Star Wars, Love it or hate it. One thing you can’t deny is the universal love and identification of one of its side characters R2D2, the little astromech droid who could. Only now, he even better… cause he makes me coffee. Of course anyone who makes me coffee goes up a few notches, so why not have a world renowned icon make it for you. And for the tea drinkers, well… I guess you could use it to brew tea, if you like that sort of thing, probably while you watch Star Trek Deep Space Nine…
In my world, Darth Vader doesn’t go all soft in the end. Instead of taking off Luke Skywalkers hand he takes off his head, the rebel alliance is quashed, ewoks are served up crispy fried on a stick and Darth takes R2D2 as his trophy trinket, turning him into his morning caffeine delivery device. AKA R2D2 Dark Roast Edition.
Betcha Yoda didn’t see that coming, huh George Lucas
Thank you all who have posted all the great comments! It was a great build!
WARNING – UBER LOOSEY GOOSEY SCIENCE PART
So the whole concept behind this was to have a coffee maker that could be used to brew coffee quickly for larger dinner parties that we have from time to time. A regular coffee pot is just too slow to brew pot after pot as its being emptied so quickly by caffeine crazed guests. Enter the industrial BUNN type coffee maker. It uses a tank of water that holds two coffee pots worth. First you pour in two coffee pots worth of water and turn the unit on. It takes about 5 minutes to get the water hot the first time around, then it waits for you to add one more pot of cold water, this is when the magic begins. As you pour cold water into the hopper tank, it descends a down a tube to the bottom of the heated tank. Now this tank all ready has water in it that is nice and hot. The cold water which naturally wants to stay on the bottom anyway pushes the heated water up and out an overflow at the top of the tank. This overflow is connected to a tube which has its end set just below the level at which the hot and cold water find a balance. As water flows out the tube it creates a siphon effect draining out the hot water from the reserve tank and allowing space for the cold water in the hopper to fill up. Now the hot water has to go somewhere, so why not channel it into a coffee ground hopper where it brews up a tasty and oh-so quick pot of coffee. The BUNN coffee units spout is kinda like one of those rain shower heads, where it sprinkles down hot water over all the coffee ground area at once. This wets out the grinds quickly allowing for a quick brew. Regular home units trickle it out at insanely slow speeds often inducing madness in morning commuters and small dogs alike. Finally the large heater element takes very little time to heat up the now cold water in the tank and by the time you have drained the first pot of coffee, and gotten new coffee grinds ready the cycle is ready to start anew, remembering the tank holds two pots worth of hot water so is all ready ahead by one pot.
Step 1: Design
When building your R2D2 coffee maker there are several important thoughts to consider, with two of them being vital.
First would be the dome, this has got to be the hardest part to find. You wouldn’t think finding a perfect half dome wouldn’t be that hard, but it is, at least for someone as rural as myself. Whenever I build something I always try and use recycled bits and pieces to keep my costs down and help the environment. After all, every dome that is recycled rather than store purchased means one less innocent dome is hunted down and slaughtered. That and I’d rather spend the money on my wife and kids then into give it to some middleman dome pusher. People have tried using all sorts of things from salad bowls to cake moulds. The life sized R2 makers typically use a bird bath that was produced for a period of time, evidently these have stopped being in production. I found a industrial stainless steel float valve that was actually a perfect sphere at the local dump. I was able to cut in half giving me two domes. What you really want however is a dome that has about an extra inch at the edge like the real life production model had. Mine is faked a little with the paint scheme disguising it. The second dome was used to make the top water door and the central eye piece and made the build a lot easier. So if you can get two identical domes, do it. Now the size of the dome directly plays off the next crucial design step.
The BUNN coffee tank – really my dome should have been 3-4 inches larger to keep the aspect ratio of R2D2 true to life. Once again I have disguised it by building a base on it that is cantilevered between the legs. Another visual distraction is the Barista apron.
Other thoughts are things like
What material are you, or can you use? I can weld and cut steel and stainless steel, so this is my primary choice of material used. If I had the means to weld aluminum who knows... As is I ended up using a variety of metals from steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper and even some brass. Of course I don’t have the means to perform mythical metallurgical welding so I had to mix it up a bit. A little welding, some brazing, soldering and some epoxy to round it out. With all these types of joining you really want your materials to fit tightly together for good strong bonds.
Electricity – you really should have a basic concept of what you’re doing otherwise you could fry yourself or someone else down the road. When you are not sure, make damn positive you talk to someone who does.
Cutting, welding, brazing, soldering and gluing metal is very hazardous. It will cut you, burn you, electrocute you and finish off by poisoning you. You’ve been warned, take precautions
After that everything else is pretty much for kicks, like making him talk, adding lights and other finishing touches. Details are important, but remember this is still a coffee maker that you or someone else has to clean. All those little nook and cranny details are suddenly not so cool when you have to clean it!