Archive for November, 2007

The Endless Coffee Pot

Monday, November 5th, 2007

One of the reasons I find life inspiring is the endless variation of humanity, at least among those who think. They’re like little chaos engines out of control, but they’re making the kind of chaos that breeds new futures, not the kind of chaos that is simply disorder, like an old garage stuffed with junk too useless for anyone to sort through.

Some of these chaotic humans recently invented an Endless Coffee Pot as part of their senior thesis in electrical engineering. They designed, built, and programmed (in C++) a microcontroller-assisted coffee pot that loads itself with coffee, drains out stale coffee, throws out coffee grounds, and maintains a constant temperature. It has an LCD display and would very easily make a vending machine.

According to their paper on the topic, the endless coffee pot (ECP) requires little or no user interaction. “The user would enter the current time, start time, interval of operation and stop time. The other tasks that would require user maintenance would be the loading of coffee pouches into the dispenser and unloading used pouches from the waste receptacle.”

The paper goes on to give us technical specs and a project description. “The core component of the entire product is a ‘run-of-the-mill’ Proctor Silex coffee maker [1] which performs the basic brewing process. The brain of the product is Mini-Max/51C-2 8051 microcontroller board manufactured by BiPOM Electronics [2] and interfaces with all sensors, pumps, and motors through the Custom-Built Integration Board (CBIB). ”

Humanity keeps delighting me with its chaos, and the ECP surely qualifies. Some chaos is like lively thoughts on no particular topic, but other chaos is like the mental checklists I do at the end of the night before I fall asleep. These are laundry lists with no order, and so each item no matter how small seems the most important until thinking about it exhausts me, and I drop into the lively chaos of dreams.