It’s becoming increasingly popular to automate everything. The kitchen is a perfect room to create motion control as there are many cupboards, shelves and racks that can easily be automated. In this article we will go over how to make an automated spice rack using a simple electric linear actuator.
How to Make an Automated Spice Rack There are many ways of how to make an automated spice rack. You can have it hidden in a counter and pop-up to reveal the spice shelf, or hidden in a cupboard and pop-down.
You could get fancy and add a motion detection sensor or set it up to lift/lower upon turning on/off the kitchen lights or even set it to activate using NFC where you would use your phone (Androids only) or a NFC card, tag or sticker. For this project, let’s just keep it simple. We will cover how to make an automated spice rack using just a few parts and tools: Parts and Tools
1 - Spice rack - or supplies to make your own
1 - Electric linear actuator
2 - Guide rails and slides
1 - Boat rocker switch
2 - Mounting bracket (one for each end)
1 - 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
Because there are so many ways to configure how and where you want to install your automated spice shelf, we won’t go over how to measure and cut the hole and the finishing details etc. Again, this is just a simple instruction on how to make an automated spice rack, which, after being set up, you can install however and wherever you choose.
TIP: If you choose to install your automated spice rack in your kitchen counter, a handy idea is to make the top of the rack into a cutting board. This way, when the rack is retracted, you can use that surface area for meal prep.
The guide rails should be the full length of the shelf and will do exactly as the name implies - guide the shelf along the rails smoothly while the linear actuator performs the lifting/lowering motion.
Step 1 Attach the guide rails and slides to the outer sides and back of the spice shelf in such a way that the rack will slide along them nicely.
Step 2 Attach one mounting bracket to the back of the shelf at the top. This is where we will connect the linear actuator. Attach the other mounting bracket to the bottom base of the shelf. This bracket will keep the actuator in place as it pushes/pulls the rack - so make sure not to attach it to the back of the shelf. It must be attached to the bottom base or your shelf isn’t going to move anywhere and you could blow out the motor on the actuator.
Step 3 Install the linear actuator and secure it to the mounting brackets.
Step 4 Connect the wires to the boat rocker switch and the switch to the power source.
Step 5 The set up of the automated spice rack is complete. Now you just need to determine where you will put it, measure and cut the appropriate size hole, install the rack and mount the switch. Conclusion This tutorial on how to make an automated spice rack is a very simple project that can easily be built in the span of an afternoon.
By now you should be getting some ideas on the many ways you can use simple motion control devices to create hidden shelves, racks, TVs and much more. But it doesn’t have to stop in your kitchen.
You can also create automation in every room of your house or office and even your car, truck, boat - or private jet!
Drawer Slides option
It is possible to improve upon this design by adding drawer slides. By adding drawer slides instead of having the spice rack slide up and down out of the countertop will give a much smoother operation of the system. Using a Firgelli Drawer slides that are the same or ideally a longer stroke than the Actuator you use, would allow for a much smoother sliding of the cabinet rack up and down, and also reduce the friction and force required to do the lifting work.