Coffee Roaster Part 1: Conceptualization

So my good friend Nathan and I decided it would be really fun to build a coffee roaster.

He really wanted to build a PID controller from scratch that ran the roast and I really wanted to build the coffee roaster.

I started studying coffee roasters. During my research, I visited local coffee places that had roasters and studied them, took pictures and thought about how I would design one.

I discovered was that there was primarily two types of roasters out there, barrel roasters that move the beans around a spinning barrel and hot air roasters that shoot hot air into beans and move them around.

I decided to come up with some interesting ways of moving the beans around through hot air.


I thought about a mesh shake table with hot air coming up from below, but thought it might be too unpredictable for an even roast.

Then I thought about a conveyor belt system that would be 3/4 oven and 1/4 glass viewing area so the beans would stay on the belt and you could see them as they went around, kind of like a sushi restaurant. I decided that heating and temporarily cooling the beans wasn’t that efficient even though it looked interesting.

I took the conveyor belt idea and morphed it into a mesh pizza plate concept but then discovered I probably wouldn’t get even heating because the beans in the middle would move through the oven more than the outer ones. Again, uneven roasting.

Then there was a hybrid idea that took the shaker table but removed the shaking and added an agitator and pockets that could open and the roasted beans could fall through.


Another interesting idea would be an auger system that would use pipes and two augers that would move the beans around a pipe system. But what happens when I do a small roast? It probably won’t move the beans the way I want.

Another option is based off an old roaster found in France, it is a simple design but at this point I began to come back around to the barrel design predominantly used in most roasters.

Funny enough I just ended up liking the standard roaster design the most and I wanted to build one out of scavanged parts from kitchen supply stores and scrap yards.

I split up the design into an upper barrel and lower oven section and started the parts search.

And that is ultimately what I am going to build.


Dog Door Bell

When you have a dog you generally have to let them out in the back yard often.

If you don’t want to let bugs in the house and want to be alerted to the dog being back then a dog doorbell would be great.

When the dog gets within three feet of the door a sensor detects wirelessly that the dongle on the dogs color is in range and sounds an customizable alarm.

You can even sync it with your phone and can track your dog’s bathroom trips and get stats to compete with your friends! Ok maybe not the last part but you can see where I’m going.

Potentially this could be improved to add a door opener to the back door to let the dog in automatically.

Coffee System, a study in product ID and process

I had been looking at structural supports and wanted to take the idea of structural supports and cross it with a coffee maker.

I came up with a coffee maker that was a minimalist type of design that utilized structural elements and color to convey the process and sections of making coffee.

I wanted it to be also adaptable and could be assembled to accessories like an auto-grinder system that could order you new beans when getting low.

I still like the idea of being able to see the parts inside of a product to give a full appreciation of the process.

Power from the Heat of Bees using Peltier Thermoelectric Devices

Here is a concept I came up with when I was experimenting with Peltier devices.

The idea is that inside a bee hive it is 33 degrees C / 91 degrees F and that is pretty much fairly reliable when the bees are present.

What if we harnessed the power of that heat with Peltier devices?? Could we have peltier plates inside the hive converting that heat into reusable energy.

I am not claiming you could run a house or anything but I think you could realistically get enough energy to store in a battery to power some LED lights here and there.

Spooky: the undead girl that watches you

This is a sketch of an idea I had for a character in a haunted house.

Spooky would sit on the ground with her teddy bear and just look at you with her empty sockets with a grin on her face that has been stitched up.

She wouldn’t say a word but just keep her eyes on you and keep you in her sight hoping you might play with her.

Pretty damn creepy if you ask me, yet somehow incredibly friendly looking.

A Skeleton with a Flexible Spine

This idea sprung from my experience with the various skeletons you can buy.

They are generally pretty stiff and inflexible so I decided it would be really neat to have a skeleton that could be pretty floppy.

The skeleton was going to have clothes on it so I could turn it into a zombie so the internal structure wasn’t going to be seen.

All the measurements of arm and leg length were made from human measurements the joints would be swivel joints so you could really ragdoll this guy.

The most interesting aspect of this idea was the idea I had for the spine.

You can see what I have done is designed a puck with five holes in it, each hole would have some sort of bungee material except the center one.

What this allows you to do is then install a non-bungee material line down the center one and when you tighten it the spine will stay however you have posed it.


This concept is the same as one of those little spring loaded dancing figures where when you press the button on the bottom they go limp and when you let it go they become stiff.

To make the spine I had an idea that you would stick five straws down the middle of a PVC pipe and fill the pipe with epoxy or some other type of filler that would solidify.

You would have to make brackets for the straws because they need to be aligned properly.

Then when everything was solidified you would cut up the segments like cutting bread up.

You would then assemble the segments with Tyvek or some other sort of low friction material between each segment, kind of like a real spine.




A high tech crab trap

Here is one of my ideas I got as far as buying supplies for but just never fully realized.

I spent a lot of time thinking about and sketching up this crab trap.

The idea was simple, people have to check the crab pots by pulling up the pots from the ocean floor to see if they had bait and if crabs were in there.

My idea was to have a buoy with a light on top that would alert you when the bait had been disturbed.

When you got to the buoy you would then plug in a video screen up to the top of the buoy and connect to the camera inside the crab pot so you could check to see if it was time to pull it up.

I devised several versions of this idea and thought long and hard how I would design the bait switch and the camera system.

Maybe ill get around to it and build one for myself, but either way feel free to build your own for non commercial purposes of course.


First was the idea of having a camera and a buoy that would blink when the trigger bait holder was disturbed. So I sketched some IR LED lights, a camera and the bait holder, this would be inside the crab trap. The wires would ride along with the buoy rope and go inside the buoy and trigger the blinking crab alert light.

I started thinking about the bait to buoy connection to trip off the blinking light, here I have the whole blinking and alert circuit inside the bait holder. The length of wire to the surface would likely be a problem with this.

So I moved the circuit to the buoy and made the bait holder magnetic and put a reed switch inside the bait holder to trigger the blink circuit. This would probably work really well and be easy to waterproof.

I decided to do sketch an idea that came up when thinking about this and that was to add some auto thrusters so when the bait was disturbed a timer would start and then the pot would surface on its own.

I still love this idea and would at minimum love to put a camera in a crab pot, but I know others have done this already and I would say the video is totally worth the effort.

Chef Boyardee Costume Sketch

For some unknown reason I was desperately wanted my friend to dress up like Chef Boyardee for Halloween so I sketched up the basic Boyardee costume.

The story had a happy ending, he actually did it one year and even brought a can of ravioli with him, an obvious detail that made the costume.



Theme Park Ride Concept “Old number 9 haunted mine”

I took a really fun class on theme park design and for one of my assignments I came up with a dark ride/roller coaster combination that would take you through a haunted mine with a skeleton miner to guide you throughout the ride. He would pop out periodically to help you navigate the and would even ride along side on a second track at points. It was a cute idea, so I sketched up what the skeleton miner would look like introducing himself complete with a skeleton canary! Its not too surprising that I went with a haunted mine given the town I lived in was an old mining town.



Kool-aid Man Costume Concept

I come up with a lot of ideas all the time but don’t necessarily build them all.

I figure if I at least get the idea down on paper sometimes that is how far I get to have it and it might belong to someone else.

Here is a sketch of the concept of a hoop suit covered with felt and held up by a comfortable harness you would wear like a backpack.

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