PiFace, Ice Cream and the Gadget Show

I can’t believe it’s been a couple of months since the last post! We’ve been busy running workshops, presenting at Cheltenham Science festival, meeting teachers, staring on TV, as well as writing tutorials and squeezing in a bit of product development. We’re bursting to tell you what’s new, but will have to wait a few weeks longer. One problem we find is almost every week a new challenge pops up. So, our next challenge, how hard can it be to build a Pi powered ice cream machine?

You may have noticed the UK is experiencing a hot spell, and what could be more perfect for sunny days, than a Raspberry Pi and PiFace powered ice-cream machine! That’s exactly what Channel 5’s The Gadget Show have built. They use a PiFace to control the leds and the solenoid that operates a valve to dispense smooth, refreshing whippy ice cream. That’s the theory, and while the Pi and PiFace operated correctly, The Gadget Show didn’t manage to get their mix right, and sadly their contraption dispensed a dribbly mess.

You can see the results here: http://gadgetshow.channel5.com/gadget-show/blog/episode-8-ice-cream-maker-studio-build

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We’ve reached a stage where computer control is easier that cooking! I’m really pleased to see PiFace and the Pi being put to work creating fun projects. The Gadget Show highlighted how easy it was to program Pi and PiFace in Python by pretty much anyone (including a TV presenter!). It’s exactly what PiFace was invented for!

So, how hard can it be? Inspired by Channel 5’s The Gadget Show I wonder if we can build something better? Maybe I could include a temperature sensor that will only dispense when the ice cream mix is ready? Perhaps it needs liquid nitrogen? I’ll post progress on the blog, but only after I’ve finished the tutorials, I promise!

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