Gift Idea From 1969: A Kitchen Computer

The end of the year is often a time for people to exchange presents and — of course — the rich want to buy each other the best presents. The Neiman Marcus company was famous for having a catalog of gift ideas. Many were what you’d consider normal gifts, but there were usually extreme ones, like a tank trunk filled with 100,000 gallons of cologne. One year, the strange gift was an authentic Chinese junk complete with sails and teak decks. They apparently sold three at $11,500 (in 1962 money, no less). Over the top? In 1969, they featured a kitchen computer.

Wait a minute! In 1969, computers were the purview of big companies, universities, and NASA, right? Well, not really. By that time, some industrial minicomputers were not millions of dollars but were still many thousands of dollars. The price in the catalog for the kitchen computer was $10,600. That’s about $86,000 in today’s money. The actual machine was a Honeywell 316, based on one of the computers that helped run the early Internet.

Continue reading “Gift Idea From 1969: A Kitchen Computer”

Digital Kitchen Spoon Makes Weighing Your Ingredients A Snap

There seem to be two camps when it comes to recipes: those based on volume-based measurements, and those based on the weight of ingredients. Gravimetric measurements have the advantage of better accuracy, but at the price of not being able to quickly scoop out a bit of this and a dash of that. It would be nice to get the convenience of volumetric measurements with the accuracy of weighing your ingredients, wouldn’t it?

It would, and that’s just what [Penguin DIY] did with this digital kitchen spoon scale. The build started with, perhaps not surprisingly, a large mixing spoon and a very small kitchen scale. The bowl of the spoon got lopped off the handle and attached to the strain gauge, which was removed from the scale along with its LCD display and circuit board. To hold everything, a somewhat stocky handle was fabricated from epoxy resin sandwiched between aluminum bolsters. Compartments for the original electronics parts, as well as a LiPo battery and USB charger module, were carved out of the resin block, and the electronics were mounted so that the display and controls are easily accessible. The video below shows the build as well as the spoon-scale in action in the kitchen.

We think this is not only a great idea but a fantastic execution. The black epoxy and aluminum look amazing together on the handle, almost like a commercial product. And sure, it would have been easy enough to build a scale from scratch — heck, you might even be able to do away with the strain gauge — but tearing apart an existing scale seems like the right move here.

Continue reading “Digital Kitchen Spoon Makes Weighing Your Ingredients A Snap”

Hack Your Recipes

If there is one thing Hackaday readers have in common, they like to make things. Of course, we don’t all make the same things and that’s great. But, unsurprisingly, a lot of people who like to create things include the kitchen as their workspaces. Why not? We all have to eat and there’s something very nice about cooking a meal for your loved ones or even just yourself. Cooklang is a markdown-style language from [Brian Sunte] specifically for capturing recipes. It not only formats the recipe, but it provides an easy way for software to parse the key elements while still being human-readable. This allows you to manipulate recipes just like software, including using Git for version control, for example.

There was a time that cooking meant having big cookbooks, but now you are more likely to search the Internet. There’s only one problem. For some reason, nearly every recipe site follows the same format. Thousands of words about how much the cook’s family loves the dish, how they pick out only the most succulent tomatoes to ensure the dish will have a vibrant scarlet hue, and how much their poor granny would have loved the dish, if only she had survived the 1928 flood which is described in great detail. After 20 minutes you find out that you put the tomatoes in the blender, add a cup of water, and that’s it. Cooklang is a sort of antidote for that. You can easily write something that parses the recipe and generates, say, a shopping list or compares it to your household inventory and places an order for the remaining things from the local grocery delivery.

Continue reading “Hack Your Recipes”

Warm Up To Cooking With A Recipe-Randomizing Toaster

Did you get a thermal printer when they were hot stuff, but then your interest cooled when you couldn’t decide what to do with it? Something similar happened to [Sunyecz22], and the poor printer sat unused until that magical day when the perfect use for it popped up — a random recipe receiver in the form of a toaster.

[Sunyecz22] was tired of searching for recipes every week before going to the grocery store. Between the millions of recipe options on the internet and the 1000-word essays that precede them all, the process was like a part-time job. Now all they have to do is push the little lever down and wait for a recipe to get toasted into some thermal paper. It doesn’t print the full recipe, only the essentials, and we love that. You get the name, the prep time, a rating, and a QR code that links to the recipe page.

This toaster runs on a Raspberry Pi Zero W that fetches recipes using the Spoonacular API and sends the deets to the printer. The lever makes use of some old pen springs to activate a limit switch and start the recipe-getting process. We think it would be extra cool if it stayed down until the recipe popped up. Butter your way past the break to see a short demo video.

We must say, this toaster is way more helpful than the talkie toaster from Red Dwarf.

Continue reading “Warm Up To Cooking With A Recipe-Randomizing Toaster”

IPhone Look-alike On Your Kitchen Wall

[Ryan] and his wife wanted to have a touchscreen interface in the kitchen to store their recipes and for various music, video, and Internet entertainment. We know where they’re coming from, we’re quite tired or cleaning flour (or worse!) off of our palm pilot screen after baking. The display you see on the wall is just the interface, a computer is stored in the cabinet below the counter. He’s running Windows 7 and using a custom graphic interface which is intended to mimic the looks of the iPhone. He’s sharing the UI as open source and has just started a forum for those interested in trying it out and adding to the available features.

One thing we noticed in his writeup, he prototyped this with an old 2 GHz computer but upgraded the hardware because it was too slow. This pushed to total build price to about $1350 USD. We can’t help but mention that using a Linux based system may have saved him from the upgrade. We know there’s some extremely powerful media software that runs on light hardware specs.

[Thanks Hannah]