Pulse Oximetry Sensor Judges Your Coffee Roast

Breakout board for the MAX30101, which [Zach] used as the basis of his roast gauge. The sensor is at the top edge of the board.
Parts designed and marketed for a specific application can nevertheless still be useful in other ways, and whenever that happens, it’s probably the start of a pretty good hack. Using a sensor for something other than its intended purpose is exactly what [Zach Halvorson] did to make the Roast Vision device, which uses the MAX30101, a sealed optical sensor intended mainly for pulse oximetry and heart-rate monitoring.

[Zach] is instead using that sensor to measure the roast level of coffee beans, and assign a consistent number from 0 to 35 to represent everything from Very Dark to Very Light. Measuring a bean’s roast level is important to any roaster seeking accuracy and consistency, but when [Zach] found that commercial roast gauges could easily cost over a thousand dollars, he was sure he could do better.

[Zach] settled on using a Sparkfun MAX30101 breakout board to develop his device, and Sparkfun shared an informative blog post that demonstrates how making hardware and tools more accessible can help innovative ideas flourish. The Roast Vision device has a 3D printed enclosure, and a simple top-loading design with an integrated sample cup makes it easy to use. One simply puts about a teaspoon of finely-ground coffee into the sample cup, and the unit provides a measurement in a couple of seconds. Fortunately the sensor works just fine though an acrylic window which means the device can be sealed; a handy feature for a tool that will spend a lot of time around ground coffee.

The joys of fresh roasted coffee is something that is perfectly accessible to those making small batches at home. There are commercial options for small roasters of course, but should you wish to go the DIY route, check out our own Elliot Williams’ guide on making a low-cost DIY roaster.

Wobble Disk Coffee Roaster Gets The Beans Just Right

Coffee roasting is an art or a science, depending on who you talk to. Both camps will however agree that attention to detail is key. Many diehard beanheads, as they’re known, will go so far as to create their own roasting hardware to get the job done just right. [Larry Cotton] is one such builder, who has created an elegant roaster to get his brew just right.

The build is based around a wobble disk design. This consists of a round plate fixed at a 45-degree angle to a rotating shaft. As the shaft spins, the disk gently sweeps and agitates the roast, allowing the batch to heat up evenly without burning the beans. It’s a two-part design, with heat gun parts in the base to generate the hot air for the roasting process. The bean basket sits on top, held in place by magnets that also act as a conduit for the wobble disk motor’s power supply.

It’s a tidy build, which allows for accurate roasting and easy dumping of the beans once finished. If you’re a serious beanhead yourself with a few hacks up your sleeve, be sure to let us know! Video after the break.

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Roasting Pan Audio Amplifier

When you need a rigid, vibration-free chassis for your amplifier, look no further than a roasting pan. I’ve used cast cement for subwoofers, but using a cooking pan bolted to a heavy wooden chopping board is a cheap way to get a rigid surface on which to build audio gear. The amp circuitry used by [Mark] is not complex, but it gets the job done. The “oxygen free copper cable” and “pure silver wire” are not needed, just make sure you have a solid mechanical connection. In other words, just tin your wires, bend small “u” shapes at each end, hook them together, and apply solder to the heated ends. Alternatively, hold the ends of stranded wires parallel to each other and twist the ends together before tinning, then solder. Test everything with a multimeter while moving wire joints to make sure you have no weak connections. Now you won’t waste your money on hyped-up cabling materials.

Thanks to [Gio] (who seems to have some personal audio projects as well) for the tip.