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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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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Enjoy A Refreshing Beverage With The Chilled Drink Calculator

Hackers are quite often the price conscious type, unwilling to pay jacked up prices for cold beverages when they can be purchased warm and in bulk for much lower cost. However, when guests are on the way and time is running out, it’s crucial to chill the drinks down to the right temperature, and fast. To take the guessing out of the process, [Álvaro Díez] and [Tibor Pal] collaborated to create the Chilled Drink Calculator.

It’s a resource jam-packed full of everything you need to know to get your drinks cold, pronto. Based on heat transfer equations and data from empirical studies, the calculator is able to show you just how long it will take to cool practically any beverage to any temperature. There are presets for different types of container and cooling method, as well as information on the ideal serving temperatures for things like wine, beer and soft drinks. There’s even information on helpful hacks to help cool things down more quickly – with the salt and ice bath being devastatingly effective with minimal equipment requirements.

Keep the calculator in your bookmarks for the next time your pals show up with a case of beer that’s been sitting in the sun all day in the back of a pickup truck (Authors note: looking at you, Terry). Alternatively, consider building an advanced cooling apparatus.

Keezer Controller Keeps The Kegs Pouring

It’s always a good idea to keep a few brews in the fridge ready to go, but being able to offer your guests a fresh-poured draught beer is another step above. It’s not trivial, but with a few kegs, a freezer and the right CO2 parts, it’s achievable for the average hacker. [Ben Brooks] had a keezer (keg freezer) setup that had been doing the job quite well, but wanted to take things up a notch.

Wishing to know when it was time to start brewing more beer, [Ben] needed a way to measure how much was left in the individual kegs. Opting to weigh them, initial experiments with a hand-made capacitive sensor failed when moisture in the freezer began to ruin the sensor’s performance. Switching to a strain-gauge based setup enabled more accurate readings to be taken with no drift over time. Solenoids were added to enable the taps to be shutdown outside of beer o’clock, and a Particle Photon and Raspberry Pi were put to work to give the whole project a slick web interface. There’s even a monitor to show guests what’s on tap!

It’s a tidy improvement to a home keg setup, and ensures [Ben]’s guests won’t be left thirsty in the middle of a party. We’ve seen other instrumented beer rigs before, too. If you’re working on your own homebrewing masterpiece, be sure to drop us a line.

Arduino And The Other Kind Of Homebrew

Usually, when we are talking about homebrew around here, we mean building your own equipment. However, most other people probably mean brewing beer, something that’s become increasingly popular as one goes from microbreweries to home kitchen breweries. People have been making beer for centuries so you can imagine it doesn’t take sophisticated equipment, but a little automation can go a long way to making it easier. When [LeapingLamb] made a batch using only a cooler, a stock pot, and a propane burner, he knew he had to do something better. That’s how Brew|LOGIC was born.

There are many ways to make beer, but Brew|LOGIC focuses on a single vessel process and [LeapingLamb] mentions that the system is akin to a sous vide cooker, keeping the contents of the pot at a specific temperature.

Honestly, though, we think he’s selling himself a bit short. The system has a remote application for control and is well-constructed. This isn’t just a temperature controller thrown into a pot. There’s also a pump for recirculation.

The common stock pot gets some serious modifications to hold the heating element and temperature probe. It also gets some spring-loaded clamps to hold the lid down. Expect to do a lot of drilling.

The electronics uses an Arduino, a Bluetooth board, and some relays (including a solid state relay). The finished system can brew between 5 and 15 gallons of beer at a time. While the system seems pretty good to us, he did list some ideas he has for future expansion, including valves, sensors for water level and specific gravity, and some software changes.

After reading that the system was similar to a sous vide cooker, we wondered if you could use a standard one. Turns out, you can. If you want to make better beer without electronic hacking, there’s always the genetic kind.