Celebrate International Beer Day with some of our favorite over-engineered projects. After all, there’s a ‘EE’ in beer for a reason!
International Beer Day is a celebration that occurs on the first Friday of August every year. Since its inception in 2007, the unofficial holiday has grown from a small localized event in Santa Cruz, California into a global event spanning 207 cities, 50 countries and six continents. Specifically, IBD has three declared purposes: to gather with friends and enjoy the taste of beer, to celebrate those responsible for brewing and serving beer, and to unite the world under the banner of beer. Well, we’ve added one more: to highlight 10 of the most innovative Arduino-powered projects from beer-loving Makers.
The brainchild of Hackaday’s Brian Benchoff, the aptly named HaDuino is an Arduino clone that lets you swap out your bottle opener. More of a spoof than anything else, the hilariously awesome PCB features a pixellated HaD logo on the back, while a disclaimer etched on the front shares that it can’t actually open bottles — or maybe just one so far. What’s more, it has an ATmega168 at its core. We’ll cheers to that!
“The concept of a PCB shape that can reliably open a bottle of beer isn’t all that far-fetched. We think part of the problem is lack of an appropriately place fulcrum. Also, a more robust protrusion needs to be designed to latch on the underside of the cap. Because the design files are available, this is just screaming for someone to hack up a better version,” Mike Szczys writes.
We wonder how long before we see a similar board at hackathons throughout the world… After all, how many times have you found yourself looking for a nice, refreshing beverage in the middle of a long engineering sesh? See it in action here.
Robotic Bottle Opener
We’ve all been there: The big game is about to start, you head over to the fridge to grab a cold brewski, only to find out it isn’t a twist-off cap and there’s no bottle opener in sight. Luckily, thanks to a group of Makers, you won’t even need to get up from the couch let alone have to open your own beer.
After stumbling across the old robotic device, the team led by Sasha Schrandt decided that it would be a good idea to bring this piece of technology back to life and to give it a new purpose, one in which would come in handy for a day like today. That purpose? To become an automated beer opener.
The robot is controlled by an Arduino Duemilanove (ATmega328) attached to a relay shield. Connected to those are three recycled DC motors, switches, wires, and a couple resistors. Additionally, the Makers employed a couple zip ties, nuts, bolts, washers and short screws, along with a MDF board to mount everything on, and eight empty soup cans plus various scrap pieces of metal and rods.
Schrandt reveals that there were four primary tasks to prepare the hardware for the robot. These included weight reduction of the robot arm to allow maximum torque / force from the arm; bottle holders for the beers (which were created using the empty soup cans); mount the bottle opener and limit switches to the robot; and, mount the robot parts to a sheet of MDF to maintain alignment.
Automated Brewing Machine
A Maker who goes by the name “The_Meatloaf” has built a fully automated beer brewing machine using an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) to power a four-button interface capable of saving and executing up to 26 different recipes. The gadget, which was designed in the context of a computer engineering degree program, was constructed entirely from scratch over the course of a year.
This automated system most of the guesswork from an otherwise complex brewing process. The brewer starts by heating the water in the first keg using a 2000W heating element, after which the water transfers into the mash vessel via servo valves, where it’s stirred by a mixing motor.
The machine then drains the wort (the resulting liquid after mashing) and sparges (adds more water to the mash tun) the grains as programmed. The wort is brought to a boil for the programmed amount of time, while a servo-controlled ‘hopper’ automatically adds the hops. Finally, a counter-flow heat exchanger rapidly cools the solution to room temperature using ice water, then dispenses the solution for fermentation.
Before intelligent kegerators like KegSmarts hit the scene, Maker Joey D’Anna could not seem to find a commercial unit that would satisfy his brewing needs. So, just as any other DIYer would do, he took it upon himself to devise a comprehensive system equipped complete with temperature monitoring, with a tap on the kegerator itself and a cooled tap remotely mounted at his bar.
The project is built around a freezer box, with a new collar made of 1/4” HDPE plastic for mounting the gas lines, the beer and electronics. While temperature control is handled by a commercial controller, the actual monitoring is achieved through a homebrewed (no pun intended) solution. An Arduino Uno (ATmega328) sits in a custom aluminum case on the outside of the kegerator, tasked with reporting temperature, beer type and commanding the cooling system for the beer lines.
The cooling system was designed in CAD and the parts were cut on a CNC mill. Two air chambers sit atop the aluminum box, one pushing cold air up to the tap, another sucking air back into the freezer to create circulation. The entire line set is insulated with 2″ fiberglass flex duct. Meanwhile, D’Anna can keep tabs on the real-time data and trend graphs on the web, as well as on Raspberry Pi-driven LCD touchscreen on the bar’s wall.
Beer-Driven Time Card System
Let’s face it, no one enjoys filling out timesheets — yet they are imperative in order to get paid. That’s why Minneapolis ad agency Colle + McVoy has dreamt up a new way to not only get employees to fill out their time cards, but to reward them with some draft beer.
Dubbed TapServer, the multi-keg beer deployment system combines RFID tags and some custom-written software to seamlessly sync with the agency’s time-keeping application. On the hardware side, the program is comprised of several Arduino Uno boards (ATmega328), a Node-based server, solenoids and a Raspberry Pi.
Employees are given RFID-enabled key cards, which they scan at the TapServer. This instantly verifies whether their timesheets are up-to-date. If their records are indeed complete, employees use the connected iPad to select their beer, then pull their pint. As an added feature, TapServer can also keep track of ounces consumed per employee and beer brand.
Successfully funded on Kickstarter back in 2013, Brewbot is a smart brewing appliance that can be controlled and monitored right from a smartphone. Never brewed before? No worries! The Cargo crew aspired to make an easy-to-use environment that was not only aesthetically pleasing to the yes, but would free up brewers to focus on the recipes.
The whole process is pretty simple. Purchase ingredients from a local brew shop or online, setup your recipe in its accompanying app and connect your iPhone to the Brewbot. From there, you can create your own or choose a pre-set recipe to begin the brewing process by simply tapping ‘start.’ The machine will then automatically add the exact amount of water to be heated. Once heated, the valve in the container releases and the water runs into the mashtun, where the grain lies. At the end of the process the wort filters through the plate cooler, cooling it from 100°C to under 22°C, now ready to ferment.
Its creators used stainless steel vessels as fermentation tanks, which are sealed and opaque given that hops are light sensitive. Light (especially UV rays) will ruin the beverage and produce off-flavors. After all, nobody wants skunked beer!
Having come across an empty beer fridge one too many times, the team at Metalworks crafted an approval system for dispensing malted beverages. The simple trick was to remove the physical controls on a can dispenser, making it so that the only way you can get a cold drink is to ask the machine via Twitter. If there’s beer inside, it waits for one of your approved co-workers to give the green light. Otherwise, you’re out of luck!
The crew has made two different versions of the gizmo. The first was a hacked refrigerator with a dispenser hole cut in the door. It was powered by the combination of an Arduino-Ethernet Shield connected to the Thingspeak API, which drove the servo motors to vend the chains. The latter was a more compact device equipped with an Arduino Leonardo (ATmega32U4) and Wi-Fi shield that interfaced with the electronics of a commercially available can dispenser. It was upgraded to run on MQTT language (via Cosm) due to overheads with parsing JSON.