For all but the most experienced gardeners and botanists, taking care of the soil around one’s plants can seem like an unsolvable mystery. Not only does soil need the correct amount of nutrients for plants to thrive, but it also needs a certain amount of moisture, correct pH, proper temperature, and a whole host of other qualities. And, since you can’t manage what you can’t measure, [Jan] created a unique setup for maintaining his plants, complete with custom nutrient pumps.
While it might seem like standard plant care on the surface, [Jan]’s project uses a peristaltic pump for the nutrient solution that is completely 3D printed with the exception of the rollers and the screws that hold the assembly together. With that out of the way, it was possible to begin adding this nutrient solution to the plants. The entire setup from the pump itself to the monitoring of the plants’ soil through an array of sensors is handled by an ESP32 running with help from ESPHome.
For anyone struggling with growing plants indoors, this project could be a great first step to improving vegetable yields or even just helping along a decorative houseplant. The real gem is the 3D printed pump, though, which may have wider applications for anyone with a 3D printer and who also needs something like an automatic coffee refilling machine.
If you think about building a moving machine, you probably will consider wheels or tracks or maybe even a prop to take you airborne. When [nwlauer] found an earthworm in the garden, it inspired a 3D-printed robot that employs peristaltic motion. You can see a video of it moving, below.
The robot uses pneumatics and soft plastic, and is apparently waterproof. Your printer’s feed path has to be pretty rigid to support flexible filament without jamming. There’s also some PVA filament and silicone tubing involved.
Continue reading “Robotic Worm Uses NinjaFlex Filament”
There are those who reckon the humble bowl of breakfast cereal to be the height of culinary achievement. Look askance if you must, but cereal junkies are a thing, and they have a point. The magic comes not from just filling a bowl and adding a splash of milk, but by knowing which cereals to mix together.
Who needs all that fussy mixing, though, when you can automate and customize your cereal dispensing chores? That’s the approach [Kevin Obermann] and [Adrian Bernhart] took with their Cereal Dispensing Machine, even if they went a little further than necessary. Laser-cut plywood forms a four-station carousel for off-the-shelf dry-good dispensers, each of which got a stepper motor to replace the wrist-twisting. The original motors were a bit too wimpy to handle the more rugged morning selections and were eventually upgraded to gear motors. The platform that supports the dispensers also holds all the electronics, including an ESP32 to run everything and host the web app needed to choose your poison. Plus RGB LEDs, because breakfast should look like a rave. Sadly, the team ran out of GPIO pins and were unable to run the peristaltic pump needed to add the milk. There will always be version 2.0, though.
If cereal isn’t your automated breakfast of choice, we understand. Perhaps a more [Wallace] and [Gromit] style breakfast machine would do, or a robotic peanut butter sandwich any time of day is a treat.
Continue reading “Carousel Of Cereals Mixes And Matches Custom Breakfast Blends”
If you’re tired of having to make small talk with random people in the office break room every time you need a cup of coffee, or simply don’t have the time to get up to pour yourself some more, it would be nice if there was a way you could have your cup filled for you, right at your desk. With this new drink dispenser, you won’t have to get up or even pour your drinks yourself!
We’ve certainly seen plenty of automatic drink makers, but those are more suited to parties and complicated drink mixing. This beverage dispenser is more for the person who knows their tastes and simply wants to save some time. It’s also much simpler, using a peristaltic pump for serving a single liquid from a large bottle into a glass, and using a load cell to know when to stop filling. The peristaltic pump is a little slow though, so it’s best to set the glass back in the dispenser and let it top you off each time.
We’re a big fan of time savers around here, especially when it comes to improving workflow. Of course, the best time saver is a clean, well-organized shop which will help you out whether you’re building a drink dispenser or anything else.
Continue reading “Never Go To The Office Breakroom Again”
In preparation for Makerfaire, [hwhardsoft] needed to throw together some demos. So they dug deep and produced this unique display.
The display uses two synchronized peristaltic pumps to push water and red paraffin through a tube that switches back over itself in a predictable fashion. As visible in the video after the break, the pumps go at it for a few minutes producing a seemingly random pattern. The pattern coalesces at the end into a short string of text. The text is unfortunately fairly hard to read, even on a contrasting background. Perhaps an application of UV dye could help?
Once the message has been displayed, the water and paraffin drop back into the holding tank as the next message is queued up. The oil and water separate just like expected and a pump at the level of each fluid feeds it back into the system.
We were deeply puzzled at what appeared to be an Arduino mounted on a DIN rail for use in industrial settings, but then discovered that this product is what [hwhardsoft] built the demo to sell. We can see some pretty cool variations on this technique for art displays.
Continue reading “Paraffin Oil And Water Dot Matrix Display”
Walking, jumping, rolling, flying, swimming – robotic locomotion is limited only by the imagination of the inventor. [Roger Rabbit] apparently has a pretty vivid imagination, because he’s building robots that move like worms.
Version 1 of [Roger]’s robot is only semi-vermiform and is more of tube climber. It has a pair of 3D-printed pantographs that expand and contract with servos and move along the robot’s axis on a stepper-driven lead screw. An Arduino reads sensors and coordinates the expansion of the pantographs to grip the internal diameter of a pipe and push the worm-bot along. It’s a slow but effective way to get around in the limited confines of a pipe.
The next iteration, dubbed [Wolly], is much more worm-like and not restricted to pipe-running. It has four expandable triangular frames connected to each other with rack-and-pinion backbones. The first frame contracts, the racks push it forward, it expands, the next contracts, and soon it’s doing the worm across the floor. Still slow, but pretty neat to watch, and you can see how it can be steered. It might even be able to roll around its long axis, and it’d make a decent tube climber as well.
This creepy autonomous worm-bot seems very similar to [Wolly], but aside from that we haven’t covered too many robots like these. There’s a lot of thought and effort in these worm-bots, and we’re keen to see where [Roger] takes this unique robot body plan.
Continue reading “Robot Does The Worm To Get Around”
As the video above shows, [Zach Hoeken] is continuing to improve on his peristaltic pump design. The moving parts in peristaltic pumps never contact the fluid being moved. Instead, they interact with the outside of the tubing that’s carrying the liquid. In [Zach]’s design, multiple skate bearings roll across the outside of the silicon tubing, squeezing the liquid through. You can get a better idea of how this works by watching the first video. The newer version appears to be pumping much better. We’re not sure if that’s because of faster motors or from switching to two bearings instead of three. This definitely looks like a good choice if you’re planning on building your own cocktail robot. You can find the plans on Thingiverse.