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.
I had the great opportunity to meet many of the Aldebaran NAO Robot Development Program participants in Paris last weekend when I was asked to be on the jury rating all of the projects they submitted during the codathon. The work that they're doing is innovative and often surprising, so it would be hard to single out anyone's project as being outstanding or extremely unique. Nevertheless, there were some projects that I want to talk about in upcoming posts because I feel they may interest and hopefully inspire my readers.
A good example is "Play With Red Ball", the Spring 2012 NAO Developer Days project developed by Franck Calzada. The concept seems simple enough - just have your humanoid robot bend over, reach out with its hand, and pickup a red ball. However, in the real world that sequence that you and I as human beings take for granted, is extremely complex.
’NAO Robot Wizards: Franck Calzada’ continues
The already awesome DARwin-OP humanoid robot just got better. Robotis, the manufacturer of most of the servos, electronics, and hardware that goes into DARwin-op, announced the release of new force sensing feet.
The new feet include built-in force sensing resistors (FSR), and comes pre-assembled as a unit with hinge frames and covers. According to Robotis, swapping DARwin's existing feet with the new foot design should be very straight forward.
One of the most active debates about robots running ability has always centered around whether or not both of the robots feet leave the ground at the same time. When Honda's ASIMO humanoid robot was first demonstrated running, lots of critics immediately questioned if it had actually achieved "running" to that point or not. Eventually videos surfaced showing that indeed, for a fraction of a second, both of ASIMO's feet were in the air.
That being said, ASIMO is a multi million dollar, multi-decade research project backed with a staff of engineers and developers from one of the world's most well known automobile manufacturers. Could the same performance, at least as far as running is concerned, be achieved by a hobbyist working essentially alone in his workshop?
I don't know about you, but personally I've been waiting patiently since I was a kid for the jet packs we were promised to hit the market. I had visions of zipping around the neighborhood like Flash Gordon.
At the same time, I've been intrigued by the DIY drone robot creations that have popped up recently using multiple props. They seem extremely stable, and reasonably low cost. So, why not have the best of both worlds? How about a multi-prop copter with enough power to carry an average sized human through the air?
That's exactly what the e-volo team in Germany set out to do with considerable success.
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.