Saturday, February 20, 2016

I For One Welcome Our New Breakfast-Making Overlords

At long last, the Pancakebot we got from the Kickstarter arrived, and it's pretty much what you'd expect. It's like a 2d version of a 3d printer, laying down a single layer of pancake batter onto an integral griddle. The makers also provide a simple drawing program which is a sort of minimalist CAD/CAM package specifically designed for the Pancakebot. It lets you work in four "shades" of pancake. Depending on the darkness you select for any given line or area, it'll stagger when those lines are extruded onto the griddle. Darkest lines are first, then it pauses to let them cook, then the next lighter batch, then another pause, and so on. The nifty thing here is that ultimately the Pancakebot speaks gcode, the language (or family of languages) used by CNC machines and 3d printers. In theory, I could come up with something which converted, say, .dfx files to gcode suitable to the Pancakebot, and bypass the manual drawing interface altogether.

Now, some of the cooking process is manual. Notably, the griddle temperature and the pressure at which the batter is extruded are set with separate controls with no connection to the pancake CAM. That's probably a very good thing. Variations between batches of batter mean that you'll need to make countless small manual adjustments as you go. In our case, the batter ended up quite thin, which means I had to crank the pressure well down from the medium level I started with, though the medium heat on the griddle worked quite well.

But enough technical details. What about the pancakes? We made a mix of designs downloaded from the manufacturer's web site and ones we worked up here. It took a bit of adjustment to get things right, but once I had the right settings dialed in, it went consistently pretty well.

With the pressure up too high, the lines of the Eiffel Tower were almost entirely obscured.

Designed this one for the lovely and talented spouse. Came out pretty well.

Spider pancake, spider pancake,
Does whatever a spider cancake.
In the US and in Europe
Catches thieves like maple syrup.
Look out! Here comes the spider pancake!

In Soviet Russia, dinosaur eaten by you!

It's ultimately slower than pouring cups of batter on the griddle, but the scope for shape and shade is immense. We'll be doing this again. And we'll probably be tinting the batter; we've got some additional bottles on order, so we can do four-color pancaking.

1 comment:

  1. Would you adopt me? I feel like I was deprived of... this... growing up.