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.

Continue reading “Improving a cheap espresso machine”

Pressure mapping sensor mat

[imsolidstate] built his own pressure sensitive mat. It utilizes two discs of copper clad board with a piece of foam in between for each of 64 sensors. As the foam gets compressed, the capacitance between the two pieces of copper changes, a measurement that is fairly easy to make with an analog to digital converter. The mat is being used to measure how well a horse saddle fits the animal. Data is read in through a serial port and then mapped using Excel. This prototype proves that the concept works but [imsolidstate] mentions that there’s room to improve the sensitivity and that there could be more noise filtering incorporated into the design.

Snapping pics at the right moment with a pressure plate

[BiOzZ] built a pressure sensitive camera accessory to snap pictures at just the right moment. Before turning out all the lights the camera is set up with a twenty-second timer and a three-second exposure. The pressure plate doesn’t take the photo, but fires the flash to catch an image in the middle of the action.

The hack uses a piece of acrylic as the base of the pressure plate. A switch is constructed by placing aluminum tape on the base, and attaching a thin metal strip that is bent to add just a bit of spring. When an object is place on the plate the thin metal contacts the aluminum tape completing the circuit, a change in the weight breaks it. A simple circuit connects to this, using a relay to actuate the flash from a disposable camera. This is perfect for documenting the moment when you exercise that fruit-induced rage that has been consuming you lately.

Printing with pressure

The video of [Thibault Brevet’s] printer makes it look like he’s actually designed a vinyl cutter (watch it after the break). But at the end of the printing process you see that the top layer was actually a piece of carbon copy paper and the magic was happening underneath. The print head applies enough pressure to transfer the blue-ish printing ink onto the paper giving the result seen above. He’s driving this with an Arduino and feeding data using Processing.

[Thibault] left this link in the comments from the LEGO printer post. Shame on him for not tipping us off as soon as he posted info on this hack. Don’t underestimate yourselves, if you hack it we want to hear about it!

Continue reading “Printing with pressure”

Theo Jansen: like the professor from Gilligan

[Theo Jansen] is building lifeforms that will live and thrive on the beach. He calls them StrandBeest and uses PVC electrical conduit, plastic tubing, and lemonade bottles as building material. The many-legged creations are amazingly advanced, able to count steps, sense and flee from the water’s edge, and protect themselves from high wind. He gave a TED talk back in 2007 that we’ve embedded after the break; it’s uncanny. See examples of his creations using fans and sails to store wind energy as compressed air in the lemonade bottles, then use that pressure for locomotion. He also demonstrates a binary step counter and water sensor. Continue reading “Theo Jansen: like the professor from Gilligan”

Keep tabs on your car without OBD-II

[Steve] let us know about his MultiDisplay car monitoring system. Unlike traditional systems that rely on interfacing with the OBD-II protocol and existing car computer, the MultiDisplay uses an Arduino and custom shield with a combination of sensors; including temperatures, pressures, throttle, Boost, and etc. The data collected can then be displayed on a 20×4 LCD or streamed to a PC with visualization and event recording.

It’s nice to see half a years worth of work finally be complete and presented in such a clean and professional manner, keep up the good work [Steve]

Live high altitude balloon launch

[Terry] is planning to launch his high altitude balloon within the next few days. As we’ve seen before he has gone for a general setup – GPS tracking, environment sensors including temperature and humidity and pressure, and 2 on board cameras – all with an expected height of about 100,000 feet. What makes this project unique is the transmission of live telemetry data to a Google Maps or Google Earth interface.

The planned launch date is Sunday the 24th about 00:00 UTC so long as the Civil Aviation Safety Approval for the launch is passed.

As a final note [Terry] wanted to let inspiring balloon launchers to check out the UK High Altitude Society – who have been an invaluable source of information.