Summer is just around the corner and sweltering heat waves are unfortunately inevitable. Although, next time you are out in the blistering heat, you may be able to protect yourself with a DIY cooler that follows you and your thirst around. Made from a few warehouse parts and a little TLC, this project is the perfect way to kick-off your summer.
Recently, in preparation of the coming heat waves, the team released an instructional series on how to assemble a DIY cooler that follows you around.
The project requires a little technical expertise, but for a person with adept tool-handling skills, the project will take approximately 10 hours.
The cooler rids anyone of the impracticality of putting any physical work into a picnic. Instead of a pesky cooler that constantly bumps into your leg as you walk, this DIY cooler will do everything all on its own. It is undoubtedly the pinnacle of cooler technology.
Featuring an automatic lid, the only demanding task required with this DIY cooler is reaching down for a cold one. With the added ability to remove the cooler, the platform can also be used to carry other luggage.
How it works
Essentially, the “Follow me Cooler” is an autonomous robot powered by an Arduino. By connecting to your smartphone via Bluetooth, the robot can navigate by tracking a phone’s location. The device tracks and compares its own location to that of the host phone’s GPS coordinates. With some extra-off-the-shelf hardware, the robot can be somewhat easily assembled.
How to build it
This project calls for a little woodworking, soldering, programming, and some technical know-how. It is a slightly challenging project, but at the end of the day, owning a self-built autonomous cooler that follows you around far outweighs the hassle of assembling the robot.
Fortunately, the engineers at Hacker House made a comprehensive tutorial about the construction process. In it includes the instruction manual, parts list, tool list, and the source code.
First, all the parts and tools of the project must be sourced. A list of all the necessary components is linked down below.
A quick trip to the hardware store should be sufficient to find most of the material. If not, the Hacker House has an easy to use parts list linked to a product outlet. Once all the parts are collected, the construction may begin.
The simple tri-wheel system offers the most simple, yet functional design. The front two wheels are powered by two separate 12-volt DC brush geared motors. The dual motors allow the wheels to spin independently, giving the robot an axis of rotation. The third wheel is unpowered and trails behind on a pivot point, allowing it to rotate freely.
The design is simple, though it is entirely possible to modify it to your own specifications. Once the motorized platform is complete, the Arduino and other electronic components can be installed.
Part II: Electronics and Software
To make the robot autonomous, a computer must be installed to process and relay information to the wheels. The computer of choice is the Arduino UNO. Enabling the robot to track requires installing a high-precision GPS module. A compass then relays the information about the direction the robot is traveling so the Arduino can relay and correct power to the motors.
Once all the physical components are installed, the software comes next. The program used to run the software, Blynk, is easy to use and requires no previous experience with app development. An Android device must then be configured to communicate with the Arduino and GPS module.
Fortunately, the Hacker House premade and released all the source code to bring the project to life.
After completing the weekend project comes the fun part- testing it. Once booted, the robot should automatically start tracking the designated Android device. The project is incredibly fun and offers some insight into engineering application.
Of course, the project is entirely customizable. The guide only serves as a reference to construct a basic model. Modifying the source code gives the option of added customizability. The “Follow me Cooler” is a magnificent project to kick-off the summer the right way- with a robot that follows you around with many cold ones in stock.
For more information about the “Follow me Cooler” and other fantastic DIY projects, check out the Hacker House website and YouTube channel.