[Quinn] over at BlondiHacks is admittedly pretty absent-minded when it comes to household chores such as emptying the dishwasher. She often can’t remember if the dishes are dirty or ready to be put away, so she decided it was time to devise a mechanism that would help keep her on task. She originally considered a double-sided sign that said “Clean” on one side, “Dirty” on the other, but she chose the fun option and decided to over-engineer the problem instead.
She ultimately focused on two conditions that she needed to monitor: when the dishwasher had been run, and when the dishes have been emptied. To tackle the first condition, she used a thermistor to detect when the door of the dishwasher got hot from the wash cycle. The second wasn’t quite as easy, since she often peeks into the dishwasher to grab a clean dish when needed, unloading the rest later. She eventually settled on using a tilt switch to monitor the angle of the door, assuming that the dishes have been removed if the door was open for over a minute.
[Quinn] reports that her Dish-o-Tron 6000 works well, and she had a good time building it. Sure the whole thing is kind of overkill, but where’s the fun in moderation?
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.
Reader [Will R] sent in a thermostat mod for his brew fridge. His friends had found a perfectly fine bar refrigerator and wanted to repurpose it for brewing beer. A previous batch of microbrew had been mangled by the Australian heat so they wanted something that could maintain the perfect temperature. The fridge’s built-in thermostat wouldn’t rise above 5 degrees so they had to build their own. [Will] used a 10K NTC thermistor to measure the temperature. It’s connected to an ATtiny25 microcontroller that does the comparison and determines whether to turn on the compressor. He referenced SparkFun’s relay tutorial for the switching side. Although he didn’t etch a board for this project, the design file is included along with all the code on the project site.
Finding themselves in need of a thermometer that could communicate with the computer, The Cheap Vegetable Gardener resorted to a bit of hacking. They created this PS2 controller thermometer by attaching some thermistors to the analog stick inputs. Each PS2 controller could collect data from up to four thermistors. There is an auto shutoff feature built into the controller that shuts off the analog signal after a period of non use. To overcome this, they simply taped the L2 button down.