand guard while each cat eats. We particularly like the design of the antenna, so that the cat has to stick its head through it to activate the food opening. You don’t see that version in the video, but it is in the instructable.

Arduino powered singing table

This musical Lazy Susan, or “Crazy Adam” was brought to us by students from MIT.  It basically plays [Soul II Soul]’s “Back to Life”  as it turns.  In their words: “Through the interaction with the Singing Lazy Susan, we found the eating patterns and behaviors unique to each person, which reflect our personalities and interests. The dining experience expands to a new domain.”  Are we the only ones who think this is silly? Not only is an Arduino overkill for this, how does this help reflect our personalities and interests? We know, someone will say that art doesn’t need to make sense, but  this would just get annoying really fast. Good job coming up with an idea and making it happen. Please don’t bring that to our next office party. It is also worth noting that musical Lazy Susans aren’t exactly a new idea.

Wireless Arduino cat food dispenser

catfooddispenser

Reader, [Andres Leon], has two adorable cats with very specific dietary needs. Instead of altering his schedule, he donned his hacking hat and designed a very solid cat food dispenser. The dispenser consists of a rotating drum with a slot in it and a PVC pipe Y-fitting to distribute the food evenly. The brains of the machine is an Arduino Deumillanove and an XBee module. The unit can be controlled by a web interface or it can run completely standalone. [Andres] ran into a problem where the drum’s resistance to turning varied based on how much food was inside. He solved this with a clever laser position indicator. A piece of plywood is lined up with the slot at the top so that whenever the slot is facing up it keeps the laser from shining on a photoresistor. The cats were afraid of the servo noise at first, but now they run to their bowls whenever they hear it.