Bang-banging Your Way To A Perfect Cake

bang-bang-oven-control

[Rob Spanton’s] house is equipped with a rather cheap oven, which was discovered while his roommate tried using it to bake part of a wedding cake. If someone took a shower during the baking process, a large portion of unit’s gas pressure was diverted to the boiler, causing the oven to shut off completely. This is obviously not a good situation for baking cakes, so the housemates decided to construct a makeshift controller to keep temperatures in line.

They started by installing a pulley on the oven’s knob, which is connected to a small motor via a long rubber belt. The other end of the belt connects to a small motor, which is controlled by a Pololu 18v7 motor controller. A K-type thermocouple monitors the oven’s temp, feeding the data through a MAX6675 converter to (presumably) [Rob’s] computer.

Since they were in a bit of a time crunch, [Rob] and his roommate [Johannes] decided the best way to keep the oven at a steady temperature was via bang-bang control. While you might imagine that cranking the gas knob between its minimum and maximum settings repeatedly wouldn’t be the ideal way to go about things, their solution worked pretty well. The cake came out perfectly, and the maximum temperature swing throughout the entire baking process was only 11.5°C – which is pretty reasonable considering the setup.

Hackaday Birthday Cake!

[Alex], aka [Grovenstien] turned 30 this weekend. After a conversation with his sister, where she asked: “what was that website with the skull that you always look at?”, he thought maybe he’d get a sticker or a shirt. She surprised him with this totally awesome birthday cake! There really aren’t any build details, but you can pretty much see that it has LEDs for eyes as well as some crazy sparkler effects going on as well. What we’re particularly impressed with is the fact that everything was hand cut, even that crisp text at the bottom. Happy Birthday [Grovenstien] and awesome job big sister!

check out the rest of the pictures after the break.

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Hacking Cakes With LEDs, The Sequel!

A few weeks back we ran a piece about the convergence of making and baking in an attempt to create a cake festooned with working LEDs. The moral was that not every creative idea ends in victory, but we applauded the spirit it takes to post one’s goofs for the whole internet to see and to learn from.

[Craig]’s LED matrix proved unreliable…and the underlying cake didn’t fare much better, resembling that charred lump in the toaster oven in Time Bandits. The cakes-with-lights meme might have died right there if not for a fluke of association…

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Hacking Cakes With LEDs

led_cake

A large part of science is making mistakes and learning from them in order to make each subsequent design that much better. When your experimentation involves hacking cakes, each failure is an exercise in deliciousness.

[Craig] and his group of research partners often bake electronics-related cakes whenever part of the team departs in search of other opportunities. Over the years, farewell parties have seen renditions of anything from multimeters to quantum computers. This time around, he wanted to make something that contained actual electronics parts, while still remaining edible.

He settled on making an LED matrix inside of a cake, using silver foil wrapped licorice for wires. In the end however, he found the silver foil to be incredibly difficult to work with, and the matrix ended up being little more than a few randomly blinking LEDs.

Even though things didn’t work out quite how he planned, he is not discouraged. The cake was still quite tasty, and through this process he has discovered edible silver paint, which will undoubtedly make it into the next farewell cake.

Let There Be Cake – And Video Games In One Package

Encourage your kids to play with their food by making a cake that looks like a toy. The Nintendo DS lookalike houses some electronics to spruce up the presentation. The upper panel is cardboard covered in frosting to tie it in with the edible lower sections. That cardboard panel hides a couple of LEDs that blink thanks to a blinking Christmas light bulb in series with the diodes. There is also an LCD screen backlight in the form of to CCFL bulbs. The screen is just a still image but that’s okay, you can’t expect an actual video screen to be built into this. Take a look at the clip after the break to see the internals.

We’ve looked in on a few other cake hacks in the past. If you missed them before now’s your chance to revisit the gantry-based frosting dispenser and the turn-table frosting injector with silver-orb detailing. These are some sweet hacks!

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CNC Cake Decorator

The AutoFrost CNC cake decorator is the result of a student project a Olin College of Engineering. [Tara Krishnan] and her classmates designed and built the hardware, as well as a Python interface that is used for drawing the design you want printed in frosting. The X and Y axes are controlled by stepper motors, with manual adjustments for the Z axis. The software has setting for the size of the cake, making it a bit more versatile than the last mechanized decorator we looked at. The GUI also allows for multiple colors which are applied one at a time, with the machine pausing for an operator to switch out the colored frosting container. All in all a nice build, but the next rendition should look to get rid of that second Arduino. We can’t think the code is complex enough to warrant two of them. Check out the demo video after the break.

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Computer Aided Cake Decoration

This contraption lets you decorate your cake at the push of a button. It’s a stretch to call it computer aided as this is purely a mechanical monster, but we still enjoy the apparatus and see its CNC potential (we’re still waiting for that pizza printer to hit the market too). An icing syringe has been modified with a flexible hose on the business end. As constant pressure is applied to the plunger, the nozzle oscillates while the cake rotates. What results is a spirograph drawing on the top of your dessert. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Another push of the button and you get shiny silver orb candies joining in the party.

What, no video? Aw! If you know where to find a clip, let us know and we’ll update this post.

[Thanks Mowcius]