Mr. Thirsty (Automated Water Cooler)

by littleBits

Published on April 23, 2014

Make everyday work life a little simpler (and a lot cooler), with this addition to the water cooler. With some logic, a timeout, and a servo, this gadget fills your cup up with the perfect amount of water every time. 

*Details of this project will be varied depending on your situation. You can download our attached template and modify it as you like.

How To Make It


Buildthe circuit: power + fork and on one branch, button + timeout + wire. On another branch, button + double or, and wires comes to the other input snap on the double or. the Double or is followed by a servo. Don’t forget to set the timeout to on-off mode and the servo to turn mode.


First, make a lever. The lever is shaped like the letter ‘y’ and the servo is supposed to be connected to the end of the long limb and the fulcrum point comes at the far-most end of it. This is one of the most basic lever systems. You can transform the servo’s big but less powerful movement into smaller but stronger movements through this system. See this for more information about levers: Remember that It will press the button on the watercooler by pulling the lever not by pushing it. The reason we do this is because of the wire. We are going to use steel wire to transmit the movement of the servo to the lever. The wire is very good at transferring a pulling force but poor at transferring a compressing force.


Measure the dimension of the controls (the buttons and structure around it) and make a base accordingly. Have feet holes for the circuit and place where the servo sits on the base. Across from the buttons for the servo, make holes for a hinge.


Bend the base, to conform to the surface of the watercooler. Use the edge of a wooden workbench. Place the line to be bent at the base, on the edge of the bench. Using a heat gun, apply heat evenly throughout the line. When the plastic base softens, bend it very gently.


Position the different modules in the circuit.


Make triangular servo supports and attach them to the base to keep the servo from moving too freely when it is activated. Acrylic cement creates a strong enough bond to withstand repeated movement.


Place the hinge stand in position and bind to the lever piece with a machining screw. Apply two nuts to the bolt and tighten them enough to not be loosened.


Have a strip of wire connect between the servo and the lever. Determine the appropriate angle of the servo arm, the point where the wire ties and the length of the wire, through trial and error. You might find it is necessary to change the shape of your lever depending on your situation.


Once you have determined the perfect configurations and have verified the servo is working properly, attach the base to the surface of the watercooler. We used Glue dots for this.


Create icons for the two buttons. The size is 11mm (about 7/16”) diameter. You can make one using a drawing software and printing on label paper or you can draw directly onto the label paper. Of course, you can download and use our attached template as well.


Cover the icons with clear plastic tape. Cut out the icons and stick them to the top of the buttons. The clear tape will help protect the icons from getting wet!


Put a (big) glass under the spout and test the button. Adjust the timeout to set how long water comes out for when the button is pressed.


Now you are ready to be lazy!

Related Projects