Restoration Of A Self-Crêpe Machine

A few years ago [Tweepy], one of the Hackaday readership’s global band of pancake enthusiasts, took possession of an aged “Self-Crêpe” machine. Judging by the look of the date codes on the ICs in the early 1980s, this machine cooked and sold a fresh crêpe on the insertion of a 1 Franc coin (about 17 U.S. cents in those days) for about thirty years.

Sadly, it would no longer produce crêpes. The aged control logic was the culprit, and rather than debug it [Tweepy] decided to replace it with a microcontroller (French language, Google Translate link). The one he chose (marked “RSF2127″, can anyone identify it?) came in a QFP package, so attaching it to a 0.1” prototyping board required some soldering wizardry with fine wires, but it was soon up and running. Some track-cutting and wiring into the original PCB, and the custom C code was ready to go.

The crêpe-making part of the machine features a heated roller not unlike the one in our recently featured South African endless pancake machine in whose comment thread [Tweepy] mentioned it, but appears to use only a single-sided cooking process. The roller has a round crêpe-sized raised area. To start the cooking process, a loading bath of batter is brought up under the roller which is then rotated so that the round raised area passes through the surface of the batter. As the roller turns, it cooks the crêpe, which is then diverted from the roller to the output chute. The whole process relies on a reservoir of pre-made batter, sadly it’s not a crêpe replicator. On the other hand, a single crêpe takes about 40 seconds to create, and the machine can produce them on a continuous basis as long as you keep it stocked with batter.

We like the crêpes, we like the machine, and we like what [Tweepy] has done with it. If any of these machines made it beyond the borders of France, we’ve never seen one in our corners of the Anglophone world. This is a shame, for who wouldn’t want one of those next to the kettle and microwave oven in their hackspace! They would have needed to work on that name, though, for the English-speaking market.

We’ve recently done a round-up of pancake-related hacks here at Hackaday, so there is no point in repeating it. This is however not the first vending machine hack we’ve seen. There was this stealth-upgraded soda dispenser, this Tweeting beer dispenser, or how about this open-source software machine that definitely didn’t vend.

23 thoughts on “Restoration Of A Self-Crêpe Machine

  1. I see what you mean. I couldn’t imagine a successful run for a device that let you cre^pe yourself. Advertising fresh cre^pes wouldn’t work either. Or asking people to pay a dollar for cre^pe wouldn’t go over either. Just call ’em flap jacks.

      1. Eh? what on earth else is a flapjack except a wholesome, nutritious bar of oaty and dried fruit goodness, preferably smothered in chocolate? (Probably One of your five a day if you add enough dry fruit).
        I’d be very disappointed if I asked for a flapjack and got anything else.

        itd be nice if Google translate could translate between traditional and simplified english…

  2. Pre-mixed batter in a machine that sits around just sounds like a health hazard. Just like one of those hamburger vending machines that gave my friend an explosive diarrhea.

    1. “Pre-mixed batter in a machine that sits around just sounds like a health hazard.”
      Sounds more like a vending machine to me.

      “Just like one of those hamburger vending machines that gave my friend an explosive diarrhea.”
      Didn’t he want a burger then?

      1. No, he ate a hamburger out of a vending machine in Holland and got salmonella from it.

        Crepe batter contains eggs, which sometimes carry salmonella as well. Someone pre-mixes the batter and it sits in the machine all day – bacterial growth ensues and soon everyone’s ill. That’s the major reason why you don’t see these machines very often: keeping them sanitized even in controlled settings like at a hotel breakfast buffet is a lot of work.

          1. That’s exactly the problem with this machine. The drum is hot, everything else is just nice and warm for bacteria, there doesn’t seem to be any refridgeration unit to keep the batter cool – it’s just sitting in a plastic tub being pumped up to the drum – and there’s all sorts of moving parts where splashes of batter and airborne bacteria can land, such as the rotating brush that peels the crepe off the drum, and the crepe itself lands in a plastic tray that people can just grub with their hands.

          2. Then you also got legionella contamination from the water, and since the enclosure is made of furniture grade vinyl coated MDF, it also tends to retain moisture and foster molds due to the warm and humid environment, so you also may get fungal/bacterial toxins in your crepes that don’t get destroyed by cooking.

            The problem with cooked food vending machines is that the food should remain over 55 degrees C while it’s in the machine, or it should be refridgerated, OR the machine should actually cook the food in-situ. When the food is already made and sits in the machine at room temperature or slightly above, it tends to grow all sorts of nasties.

            Any vending machine food that is kept warm but not hot, that also contains salad greens – such as a hamburger – is playing russian roulette because there’s a chance that the minimum wage worker who made the food and filled the machine didn’t wash their hands after visiting the gents’.

          3. >”Or you can live in a germ free plastic bubble and eat pills.”

            You don’t get immunity for salmonella, listeria, legionaire’s disease etc. that spread through contaminated food, and you can actually die of them. Listeria can also cause brain damage and miscarriages. These things are not just trivial of stomach flu.

    2. I’m guessing this machine wouldn’t have been on a street corner but in a cafeteria, and thus subject to frequent refills/cleaning etc. as hundreds of hungry French people satisfied their pancake urges.

  3. Thanks for the article, we in the radio hobby sometimes have to avoid European radios due to the locked hardware and different software on this side of the ocean, region locking has its reasons but open hardware is nice we just want our crepes too……. Cinnamon and sugar.

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