Oxford Hack 2017 was my very first hackathon, and started a tradition of my friends and I attending hackathons as a team and making the wackiest projects we could think of.

I’ve been a big fan of loose leaf tea for quite a while, and one of the bits of tech that hobbyist tea makers are quite fond of is a temperature controlled kettle. Due to a relatively tight budget I’d been planning to build my own for quite a while, but after a short brainstorming session having opened this idea up to the rest of my team we quickly expanded this idea to a machine which would oversee the brewing process from start to finish.

Not wanting to break the bank on this project, we used my old kettle (may it rest in peace), a valve salvaged from a dishwasher, a tea brewing vessel made by T2, and a wooden box we built ourselves out of scrap wood.

The project took us about 36 sleepless hours from start to finish, and had no shortage of hacky fixes - for example, we could only get the temperature sensor working with one of our non internet-connected raspberry pis, forcing us to build a 7-bit parallel link to transmit the temperature.

Many hours later the project was finally finished, and we ended up winning prizes from Microsoft and Facebook at the hackathon’s closing ceremony. Not a bad way to spend the weekend!

We’ve produced a short video summarising our project and our experience of the hackathon: