Caffeine 4 Me

Caffeine 4 Me is another project that I completed at a “hackathon,” which is a programming and hardware competition where teams have 36 hours to create a product and present their working prototype to judges.  This was completed at MHacks V, the fifth hackathon at the University of Michigan, and is most notable for being the largest hackathon hosted in the country.  In this project, I worked with three other members.

Caffeine 4 Me was inspired by a group member who was upset with the fact he had to reprogram his coffee machine every night, since he woke up at different times each day. We decided to solve this problem by creating Caffeine 4 Me.  We took an ordinary cheap coffee maker, and added cloud functionality allowing for many additional features. The target user is anyone who is looking for a cheap coffee maker that has the more advanced features than a more expensive one. The coffee machine is connected to the cloud with a Tessel, a mini computer we enclosed in the coffee maker, via WiFi, allowing a user to visit a user friendly web page on his/her mobile device to start and stop their coffee maker. It also allows them to schedule multiple times for the coffee maker to enable itself on a calendar.

We are extremely proud of our solution in the short amount of time we had. We control the coffee maker using two relays, one relay that applies 9V to a stronger relay connected to the coffee maker. We had to do this because we couldn’t find one specific relay we needed, so we used the resources we had and we decided to put them in series. There is a LED indicating brew status which we found extremely helpful. Our proudest part of our solution is the cloud connectivity and how it just all “works” together.

For this project, I did most of the electrical engineering and programmed and worked with the Tessel microcontroller.  The design we created allowed for the coffee machine to switch on when the Tessel received a command from a web server.  Another group member was tasked with creating the website, so I had to make sure that the Tessel was able to interface with his website.  I was able to coordinate with my group members well, and allowed for the microcontroller to respond to commands sent by our website, allowing for the coffee machine to be activated anywhere in the world.  The hardest part was coming up with the relay design, as we initially were blowing our relays due to the high current draw of the coffee maker.  The design to include two relays was created by one other group member and me, and was the most challenging part of the project.  I also created the internal circuitry to convert the 120V AC power coming into the coffee maker to 5V DC for the Tessel microcontroller.   The project did not win any formal awards, but was featured at the end of the event as a “Staff Favorite” on the project submission website.   Overall, it was a fun project and I learned a lot partaking in it.

Here is the website to our project with more information:

Here is the code that I wrote for the microcontroller and the code my group member wrote for the web service:

Video of it in action: