A Kitchen Timer Fit for MacGyver

Here’s a project that you don’t want to bring into an airport, ship through the mail, or probably even remove from your home. [ProjectGeek] has built himself a simple kitchen timer masquerading as a bomb. The build is actually pretty simple, but the end result is something that would look at home in a Hollywood action flick.

The timer circuit is built from four simple components. An 8051 microcontroller board is used as the primary controller and timer. The code is available on GitHub. This board is attached to a another board containing four momentary push buttons. These are used to program the timer and to stop the buzzing. Another board containing four 7-segment displays is used to show the remaining time on the timer. A simple piezo buzzer is used to actually alert you when the timer has run out. All of these components are connected with colorful jumper wires.

The physical part of this build is made from easily available components. Old newspapers are rolled up to form the “explosive” sticks. These are then covered in plain brown paper ordinarily used to cover text books. The rolls are bundled together and fixed with electrical tape. The electronics can then be attached to the base with some hot glue or double-sided tape.

Fixing a Broken Postage Scale

[Starhawk] had an old Pitney Bowes G799 postage scale that wasn’t working as it should. After years of faithfully measuring packages and cooking ingredients, the scale stopped working. At first it fell out of calibration. Then the power up sequence stopped working. The scale normally would turn on, light up the entire display, then change to dashes, and finally set itself to 0.0 lbs. In this case, it would get stuck at the dashes and never change to 0.0.

[Starhawk] ended up purchasing another duplicate scale from eBay, only to find that when it arrived it had the exact same power up problem. Using deductive reasoning, he decided that since the scale was broken during shipping the problem would likely be with a mechanical component. He turned out to be correct. The cheap momentary power button was at fault. When pressing the button, the contact would get stuck closed preventing the scale from zeroing out properly. [Starhawk] easily fixed his problem by replacing the switch.

Next [Starhawk] replaced the old scale’s LCD module with one from the new scale, since the old one looked to be on its way out. The scale still had a problem correctly measuring weight. [Starhawk] tried swapping the load cell from the new scale to the old one, but he found that the new load cell had some kind of problem that prevented the scale from zeroing out properly. The solution ended up being to use the newer “analog board” as [Starhawk] calls it.  The end result was the old scale with two newer circuit boards, an older load cell, and a new power switch. Next time it might be easier to just build his own scale.

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”

Kitchen Computer Hides in Pantry Door


You might look at the images above and think “oh neat” and then go about your business. But you’d be missing a great motorized hidden computer build. We simply must insist that you click on that link and look at all that went into it. Do it. DO. IT.

Still here? Okay, we’ll give you the gist and then you won’t be able to help yourself. First off, [Designforhire] built that door completely from scratch using skills that your average hacker wields. At first glance you’d think it was a retrofit or done with serious woodworking tools (quality table saw, router table, etc.). This actually started with a simple frame out of 2″x3″ pine studs. This is faced with Masonite which was affixed with glue and brads. From there the upper half was outfitted with a dry-erase panel, and trim pieces were added.

Now the hack really starts to get interesting. The opening for the monitor and the keyboard are both motorized. An old cordless drill (borked handle and dead battery) was cannibalized for its motor which is run using the two black switches just above the left corner of the monitor. When closed, a dry-erase calendar covers the monitor and a blank panel keeps the keyboard secret. The computer itself is actually in the basement, with cables running down the hinged side of the door and through a hole in the jamb.

We didn’t see a video showing off the build, but you can satisfy that craving by looking back at the Kitchen HAL installation from a few years back.

Pull-out pantry fills space next to refrigerator



Your refrigerator needs a few inches of space on the hinge side in order for the door to open fully. If there’s a wall on that side it means you leave a gap. A bit of lumber and some inexpensive hardware can turn that gap into a pull-out pantry.

This picture is from [Ratmax00’s] pantry project. He had a 6.5″ gap to work with and started the build by making a wooden frame using pocket screws for the butt joints. Four casters were added to the bottom to make it roll in and out easily. He needed a handle and a way to make sure commodities didn’t fall off the shelves. He chose to use a 3D printer for brackets that hold the fence dowels and a custom handle. If you don’t have that just hit the cabinet hardware aisle at your local home store.

We wonder if it would have been possible to use full-extension draw rails mounted above and below the cabinet in addition to a couple of wheels? This would help keep the pantry from scraping against the fridge or the wall.

While you’re building bookshelf sized things why not get to work on a hidden door as well?

UberFridge helps keep beer production going through the dog days of summer


[Elco Jacobs] used to let his beer ferment in the kitchen, but when things got too hot over the summer, he had to suspend his ale making for a few months. Not wanting to have to put production on hiatus again, he modified an old refrigerator into an awesome fermentation unit he calls the UberFridge.

The refrigerator features two temperature sensors, one that sits in the fermenting beer, and one that measures the temperature of the fridge. This dual probe setup offers him the ability to closely monitor the fermentation process, which he does via a sharp-looking web interface.

An Arduino serves as the PID controller, talking to a wireless router via a serial connection. The Arduino logs and relays data to the router where it can be viewed via a web browser. Not only can he keep tabs on what’s going on inside the fridge, he can reprogram the Arduino via the web interface as well.

Keep reading to see [Elco] explain the ins and outs of his UberFridge – we’re pretty sure you’ll want to build your own after you do.

[via BuildLounge]

Continue reading “UberFridge helps keep beer production going through the dog days of summer”

Retractable iPad dock for the kitchen

[Evan Flint] and his wife use a lot of online recipes in the kitchen. Rather than printing them out, they bought an iPad as a cooking companion. But in their cramped kitchen he needed to find a place for the high-end hardware that is out-of-the-way yet accessible. Some head scratching and parts bin diving led to this under-cabinet iPod dock.

The dock itself is a cradle made out of sheet aluminum. After cutting to shape, [Evan] bent up the sides and bottom to center the iPad. Since this is not a permanent fixture he needed to make the cradle collapsible. He used a CAD program to design the base tray to let the cradle lay flat, while giving several options to the angle when it is in use. Once the cooking is done just fold it up and the drawer slides make for easy under-cabinet storage.

Because he doesn’t own the house he didn’t want to make permanent alterations to the cabinet. But he does lament the unfinished look of the drawer slides. We’d just grab some pre-finished oak crown molding from the home store and wrap the entire thing. The left-edge of molding could slide out with the cradle when in use.