Hacklet 14 – Hacks Around the House

14

In this weeks Hacklet we’re looking at household hacks. Not necessarily globally connected home automation hacks, but task specific hacks that we want in our lives yesterday!

We’ve all had it happen, you’re burning the midnight oil on a project when you realize it’s garbage night. The mad dash to collect empty anti-static bags, last night’s Chinese food, and the rest of the trash before actually venturing outside in the dark.

bins2[Mehmet-cileli] doesn’t have to deal with any of that, thanks to My Bins, his automated trash and recycling can moving system. Normally the bins are stationed near the house. Each garbage night, the system springs into action. The cans and their platform pivots 90 degrees. The entire system then rolls along a track to the curb. Once the cans have been collected, everything rolls back ready for more trash. We just hope [Mehmet's] garbage men are nice enough to put the bins back on their platform!

teatimeNext we have the perfect cup of tea. [Marcel] kept forgetting his tea while it was steeping. After ending up with ink a few times, he built this Automatic Tea Timer. A button starts the timer, and after a few minutes, the tea bag is automatically lifted and a light illuminates to let you know your tea is ready. [Marcel] used a Raspberry Pi Arduino 555 simple R-C timer circuit to create his delay. The lift arm is a discarded hard drive read arm. The light bulb limits current through the voice coils.

greenhouse1[Juan Sandu] always has veggies with his Smart Small Greenhouse. [Juan] has created a desktop sized greenhouse that gives plants what they crave. No, not Brawndo, we’re talking water, warmth, and light. An Arduino Uno uses sensors to monitor humidity, temperature, light, and moisture. Based upon one of two pre-set plant types, the system determines when to water, turn on lights, or even power up a fan to keep temperatures plant friendly.  [Juan] is still working on his greenhouse, but his code is already up on Github.

 

grillupNext up is [nerwal] with his entry in The Hackaday Prize, GrillUp. GrillUp is a remote grill temperature monitoring system with a cooling spray. Up to 6 food grade thermometers provide GrillUp with its temperature data. If things are getting a bit too hot, Grillup cools the situation down by spraying water, beer, or your favorite marinade. The system is controlled over Bluetooth Low Energy from an android smart phone. A laser pointer helps to aim the water spray. Once the cooling zones are set up, the system runs automatically. It even has a sprinkler mode, where it sprays everything down.

led-lightsEvery hacker’s house needs some Sci-fi mood lights, right? [spetku and maehem] round out this weeks Hacklet with their Fifth Element Stone Mood Lighting. Originally an entry in the Hackaday Sci-fi contest, these mood lights are based on the elemental stones in everyone’s favorite Bruce Willis movie. The lights are 3D printed in sections which stack over foamboard cores. The actual light comes from a trio of RGB LEDs. LED control is from the same brain board which controls the team’s Robot Army. The lights are designed to open up just like the ones in the movie, though fire, earth, wind, and water are not required. The servos [spetku and maehem] selected weren’t quite up to the task, but they mention this will be remedied in a future revision.

That’s a wrap for this week’s Hacklet. As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!

Mr. Tea is a hot plate and magnetic stirrer in the same enclosure

mr-tea-stir-and-hot-plate

Not being a coffee drinker [Hunter Scott] wanted a way to make tea while lurking in his workshop. Well it’s not exactly rocket science, as all you need is water at the right temperature and a vessel in which the tea can be steeped. But we do commend him on not only building a nice little hot plate enclosure, but rolling a magnetic stirrer into the other side of the box.

You heard us right, the stirrer is not combined with the plate, but resides on the underside of the same PSU enclosure. The plate itself is from a unit he bought at the store and cannibalized. The light switch dimmer lets him adjust the heat it puts out. When not hot, he can flip it over and use the stir plate. This consists of a hard drive magnet attached to a PC fan. For the stirrer itself he encased a neodymium magnet in some thermoplastic. The magnetic combination works well together with a demonstration which shows it stirring water through the base of a tea-cup.

Tea-bagging an Arduino

tea-bagging-arduino

[Dmitry Narkevich] likes a strong cup of tea and his method of getting there is to oscillate the tea bag as it steeps. But why take the time to do this when you can make an Arduino brew your tea for you. As you can see, he rigged up a system to move the tea bag as it steeps in his metal bottle.

The motion is provided by a hobby servo connected to an Arduino. This makes timing the process very simple and we’d imaging it’s only a matter of time before he adds an alarm so he’ll know when it’s ready. But the real hack comes in the apparatus that connects the servo to the bottle. Since he’ll be drinking out of it the assembly needs to be easy to remove and should be able to stand up to the abuse of being clamped on and taken off a few times each day.

The base of the device is a guitar capo. This is meant to gently clamp to the finger board of a guitar using spring tension so it is already covered in rubber which gives it a firm grip on the bottle’s opening. The servo is connected to a metal part from a stapler, and the string drapes over the body of a disposable pen. Don’t miss this in action in the clip after the break.

If you don’t have a servo on hand you could try using the sled from an optical drive.

[Read more...]

Automate your tea time

There are a couple of things that go into a great cup of tea. One is to have the water at the correct temperature, the other is to steep for just the right amount of time. This offering solves the latter by extracting the tea bag after a carefully timed steep.

It’s hard to imagine how this could be more simple. The timing mechanism is a cheap egg timer which has been modified to include a paperclip which moves with the minute hand. When the timer hits zero that paper clip contacts a stationary electrode, which powers the motor. That motor is the laser sled from a dead CD-ROM drive. Since these usually die because of the lens (not the mechanism) this is a great re-use of the internals. The sled zips to one side until it hits a limiting switch which kills the power. At the same time, this motion uses the wooden lever to extract the tea bag. All of this is explained in the clip after the jump.

Since the egg timer already has its own bell, you’ll even be alerted that it’s tea time!

[Read more...]

Pulse jet tea kettle

[Colin Furze] is just showing off in this picture. His pulse jet tea kettle is built well enough to get by without help from a blow torch, but who can blame his showmanship? In fact, once it’s running there’s no flame to be seen. That’s because the combustion happens at an earlier stage of that pipe, heating a segment that is submerged in water so that you may have your tea in no time.

Once this thing is tuned up it roars like a robotic lion. [Colin] yells his commentary at the camera, but it is picked up as nothing more than a blip of distortion. Pressurized propane and air both feed into the jet. they’re regulated by the two knobs on the base of the unit (that enclosure is actually just a pie tin). There is also a 9V battery-powered igniter built into the base. You can see how the unit was built in the video after the break.

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Candle stop motion: how’s it done?

[Ollie] tipped us off about a stop motion video that uses a grid of tea candles to animate some classically pixellated game graphics. The image above is obviously a game of pong in progress. It’s interesting to watch but for us the fun is trying to decide how it’s done. Click through the break to see the video and discuss the methodology.

[Read more...]

Solar cells from donuts and tea

It sounds unbelievable, but it is true. You can harvest most of what you need for a simple solar cell from powdered donuts and tea. Powdered donuts have nanoparticles of titanium dioxide which is a “high band gap semi conductor”.  This means that it can be used to make solar cells. The tea is simply used to dye the material so it can pick up the visible spectrum. The process is a bit too involved to be something you would just toss together in the field, but it’s cute nonetheless.

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