Alexa, Bring Me A Beer!

Voice controlled home assistants are the wonder of our age, once you’ve made peace with the privacy concerns of sharing the intimacies of your life with a data centre owned by a massive corporation, anyway. They provide a taste of how the future was supposed to be in those optimistic predictions of decades past: Alexa and Siri can crack jokes, control your lights, answer questions, tell you the news, and so much more.

But for all their electronic conversational perfection, your electronic pals can’t satisfy your most fundamental needs and bring you a beer. This is something [luisengineering] has fixed, an he’s provided the appropriate answer to the question “Alexa: bring mir ein bier!“. The video which we’ve also put below the break is in German with YouTube’s automatic closed captions if you want them, but we think you’ll be able to get the point of it if not all his jokes without needing to learn to speak a bit of Deutsch.

As he develops his beer-delivery system we begin to appreciate that what might seem to be a relatively straightforward task is anything but. He takes an off-the-shelf robot and gives it a beer-bottle grabber and ice hopper, but the path from fridge to sofa still needs a little work. The eventual solution involves a lot of trial and error, and a black line on the floor for the ‘bot to follow. Finally, his electronic friend can bring him a beer!

We like [Luis]’s entertaining presentational style, and the use of props as microphone stands. We’ll be keeping an eye out for what he does next, and you should too. Meanwhile it may not surprise you that this is not the first beer-delivery ‘bot we’ve brought you.

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Over-Engineered Bottle Opener Takes The Drudgery Out Of Drinking

Some projects take but a single glance for you to know what inspired them in the first place. For this over-engineered robotic bottle opener, the obvious influence was a combination of abundant free time and beer. Plenty of beer.

Of course there are many ways to pop the top on a tall cold one, depending on the occasion. [Matt McCoy] and his cohorts selected the “high-impulse” method, which when not performed by a robot is often accomplished by resting the edge of the cap on a countertop and slapping the bottle down with the palm of one’s hand. This magnificently pointless machine does the same thing, except with style.

The bottle is placed in a cradle which grips it, gently but firmly, and presents it to the opening mechanism in a wholly unnecessary motion-control ballet. Once in place, a lead screw moves a carriage down, simultaneously storing potential energy in a bundle of elastic surgical tubing while tripping a pawl on the edge of the cap. A lever trips at the bottom of the carriage’s travel, sending the pawl flying upward to liberate the libation, giving the robot a well-deserved and sudsy showers. Behold the wonderful interplay of 190 custom parts — and beer — in the video below.

Hats off to [Matt] et al for their tireless efforts on behalf of beleaguered beer-openers everywhere. This seems like the perfect accessory to go along with a game of mind-controlled beer pong.

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Voice Controlled Sofa Meets Your Every Beverage Need

It’s often taken for grated, but the modern world is full of luxuries. Home automation, grocery delivery, and even access to the Internet are great tools to have at hand, but are trivial to most of us. If these modern wonders are not enough for you, and the lap of luxury is still missing a certain je ne sais quoi, allow us to introduce you to the ultimate convenience: a voice controlled, beer-dispensing sofa with a built-in refrigeration system.

This is a project from [Garage Avenger] and went through a number of iterations before reaching this level of polish. Metal work on the first version didn’t fit together as expected, and there were many attempts at actual refrigeration before settling on repurposing an actual refrigerator. With those things out of the way, he was able to get to the meat of a project. The couch-refrigerator holds 12 beers, and they are on a conveyor belt which automatically places the next beer onto the automated drawer. When commanded (by voice, app, or remote) the sofa opens the drawer so the occupant can grab one easily without having to move more than an arm. Everything, including the voice recognition module, is controlled by an Arduino, as is tradition.

The attention to detail is excellent as well. The remote control contains a built-in bottle opener, for one, there are backlights and a glass cover for the refrigerator, and the drawer is retracted automatically when it senses the beer has been obtained. We couldn’t ask for much more from our own couches, except maybe that they take us where we want to go. But maybe it’s best to keep these two couch use cases separate for now.

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Perfect Your Beer Pong Game With The PongMate CyberCannon Mark III

[Grant] was inspired to help his party guests improve their beer pong game. What he created is a fairly impressive contraption, sure to make him unstoppable in his next bout.

The device uses a gyroscope and a time-of-flight sensor to calculate the optimum trajectory for the ping pong ball. The user is guided to the correct launching position using two bubble levels and a series of indicator LEDs that turn green when the optimal position is reached.

The launching mechanism uses a servo motor to push the ball into the circular wheel machine which then propels the ping pong ball to its target. The circular wheel machine is powered by two DC motors whose speeds are determined by the distance from the target. [Grant] calibrated the DC motor speed to the distance from the target and found a pretty reproducible relationship favoring a cube root function. You can see his calibration data on his Instructable page as well as a cool demo video showing how the device automatically adjusts motor speed to distance from the target.

We should combine the PongMate with the Auto-Bartender we wrote about a few weeks ago. What are your favorite beverage hacks? Please share in the comments below.

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The Auto-Bartender

It’s the end of the academic semester for many students around the globe, so here comes the flurry of DIY projects. Always a great time to check out all the cool hacks from our readers all over the world. One project that piques our interest comes courtesy of [Jason Ummel] and his Auto-Bartender. (Video, embedded below.)

[Jason] developed this project as a part of his robotics class taught by Professor Martinez, one of our friends at FlexiLab. Powered by one of our favorite microcontrollers, the ATmega328, the Auto-Bartender is driven by a single 12 V motor coupled with 10 individual valves for separate drinks. Drinks are pumped into a cup sitting on top of a scale, allowing the device to know how much of each drink has been dispensed. The entire setup is controlled using a smartphone application developed in MIT App Inventor, a super-easy way to prototype Android applications.

Furthermore, [Jason] incorporated a number of user-centered design considerations into his project. These include an LCD to display updates, a green LED to indicate the device is in progress, and a buzzer to let the user know the drink is complete.

We really like the combination of craftsmanship, electronics hardware design, and software development that [Jason] put into his project. It’s the kind of project we know our readers will enjoy.

It looks like Jason substituted tap water for Whiskey and Dr. Pepper for his demo. Not exactly what we had in mind, but I guess he still has exams to finish.

Cool project [Jason]! We can’t wait to see Auto-Bartender on Hackaday.io.

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Yeast Is A Hot Commodity; Brewing And Breadmaking During Lockdown

In the recent frenzy of stocking up with provisions as the populace prepare for their COVID-19 lockdown, there have been some widely-publicised examples of products that have become scarce commodities. Toilet paper, pasta, rice, tinned vegetables, and long-life milk are the ones that come to mind, but there’s another one that’s a little unexpected.

As everyone dusts off the breadmaker that’s lain unused for years since that time a loaf came out like a housebrick, or contemplates three months without beer and rediscovers their inner home brewer, it seems yeast can’t be had for love nor money. No matter, because the world is full of yeasts and thus social media is full of guides for capturing your own from dried fruit, or from the natural environment. A few days tending a pot of flour and water, taking away bacterial cultures and nurturing the one you want, and you can defy the shortage and have as much yeast as you need.

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A Gambler’s Bottle Opener

People can certainly become creative when it comes to completing simple tasks like that of removing a bottle cap. Woodworker [Matt Thompson] has come up with a next-level bottle opener that not only does the job but also functions as a game of chance. (Video, embedded below.)

The process usually starts with a spin of his chore wheel that will surprisingly often advise you to drink a beer. While the bottle cap is removed by a standard wall-mounted opener, the fun starts when the cap falls through a wooden labyrinth of various mechanisms reminiscent of a Rube Goldberg machine. Finally, the cap goes through an arrangement of nails, known as a Galton Board which is also found in some pinball and historic gaming machines, before landing in one of two containers marked “winner” and “try again”. The former will trigger the rotating wheel of a self-built peanut dispenser to provide the thirsty person with some tasty snacks. While we would love to see a making-of video with more technical details of this project, we still appreciate the exquisite woodworking and fine craftsmanship that went into building it.

By the way, if you are ever in need of an Arduino board that can also serve as a bottle opener then have a look at HaDuino.

[Thanks to Emanuel for pointing out the proper name of the Galton Board]

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