Roomba aside, domestic robots are still in search of the killer app they need to really take off. For the other kind of home automation to succeed, designers are going to have to find the most odious domestic task and make it go away at the push of the button. A T-shirt folding robot is probably a good first step.
First and foremost, hats off to [
] for his copious documentation on this project. Not only are complete instructions for building the laundry bot listed, but there’s also a full use-case analysis and even a complete exploration of prior art in the space. [Stefano]’s exhaustive analysis led to a set of stepper-actuated panels, laser-cut from thin plywood, and arranged to make the series of folds needed to take a T-shirt from flat to folded in just a few seconds.
The video below shows the folder in action, and while it’s not especially fast right now, we’ll chalk that up to still being under development. We can see a few areas for improvement; making the panels from acrylic might make the folded shirt slide off the bot better, and pneumatic actuators might make for quicker movements and sharper folds. The challenges to real-world laundry folding are real, but this is a great start, and we’ll be on the lookout for improvements.
Continue reading “Laundry Bot Tackles The Tedium Of T-Shirt Folding”
[Ty Palowski] doesn’t like folding his many shirts. He saw one of those boards on TV that supposedly simplifies folding, but it does require you to manually move the board. That just won’t do, so [Ty] motorized it to create a shirt folding robot.
The board idea is nothing new, and probably many people wouldn’t mind the simple operation required, but what else are you going to do with your 3D printer but make motor mounts for a shirt folding machine? The folding board is, of course, too big for 3D printing so he made that part out of cardboard at first and then what looks like foam board.
Continue reading “Robot, Sudo Fold My Laundry”
If you’re like most people, then washing clothes is probably a huge pain for you. Figuring out the odd number of minutes necessary to run a wash and dry cycle, trying desperately not to end up with clothes that are still wet, and worst of all having to wait so long for your clothes to be clean can be a real hassle.
One team of inventors decided to build Eleven, a dryer that dries and sanitizes clothes in a minute or less. As explained in their demo video, clothes are placed around the center tube and dried by the airflow initiated by Eleven. Fragrance and ozone is injected to prevent bacteria from causing bad smells.
The team experimented with ultrasonics and microwave-vacuum system, and ultimately decided to use a method that controls the flow of air within the fabric. A steam generator sprays the clothes with a disinfectant while a filter quarantines the chemicals to a receptacle within the device.
They also installed sensors to monitor the performance of the machine remotely, allowing users to track their clothes and the health of the machine even when they aren’t home. Something we’ve previously seen done in the DIY space.
It might not be the futuristic heat-free clothes dryer we were promised, but Eleven certainly looks like a step in the right direction.
Soap cleans clothes better than magnets. There, we are spoiling the ending so don’t accuse us of clickbaiting. The funny thing is that folks believe this is plausible enough to ask magnets experts so often that they dedicate a blog entry to comparing magnets and soap. Since you already know how this ends, let’s talk about why this is important. Science. Even though some magnet retailers, herein referred to as [the experts] can easily dismiss this question as fanciful or ridiculous, they apply the scientific method to show that their reasoning is sound and clean evidence is on their side. [The experts] detail the materials and techniques in their experiment so peers may replicate the tests and come to the same results themselves. We do not doubt that the outcome would be equally conclusive.
The experiment includes a control group which processes dirty clothes without detergent or magnets, one group with only magnets, one group with only detergent, and one group with both. White clothing was soiled with four well known garment killers and manually agitated in a bin of warm water. We guessed that magnets would be on par with the control group, and we were pleased to be right. [The experts] now have a body of work to reference the next time someone comes at them with this line. The only question now is if tricky spouses used science to get nerds to do the laundry.
In this age of spin, keeping facts straight instead of jumping to heartfelt conclusions is more vital than ever. We are all potentially citizen scientists so testing a conspiracy is within everyone’s grasp.
Continue reading “Magnets Versus Laundry Detergent”
Some time ago [Xose Pérez] got interested in generating a notification when his washer had completed a cycle, and now with added features like reporting power usage and cost, he’s put it all together into a Node-Red node that makes it easy to modify or integrate with other projects.
[Xose] started this journey with a Laundry Monitor he created that effectively used cheap hardware (and his own firmware) to monitor his washing machine’s current usage. That sensor was used as the basis for sending notifications informing him whenever the appliance’s cycle was done. Since then, he has continued to take household power monitoring seriously, and with a bit of added work can not only tell when a given appliance has been started and stopped, but can also summarize the energy usage and cost of the appliance, making the notifications more useful. The package is named node-red-contrib-power-monitor and is also hosted on GitHub.
Cheap WiFi-enabled smart switches are making it possible for even the dumbest of appliances to join the Internet of Things, so don’t ignore [Xose]’s complementary work on ESPurna, which is an alternative open-source firmware for a wide variety of ESP8266 and ESP8285 based smart switches, lights and sensors.
When you think of world-changing devices, you usually don’t think of the washing machine. However, making laundry manageable changed not only how we dress but how much time people spent getting their clothes clean. So complaining about how laborious our laundry is today would make someone from the 1800s laugh. Still, we all hate the laundry and [Andrew Dupont], in particular, hates having to check on the machine to see if it is done. So he made Laundry Spy.
How do you sense when the machine — either a washer or a dryer — is done? [Andrew] thought about sensing current but didn’t want to mess with house current. His machines don’t have LED indicators, so using a light sensor wasn’t going to work either. However, an accelerometer can detect vibrations in the machine and most washers and dryers vibrate plenty while they are running.
The four-part build log shows how he took an ESP8266 and made it sense when the washer and dryer were done so it could text his cell phone. He’d already done a similar project with an Adafruit HUZZAH. But he wanted to build in some new ideas and currently likes working with NodeMCU. While he was at it he upgraded the motion sensor to an LIS3DH which was cheaper than the original sensor.
[Andrew] already runs Node – RED on a Raspberry Pi, so incorporating this project with his system was a snap. Of course, you could adapt the approach to lots of other things, as well. The device produces MQTT messages and Node – RED subscribes to them. The Pushover handles the text messaging. Node – RED has a graphical workflow that makes integrating all the pieces very intuitive. Here’s the high-level workflow:
You might wonder why he didn’t just have the ESP8266 talk directly to Pushover. That is possible, of course, but in part 2, [Andrew] enumerates some good reasons for his design. He wants to decouple components in the system for easier future upgrades. And MQTT is simple to publish on the sensor side of things compared to API calls which are handled by the Raspberry Pi for now.
Laundry monitoring isn’t a unique idea and everyone has a slightly different take on it, even some Hackaday authors. If phone notification is too subtle for you, you can always go bigger.
Here’s a slightly different way to check on the status of your laundry. Instead of checking if the machine is vibrating, or listening for sound, or pulling everything apart and hacking an ESP8266 into it, check the power that the machine is drawing. This is what [Scrand] did in his IoT dryer build.
The secret behind the hack is the Sonoff POW, a small device that sits in between the wall and the dryer. It has a relay in it that controls it, but, importantly for this hack, it’s able to measure the power consumption used by what’s plugged into it. By installing the ESPurna firmware on it, he can now use all the power of the firmware to control and monitor what’s connected to the POW. He wrote a PowerShell script to monitor the http server now running on the POW checking on how much power is being drawn by the dryer. When that power drops, the laundry is done, and in the case of [Scrand], a text is sent saying so.
When you’re sitting on the couch relaxing, why get up every five minutes to check your laundry when you can have it text you when you know it’s done? Then you can decide whether to get up and deal with it or just leave it until later. The whole reason ESPurna exists to begin with is to check on the status of the laundry. Or, you can go a bit overboard with this laundry room monitor.