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piepal

COLLABORATORS

WHAT IT DOES

PiePal is a physical button designed to make ordering pizza easy. Simply dial in your desired number of pizzas, press the giant glowing button, and within 30 minutes you’ll be enjoying doughy cheese-laden circles of joy with absolutely zero strain on your pizza-carrying hand or your phone-dialing finger.

See it in action

WHY I MADE IT

At our office, we host meetups or other events three to four times a week. So we were ordering a lot of pizza, and naturally started to think about how to make it simpler. We also imagined a use case for a fraternity house, or something like that; if there's a party going on you can just walk up to this device, turn a dial, and press a button to feed everybody.

HOW I MADE IT

The enclosure was designed using SketchUp and printed out on a MakerBot Replicator 2. The internals are controlled by a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino, allowing for fine control of the internal LEDs and also for a fully realized user interface.


The PiePal code runs completely in JavaScript, using Node.js. Some tricky reverse-engineering allowed us to set up an API wrapper around Domino's amazing online ordering system, which handles everything from finding the closest store to tracking the status of each order.

WHAT I LEARNED

This was actually our first 3D-printed project. I think we quickly learned how valuable it was having a 3D printer in our stable of tools. We were printing out iterations of the prototype, and before we were even done assembling the last version, we were already printing out the next evolution. We quickly went from the bare proof-of-concept, ugly-looking models to designs that look a lot more like what you see in the photos.


Our PiePal included by a Raspberry Pi that did most of the work in terms of actually placing orders. If we were to develop this again today, we might instead choose an Electric Imp or Particle, which would probably let us achieve in a much smaller and sexier enclosure.

What's Next

If Domino's or another pizza chain had reached out to us, we might have continued development on PiePal. Unfortunately none of them did, though it did get us a lot of general attention in the press. I think this project brought a lot of business through the door, even if those contacts weren't directly related to pizza or food franchises.