When we opened our box of junk from American Science & Surplus, we decided that it was properly named. It was a box of junk!

The ideas we had of using the junk included some sort of musical instrument and a waffle maker. Having not eaten anything, we all decided to try to make an automatic waffle machine. That quickly evolved into a pancake machine since we didn’t have any tools to machine our own grills.

This project is a documentary of our making of the Pancake Maker but not a step-by-step guide. Although we don’t have all the steps to making your own pancake machine, hopefully, this will give a general idea of what to do and not do.

Project Steps

Our box

Here are all the parts that came in our box of junk (as listed in the materials list above).

Original Idea

Here’s our first idea of what the pancake machine should have.

We originally wanted to make a conveyor system but realized that it was too much work for little reward. We quickly switched to the chain drive as you see now.

Our original motor was a lot less powerful.

Making the frame

Nick clamps the aluminum angle and square together.

He drills and tap the aluminum to screw them together.

Screwing it together

Screwed together to make the frame.

FInal steps on frame

Mostly finished frame.

Making the funnel for the mixer

We used our laser cutter a lot for this project. Here we have an acrylic funnel made by stacking expanding rings of acrylic.

Gluing the pieces together

Here’s Brian!

It looks like he’s building in the dark but that’s just the flash from the camera.

The mixer

Brian glued the funnel onto a PVC tube. It can hold the mix and water now.

On the top we made a lid and attached a motor to it. The parts were laser cut again.

The valve on the mixer

The valve is made by an acrylic sheet with a hole on one end. It’s attached to a solenoid that’s anchored to the platform for holding the mixer.

When the solenoid is disengaged, the sheet covers the hole of the funnel, preventing the mix from escaping.

When the solenoid is activated, it pulls the sheet in and its hole lines up with the hole of the funnel, allowing the mix to pour out.

Using a hook as a mixer

The hooks make great mixers!

Here's Nick!

Drawing a part in Inventor.

He’s cutting the hole for the mixer platform.

Caption contest?

Let us know what you think!

Heating elements

The heating elements were made by zigzagging 18 gauge nichrome wire across ceramic tiles. The wire is connected in series.

The bottom plate got so hot that it cracked.

Chain driven

We used a Banebots motor and sprockets from a copy machine to move the tray back and forth.

We just happened to have a #25 chain hanging out in the lab so we used it!

Attaching the chain

We attached the chain to the tray using master links.

Since we didn’t have any keys nor the time to make them for securing the sprockets, we discovered that screwing a screw into the slot of the sprocket forms a very secure lock onto the shaft.

View from the tray

This is probably the view if you were a pancake in our machine.

We used the suction hooks to hold down the mixer.

Bearings allow the tray to slide freely across the frame.

Holding the wires

The wooden rings make good wire holders.

Powering heating elements

We used a Variac (a variable transformer) to power our heating elements.

It required about 100V AC to get the heating elements hot enough.

1, 2, skip a few- oh we're done!