At the Load Cell Shop, we love discovering new and innovative ways clients use our load cells in a huge range of professional and commercial applications. We’re also conscious of the need to train and educate the engineers of the future, and how building fun projects at home using load cells can help spark their interest.
So, here are a few suggestions* of fun projects you and your kids can create using a couple of basic load cells, wire and solder, some stuff you’ve got kicking around in your garage or workshop already, and the inevitable Raspberry Pi for data collection and read-outs. Have fun!
The automated bed
We’ve highlighted a couple of projects before where people have rigged their beds with load cells to monitor their sleep patterns. Frenchman Clement Storck took this one step further and automated his entire house to synchronise with his sleeping. When he goes to bed, the increase in weight in his bed turns off the lights and turns off the tv, whilst getting up triggers the blinds to open and the coffee machine to switch on.
Given that the average child tends to leap on and off their bed with a frequency that borders on the exhausting, this could confuse the system a lot (and result in way too much coffee). Instead, how about a system that monitors the bed when the child isn’t even around?
Inspired by a cousin of an employee who is allergic to cats but had two in the house(!), you could rig any bed in the house to detect when your beloved cat or dog decides that your bed is now their bed. By detecting the change in weight, the load cells could trigger an alarm or even send you a ‘cat hair alert’. How you would then get them off the bed is up to you!
Bedroom alarm system
Kids hate people going into their room without permission – after all, they might try and clean it… So, why not build a pressure sensitive mat for their room which alerts them if anyone enters. The weight of a foot on a load cell beneath the mat could trigger a wifi camera that relays an image to their phone of the intruder, be they human, feline or canine!
Plants watering system
Most plant watering systems rely on sensors in the soil to measure the resistance based on the moisture content. A much simpler solution is to simply weigh the plant in its pot. As the soil dries out, the plant pot becomes lighter. Work out the crucial point between damp and dry, attach an OLED and it can indicate when a plant needs watering. Connect the plant detection system to wifi and you could even send push notifications to your phone if your canna is aproaching crispy…
The tweeting litter box
Pet food dispensers that use load cells we can cope with, but this project may just go a little too far! Scott Cutler built a cat litter tray that detected when his cat had made a deposit, and then sent the information as a tweet to his phone including the weight of the deposit, how long it took, and the cat’s post-deposit weight! Too much information for us, but you know kids are just going to love it… Full instructions and pics at ScottCutler.net
Need a load cell for your project, but not sure which to use?
Call us or email us with details of your build, and we’ll happily advise on the best load cells for the job.