Kitchen Computer


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by PaulBuxton » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:54 am
I am considering doing a Kitchen Computer, it could do a number of tasks, from allowing you to lookup your recipes online, to timers for different stages of cooking.

I have also ordered a USB thermometer from ebay (£8) and a USB controlled Solid State relay (£16). Planning to put the relay into an enclosure to provide a simple/cheap usb controlled mains socket. Planning on hooking them all together to try and do a home made Sous Vide cooker using my slow cooker.

I want to keep the various bits quite modular so that I am not restricted in what I can do with the bits at a later date. Also keeps the amount of wiring I have to do down to a minimum. In this case it is just the mains relay that needs wiring, everything else is software.

Paul.
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by Afterglow » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:14 pm
Hi Paul,

I've been thinking down the kitchen computer route too, although I'd not considered the control aspects until seeing your ideas.  Not sure I'll follow on that score, but will certainly watch your progress with interest.

I started by thinking about an inventory of groceries (not because we ***really*** need it, ofc, but because it's possible).  Hooking up a CCD barcode reader via USB (about £60 I think) and building a little database so that my 17 yr old son should never again suffer the horrors of running out of baked beans.

There's probably a fair bit of work to build something like this and not sure I'm ready for that yet.  Although if I could find a freebie stock control database for Linux I could probably start from that.

I really like your idea of timers and recipes too.  I guess just a browser could be pretty good for recipes, given the number of websites covering that now.  With a sensibly priced and sized screen, it would make an ideal kitchen aid.

I haven't written any code for at least 15 years, so the thought of playing with RPi has me all excited.  Family think I'm nuts, of course.

Roll on the release date!

Cheers,

Lee
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by grumpyoldgit » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:19 pm
I suspect a computer that will get him out of bed in the morning, tidy his room and extract all the discarded clothes for washing would be a better bet!
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by Afterglow » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:23 pm
Grumpyoldgit said:


I suspect a computer that will get him out of bed in the morning, tidy his room and extract all the discarded clothes for washing would be a better bet!



Lol!  I was thinking in the realms of the possible, rather than fantasy.  But now you've got me thinking.  Maybe full Wallace & Gromit style household automation becomes possible with Rpi in our lives.  Hmmm......
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by grumpyoldgit » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:29 pm
On a more serious note, I'm sure there was a news item in the last few weeks about a self ordering fridge that had been developed. Packets were scanned in and out and replacement orders sent off to the supermarket.

This might be it.

http://www.food-hygiene-online.....nise-food/
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by mattsgreen » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:08 am
No need to buy a barcode scanner - you can just use a webcam.

Check out this project: http://zbar.sourceforge.net/
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by Prometheus » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:10 am
Grumpyoldgit said:


On a more serious note, I'm sure there was a news item in the last few weeks about a self ordering fridge that had been developed. Packets were scanned in and out and replacement orders sent off to the supermarket.

This might be it.

http://www.food-hygiene-online.....nise-food/


On a less serious note (my apologies) for some reason, I'm reminded of this collection of images from a book called "2010: Living in the Future". :P
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by Afterglow » Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:35 pm
The zbar project looks ideal as long as it's not overly technical to get it working sensibly with a webcam hooked up next to the fridge :)

Not sure about living in the 2010 from that book.  I sometimes get to sleep on the sofa when I snore too much, but I don't much fancy the floor.

Lee
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by gidoca » Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:01 am
BusinessCoach said:


Hooking up a CCD barcode reader via USB (about £60 I think)


You can get them a lot cheaper, e.g. this one for €28.
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by kevsan2402 » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:53 am
I have already completed one of these, and it is something I am thinking of resurrecting when the PI is in my hot little hands.

I got a barcode reader from ebay - £12, and much better than the trials I did with a webcam..

Have a look at http://www.upcdatabase.com/ I used this as a basis for my database, and it routinely pulled an update down to populate the fields with data, but I found I needed a local table as well.

The biggest issue I had was getting a touchscreen to work, but that was more the touchscreen that I got wasnt really supported anywhere. However, I would say that in a kitchen, a touchscreen is a must.

Kev.
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by crundy » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:21 am
I'd be interested to know how you get on with using the R-Pi to be a sous vide controller. Would you use a rice cooker or similar plugged into the relay?
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by PaulBuxton » Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:52 pm
I have a cheap slow cooker that I will be using to do the actual cooking.

The cooking device needs to ideally be as dumb as possible, as otherwise it would get screwed up by the turning on and off constantly.

I did have a look at seeing if I could get a heating element, of some type (like those ones you used to be able to get for boiling a cup of water), but they don't sell them in the UK anymore and it would need something to circulate the water a bit. I beleive that the slow cooker should have a more distributed heat source.

My initial plans for the interface are to have a VNC session running on the rPi (wifi on a USB dongle) and some very simple C programs that you just run with a target temperature and it will try and maintain that temp. I intend to refine this to use a Python app running a web interface, so that I can just connect to it with my phone. The application could contain knowledge of different foods and their target cooking times / temperatures.

The more I think about it the more fun stuff could be done with it!

In terms of price this is the cheapest sous vide setup I have seen, and it should also be one of the most flexible ones.

Paul.
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by crundy » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:03 pm
You can still buy those heating elements, I've seen them in Clas Ohlson. You can get them from camping stores as well. I guess if you wanted to use one of them you'd have to shield the vacuum bags from it somehow (to stop the bag melting against it) and buy a cheap aquarium powerhead to keep the water moving (about 100L/h should be fine).

The guy who cooked all the recipes in the Fat Duck cookbook used a rice cooker:

Equipment

(Under the Sous Vide heading)

A slow cooker might be fine, but I'm wondering if it would get hot enough? How high do they go generally?
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by PaulBuxton » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:32 pm
I am not sure exactly how hot they get, but I certainly recall stuff bubbling. One of the first things I intend to do when I get hold of the rPi and the thermometer is to graph the temperature with the slow cooker just turned on as usual. That should allow me to see how hot it gets and how long it takes to get there.

I have seen DIY sous vide projects using a slow cooker/crock pot. There is one mentioned in Cooking for Geeks (an excellent book which I heartily recommend).

http://www.cookingforgeeks.com.....sous-vide/

So I think it should be up to the job, but at the end of the day I will have to test it to see.
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by Afterglow » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:27 pm
Paul,

I did a search for sous vide cookery and discovered why you're so interested.  I'll watch with interest to see how this goes.  The applications for the RPi in the kitchen are pretty much endless.

Now, when can we get one!

Lee
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by crundy » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:33 pm
You can cook sous vide with a cooking thermometer and a heat diffuser. You just need to keep an eye on it and make constant temperature adjustments. Having it done for you like the OP is suggesting means you can leave it unsupervised or leave it overnight (e.g. for Heston's flaming sorbet recipe you have to sous vide peeled and quartered apples for 14 hours!)
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by crundy » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:43 pm
By the way, where did you get the USB relay from? My Google-fu is weak today :-\
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by aperry » Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:06 pm
I plan to make a Sous Vide machine as well, but I'll be using an Arduino.  It just seems a lot easier (at least for me).

For anyone doing this in the US, I noticed the other day that Costco has the Foodsaver (vacuum sealer) on sale for $65.

I love the idea of a kitchen computer for Raspi.  I have visions of a poor man's iPad, framed into the kitchen wall.  Used for recipes, airplay music, shopping lists, etc.
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by PaulBuxton » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:19 am
Crundy said:


By the way, where did you get the USB relay from? My Google-fu is weak today :-\



Ordered the relay from this place, they have quite a selection of different ones,

http://www.ecrater.co.uk/p/118.....ne-channel

aperry said:


I plan to make a Sous Vide machine as well, but I'll be using an Arduino.  It just seems a lot easier (at least for me).


For me the Arduino option seems more awkward, as as well as requiring more wiring for the probe and relay (instead of the pretty simple pluging in of a USB connector) it also needs a way of looking at and setting up the target temperature. You can certainly do a tidier solution with the Arduino and I have seen some nice touch sensative rotary potentiometers that could do a very nice interface for setting the temperature. But for me certainly I find it easier putting most of the work into software.

Also there is the nice fact that nobody has done one with a rPi yet. If I am well prepared I can be the first! :-)

Paul.
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by crundy » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:23 am
PaulBuxton said:


Ordered the relay from this place, they have quite a selection of different ones,

http://www.ecrater.co.uk/p/118.....ne-channel


Thanks. So you either have to wire your appliance directly into it or wire an extension cable to it to allow you plug in a standard appliance or several appliances?
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by PaulBuxton » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:35 am
Crundy said:


PaulBuxton said:


Ordered the relay from this place, they have quite a selection of different ones,

http://www.ecrater.co.uk/p/118.....ne-channel


Thanks. So you either have to wire your appliance directly into it or wire an extension cable to it to allow you plug in a standard appliance or several appliances?


Yep.

Maplin do a PSU enclosure (like the ones you get for DC transformers) into which I will be putting the relay, from that it will go to a mains extension type socket. The plan is that by doing it this way I get a general purpose mains switching device that I can use for whatever.
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by crundy » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:50 am
PaulBuxton said:


Crundy said:


PaulBuxton said:


Ordered the relay from this place, they have quite a selection of different ones,

http://www.ecrater.co.uk/p/118.....ne-channel


Thanks. So you either have to wire your appliance directly into it or wire an extension cable to it to allow you plug in a standard appliance or several appliances?


Yep.

Maplin do a PSU enclosure (like the ones you get for DC transformers) into which I will be putting the relay, from that it will go to a mains extension type socket. The plan is that by doing it this way I get a general purpose mains switching device that I can use for whatever.


Cool. Please do take photos along the build and blog about it here so we can learn from your wisdom. I want to incorporate relays for a few different projects but I'm still a bit scared of playing with electricity without knowing what I'm doing :-\
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by PaulBuxton » Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:33 pm
I have created a google project page for it here

http://code.google.com/p/pi-sous-vide/

I will fill that in with details as I go.

At the moment it has some code for a very simplistic web-front end which will allow you to submit a new target temperature. It periodically reads from a dummy thermometer (which increases it's temperature readout everytime it is read) and will set the state of the controller variable to True whenever it is over the target temperature).

I will refine this as I progress. I should be able to prototype the access to both the thermometer and switch as soon as I have them (without needing a Pi).

Paul.
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by PaulBuxton » Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:33 pm
I have created a google project page for it here

http://code.google.com/p/pi-sous-vide/

I will fill that in with details as I go.

At the moment it has some code for a very simplistic web-front end which will allow you to submit a new target temperature. It periodically reads from a dummy thermometer (which increases it's temperature readout everytime it is read) and will set the state of the controller variable to True whenever it is over the target temperature).

I will refine this as I progress. I should be able to prototype the access to both the thermometer and switch as soon as I have them (without needing a Pi).

Paul.
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by PaulBuxton » Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:33 pm
I have created a google project page for it here

http://code.google.com/p/pi-sous-vide/

I will fill that in with details as I go.

At the moment it has some code for a very simplistic web-front end which will allow you to submit a new target temperature. It periodically reads from a dummy thermometer (which increases it"s temperature readout everytime it is read) and will set the state of the controller variable to True whenever it is over the target temperature). It uses the Tornado python web libraries.

I will refine this as I progress. I should be able to prototype the access to both the thermometer and switch as soon as I have them (without needing a Pi).

Paul.

ps. Incidentally my main area of coding expertise is neither Python nor web based(Javascript), so anyone wanting to help out on making the interface nicer to use is more than welcome.
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