counterbotaniDid you know that your kitchen countertop is probably dirtier that your toilet seat? It’s true, and studies have shown that there is more E. coli in your kitchen sink than inside of your toilet after it is flushed. It’s also safer to make a salad on a toilet seat than it is to do so on the average kitchen cutting board. All of this is pretty scary when you consider all of the potential within your kitchen for spreading foodborne illness.

For one man, named Jeff Kerr, this has always been on his mind, so when he heard about the MakerBot/FirstBuild Countertop Challenge, he jumped at the opportunity to create something useful.

“I took the goal of this contest rather literally — not something that just happens to sit on the countertop, or something more generally for the kitchen, but something that actually works, somehow with the countertop itselfm” Kerr tells 3DPrint.com. Cleaning, of course is what comes to mind immediately, and with some people,although not me, sanitizing after the big chunks have been removed is a big issue.”

So Kerr came up with a device which he refers to as the CounterBot, a UVC countertop sanitizer. As many of us know, ultraviolet C (UVC) light is quite an effective antimicrobial, thus Kerr used this knowledge in creating his unique Counterbot.

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Kerr has a history of creating robots, and from his experience he knew that his Counterbot would need to be circular in shape so that it would not get stuck in the corners of a typical countertop.

“The basic mechanical design i a hockey-puck shape with two turtle-style drive wheels in the center and a simple tail-dragger nub in the back,” Kerr tells us. ” I initially wanted to use UVC LED’s for the sanitizer, but they are still incredibly expensive ($100’s each), so I ended up finding a really cheap hand-held sanitizer unit with a straight bulb on eBay and cannibalizing it.”

counterbot3All of the robot’s mechanical bits were designed using Solidworks, which Kerr says makes getting all of the details right for the mating surfaces and mounting holes, very simple. In its current state, the robot doesn’t have a “brain”, meaning it can just propel forward. However, Kerr plans to team with a colleague in order to create a custom Arduino compatible controller board with a tilt sensor, downward-looking drop-off sensors, motor drivers, and navigation software.

The prototype which Kerr has uploaded the design files for, cost him approximately $12 to make, and he doesn’t think his final version will cost more than $50 to create. As for whether or not Kerr will move forward with his design in order to create a product for resale, he has not yet decided.

“There will be be some improvements to the mechanics,” he tells us. “The real question is whether there is any interest in turning it into a real product. From what I gather, that is what FirstBuild is all about, and hopefully it will garner some attention in that regard.”

There is no doubt that it will garner some attention, and perhaps it will be one of the three winners announced in the challenge on April 20, 2015. What do you think about this countertop sanitizer? Do you think it has the potential to keep the average kitchen free of harmful bacteria? Discuss this creation in the Counterbot forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video of the Counterbot in action below.

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