How I Made a Robot Chef

Introduction: How I Made a Robot Chef

About: Computer scientist who likes to engineer things and share them online.

Hey world! I tried making a guacamole robot and ended up with a chef robot. Here's what happened:


**None of the links are affiliated

Step 1: Sweeping Mechanism

The best way to get started is by copying your own old work. This mechanism is basically my old Automated French Press but horizontal. This is to sweep all the ingredients across a cutting board onto a bowl at the end.

First I used a jigsaw to cut a hole through the cutting board to fit a bowl, then I screwed worm-drive clams to the edges to hold a bowl (see images).

Then I mounted the stepper motors to the cutting board with brackets and added the threaded rods to the steppers with the couplers.

I used a 1” x 10” wood plank to drive the cleaver with the nuts. I drilled two holes through the cleaver and secured it to it. Then I just made two little wooden stands to hold the rods level to the stepper motors.

Step 2: Chopping Mechanism

I went to my favorite local electronics shop EPO (not sponsored) and bought a used suburban RV Furnace Motor for $30 bucks! Then I met up with my Friendgineer™ Ian to brainstorm the chopping mechanism, give him a follow he is an incredible maker and engineer =) We had a couple calls where we brainstormed the project, I sent him the specs of my motor, and he sent me fancy drawings of the project for me to follow.

The drawings are attached here and honestly they are very straightforward to follow, if you have any questions please comment below!

Step 3: The Swiveling Mechanism

To make the knife swivel, I got the Servo City stuff and put together. I placed the servo plate on top of one of the u-channels and secured it in place. Then I slid the shafting through the middle hole, then slid one thrust bearing on the top (top of the servo plate) and one clamp to secure it. I slid the other u-channel to the end of the shafting and secured both u-channels with the clamps. The knife will be secured to that second u-channel. I fastened the servo to the plate and then screwed the servo horn to it. I cut the threaded rod to 1” length and screwed two linkages on each end of it. Then I screwed the linkage to the servo horn on one side and the top clamp.

Hopefully the images are more helpful than my description.

Step 4: Mounting the Knives

To mount the knives I need to make holes through them, I tried a lot of things for a long time and what worked for me was using a Dremel with the Dremel Workstation, Carbide burr bits, and cutting oil.

I paused every few seconds to check the temperature of the bit and if it was warm to the touch I put it in water to cool down. I put a drop of cutting oil on the knife. God speed.

Step 5: The Electronics and Code

The Raspberry Pi was the brains of all the mechanisms. I used the tall header to be able to solder straight to the Pi's pins and also add the Unicorn Hat on top of it.

I programmed a state machine to make guacamole:

  1. At start the Unicorn Hat shows "G 0”
  2. The Hat shows which ingredient I should place on the board
  3. The Hat shows a countdown “3”, “2”, “1”
  4. The chopping mechanism is activated
  5. The Hat shows the next ingredient I should place on the board
  6. The Hat shows a countdown “3”, “2”, “1”
  7. The chopping mechanism is activated
  8. Show next ingredient, until done with ingredients
  9. Show “D O N E” when all guacamole ingredients are done.

The code is here

Then when I didn't want to do guac anymore I just made it so it chopped until killed and then activated the sweeping script.

My favorite part was playing with the Unicorn Hat because I got to draw all of the ingredients and animate them with pngs. I drew a rainbow cat just for fun =)

Let me know here in the comments if I you need any clarifications, ok byeeeeee!!


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    24 days ago

    have you thought about using an assembly of knives to do the chopping, and adding a guard that prevents the food from leaving the chop zone? i noticed the ingredients had a tendency to scatter beyond the chop zone, if you put 2 more knives on either side of the current one, running parallel to each other, and spaced a half inch or so apart, all mounted on the same armature, that would increase the area of the chop zone AND cut the number of chops required per item down. the guard would be a box with no top or bottom, and open on the side of the knife armature so it wouldn't be in the way. the guard should give very little clearance for the knife assembly to do its job, so that the ingredients are prevented from escaping the chop zone. The actual chopping apparatus seems to work just as it was intended, so the food should be chopped as per your program's specifications, with the help of the guard which keeps everything within the chop zone, while preventing the lose of any produce to the floor, and preventing rouge jalapeño projectiles from putting your eye out AND burning like the dickens. the best thing about these improvements is that they require very minimal additions. the knife assembly need only replace the original knife, and the guard can replace the sweeping knife, you would just have to attach one side to the sweeping mechanism, and set the starting position of the sweeper closer to the chop zone. just drop the ingredient in the chop zone, within the guard (anywhere inside works , it can't escape your blades, and you wouldn't have to put your hand in the chop zone. safety first!), let the chopping magic happen. The sweeping apparatus the works as usual, pushing all the food into the bowl. i think these tweaks would turn your robot chef into a more functional device. that said YOU ARE AWESOME GIRL! keep up the good work! You're setting a great example for young girls everywhere.


    4 weeks ago

    I can see where there might be a few tweaks needed to your mechanism but was one of the most fun make builds I have watched! Very creative! Also, happy to see there were no fingers lost in the testing...