Introduction: Pancake Maker and Shooter

First of all I want to introduce us and explain the following idea. We are four students from Kortrijk Belgium in Howest, given an assignment by MyMachine Belgium ( ). This group wants to focus on the creativity of children and strives to create their dream machine.

It starts off with an explosion of creativity from the young ones, generating multiple ideas and wacky inventions. The best idea gets chosen by them where after we’re ready to start prototyping. Our tiny inventor came up with the following: A machine that not only makes pancakes but also shoots them. The first drawing is the one made by our tiny inventor, the second one is one of ours where we tried to get an idea on how to make all his wishes possible.

Since we wanted to make sure that everyone has something to do, or at least as many kids as possible One pumps the batter to the reservoir, another makes sure it lands on the hot plate. Two others flip it until it lands on the conveyer belt. The last two kids make sure it lands on the catapult and shooting it skyward.

Step 1: List of Needed Materials

Some things are pretty standard, things like:

  • Zipties
  • Plenty of screws
  • Nuts and bolts (M3)
  • Wooden planks of 20 mm x 40 mm
  • Wooden planks of 40 mm x 40 mm
  • Aluminium pipes with a diameter of 15 mm
  • Clear plastic hose with a thickness of 10mm and 1,5 meters in length

These however are a bit different:

  • Batter Dispenser (can be found on Amazon for a decent price here)
  • A bolder cart
  • A large piece of rubber tarp (width 250 mm and length 2000 mm)
  • 2 rolling pins
  • 2 Domo crêpe baking plates (any other brand will do as long as the diameter is 29 cm
  • Extension cord
  • Double power plug to be used with the extension cord
  • A bucket (max diameter being 320mm)
  • Hand pump drainage cleaner (buy a new one)

Step 2: List of Needed Tools

Apart from all the basic required tools, it is advisable to use a proper miter saw if possible. This is just to ensure that the cuts are perfectly 90 degrees. I'm not saying it can't be done with a normal handsaw but it's always handy to use the bigger toys.

Step 3: Subassembly 1: the Frame

This is the frame where it all begins. Cut the planks of 20 mm by 40 mm down to pieces of:

  • 420mm (2x)
  • 500mm (1x) (in 4 of the 5 pieces a hole is to be drilled with diameter 15mm) Fig 1
  • 268mm (6x) (with a chamfer of 45° at each end) Fig 2
  • 290mm (3x)
  • 330mm (1x)
  • 160mm (2x) (with a chamfer of 45° at each end) Fig 3
  • 85mm (2x)

Cut the planks of 40 mm by 40 mm down to pieces of:

  • 500mm (2x)
  • 420mm (2x)
  • 1160mm (4x)
  • 900mm (1x)

Cut a piece of 500mm x 150mm x 10mm out of an MDF board with a hole with a diameter of 100mm) Fig 4

Now that this is done we can begin with the first subassembly:

  1. Start with the side of the frame like in the first pic
  2. Now add the other sides like we've done in the second pic.
  3. Place the piece of MDF with a hole in it on top. Make sure it's centred

Step 4: Subassembly 2: the Dispensing Unit

This step could have been done in a simpler way perhaps. As long as the dispenser can be removed so that it can be washed after use. All you'll need is some scrap pieces of MDF, some zipties and a small thin board of it.

  1. Place the dispenser above the hole on the top plank of the frame.
  2. Nail the small blocks so that the dispenser won't budge.
  3. Cut the MDF plank like we did in the pic.
  4. Drill some holes for the zipties to slip through
  5. Attach the zipties

Step 5: Subassembly 3: the Pumping Unit

What you'll need:

  • A bucket
  • Suction Pump Drain cleaner (buy a new one)
  • Clear plastic hose, flexible (10mm thickness, length 1,5 meters)
  • Scraps of wood
  • Screws and such
  • Zipties
  • Some rubber

This part is more like a hackable instead of a instructable. You'll need to tweak and adjust some things since not all of these will have the same dimensions or parts. I've also added a small cross section to show how it should work.

Anyway, here's how we did it:

  1. Open the pump by screwing either end of it loose
  2. Make a rubber piece or something else to fit into the mouthpiece of the pump
  3. Attach this to a small piece of wood like on the cross section
  4. Drill a hole in the top (10 mm)
  5. Put the hose through
  6. Seal it with tape

Step 6: Subassembly 4: Conveyor Belt

Wooden planks of 20mm x 40mm with a length of:

  • 330mm (2x)
  • 908mm (2x) (and a chamfer of 66° at one end and 60° at the other) Fig 5

Wooden planks of 40mm x 40mm with a length of:

  • 350mm (2x)
  • 328mm (2x) ( en een afschuining van 66°) Fig 6

One wooden plank of 250mm x 150mm x 10mm

Aluminium pipe with a diameter of 15mm with a length of:

  • 120mm (1x)
  • 72mm (1x)
  • 97mm (1x)

Pinrolls with a length of 250mm (3x)

The assembly of this is pretty straight forward. We've added a PDF with all the dimensions and where everything belongs. Make the frame like we did on the picture, securing the pinrolls where needed. We had to improvise and make our own since we only had two. After this add the supports on the bottom and a handle where shown on the CAD drawing.

Step 7: Subassembly 5: Catapult

These things need to be cut:

Wooden planks of 20mm x 40mm with a length of:

  • 600mm (2x)
  • 300mm (2x)
  • 410mm (4x) (with a chamfer of 47° at one end and 43° at the other) Fig 7
  • 671mm (2x) (with a chamfer of 27° at one end and 63° at the other) Fig 8
  • 662mm (4x) (with a chamfer of 65° at one end and 25° at the other) Fig 9

Wooden planks of 40mm x 40mm with a length of:

  • 600mm (2x) (with a hole of 25mm) Fig 10
  • 100mm (2x)
  • 40mm x 40mm x 2500mm (a hole of 30mm has to be drilled) Fig 11

Wooden plank of 300mm x 300mm x 10mm

Wooden plank of 500mm x 200mm x 10mm

Aluminium pipe with a diameter 25mm and a length of 60mm

Now time for the assembly, the PDF's should help:

  1. Make the long part first, the throwing arm of the catapult.
  2. Begin building the first half of the bottom frame
  3. Now build the second half and attach the last two blocks like shown on the CAD model.
  4. Put the aluminium piece in the hole of the second half
  5. Bring the second half in place and screw these together

Step 8: Subassembly 6: Hot Plates

First you'll need to cut these:

  • Aluminium pipe with a diameter of 13mm and a length of 680mm (2x) (and a hole of 3mm) Fig 12
  • 500mm (4x) (a hole is to be drilled with diameter 15mm) Fig 1
  • Aluminium pipe with a diameter of 20mm and a length of 260mm (2x) (and a hole of 14mm en 3mm) Fig 13
  • Spring lock with inner diameter of 12mm (4x)
  • Bolt M3 x 0.5 x 25mm (2x)
  • Nut M3 (2x)

Assembly is pretty straight forward. The only complex part is to attach the axle to the hot plates. This depends on the hot plates, so whatever you feel that is best will do.

Step 9: Assembly

The big moment has arrived, time to put it all together. Here's what to do:

  1. First you need to get rid of the sides of the bolder cart and the handle (normaly these can be screwed of), so that you only get the base with wheels.
  2. Next we'll put the frame on, just screw it on the back part of the cart. The width of the frame is nearly identical to our cart.
  3. The hot plates (with added handle, axle and such) have to be place on the frame now. We did this with clamps, just to make sure we didn't mess things up. These can be secured with screws after a small test.
  4. Place the bucket in it's place
  5. Put the pump in it and secure the end of the hose in the dispenser.
  6. The conveyer belt is the next thing, make sure that the lowest part is placed under the bottom hot plate. Screw everything in place
  7. Plug everything in and make sure that the cables are out of harms way.
  8. Fill the bucket with batter

The catapult itself is a seperate unit which can be placed just in front of the conveyer belt.

Step 10: Making the "Target"

This one is optional and was a last notice idea we had for our presentation and is entirely up to you how you want to do it. The goal of this is to make a target that the kids can shoot at. Because the catapult is a bit unpredictable it adds a fun factor. Wherever the pancake lands is the topping you'll get. Should they hit the question mark, they can choose whatever topping they wish.

Step 11: Final Result

Now that everything is in place it was time to show the pancake shooter to the kids. All in all it was a great stress test. 300 kids gave it a try and it worked brilliantly.

But how does it work?

  1. Pump the batter upward with the small hand pump resting in the bucket.
  2. Give the dispenser handle a small squeeze and let the batter hit the hot plate.

  3. Wait 30 seconds and turn the handle of the first hot plate.
  4. Keep the second hot plate in place while you use a spatula to loosen the pancake.
  5. Wait another 30 seconds and flip it again, this time you shouldn't have to loosen it. Try to make sure it lands on the conveyer belt.
  6. Try to turn the handle of the conveyer belt as fast as you can to make sure that the pancake lands on the plate of the throwing arm.
  7. Place your foot on the other end of the throwing arm and give it a good pound. This will result in the pancake becoming airborne.

Now we know it's a bit rough around the edges. But the important thing to bear in mind is that this is a prototype and all in all the children were very pleased with the machine. Probably mostly due to the fact that there were free pancakes involved.

Hope you enjoyed this one as much as we enjoyed making it!

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