Hacklet 120 – Coffee Hacks

Hackers need fuel to hack. In general that fuel comes in the form of food, water, and caffeine. Not necessarily in that order. While soda or energy drinks will do in a pinch, the best hackers know that the purest form of caffeine comes from coffee. This of course means that there have been decades of coffee hacks. The first Internet-connected coffee pot dates all way back to 1991, before the web even had pictures. We’ve come a long way since then. This week on the Hacklet we’re checking out some of the best coffee hacks on Hackaday.io!

coffee1We start with [opeRaptor] and CoffeeOfThings. [OpeRaptor] has created a wireless, internet connected coffee carafe. The carafe has three CdS cells which enable it to detect how much black gold is left in the pot. A TMP36 sensor reports the current coffee temperature. Data is sent out via a NRF24l01 radio. The brains of the coffee pot is an MSP430 microcontroller. All this runs from a simple CR2032 coin cell. A base station receives the coffee data, displays it on a very nice Vacuum fluorescent Display (VFD). An ESP8266 then passes the data on to the internet.


coffewarmerNext up is [magnustron] with quad-386 coffee heater. No one likes a cold cup of coffee. Everyone loves old CPUs. [Magnustron] turned these two shower thoughts into a the world’s first USB powered quad CPU coffee warmer with data logging capabilities. A simple ATtiny461 micro runs the show. PC connectivity is via USB using the V-USB library. [Magnustron] has gotten the CPUs to warm up, but is having some issues with switching. them on. Turning all four heaters on too quickly causes the rail to droop, leading to dropped USB connections. Those power-hungry 386 chips may be a bit too much for a single USB connection. It might be time to add an external power supply.

groundsNext is [kesh1030] with Using Waste Coffee As A Biodiesel Source. Coffee isn’t just liquid energy. There’s oil in them there grounds. Millions of pounds of used coffee grounds produced every year can be converted to biodiesel fuel. [Kesh1030] experimented with different coffee grounds, and different ways to prepare them. The oil was extracted from the coffee using hexane, which is a bit of a nasty solvent. [Kesh1030] used a fume hood to stay safe. He found that homogenized coffee grounds had an 11.87% oil yield. Used homogenized coffee grounds weren’t far behind, with 9.82% yield of oil. Nearly 10% per weight yield isn’t too shabby, considering this is all going into the trash.

dripperFinally, we have [saadcaffeine] with Caffeinator: gravity powered geek fuel dripper. This is a project of few words, but the images tell much of the story. [Saadcaffeine] created his own cold drip iced coffee maker using upcycled and found components. Three clothes hangers form an ingenious tripod. The tripod holds two soda bottles – the water reservoir and the brew pot. Water is restricted by small holes in the soda bottle caps. This allows it to drop slowly though the machine, giving it time to soak up all the caffeinated goodness. The result is a fresh cup of cold drip. Just add ice and enjoy a quick power up!

If you want to see more coffee hacks, check out our new coffee projects list. See a project I might have missed? Don’t be shy, just drop me a message on Hackaday.io. That’s it for this week’s Hacklet, As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io!

31 thoughts on “Hacklet 120 – Coffee Hacks

  1. I’m getting a kick out of the 386 coffee heater; I can do something artsy with these ‘ancient’ chips I have saved.

    There is an extra full stop in “[Magnustron] has gotten the CPUs to warm up, but is having some issues with switching. them on.”

    Leave it in and say that the caffeine did it. ;)

    For [kesh1030]’s project; is there a safer solvent that could be used?
    A coffee maker powered by coffee oil sounds like the eventual path that project would lead too!

  2. The 386 heater looks like the bomb! I have a bunch of 486 chips gathering dust, they are bigger if nothing else, but I wonder if they get hotter? Heck I have a bunch of old 586 class chips, the mind boggles. I need more time.

    1. +1 for VFD. :)
      You could possibly use suction cups instead of the clay/glue.
      There are usually some great choices at pet stores for aquarium tanks; some places have a great color selection. The good ones dont have a visible seam and are designed to hold heavy or buoyant items securely.
      Or, the sensors could be integrated into the handle of the carafe.

      I want to duplicate your project for a friend who likes coffee way too much!

    2. Hey Mr. P – I recognised the project immediately!

      We going to see you back this way anytime soon? (I’ve got Dr. Pepper!)
      Bring a project or nixie tube or two.

      – The guy with the messiest desk.

    1. People complain about bitcoin mining not being worth what it costs in electricity. Well, they did last time I looked, when FPGAs were in use and a lot of shonky companies were shipping malfunctioning ASICs. Paid for with nothing-money, generated out of thin air and sold on to people who wanted to buy drugs or run financial scams.

      But if you’re using it as a heater anyway, the economics change, might as well generate SOME bitcoins. A normal electric heater generates 0 bitcoins / watt, and people run plenty of those. Maybe you could do the same thing with your water heater. Finally a use for all that wasted electricity.

      Technically some of the information you generate may go towards heating up somebody else’s house, in Planck fractions of a celsius.

  3. Search for “homogenized” in the article, Adam, you’ve used it twice to compare it with itself. Probably one of them is supposed to be some other word.

    The 386s definitely need a bigger power supply. I suppose a ROM with something on should help them boot up, but I think old 386s were dumb enough to just loop round forever executing whatever garbage finds it’s way onto an unconnected data bus, so they should be OK for producing heat as they are. No “management” hardware like modern ones. Also they don’t spy on your for the NSA, of course.

    If you want actually hot coffee you’re probably gonna need a 486-DX/2-66, they were the first to require at least a passive heatsink. The DX/4-100 (my second CPU, an AMD one) needed a fan as well. And the Pentium 60/66 you could probably melt steel beams with, unheatsunk.

    As for coffee, wouldn’t touch it. Caffeine’s a filthy drug. Per equivalent dose, dosing for effect, you’re safer with amphetamines. Of course people tend to pick their dose of amphetamines for a different effect. But still, caffeine, filthy. More than one cup of cola a day and my body goes all unpleasant on me. Stimulants just don’t agree with me, physically or psychologically.

      1. Nah, it’s the caffeine, coffee does it too. As does sugar-free cola. Stomach goes a bit wibbly and I generally feel unpleasant. Ironically actual amphetamines are no problem, not that I’ve done that for a good while.

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