Soda Fridge Hack to Fix a Lazy People Problem

[Paul] participated in a hackathon at work and created a hack to help solve what was ultimately a people problem. A soda fridge at work wasn’t getting refilled when empty. Instead of trying to make people less lazy, [Paul] went with making the fridge more needy.

The first thing [Paul] did was make a soda fridge refill sensor from a scale. As the fridge got emptier, it got lighter. The scale senses that and can decide it’s time for a refill. The only part missing was how to read the output from the scale. To do that, he took an unusual approach.
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Kitchen island monitors and distributes home brew beer

This piece of furniture actually resides in [Matt Pratt’s] livingroom but we think it would make a perfect kitchen island. The base is a chest freezer modified to keep the beer inside at just the right temperature. But this doesn’t just dispense the beer, the system is designed to tell you how many pints are left in each keg.

The freezer offers enough room for four five-gallon Cornelius kegs. [Matt] salvaged the weight sensors from some cheap bathroom scales and rigged them up with some plywood discs to serve as the base for each keg. After working out the electronics to reliably read from the sensors (which was no small job) he hooked them up to a microcontroller and a touch screen. As you can see in the video after the break, the system calculates the number of pints left in each keg based on its weight. This can be easily calibrated using the touch screen.

He didn’t talk all that much about the control hardware, but having see his post about ARM LCD dev boards we’d bet that’s what he’s using here.

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Cat palace with an automatic heat lamp

[Herpity] was getting tired of his cat manipulating him into turning on a lamp above her bed every time she wanted a nap. She likes the warmth put off by the light bulb but he knew he could do better than that so he built a bed which includes an automatic heat lamp. To help introduce her to the new enclosure he set it on the chair where she normally naps.

The bed has two parts, the lower chamber acts as the sleeping area. There is a false bottom underneath the blanket which acts a platform for the weight sensors which detect when the cat is ready for a nap. A PIC microcontroller monitors two sensors and switches on mains voltage to a heat lamp once the pre-calibrated weight threshold has been reached. The upper part of the enclosure holds all of the electronic components and makes room for the recessed light housing. [Herpity] included an exhaust fan for the upper chamber but it turns out a grating is all he needs to keep the temperature at an acceptable level.

[via Reddit]