These days, with the growing popularity of smart homes and the Internet of Things (IoT), there is also a growing trend to automate everything. One of the main rooms people like to add motion control is in the kitchen because of the many shelves, cupboards and racks which are simple to automate. This tutorial will show you how to make an automated spice rack using an electric linear actuator and a few other small parts in just a few hours.
How to Make an Automated Spice Rack: Parts and Tools
You have many options on how to make an automated spice rack. You could choose to have it hidden in a cupboard and drop-down or hidden in a counter and lift up.
There are also many ways you could activate the linear actuator to lift/lower the shelf. You could add a motion detecting sensor, or set it up to extend/retract at the same time as when the kitchen lights are turned on/off, or use NFC to activate it with a simple tap of tag. These are just a few ideas of the many ways you can activate the motion.
For this project, however, we’re going to keep it easy. We will just be covering the basics of how to make an automated spice rack using just a few parts and tools:
Parts and Tools
- 1 x Spice rack - or supplies to make your own
- 1-2 x Electric linear actuator
- 2 x Guide rails and slides
- 1 x Boat rocker switch
- 2-4 x Mounting bracket (one for each end of the actuator)
- 1 x 12VDC power source
- Insulated wire (red and black)
- Wire connectors or soldering iron and solder
- Wire strippers
- Screws and drill
- Tools to cut hole in counter or cupboard
Since there are multiple ways of configuring how/where you want to place your hidden spice shelf, we won’t go into details of measuring/cutting the hole etc. As previously mentioned, this is simply a basic tutorial on how to make an automated spice rack. Once complete, go ahead and install it how/where you want.
IDEA: Should you decide to install the automated spice rack into the kitchen counter, you might want to configure it so that the top of the rack becomes a cutting board when retracted.
Because space can be tight and the load light, it might be best to use a small electric linear actuator (often called a mini or micro linear actuator. If you will have a heavier load, you can install two actuators. Of course the size actuator you’ll need will depend on your own customizations, the space you have and the weight of the load to be moved.
The guide rails should be as long as the shelf. These are here to guide the shelf smoothly while the linear actuator performs the lifting/lowering motion, keeping it nice and straight as it does so.