Robots Can’t Bring You A Beer, But They Can Brew It!
Beer brewing can be fun, and is something that is easily accomplished at home. However, like many complex processes, brewing beer that tastes good and has consistent quality requires an attention to detail that is often challenging for hobby beer brewers.
Thankfully, affordable technology exists to assist home brewers in their quest for tasty beer on a repeatable, predictable basis. Utilizing off the shelf components along with
smartphones that almost everyone carries around in their pockets these days, Leo Innovations LLC successfully designed and launched Bieree: Smartphone Beer Brewing System.
Constructive Feedback Yields Results-
Driven by their passion for beer brewing, the founders at Leo Innovations spent years experimenting and refining their approach. Their initial attempts, though successful at producing quality beer, met with some criticism. The main complaint was that the system was too automated, too robotic. It produced the beer with a minimum of interaction from operators - as if it was on autopilot, so users felt isolated from the process.
Responding to this valuable feedback, the developers came up with the latest Bieree version expanding its user programability and data display/collection. Not only can users set parameters like temperatures and times, they can also expand the system to include other types of sensors or controls.
The Bieree beer brewing system has five basic elements. The heart of the system is a Bluetooth enabled micro controller with two power FETs. Fluid is pumped through the system using dual food grade coffee machine pumps. A temperature probe monitors operating temperatures, which are extremely critical for brewing. Devices are switched on or off using a power relay.
Users control the system using custom software applications available on both Android and iPhone/iOS platforms. Using the app of their choice, users setup the controller to measure temperatures, turn pumps on to circulate water through the different brewing vessels, and control refrigerated cooling. Communication between the smartphone and the Bierre process controller is via Bluetooth.
Successful Kickstarter Project-
Setting modest, yet achievable, goals, the company introduced Bieree to the world via a Kickstarter project in the summer of 2014. The project attracted 57 backers, primarily through word of mouth among beer brewing hobbyists, and exceeded it’s project funding goal of $6,000.
The People That Made It Happen-
Leo Innovations was founded by Leonardo Estevez who was born in Uruguay, became a naturalized US citizen, and holds both a PhD in Electrical Engineering and a Masters degree in Cognitive Neuroscience. He is committed to helping students to develop STEM based products that improve users quality of life.
Using open source hardware and software developed by Leo, Sam Dalong, the Leo Innovations project lead and designer, produced the Bierre kit. Sam holds a Masters degree in mathematics, and like Leo, has a strong interest in STEM development and motivating users.
Uncle Bob (a.k.a. Robert Lam) has taught numerous humanoid robot builders how to create smooth, realistic motions, has designed a new and extremely affordable biped robot named "Wahoo".
Capable of smooth walking using only three servos, Wahoo can also be controlled by an Android based smartphone. Uncle Bob has an iOS version in the works as well.
The robot stands approximately 15 cm tall and sports an Android shaped body shell produced on a 3D printer. The servos are low-cost 9 gram types with 6 AAA batteries hidden in the robots legs. Communication with the smartphone is via Bluetooth, so it should be possible to control the robot from any Bluetooth enabled computer.
I'm so incredibly jealous. Lady Ada over at AdaFruit Industries has all these great toys to play and experiment with, and she's figured out how to do it while enriching all of our hacker lives and making a little money to find more great stuff.
The 'toy' that triggered this post for me is some conductive rubber stretch cord that acts as a sensor. It's like being able to pull on the end of a resistor and have it's characteristics change linearly as it gets longer and shorter. Way cool! And it is incredibly cheap. She's priced it at less than ten dollars for a full meter and even includes a pair of alligator clips and a 10k resistor. Science teachers, for example, could dice it up and have enough for each student to have a piece for experiments.
The only drawback that I can see is that the sensor takes a little while to recover after being stretched, though I guess that could be compensated for in some applications by using two sensors in opposition.
As usual, the AdaFruit website has a great related tutorial page so you can learn while having fun.
Lady Ada and Phillip Torrone stopped by Tokyo Hackerspace and were kind enough to explain the history, dynamic growth, and drive behind the Open Source Hardware movement. They are also the founders of AdaFruit Industries, a fantastic source for innovative and inspirational electronics and arduino kits that are actually useful.
My personal fascination with electronics and technology started at a very early age when Santa brought a simple electronics experimenter kit one Christmas Eve. All the components were laid out on a board and each one had small wire springs for terminal contacts. The instruction book included diagrams showing how to hook up the wires to complete each circuit.
I can't remember all of the experiments exactly, but I do know there was a switch triggered burglar alarm, some light circuits, and a crystal radio, among others. The 'radio' used a rough crystal with a cat's whisker probe with no application. Luckily we were living in Southern California at the time with at least one 50,000 watt broadcast radio station that I could pick up.
I was very intrigued, and pleased, to discover Andrew Alter, a leading humanoid robot designer, Mech Warfare organizer, and RoboGames champion, explaining the Electronic Brick Starter Kit, since it shows that the same basic approach is still very much in use today.
’Old Electronics Kit Concept Made New (Video)’ continues