Our previous hackathon, we built software, so we wanted to do something hardware based this time. Re-purposing something old seemed fun, so our mind landed on re-purposing an old VCR player and a toaster.
What it does
It allows the user to enter their toast into the VHS slot of the player. They can then select the level of toasting they want on their bread, and then it will toast inside the player until ready, after which it will be dispensed back out the tape slot.
How we built it
We gutted both the toaster and the VHS player, and salvaged the heating units from the toaster. The shell of the VHS was used to attach the heating elements over where the VHS tape would have been (taking appropriate precautions for the large increase in heat inside the unit). We used our raspberry pi to program the buttons and control when the heating elements would be on and off, and the dispense the toast after toasting for the appropriate amount of time.
Challenges we ran into
The heat in and of itself was a challenge, so we had to make sure we took all precautions to avoid injury to ourselves or the risk of starting an electrical fire, and we had no issues emerge, so we mitigated this risk to our project. Another challenge was unfamiliarity with the devices we were tearing apart, both the toaster and the VCR had more complex internal mechanics than expected, but we were able to understand those and salvage what we needed and remove what we did not.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Actually getting it to work! When we got our first piece of (only slightly crisp) toast, we felt like we actually had been successful in the endeavor. Having the raspberry pi controlling the elements inside of the VCR was an accomplishment as well, since it gave us much more control over the process flow.
What we learned
Lots of things - python programming for the raspberry pi, electrical connections, and some inner mechanics of common (or formerly common) household devices.
What's next for The Brave Little Toaster
Making us a well earned breakfast after we sleep this hackathon off, and then continuing as a memento to what our team was able to accomplish here today.