Do you crack pepper?

     I do.


Do you know what over engineering is?

     I don't.


An age old problem in the kitchen has been that of obtaining freshly cracked pepper. Throughout human history this have been a gruelling, difficult task requiring a high level of dexterity. This process is in such high demand that many restaurants will provide waiters to save the diners from undertaking the task themselves. My project aims to simplify this process by automating the challenge of obtaining the precious black powder.


The following video was my original inspiration:


The project:

The goal of this project is to simply create an automated, hands free pepper cracker. The following list describes the basic idea and a range of possible extensions.

  • The simplest form of this project would be a mounted device which is controlled through voice recognition. This would also include a speaker to output the essential “cracked pepper sir” disclaimer.
  • Add a robotic arm which extends and retracts to make the device more space and location friendly.
  • Add a camera and motion detection to trigger an initial “on” state. When in this state the device will offer cracked pepper.
  • Add computer vision and more advanced software to find a plate and evenly crack pepper across it.
  • Add additional sass.



Artists Rendition


* features rocket peppered grenades



Order of business:

In this project I aim to use as many open source libraries as possible, this will allow me to spend more time prototyping and developing the mechanical components of this project.

  • Implementing GPIO, mic & speaker with the PI
  • Install and test voice recognition libraries
  • Prototype stage 1 turning an led on & off with voice recognition
  • Milestone 1: Integration of grinder as replacement of led
  • Add sound output and a little sass (more cracked pepper sir?)
  • Prototyping of robot arm.
  • Develop robot arm control software & run from pi.
  • Milestone 2: Fully integrated pepper grinder on a robot arm.
  • Installation of computer vision hardware & software and developing plate recognition.
  • Milestone 3: Final build; Mounted camera w/plate recognition and attitude.


Summary & Notes:

The motivation for breaking this project into smaller chunks is to give me a base project which I can definitely complete and a larger challenge for the whole period. At a minimum I aim to complete Milestone 2 with the computer vision component to be a target-able extension.


Possible libraries and parts:


Closing remarks:

Although this project was designed as some light hearted entertainment but it will have some considerable challenges for me. My background is in software development so the programming portions wont be particularly difficult for me. The electronics engineering and manufacturing sides of this project are areas which i don't have much experience in and i expect to have the most difficulty with.