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This Tetris-Themed Timer Lets Waitstaff Know When to Check Their Tables

When you go to a restaurant, you’d like your water and/or coffee refilled in a reasonable time. While good waitstaff would strive to do this automatically, remembering to keep things topped off over and over… and over and over and over has to be difficult. To help with this task, Mark Wilson was asked by friends who run a diner to make a drink refill timer. The requirement here was that it should be “cool,” and indicate when the tables needed to be checked. What he came up with is a device called “TetrisWaterRun.”

The TetrisWaterRun looks like a miniature arcade game, with Tetris being played on side-by-side “wells.” Most tetrominos fall into place and clear their row, but roughly once a minute a bad sequence appears with gaps, raising the blocks and acting as a sort of timer. As the blocks add up, they go to a warning yellow area, then finally a red area where the coffee and water really need to be refilled. A pair of buttons reset each timing sequence and LEDs embedded in the buttons blink to notify that it’s time to refill liquids. There’s also a buzzer for “warning” and “overdue” noises.

The device was prototyped using an Arduino Uno board, with the final build implemented on a Nano, cleverly adapted with a section of perfboard to fit in the mini-enclosure’s limited space. Bricks are displayed on a 3.5 inch 320 x 480 LCD shield, and code is available here if you’d like to build your own!

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Author: Jeremy S. Cook

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