Tag Archives: littleBits Servo

This interactive piggy bank sure beats your old ceramic one

Saving a ‘littleBit’ of money has never been so much fun. 

For as long as you can probably remember, piggy banks have been comprised of either ceramic or porcelain, and generally served as a educational device to teach the rudiments of savings to children. Often times, the only means of opening aside from the slot for inserting coins was smashing the bank with a hammer to obtain the money within. In more years years, however, those fragile pieces were gradually replaced with electronic keepsakes that were able to record the inputted amount as well as dispense the money in much easier fashion. However, were they able to interact with you as well? Most likely not.


With the advent of littleBits, we’ve seen a number of interact piggy banks emerge, but none may as impressive as this recent one from Alex Pikkert. The Dutch Maker has designed a slick money-saving machine that not only swallows your coins but thanks you for the contribution with some appropriate tunes.


How it works is relatively simple. When you slide a coin down the ramp, the coin covers a light sensor, which triggers a set of reactions. The servo module (ATtiny25) opens a door below the ramp while a DC motor-driven camera mechanism pushes the coin into a recess below. Meanwhile, an animated graphic powered by a second servo sends its appreciation for saving, as its ATmega168 based MP3 player emits a musical money track over a pair of built-in synth speaker. A nice incentive indeed!


Interested in creating your own interactive bank? Head over to the project’s official littleBits page here.

ButterBot is an automated buttermilk-churning machine

This littleBits contraption makes a mean glass of buttermilk.

Rather than with a cup ‘o joe, Maker Milind Sonavane kicks off every day with some freshly churned buttermilk for breakfast. As you can imagine, making buttermilk can certainly be a time consuming process, so Sonavane decided to build an automated ButterBot to simplify his morning routine.


“The Indian way of making buttermilk involves churning curd to and fro to get the fat out as butter, and leave the liquid behind as buttermilk. This is usually done with a wooden stirrer and a rope wrapped around it – tugging on either ends of the rope makes the stirrer churn the life out of the fat,” our friends at littleBits write.

The ButterBot expedites this process using an ATtiny25 powered servo motor, along with a cloudBit module to handle the time-bound automation.


“We didn’t want to get into the complexities of gearing and wanted the device have an earthy feel to it. So we got two plates of wood turned on a lathe, used one as a plate for the servo motor, the other as a holder for the churner, held the two together with a piece of laser cut acrylic and connected the motion with a piece of red twine,” Sonavane explains.


How it works is super easy. Every morning at 8am, an IFTTT recipe tells the cloudBit to activate the tinyAVR based servo which moves the rope to and fro, churning the buttermilk for 20 minutes straight. The milk then sits for five minutes as the butter rises. At 8:30, when the buttermilk is ready, another IFTTT recipe turns the ButterBot off. Once completed, Makers can add milk to the bowl and leave the curd to set for the next day.

Looking to jumpstart your morning with buttermilk? You’ll have to check out Sonavane’s entire build here.