Eating is important, I mean, it's really freaking important. So when circumstances make it hard to eat, it makes us mad. A perfect example of this when you go to an ice-cream shop and get a blizzard or similar dessert. While driving away from said shop you begin this precarious dance involving Mint Oreo ice-cream, a long spoon and a two ton piece of metal traveling at 70 mph. So we decided we wanted to make a device that allowed its user the freedom to eat and drink, without risking life and limb, while still optimizing their efficiency. (Spilling hot coffee will also become a thing of the past.)
The FFF device does 1 thing, and that is protect its user. Through a system of orthogonal axles, a cup is created that can withstand upwards of 24 Newtons of force in any of its axes. (Calculations done based on a maximum cup weight of 2 lbs, for reference, a Venti Latte weighs 1.5 lbs.) Whether your refreshment is hot and easy to spill, or cold and hard to eat, we allow you do both safely. In future development, a cup-holder attachment will replace the base plate so that it can simply be inserted into the cupholder and held secure.
We started our build by drawing up concept designs of what we wanted, after several iterations, we landed on what we thought would be the perfect setup, so we packed our gear and headed to a wood shop where we could build our first prototype. Using drill presses and a jig saw, we made the extremely crude wooden model. With that out of the way, we used sketchup to create a 3D model which we could refer to for the rest of the project. We then promptly slept for several hours. The next 8 hours were spent welding, bending metal, welding again, using the Mill to drill necessary holes, re-welding broken welds and just in general welding a lot. The final result is our product, which hope you will enjoy.
Some of the greatest challenges for this build came down to the physical placement of the bearing that create the joints between the "Cup", "Arm" and "Fork". These were tricky as in order for the cup to swivel evenly and smoothly within the fork, both bearings had to be in perfect parallel and so did the welds. (Haha...haha...haha) The other major problem we ran into, came from a misunderstanding of welding. For the majority of welding machines, it is impossible to weld aluminium, but us being us, we bought 80% of our metal supplies in aluminium so we had to make do for the rig, cup, fork and arm all out of scrap metal. (Hence the reason we couldn't complete the cup holder attachment.
Despite the problems with the welding, one of the things I'm proudest of, is the welding. Before this hackathon, I had welded once before, and now I feel very confident for future projects.
That it is very easy to create tension springs with bearings slightly out of parallel. We also learned that any good project requires two things. 1: A solid game plan that lays out what needs to be done, when and by whom. 2: That a game plan is never going to work perfectly, so you need to be flexible.
Free Floating Food can only go upwards! In future models, a stronger base will be built that attaches inside your car. The bearing joints will be replaced with servos so that it adjusts perfectly. It will contain an arduino and be powered through the car 12V plugin. The design will also be made primarily using 3D printed pieces as this will cut the production cost in half and will make it more marketable to the public. (Plebeians...::Scoffs::)
Thank you for your consideration, Free Floating Food