My 2019 Crapathon Project

So yesterday was the fifth Nottingham Hackspace Crapathon, where you make useless things that nobody wanted.

I’ve participated in a couple, mostly making nonsense that just amused me and no one else. Last year, it was the Elmer McCurdy Action Playset – a cardboard box with a neon orange mummified person in it. Just like Laff in the Dark!

This year, the theme was vaguely “Artificial Intelligence”, and I thought I’d bring in a fake robot. Then, for some reason, I started focusing on breakfast, and that lead to Breakfast Bot 5000.

Breakfast Bot 5000

Breakfast Bot 5000 provides you with all the breakfast choices you could ever want. Except that it’s still learning, so there might be substitutions.

It learned about breakfasts by watching British television. Unfortunately, that was really just watching one Monty Python sketch and calling it done.

So I knew I wanted to make something that looked like it had a fancy menu, with plenty of options, and then would just lead to a single can of Spam.

What’s an <a> tag?

The first part was the menu. Where I discovered that I’ve forgotten like 90% of all the HTML I have ever written.

Honestly, I was looking up how to remove bullet points from an unordered list. That’s how much I’ve forgotten.

But after a lot of work, a lot of refreshing, and refusing to do anything fancier than the ancient and arcane art of <meta http-equiv="refresh" /> (which, by the way, I had look up too, because holy smokes I am so out of it), I managed to make a Breakfast Bot 5000 menu system that was appropriately bright, bold, and easy.

(Yes, it looks like an amateur website project. Hello, amateur web designer here.)

Time to build

So after I built the interface, I then went to the Hackspace on the day for the Crapathon.

I knew I wanted a cabinet, because they had to open up the cabinet to get the delicious breakfast. I then wanted a frame for the screen, which was my iPad Mini. And, thankfully, there was plenty of cardboard.

I started planting the cardboard black. I kept on thinking that it’d be a black cabinet, but then I discovered that, because the Hackspace is the Hackspace, there were no paintbrushes to be had, because they had all been left to dry out all covered in gunk.

To the bin with you, bad paintbrushes!

A collection of dried out and useless paintbrushes now in the bin

So I took the only paintbrush that was still usable, a very small one, and tried to paint the box.

Attempting to paint a cardboard box black.

Hot glue works better

I got so far, and then realised it’d be immensely easier (and much more futuristic) to cover it in foil.

The all powerful glue gun

There was a spare mylar emergency blanket, so with a hot glue gun and a bit of folding, I had my Breakfast Bot 5000 chassis.

A cardboard box wrapped in a mylar emergency blanket

(By the way? Mylar really transfers heat. Which means that when you smooth down that bit you just hot glued? Yeah, that’s hot.)

I cut out the door for the cabinet, used part of a gold-coloured plastic egg for the handle, and made another piece of cardboard the frame for the iPad.

The door and handle for Breakfast Bot 5000

I then laser-cut the name on some scrap MDF that was in the laser scrap pile. I was going to use a tiny piece of neon green acrylic, but it was too little to really show it off.

The iPad frame and signage for Breakfast Bot 5000

Chuck the rest of the mylar in the box to make it shine and add in the can of Spam.

A small can of Spam inside a box covered with silver Mylar

And it’s fried gold.

Full shot of Breakfast Bot 5000
Close-up of the Breakfast Bot 5000

Final (Mylar) wrap-up

It’s not an amazing hack. It definitely couldn’t win compared to some of the other great stuff that was there. (The child mannequin turned into a newsreader was the best thing in the world.) And it wasn’t my favourite thing to do, because it didn’t involve my favourite dead guy.

But I had my fun and that’s all that matters.

Plus, afterwards? I had a fantastic hat.

Me wearing the remnants of the Mylar blanket tied up as a very elaborate hat.