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Tea-Pi

A voice controlled automatic loose-leaf tea-brewer for fine teas

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Designed to brew delicate loose-leaf or bagged teas at precise temperatures for the a high-quality consistent cup of tea. It will accept voice commands, allow you to schedule tea so that you have a hot pot waiting for you when you get home or before you get up in the morning and it will be able to be easily controlled via web and text messages as well. The target price point is < $70 making it significantly cheaper and more fully featured than commercial available loose tea makers (like the $300 BTM800XL) as well as easier to clean, modify and program to work the way you want it to work.
There are two main guiding principles behind the project:
1) It should be easy enough for someone with no hardware / coding experience to put together
2) It should be sourced from easily available parts that can either be ordered cheaply online or found lying about the house/local hardware store. No printing, milling or custom boards

This project seeks to emulate the capabilities of commercial products like: http://www.amazon.com/Breville-BTM800XL-One-Touch-... but for less than $300 and with more features and modability. 

As someone with little (read 'no') electronics experience the project is also a first exposure to the world of soldering and making hardware interact with software in a useful way. If the project is successful it will, almost by definition, be easy enough for anyone with no experience with coding and electronics to emulate.

The ultimate end goal is to have a device which, after placing water into an electric kettle and loose tea into an infuser basket can then receive a command such as:

"Teapi -  180 degrees for 3 minutes, cool to 110 and notify"

And it will proceed to brew the tea at 180 degrees, steep the leaves for exactly three minutes, then remove the leaves and hold the water temperature at 110 degrees until turned off. 

It will also be able to respond to pre-recorded macros such as:
"Computer - Earl Grey. Hot."

  • 1 × Raspberry pi model b revision 2.0
  • 1 × HP 2.0 Compact Speakers (BR387AA#ABA) One of the 2 speakers has been cut off for use in a different project so it's just a single speaker which is more compact
  • 1 × 4.3" Color TFT Car Monitor
  • 1 × Logitech HD Webcam C310 Has a decent microphone for voice recognition, I cannot think of a reason I would need the camera aspect of this to make a cup of tea though.
  • 1 × Edimax EW-7811Un USB Adapter Ethernet where I live is broken due to construction, wifi isn't necessary except for portability

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  • Demonstration Video

    James P.04/18/2014 at 17:44 0 comments

    Finally had sufficient time to post a demonstration video amidst end of semester chaos. I learned that I've got pretty shaky hands / should not pursue a career in film-making so if you want to see what the Tea Pi would look like during a minor earthquake this is the video for you!

    http://youtu.be/HvHA2R994uk

    Still on the agenda:

    1) GUI

    2) Scheduled Brewing

    3) Web Control

    4) Power servo from mains instead of battery

    5) Step by step construction guide

  • A list of things I hate: plastics.

    James P.03/14/2014 at 19:37 0 comments

    With the coding for the project coming along nicely I figured I might spend some time transforming it from a pile of wires on my (currently traveling) roommate's desk into something a little more manageable. I had finally procured the last few pieces of my project (a servo and one of those huge cheap 6v flashlight batteries to power it)  and so there was no reason to hold off on finalizing the build.

    Keeping with the style of the project (i.e. inexpensive stuff already in my dorm room), I selected a 6 Quart Sterilite plastic shoe-box to house the TeaPi.

    Without a doubt, there are more space-efficient ways to make this project work out but this box gives me plenty of space without being ridiculously enormous.

    The next order of business was to find some way to get my power wires into and out of the box. I visited a local hardware store to seek advice with regards to punching holes in plastic. They recommended using a drill which sounded like a great idea. However, given that the purchase of even a very inexpensive drill would increase the cost of this project by 20% and that my university  may not be very amenable to the use of power-tools in my dorm room, I elected instead to see what I could do with my pocket knife and a sense of purpose.

    When I first decided to do this project, stabbing plastic boxes wasn't anywhere near the list of steps I expected to need to take, but everything turned out pretty nice in the end:

    On one end of the box I threaded a power strip through the hole. This would provide power to the USB Hub, Raspberry Pi, Display and Power Switch Tail. One the other side of the box I ran the power switch tail's opposite end out - this is where the kettle of choice would be plugged. Rather than incorporate the kettle into the design (which might be more elegant) I elected to keep the design kettle-independent meaning that any PID controlled device would be relatively easy to run off the same hardware setup (Sous Vide anyone?).


    The next step of the casing was to modify the lid. I had a screen, speaker, webcam and servo that I needed to be able to use outside of the box without reducing it to a mess of wires. I also wanted to be able to connect to my pi via SSH and ethernet easily just in case the wifi was acting up.

    The lid was made of a much thicker and more stab-resistant plastic so my newly learned craft would have to wait until a weaker box worked its way into my life. Instead I took my soldering iron and a tip I had no intention of ever using again and melted 5 stylish holes into the lid. I wasn't quite sure where plastic fumes fit into the whole "smoke-free campus" thing but I ended up finding a secluded bench with a power outlet nearby and didn't have anyone confront me about carcinogen production so I'm guessing it's allowed.


    I'll admit, at this point my head had probably gotten a little big. I'd stabbed, burned and generally abused this polypropylene vessel into a functional electronics casing and emerged without any serious self-inflicted injuries. Only one task remained - attaching the servo.

    Servos have become bane of my existence. The better part of my last two days were spent learning about PWM and jitter and kernel modules and external power supplies and grounding things and a whole mess of nightmares caused by this single cursed device. But nothing can quite compare to the amount of trouble it caused me with respect to actually attaching it to the rest of my project. The screen, speaker and camera all happily bonded with some cheap mounting putty and haven't budged since. But the servo has held on to it's independence with a vengeance.

    After recognizing that the mounting putty and duct tape were no match for the vibrations generated by the servo I moved on to the cure-all of my childhood arts and crafts experiences: hot glue. Alas, apparently servos get quite warm, warm enough to mess with the only hot glue I had handy. Hot glue also doesn't seem to get along with vibrations very well either.

    I returned...

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  • Learning How to Solder (a.k.a. How on earth does all of this still work?)

    James P.03/10/2014 at 21:05 0 comments

    Now that I've finally gotten all of the parts it's time to see if I can jam them together through mostly guesswork + a vague idea of what soldering is that has been garnered from random youtube videos.


    First I assembled the Pi Plate. This was my first time soldering anything ever and it shows:

    Still, I got much better at soldering things towards the end:


    Ok, not really. But in the end all of the ports seem to be alive and kicking and no electrical fires have broken out so what more could I ask for?


    This was also my first attempt at circuit-making. Retrospectively a breadboard would have been a worthwhile investment but the thing pictured below gives surprisingly accurate temperature readings  (within .1 degrees of my real thermometer) to my RPi even if it's a weird mess of wires and floating resistors.

    I also went ahead and attached the powerswitch tail which was remarkably easy to hook up. After heat-shrinking up the temperature sensor here is the completed product. I haven't decided yet on a mechanism for physically raising and lowering the teabasket into the pot so suggestions are welcome if you've got any ideas. I'd like to avoid having things that can't be powered off the Pi's 5v just because I want to limit the number of wires/size of my final product as much as possible (so most servos are probably out).

    Now, with the device below I'm going to move on to the next phase of TeaPi-making: learning python!

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Jasmine Brackett wrote 08/05/2014 at 23:59 point
Hello James P, teatime is over. Did you have any luck sorting out the servos?

I wanted to let you know that you should add a few more details to your project to give it the best chance of going through to the next round of The Hackaday Prize. By August 20th you must have the following:
- A video. It should be less than 2 minutes long describing your project. Put it on YouTube (or Youku), and add a link to it on your project page. This is done by editing your project (edit link is at the top of your project page) and adding it as an "External Link"
- At least 4 Project Logs (you've got 3 already).
- A system design document
- Links to code repositories, and remember to mention any licenses or permissions needed for your project. For example, if you are using software libraries you need to document that information.

There is a couple of tutorial video's with more info here: http://hackaday.com/2014/07/26/4-minutes-to-entry/

Good luck!

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James P. wrote 03/23/2014 at 18:16 point
I currently have a working prototype and will be posting a video of it in operation plus a link to the relevant github soon. Just need to polish up the code and find time to record a vid!

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James P. wrote 04/08/2014 at 03:58 point
Issues with two servos that stripped themselves have temporarily stalled the project while I look for a more durable apparatus for raising and lowering the basket of leaves. If anyone has suggestions for a better strategy (pulley? stepper-motor?) or a more durable servo model within the < $30 price range please share!

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noahdavy18 wrote 01/11/2017 at 17:35 point

Hi James where is the source code for this project as I really like it but was just wondering what the code is by any chance?

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