The large meal dispenser.
The small meal dispenser, which is comprised of a stepper motor, and a rack and pinion mechanism.
The mechanism for opening the fridge door.
The fridge portion of the project. The sous vide apparatus will be placed at the base of the fridge.
Full project setup.
This machine is for the everyday person who is too busy to prepare a home cooked meal. SuperVide only requires the preparation, and the rest of the cooking is done through a couple of taps on your phone through Twilio text messaging or the SuperVide web app.
What it does
SuperVide is an automated sous vide cooker. Sous vide is a french style of cooking where food is placed in a vacuum and cooked in water at a constant temperature for an extended period of time. This style of cooking is used by many high end restaurants, as the resulting food quality is very good. SuperVide takes the sous vide cooking method and automates it. The connected fridge stores all of the meals, which allows for the entire process to happen while the user is away from home.
Multiple food items can be cooked at once. The SuperVide will determine which item uses the higher temperature of water and cook the food in descending order, so that nothing is cooked at too high of a temperature.
How I built it
The SuperVide is comprised of 3 main components: the fridge door opener, the food dispensing system, and the sous vide cooking apparatus.
The door opener uses a servo to activate a lever arm, which opens the fridge door. The food dispensing system includes 2 subsystems: the small item dispenser, and the large meal dispenser. The small item dispenser is ideal for eggs or vegetables, and is dispensed using a stepper motor that controls a rack and pinion. The large meal dispenser is for the main course of your sous vide meal (i.e. steaks, fish, etc.). This subsystem is controlled using a servo. The sous vide cooking apparatus is located under the fridge, and has two heating elements to heat the water to the necessary temperature. When the food is done cooking, the heating elements will lower the heat of the water to keep the food warm until you get home.
Challenges I ran into
The mechanisms and hardware involved in this project were challenging to setup. They involve a lot of minute movements that are required to activate several different key events.
We also kept cracking eggs! The drop from the refrigerator into the sous vide water bath was too great. To solve this problem we created a basket for the eggs to fall into, which prevented them from hitting the bottom of the water basin.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
All of the systems work!
What I learned
We learned a lot about the Twilio API, and had a fun time implementing that into our project!
What's next for SuperVide
Further development of the food dispensing system, which would involve increased customization and number of different food items that you can choose from at a given time. A better web app is also something that is on our list of things to do.