Two Northeast Robotics and Automation students are taking the art of barbecuing to a new level.
Juniors Matthew Cheffro, of Wakefield, and Kyle Paradis, of Revere, recently created a programmable logic controller (PLC) hot dog cooker, to produce what students call “shock dogs.”
The name came from the method in which they’re cooked.
“It basically electrocutes them,” Cheffro explained.
“Using 120 volts of alternating current,” added Paradis.
The pair first started building the project — inspired by Presto’s 1970s “hot dogger” electric hot dog cooker — last year.
The device works as follows: hot dogs (preferably beef, as that’s what the device is programmed to cook) are stuck on stainless steel metal prongs. With a push of a green button — that is connected to a PLC — a lid closes on the device and metal prongs send electricity through the hot dog, cooking it from the inside out. Sixty-five seconds later, the dogs are done.
“I’d say our dogs are better than a Fenway Frank,” Paradis said.
Coding developed by Cheffro and Paradis programs the device, which also includes a number of colored buttons that alert the user that different sequences are occurring. A blinking yellow light confirms the dogs are cooking, while a blue light signals that the device is functioning properly and no fuses have blown.
“It’s amazing,” Cheffro said. “I love that we can come up with an idea and then make it happen.”
The project, which the juniors completed under the guidance of instructor Brian Caven, encompasses the three main disciplines of robotics and automation: software, electrical and mechanical.
“Everything that students learn and create in class is similar to what they’d see in the industry,” Caven said. “Whether it’s cooking a hot dog on an electrical device, or programming stop lights, these all involve the automation process. It was great to see Matt and Kyle exercise their creativity and this is something the entire shop can enjoy.”
Next year, as seniors, Cheffro and Paradis will once again work on expanding the shock dogger, potentially building a robotic arm that can remove the hot dogs and add toppings, along with making a touch panel that will allow them to adjust the amount of time the dogs cook for beef versus chicken.