Coffee Grinder Gets Bluetooth Weighing

Some people take their coffee grinding seriously. So what do you do when the hot new grinders automatically weigh coffee, and yours doesn’t? Well, if you are like [Tech Dregs] and the rest of us, you hack your existing grinder, of course. The link is to the source code, but for a quick overview, check out the video below.

In true hacker fashion, the first order of business was to pull a load cell out of a cheap scale. Originally, he intended to reuse the processor inside, too, but it was epoxied, so it was a good excuse to use some more modules. A load cell amplifier, an OLED display, and a tiny Xiao processor, which he describes as “ridiculous.” From the context, we think he means ridiculously small in the physical sense and ridiculously powerful for such a tiny board.

With the modules, the wiring wasn’t too hard, but you still need some kind of app. Thanks to App Inventor, an Android app was a matter of gluing some blocks together in a GUI. Of course, the devil is in the details, and it took a lot of “focused cursing” to get everything working correctly.

The coffee grinder has a relay to turn the motor on and off, so that’s the point the scale needs to turn the motor on and off. Conveniently, the grinder’s PCB had an unpopulated pin header for just this purpose.

This is one of those simple projects you can use daily if you drink coffee. We are always impressed that the infrastructure exists today and that you can throw something like this together in very little time without much trouble.

WiFi hacking coffee makers is a popular Java project in these parts. Upgrading a machine can get pretty serious with PID control loops and more.

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Cheap Kitchen Scale Learns To Speak JSON With ESP32

Smart kitchen appliances are expensive, and more often than not, your usage data goes to whichever company operates the inevitable cloud service. Meanwhile the cheap ones contain substantially the same components without the smarts, so surely a hardware hacker can add a microcontroller to a cheap appliance for a bit of smart home technology without the privacy issues? It’s something [Liore] has done with an Amazon Basics kitchen scale, removing the electronics and wiring up an ESP32 to the load cell instead.

The Wheatstone bridge load cell circuit generates a tiny voltage difference that’s far too small for an ESP32 to measure, so in between the pair is an Avia Semiconductor HX711 strain gauge amplifier module. In addition, there’s a small OLED screen and the two buttons used in the Amazon scale are wired in too, providing the the kitchen scale functionality you’d expect.

Naturally the ESP32 brings along with it WiFi networking capabilities, which [Liore] has taken full advantage of here. By navigating a web browser to its IP address, you’ll receive the scale’s current reading in JSON format. This should make it easy to integrate with other systems, from Home Assistant to OctoPrint. We can see that there is plenty of scope for further enhancements for those prepared to write a little code.

Of course, this isn’t the first enhanced scale we’ve brought you, here’s one with Bluetooth. We’ve also seen hackers dispense with the kitchen-safe trappings and build the load cell directly into their own contraptions.

A repair stand for bicycles with an integrated scale

DIY Repair Stand Holds Your Bike And Weighs It

If you’ve ever done maintenance or repair work on your bicycle, you’ll know that positioning a bike in your workshop isn’t trivial. You can use your bike’s kickstand, or lean it against a wall, but then you can’t work on the wheels. You can place it upside-down, but then the shifters and brake levers are hard to reach. You can hang it from the ceiling, but then you first need to install hooks and cables in hard-to-reach places. Ideally you’d want to have one of those standing clamp systems that the pros use, but their price is typically beyond a hobbyist’s budget.

Or at least, that’s how it used to be. As [Dane Kouttron] discovered, a simple wall-mounted bike clamp can be had for as little as $35 on eBay, and can easily be converted into a smart mobile repair stand. [Dane] fashioned an adjustable stand from some steel pipes he had lying around, and 3D-printed an adapter bracket to mount the bike clamp on it. This worked fine, but why stop at a simple clamp when you can expand it with, say, an integrated scale to weigh your bikes while you work on them? Continue reading “DIY Repair Stand Holds Your Bike And Weighs It”

picture showing the re-built scale with an extra blue box with electronics on the bottom of it. on the scale, there's a transparent food-grade plastic glass with measurement marks on the side.

Urine Flow Measurement Made Accessible With UroFlow

If you’re dealing with a chronic illness, the ability to continuously monitor your symptoms is indispensable, helping you gain valuable insights into what makes your body tick – or, rather, mis-tick. However, for many illnesses, you need specialized equipment to monitor them, and it tends to be that you can only visit your doctor every so often. Thankfully, we hackers can figure out ways to monitor our conditions on our own. With a condition called BPH (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia), one of the ways to monitor it is taking measurements of urinary flow rate. Being able to take these measurements at home provides better insights, and, having found flow rate measurement devices to be prohibitively expensive to even rent, [Jerry Smith] set out to build his own.

This build is truly designed to be reproducible for anyone who needs such a device. Jerry has intricately documented the project and its inner workings – the 31-page document contains full build instructions, BOM for ordering, PCB description and pinout diagrams, calibration and validation instructions, and even software flowcharts; the GitHub repo has everything else you might need. We’re pleasantly surprised – this amount of documentation isn’t typically seen in hacker projects, and is even more valuable considering that this is a medical device that other hackers in need will want to reproduce.

Graph titled "Flow", with X axis saying "seconds" and Y axis saying "ml/Sec". There's differently colored plots on the graph, each apparently corresponding to a different measurement.For the hardware, [Jerry] took a small digital scale of a certain model and reused its load cell-based weighing mechanism using an HX711 amplifier, replacing the screen and adding an extra box for control electronics. With an Arduino MKR1010 as brains of the operation, the hardware’s there to log flow data, initially recorded onto the SD card, with WiFi connectivity to transfer the data to a computer for plotting; a DS3234 RTC breakout helps keep track of the time, and a custom PCB ties all of these together. All of these things are easy to put together, in no small part due to the extensive instructions provided.

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A weighing scale with a moving-coil meter as a display

Hackaday Prize 2022: Arduino-Powered Weighing Scale Has A Real Analog Display

Digital displays are useful for quick and accurate readout, but lots of people prefer the physical motion of a needle moving along a dial. For instance, many smartwatch users choose an analog face to show the time, and modern cars with digital dashboards often default to showing an analog speedometer. Following this trend, [Miro Pavleski] built a digital weighing scale with an analog display that not only looks neat, but also serves as a good demonstration of the way that modern scales work.

Inside, the device is built up like a typical electronic scale: the heart of the instrument is a load cell that supports the platform and bends in proportion to the weight applied. This bending motion is sensed by a set of strain gauges wired up in a Wheatstone bridge configuration. An HX711 readout chip measures the resulting voltage and converts it to a digital code that is sent to a microcontroller, in this case an Arduino Nano.

Whereas a typical scale would then simply show the resulting number on an LCD display, [Mirko] decided to use a moving coil meter driven by the Arduino’s analog output. That meter was originally designed to show currents, so [Mirko] printed a new background image using kilograms instead.

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Raspberry Pi Test Stand Tells You Which Glues To Use

Not all glues are created equal; or rather, not every glue is good for every application. But how is one to know which glue to use in which kinds of joints? The answer to that is not always clear, but solid numbers on the comparative strength of different glues are a great place to start.

To quantify what can ordinarily be a somewhat subjective process, there’s probably no one better than woodworker and hacker [Matthias Wandel], equipped as he is with his DIY strength-tester. Using its stepper-driven power to blast apart glued lap joints, [Matthias] measured the yield point of the various adhesives using a strain gauge connected to a Raspberry Pi.

His first round of tests had some interesting results, including the usually vaunted construction adhesive ending up in a distant last place. Also performing poorly, at least relative to its reputation and the mess it can cause, was the polyurethane-based Gorilla Glue. A surprise standout in overall strength was hot glue, although that seemed to have a sort of plastic yield mode. Ever the careful empiricist, [Matthias] repeated his tests using hardwoods, with remarkably different results; it seems that glues really perform better with denser wood. He also repeated a few tests to make sure every adhesive got a fair shake. Check out the video below for the final results.

It’s always good to see experiments like this that put what we often take for granted to the test. [John] over at the Project Farm channel on YouTube does this kind of stuff too, and even did a head-to-head test of epoxy adhesives.

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A Lego cup holder with a glass of water and electronics on a breadboard

LEGO Cup Holder Helps You To Stay Hydrated

Eat more fruit, exercise more, drink more fluids; early January is traditionally the time to implement New Year’s resolutions. Most of the common ones simply require willpower, but if it’s staying hydrated that you’re targeting, then some help is available. [Pepijn de Vos] designed a LEGO cup holder and an accompanying desktop app that tell you exactly how much water you’ve had so far, making it easier to get to those eight glasses a day.

The basic idea is simple: the cup holder contains a load cell that senses the weight of your drinking vessel. If the weight decreases, then a message is sent to your PC detailing the amount lost. If the weight increases, then the glass must have been refilled and the previous weight is disregarded. This way, the app simply needs to add up all the amounts reported, without having to compensate for the weight of the empty glass.

The tricky bit was integrating a load cell into the LEGO structure. It required some fiddling with Flex System hoses to ensure the platform’s weight rested only on the load cell, while still being stable enough to safely hold a full glass of water. The load cell is read out through an amplifier and A/D converter, while the USB communication is handled by a Teensy 3.

[Pepijn] modified an existing GNOME desktop widget to display a cup icon and the total volume consumed, which seems to work pretty smoothly judging from the video embedded below. All the code and even a complete set of LEGO build instructions are available on the project’s Github page. If simply monitoring your fluid intake isn’t enough of a nudge for you, then check out this device that floods your desk if you don’t drink enough.

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