Load cells and Raspberry Pi

Published On: October 17 2018


The Raspberry Pi has been a game-change. The simple, cost-effective computer has put the power of coding into millions of hands across the globe, and inspired some amazing projects.

Housed on a single circuit board, the latest Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ boasts a 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core processor, dual-band wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.2/BLE, fast Ethernet, and Power-over-Ethernet support (with separate PoE HAT). The Starter Kit includes everything you need to get cracking, including power supply and housing, all for just £60.

Needless to say, we’ve taken a look at Raspberry Pi projects that include load cells, and discovered a whole new world of projects perfect for enjoying with family or just for fun in your ‘man/woman shed”.


Self-weighing and self-tracking luggage

Customise your suitcase so that it weighs itself and lets you know where it is! Four 50kg load cells are built into the case so you can stay within airline weight limits. A GPS breakout boards and antenna locates your case, so you know which airport it’s ended up at! However, whether airline security will like the use of lithium batteries and all that wiring inside a suitcase in the hold is another matter…


Remote pet feeder

Stuck on the train and unable to get back to feed Fido or Kitty? Never fear, load cells can save your beloved pet from going hungry (or thirsty). This is actually quite a popular projects with several variations on a theme.

The Smart Pet Feeder uses load cells to detect when food and water levels in the two bowls in the unit fall below a certain level. It will then automatically refill them.

The Dogspenser automatically dispenses kibble (dry pet food) into a bowl, and keeps track of how much is eaten and the last feeding time. The results are sent to a secure website featuring live information on your peckish pet.

The FoodiePi is a little lacking in design finesse, but the project includes a website where you can set your pet’s name and weight. The program will calculate the correct amount of calories for your pet, and dispense just the right amount of kibble. An innovative 3D printed screw ensures kibble doesn’t get stuck in the dispensing tube.

The Automatic Chicken Feeder does what it says on the tin (OK, the webpage), keeping your feathered friends fed without fuss. Again, it won’t win any design awards but given that your chickens might sit on it (or worse), that’s no bad thing.


Weighing scales

Digital smart scales are another popular Pi-based project, including weighing pets (see above!). This is a simple but effective project to build a set of lightweight kitchen scales.


Weight sensing automatic gate

It’s actually a pressure pad project. When someone stands on it, a gate or door automatically opens, and shuts again after the person passes through. The test project is small, but can easily be scaled up.


Drinks dispenser

This set-up pours your drink for you at your desk, or rather, refills your glass from a larger bottle of drink sat on your desk. As the project inventor says :

“This beverage dispenser is more for the person who knows their tastes and simply wants to save some time. It’s also much simpler, using a peristaltic pump for serving a single liquid from a large bottle into a glass, and using a load cell to know when to stop filling.”

This has to win the prize for the most ever-engineered solution for the simple task of pouring a glass of drink! A classic case of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”!


Cocktail mixer

Now this is more like it! A simple yet effective machine that mixes three different liquids to create classic cocktails that are shaken, not stirred. Moscow Mule, anyone?


And finally…

Still searching for that perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe? This machine could be the answer. OK it ‘cheats’ by using a hacked set of commercial scales but we love the ambition. It also sparked a fascinating and diverting discussion about liquid butter, softened butter and cookie consistency…



Load cells for you

If any of the projects tickle your fancy, or you have a new project that requires a load cell, you can buy what you need 24/7/365 at our online load cell shop.

We’re UK based, so we’ll ship your load cells quickly and securely, and have them on your doorstep pronto.