Keep all eyes on your kegerator with this light up gauge cluster

kegerator_gauge_cluster

A few years back [Evan] built a kegerator from a mini fridge and was quite happy with his new beer chiller. Like many of us do, he started thinking up ways in which he could improve the project as soon as it was completed. While it took a couple of years, he recently got around to adding the temperature and capacity gauges he always wanted.

He added a temperature probe to the refrigerator, and then constructed a pair of tools that he could use to measure how much beer was left in the keg. The volume monitors include a scale built using a pair of pressure sensors from SparkFun, and a flow sensor installed in the beer line.

[Evan] scored an old Chevy gauge cluster and cleaned it up before installing a pair of analog meters which he used to show the keg’s temperature and “fuel” level. Since he feels no project is complete without some LED love, he added a few of them to the display without hesitation. The LEDs calmly pulsate when the keg sits idle, but spring to life and begin flashing when the flow sensor is activated.

As evidenced by this pair of keg monitoring systems, we think that you can never have enough information when it comes to your beer stash, so we really like how this project came together.

Be sure to check out his kegerator’s gauge cluster in the video below.

[Read more...]

Electronic bird house monitoring goes a few steps further

[Stephen Albers] offers his avian friends a lot of extras with this electronically monitored bird house. This will not only give you a look at what’s going on inside, but provide a source for several other bits of data as well.

First off, a camera has been mounted to the underside of the roof. This looks down on the nesting area and features night vision so that you can peek in any time day or night. He used a WiFi webcam that operates separately from the other electronics.

With the remainder of the setup he is able to harvest temperature and humidity data inside, temperature outside, force on the bottom of the house (although this turned out to be less useful than anticipated), and a in-and-out count for the doorway provided by an IR transmitter/receiver pair.

This offers quite a bit more than the last bird house project we saw. That one also left a lot to be desired as far as protecting the electronics. [Stephen] didn’t skip on that kind of protection. Most of the electronics are housed in an acrylic chamber in the base of the house. The sensors find themselves nestled in plastic enclosures, although some work needs to be done to ensure that the temperature and humidity sensors will still function correctly with this setup.

Refurbishing a refrigerator for fermenting

[Mikey Sklar] wrote in to show us how he refurbished a neighbors useless refrigerator as a fermentation chamber. [Mikey] is a fan of making breads, kemchi, yogurt, and tempeh. To make these, it helps to have a completely controlled temperature for them to ferment in. [Mikey] developed a temp controller for this in the past, but had to either build a control box or use a giant chest freezer.  This is not optimal for limited space, such as a kitchen. He got lucky when a neighbor tossed a wine cooler into the trash. These little coolers are perfectly sized for a kitchen and even have a glass front so you can keep an eye on what is going on inside without having to open it and effect your temps. [Mikey] ripped it open, replaced the peltier cooler with a large heat lamp and his temp controller. Since he was making yogurt with this one, he needed only to heat it. The final product turned out pretty effective.

Bluetooth temperature module

Wanting to know the outside temperature, [Jamie Maloway] built his own temperature sensor that can be read with a Bluetooth device. Let’s take a tour of the hardware above from right to left. There’s a linear voltage regulator with two filtering caps and a terminal block to attach a 9V battery or other power source. Next there’s an 8 MHz crystal and it’s capacitors, followed by a programming header on top and a 1-wire temperature IC, the DS18B20 we’re all familiar with hanging off the bottom. These both connect to the 8-pin PIC 12F675 that drives the system, and transmits using a Bluetooth module from Sure Electronics. Since this is using a serial protocol and transmitting ASCII data, it can be read using an automated script, or simply by using a terminal program.

Now, who’s going to be the first to get rid of the battery and leech off of the mains through inductance?

Skillet reflow controller

Using an electric skillet to reflow surface mount circuit boards is a popular alternate use for those kitchen appliances. The real trick is monitoring and controlling the temperature. [Mechatronics Guy] built his own skillet temperature controller using a thermistor, a solid state relay, and an Arduino.

He was inspired by [Ladyada's] work which used a servo to adjust the temperature dial on the skillet’s power supply. This started by attaching the thermistor to the bottom of the skillet using JB weld. since this area will be heating up he also attached a terminal block for connecting the feed wires as the heat would melt any solder joints. Those wires travel back to a control box housing the Arduino and solid state relay. To gain finer control over the heating element the relay is switched on and off, resulting in low-frequency Pulse Width Modulation, which should help maintain a consistent temperature better than just turning the temperature dial on the cord.

Pair this up with the vacuum tweezers hack and you’re on your way to a surface mount assembly line. If you want to see this process in action check out this post. It goes from stenciling, to populating, to reflowing in a toaster oven.

[Thanks Rob]

In-button display for your car’s dashboard

OLED display in a dashboard button

Here’s an interesting take on augmenting a car’s dashboard. [Daniel] is using a button blank to house a 1″ OLED display in his Jetta. It shows auxiliary data such as boost pressure and several sets of temperature readings. The display itself has a tiny little circuit board with a PIC 24 to drive it. A larger board, seen above, collects the temperature data from some sensors that [Daniel] added as part of the hack. There are some pictures of the installed display inside of the dark car and it looks really easy to read. It also sounds like there’s some dimming functionality built into the firmware. This is the easiest way we’ve seen to add a display to your dashboard as it just requires you to pop out a button blank, rather than disassembling the entire console or patching into what’s already there.

Chest freezer temperature controller

[Mikey Sklar] finds himself in need of a temperature regulated refrigerator for fermenting foods like yogurt, kimchi, bread, and beer. After some testing he found that by building his own controller he can get a chest freezer to outperform an upright refrigerator at this task by 2-to-1.

The controller is based around an ATmega48. It includes a remote temperature sensors which you can see connected to the lower left header in the image above. On the back of the board there’s a relay used to switch the freezer’s power on and off. [Mikey] is selling a kit but the hardware and software for the project are both open source so build it yourself if you have the know-how.

A chest freezer is a great place to store Cornelius kegs… we’ll keep our eyes open for one.