There’s something almost infectious about the DIY spirit. Once you’ve succumbed, every project seems at least vaguely manageable, every task however mundane considered in terms of how it could be streamlined or automated. That was the case with DIYer Brian McEvoy of St. Paul, Minnesota, who decided that even the relatively simple task of making tea could be easier.
McEvoy, also known as “24 Hour Engineer” on the Instructables DIY site, confessed, “I am scatterbrained. I like to drink hot tea. Oversteeped tea gets bitter. I am easily distracted,” all compelling reasons for “over-engineering” an Arduino-assisted tea brewing system. McEvoy’s Automatic Tea Maker looks a bit like one of the zany inventions of Commander Caractacus Potts (the eccentric inventor character from the Ian Fleming book and film adaptation, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” for all of you readers under 30). The device features a text display and 3D-printed parts, so this modern-day inventor has certainly availed himself of the latest in maker-tech.
While the device is largely 3D printed, you’ll need some additional materials, most of which can be sourced from EBay pretty cheaply. If you don’t have a 3D printer, you can always download McEvoy’s STL files and use a web-based 3D printing service like Shapeways or i.materialise, who will ship the freshly-printed parts to you while you wait for the other materials to arrive. You will need the following:
- 16 x 2 LCD character display
- 5V Arduino Mini
- 9g servo motor
- Normally open (NO) switch
- 3-position rectangular male header pins
- Various hardware
- Male USB plug with cord
- Small-gauge wire
Yes! You’ll be doing some soldering as well as some programming for this project! If you don’t have programming experience, this will be a good project to begin with as McEvoy has written the program and has provided easy-to-comprehend instructions for programming the Arduino Mini and for soldering. McEvoy, a self-professed incessant talker, evidently did some pretty extensive self-editing for this project, which involves five steps as opposed to a previous 72-step effort previously posted–his “tCDS Thinking Cap” (Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation).
The Automatic Tea Maker is powered by the USB cable. The device clips to the side of your tea cup. When the dial on the device is turned, the display will tell you how long you need to wait while your tea is steeping. McEvoy’s evident loathing of oversteeped tea led him to include this feature. The text at the top of the display will tell you what kind of tea is steeped for that length of time, but here’s the caveat according to McEvoy: “These times are not universally agreed upon.”
McEvoy turned to the website, Art of Tea, for answers and offers anyone who takes on this project the Arduino code to do so. McEvoy’s video shows how the device is assembled and how it works. For tips on consuming your tea–pinky extended or held in check–we recommend “How to Drink Tea Like the English.” Let us know if you have tried replicating this project. Discuss in the 3D Printed Tea Maker forum thread on 3DPB.com.