Teardown: Quirky Egg Minder

Many of the biggest stars are hesitant to do sequels, believing that the magic captured the first time around is hard to reproduce in subsequent productions. As I’m known (at least around the former closet that now serves as my home office) as the “Meryl Streep of Teardowns”, I try to follow her example when it comes to repeat performances. But if they could get her to come back for another Mamma Mia film, I suppose I can take a look at a second Quirky product.

An elderly egg calls to inquire about euthanasia services.

This time around we’ll be looking at the Quirky Egg Minder, a smart device advertised as being able to tell you when your eggs are getting old. Apparently, this is a problem some people have. A problem that of course is best solved via the Internet of Things, because who wouldn’t pay $80 USD for a battery-powered WiFi device that lives in their refrigerator and communicates vital egg statistics to an online service?

As it turns out, the answer to that question is “most people”. The Egg Minder, like most of its Quirky peers, quickly became a seemingly permanent fixture of retailer’s clearance shelves. This particular unit, which I was able to pick up new from Amazon, only cost me $9.99. This is still more than I would have paid under normal circumstances, but such sacrifices are part and parcel with making sure the readers of Hackaday get their regular dose of unusual gadgetry.

You may recall that our last Quirky device, the “Refuel” propane tank monitor, ended up being a fantastically engineered and built piece of hardware. The actual utility of the product was far from certain, but nobody could deny that the money had been spent in all the right places.

What will the internals of the Egg Minder reveal? Will it have the same level of glorious over-engineering that took us by surprise with the Refuel? Will that zest for form over function ultimately become the legacy of these Quirky devices, or was it just a fluke? Let’s crack this egg and find out.

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Human-Powered Henhouse Keeps Chickens On The Job

While it’s not exactly in the same vein as other projects around here, like restoring vintage video game systems or tricking an ESP32 to output VGA, keeping chickens can also be a rewarding hobby. They make decent pets and can also provide you with eggs. You can also keep them on a surprisingly small amount of land, but if you have a larger farm you can use them to help condition the soil all over your property. For that you’ll need a mobile henhouse, and as [AtomicZombie] shows, they don’t all have to be towed by a tractor.

This henhouse is human-powered, meaning any regular human can lift it up and scoot it around to different areas without help from heavy equipment. It uses a set of bicycle wheels which rotate around to lift up the frame of the house. A steering wheel in the back allows it to be guided anywhere and then set down. It also has anti-digging protection, which is a must-have for any henhouse to keep the foxes out.

We like this one for its simplicity and ease-of-use. Not needing a tractor on a small farm can be a major cost savings, but if you really need one, [AtomicZombie] also designed a robust all-electric tractor-like device that we featured a little while back.

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Breakfast Bot Does Eggs To Perfection

Breakfast is a meal fraught with paradoxes. It’s important to start the day with a hearty meal full of energy and nutrition, but it’s also difficult to cook when you’re still bleary-eyed and half asleep. As with many problems in life, automation is the answer. [James Bruton] has the rig that will boil your egg and get your day off to a good start.

The basic apparatus uses a thermostatically controlled hotplate to heat a pot of water. [James] then employs an encoder-controlled linear actuator from a previous project to raise and lower a mesh colander into the pot, carrying the egg. An Arduino is used to measure the water temperature, only beginning the cooking process once the temperature is over 90 degrees Celsius. At this point, a 6-minute timer starts, with the egg being removed from the water and dumped out by a servo-controlled twist mechanism.

Future work will include servo control of the hotplate’s knob and building a chute to catch the egg to further reduce the need for human intervention. While there’s some danger in having an automated hotplate on in the house, this could be synchronized with an RTC to ensure your boiled egg is ready on time, every day.

Breakfast machines are a grand tradition around these parts, and we’ve seen a few in our time. Video after the break.

[Thanks to Baldpower for the tip!]

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Counting Eggs With A Webcam

You’ll have to dig out your French dictionary (or Google translate) for this one, but it is worth it. [Nicolas Giraud] has been experimenting with ways to use a webcam to detect the number of eggs chickens have laid in a chicken coop. This page documents these experiments using a number of different algorithms to automatically detect the number of eggs and notify the owner. The system is simple, built around a Pi running Debian Jesse Lite and a cheap USB webcam. An LED running off one of the GPIO pins illuminates the eggs, and the camera then captures the image for analysis.

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Pokemon Go Egg Incubator Takes Your Eggs For A Spin

Pokemon Go has done a great service to the world health. Or would’ve done, if we wouldn’t hack it all the time. The game suggests, you breed Pokemon eggs by walking them around, but [DannyMcMurray] has a better idea: Strapping your smartphone to the propeller of a fan and taking them for spin that way.

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Start Your Poultry Brood With This DIY Egg Incubator

You’d think that hatching chicks from eggs would be easy – after all, birds do it. But it turns out to be a fussy business for humans, and what momma bird does naturally isn’t necessarily easy for us. If your goal is to raise your own brood of peeps, fear not – this DIY egg incubator makes the process much easier.

While [Chris Raynerd]’s incubator was built for quail eggs, pretty much any domestic fowl – chickens, turkeys, ducks, pheasants – will work. The key is temperature control – momma bird’s rump is a natural heat source, and her downy feathers keep the eggs insulated and toasty. That’s a little hard to replicate in a free-air incubator, so [Chris] started with a polystyrene box for insulation. A halogen lamp on a digital thermostat provides most of the heat and keeps the temperature within a degree or two of 37°C. As a backup, a 12 volt halogen bulb on a dimmer keeps the chamber at a minimum of 36°, just in case the main lamp burns out. A small fan and a pan for humidifying water complete the atmospheric controls, although personally we’d arrange the fan to blow across the water to aid evaporation. And a simple grid lets [Chris] turn the eggs regularly, which is another vital service mom provides to her brood.

Sure, it could be Arduino-fied and servo driven, but why bother? This is a simple yet thoughtful build that should see a clutch through to hatching. We’ve seen a few egg incubators before, but even if you’re not interested in raising fowl, the techniques here could easily apply to incubators for biohacking or yogurt making, too.

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Compliant Robot Gripper Won’t Scramble Your Eggs

[Chiprobot] has created an amazing compliant gripper.  Designing robot hands (or end effectors) can be a perilous task. It is easy to give robots big, good, strong hands. Strong grippers have to be controlled by sensors. However, sensors can’t always be relied upon to ensure those hands don’t crush anything they touch. Hardware fails, software has bugs. Sometimes the best solution is a clever mechanical design, one which ensures a gripper will conform to the object it is gripping. We’ve seen “jamming” grippers before. (so named for their use of a granular substance which jams around the object being gripped).

[Chiprobot’s] gripper is something entirely different. He designed his gripper in blender, and printed it out with his Ultimaker 3D printer. The material is flexible PLA. Three plastic “fingers” wrap around the object being gripped. The fingers are made up of two strips of printed plastic connected by wire linkages. The flexible plastic of the fingers create a leaf spring design. The fingers are attached to a linear actuator at the center point of the gripper. The linear actuator itself is another great hack. [Chiprobot] created it from a servo and an empty glue stick.  As the linear actuator is pulled in, the fingers pull around  any object in their grip. The end result is a grip strong enough to hold an egg while shaking it, but not strong enough to break the egg.

We would like to see the gripper gripping other objects, as eggs can be surprisingly strong. We’ve all seen the physics trick where squeezing an egg with bare hands doesn’t break it, yet squeezing an egg while wearing a ring causes it to crack much… like an egg.

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