Introduction: Electronic Market Minder Board

I constantly run out of groceries. This usually happens in the most inappropriate moment. There is neither a phone nor a notebook at hand, your are covered in flower and grease in the middle of a kitchen mess.

So, I decided to create a gadget that would allow me to mark a missing grocery with a touch of a button. The gadget would transfer the info about missing items to my phone and will respond to me purchasing the missing stuff.

I want to share how I built this gadget.

Here is a demo of what I have built:

Step 1: History

I have first seen a Market Minder while browsing an antique store. Housekeepers in the early XX century used to keep a board like this on the wall. When they ran out of a certain grocery they would put a peg near item's label. When people who helped around the kitchen got missing items they would remove the pegs.

After learning about this gadget I felt like I have to take this technology into the XXI century.

Step 2: System Design

The system consists of the three element:
1. Board
2. iOS App
3. Server
The board sends a request to the server when a button is pressed. The server saves a state and uses Apple Push Notification to notify the iOS App. The app queries last state from the server and sends updates about purchase items. The board refreshes its state from the server every 5 minutes.

The Board
The system is based on the STM32F051 micro controller. I like to use it because it is very easy to program and use.
I used RN-XV WiFly as a Wi-Fi module. The module is a pleasure to work with: all you need is power, reset and UART lines.
The board houses 35 momentary TL1265 buttons. Each button contains a LED and is hooked up via a transistor.
The buttons (and their LEDs) are connected via shift registers. I used 74HC165A to read button state and 74HC594 to control the LEDs.

I used OSH Park to manufacture the board. The quality of the board is quite high and it got done in 10 days.

Step 3: IOS App and the Server

iOS App
I created a very basic, two screen app to display missing products and a list of all products.

The Server
This was probably the simplest piece. PHP server uses MySQL to store the grocery list's state and stream_socket_client('ssl://', ...) to send Apple Push Notifications.

Step 4: Enclosure

I really like amateur projects with good looking enclosures. I used a simple photo frame for this project. Inside the frame would has three layers: circuit board, cardboard with labels and a transparent cover board.

I think the trickiest of all was making a decent-looking labels. You see, I could either get a cardboard with perfect holes or reasonable labels. Eventually I used a laser cutter to make the holes, and then same laser cutter on a lower power setting to etch groves of letters. After that I used white ink and a calligraphy pen to fill the ink into the groves.

Step 5: Result

I am quite happy with the result: I am sure I my kitchen would be always well stocked.

I would love to answer any questions or hear any comments or suggestions about the gadget.


bradshep made it!(author)2014-02-04

Hello, I'm interested in building this product, please could you give me some more detail, email me at:

TheTekJake made it!(author)2014-01-14

I know this is a couple months old now but every time I look at it, it honestly intrigues me. You have a fantastic idea that I know could be implemented in a wife variety of households. I honestly believe, if you have the time and resources for it, you can mass produce these things or heck, even put it on Indiegogo or Kickstarter. This would be an instant success.

michaelnelson made it!(author)2013-11-22

Very nice!! Here's an idea for an awesome feature... tie it to the Cozi api so it populates your Cozi shopping list! Good work my friend, I agree with the others that you should take this to market.

ElZorro made it!(author)2013-11-22

Young minds seldom think of the monetary aspect.
These should be on the shelf at Bed Bath and Beyond.
There's gold here.

ElZorro made it!(author)2013-11-22

Also with Voice Recg. the list would be infinitely flexible.
Oh the ideas....

Mr.+Fusion made it!(author)2013-11-22

Great project, very slick! Any chance you can post both the iOS App source and PHP script(s) so us developers can build & install it to our iDevices?

murfmv made it!(author)2013-11-22

This is a great idea, but you need to convey much more information. Especially a wiring diagram, and the micro controller code. Certainly some information on setting-up the MySQL server.

pmann1 made it!(author)2013-11-22

Fantastic project and very professional-looking. Well done!

bobbokop made it!(author)2013-11-22

This is a idea I already thought before, but never tried to apply. This is a very cool project. Too bad is not cheap. ($85 for the TL1265 at Mouser), or do you know a cheaper place to buy them?

Kjata1013 made it!(author)2013-11-21

I'm floored by how cool this is. Please share the code and how you made the app. I'm quite new at this stuff. ^^;

babybayrs made it!(author)2013-11-21

Voted though I have no idea how electronics work or made to work. How long does it take for you to make one? How much does it take for you to make one? Do you sell them?

Tspherix made it!(author)2013-11-21

This is a great idea! I'd love to create something like this for not only groceries and household goods, but business items in stock. How much did this cost? Do you have any direct links to the controllers?

mad_mat made it!(author)2013-11-21

Care to share the code for the STM32F051? And the app? Maybe how you went about setting up the MySQL server? I would love to make my wife one of these.
Or are you just advertising?

tantris made it!(author)2013-11-21

Nice. I like the idea of buttons and leds rather than some lcd screen.
If I ever complete my other kitchen projects I'll have to add a version of a minder board.

For people without a laser cutter: If you have a laser printer, overhead sheets for laser printers should work for making black & see through labels. Also, the toner transfer method works on all kinds of surfaces that can be heated, not just pcbs. I used it before to label an aluminum sheet.
Or one could use chalkboard paint and chalk (that would eliminate the problem of "other" - as long as the phone app is updated together with the label)

Penolopy+Bulnick made it!(author)2013-11-20

This sounds like a wonderful idea and wonderfully executed!

JoLoveN made it!(author)2013-11-19

Love it! Way cool! Just wish I could make 1. Never was able to get any classes for electrical & engineering. Just learned a few things from my dad. Trying to find a book (for dummy's, lol) about the basics. Everyone on here has such cool ideas & I'd love to be able to make a lot of the items they have created. I have too much time on my hands, and nothing to do. But I have yet to even find a decent, (but cheap/affordable on my small budget), soldering Iron/tool. Most ones I've seen ppl comment on them & say the tips break too easy, or they don't heat fast or enough. So I guess I'm still in the dreaming stage! Lol!
Curious, but would you consider making 1 for some1 if they asked?

rvt1985 made it!(author)2013-11-19

This is such a cool idea, I wish I had one! Just out of curiosity, how does the "other" item work?

basil.shikin made it!(author)2013-11-19

It is actually perry interesting: one can define a label for 'Other' in the app. There is a special screen to edit it.

usMudack1998 made it!(author)2013-11-19

You, my fine genius, are amazing!

DemolisionWolf made it!(author)2013-11-19

Very cool idea

bertus52x11 made it!(author)2013-11-19


basil.shikin made it!(author)2013-11-19

Thank you!

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