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Pimp My Microwave (github.com/dekunukem)
529 points by sn74hc04 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 297 comments

The best microwave I have ever owned was the cheapest one you could buy from Argos: https://www.argos.co.uk/product/9174030

Two dials: power and time. The time dial moved to indicate how much time was left. It went "ding" when it was finished. That was it.

I can understand the need for features that automatically calculate how long to cook the food, and so on, but if you want those features you seem to have to take a massive hit in usability. They all seem to have cumbersome button-based user interfaces like this.

Emphatic double agreement.

I just want hot water. Give me hot water.

(Though some kind of temperature sensor could be nice.)

My second rage inducing grievance is bad cleanability. All the places dirt, scuz, grime fill up. Nooks, crannies, crevices, shelves, dials, mounts.

My third grievance is bad cable management. WTF am I supposed to tuck away the power cable? How do I secure it for storage?

My Vitamix blender, mixer, hot iron, instapot, sawzall, portable fans and heaters, the pre-USB-C Mac power bricks... All piss me off on the regular.

The least cleanable product I've ever owned was a Samsung fridge. iFixit would give it a -2/10 rating. I can only conclude its designers and product manager had never seen a fridge before. Or thoroughly hated all fridge-kind and were exacting revenge as part of some enduring blood feud.

PS- We need an iCleanIt product review site.

One suggestion is to look for products that have an NSF approval. This in the US, this means the product is approved for use in a commercial kitchen. Amount other things Cleanabilty is requirement.

There are many NSF approved products that work well in home (microwaves). Others such as commercial refrigerators are generally not appropriate for home use.

Your Vitamix should have cable management on the bottom. At least, all the ones I’ve ever seen/had have it.

Appearances only. It's more of a mismanagement system. It'd be better if they didn't even pretend to try.

I'd be ecstatic if there were exposed tines and I could just wrap the power cord. Like a typical vacuum cleaner.

But it's a recessed wind up area, and you really have to force the cable in, precisely to fully hide the cable. If you don't, there's a pig tail remainder. In which case, why bother at all?

There might be some other reason...just speaking generally since I don't know which model you're talking about, but maybe you can't do what you want because of some factor, like minimum bend radius of the power cable.

I can’t speak for everything but:

the vitamin blender, for cleaning, fill it water, some dish soap, and blend for 45 seconds at full power, then rinse out.

For the instant pot. It’s just a regular pot. Take it out and stick it in the dishwasher. I agree with your point in general but those are dead simple to manage.

Granted, I'm a germophobe. Doubly so after my transplant.


There are two hard to reach cavities.

The outer ring of the top plug fills with debris. https://www.webstaurantstore.com/vitamix-062984-lid-plug/HP7... This one really pisses me off. It'd be so easy to redesign the plug to eliminate the cavity.

The second is the underside of the pitcher, between the side wall and the center spindle. This one is only annoying. Can't find a pic, but this is the pitcher. https://thingsaroundthehouse.com/vitamix-7500-vs-5200/

I use looped pipe cleaners to scrub these cavities clean.

I could fully disassemble my former KitchenAide's pitcher to clean every component. Alas, the Vitamix does better with all the big leafy greens I now consume.


I like the cord unplugs from the appliance. This should be the norm.

Where do I put the cord? Inside the pot? Great, now I have to clean the cord too. Or rinse the pot before using it again. Sometimes I kinda fold the cord and stuff it thru the top handle.

Do all Vitamix machines have the rubber seal arranged so that the threads are on the food-side of the seal? Look at any other non-conical thread, like for garden hoses or fire hoses. The thread doesn't even get wet. All of the vitamix machines I've seen let pulverized food collect in the threads and quickly begin to smell terrible, because the rubber seal is at the base of the male side rather than the base of the female side.

> All of the vitamix machines I've seen let pulverized food collect in the threads and quickly begin to smell terrible, because the rubber seal is at the base of the male side rather than the base of the female side.

I've had a single Vitamix for...huh, well over a decade, at any rate, and I've never had this problem with pretty consistent heavy use the whole time we've owned it. Pretty consistently cleaned according to directions, which are as described upthread.

I kinda had that problem with my former KitchenAide. You need tools to disassemble my VitaMix's pitcher, so i've never done so.

Instapots have a bunch of ridges where the lid clicks into place.

Not easy to clean. :( Not impossible, but if anything gets caked on there, rather annoying.

Also the lid gets scummy, not hard to wipe off, but there are enough snooks and crannies that it is a bit irritating.

There is always rice in that stupid trough around the edge. Always. I clean it, and then I come back the next day and there's rice there again.


I loved my Magefesa pressure cooker. So easy to clean. Its design is very nearly the pinnacle of human achievement. I damaged the valve and that tiny plastic insert cost almost as much as a whole new unit, so I decided to try the InstaPot that everyone was crazy about.

I cannot fathom how someone ends up designing the InstaPot. They must have started with a CrockPot.

I do like the timer. Next time I'll upgrade my stove and stick with the dumb pot.

Don't get me wrong, I love how simple instapots are, and not using up one of my 2 high btu burners is a giant feature.

On the bright side, infinite rice!

One grain at a time. I need to get signed up for that whole chessboard-exponential-doubling-rice program

The cleanability problem for the instant pot is more the ring that the lid attaches to, which becomes an instant crumb/liquid trough. Not that big a deal but still easy to let lazily accrue into an unsettling (and potentially malodorous) food science experiment.

> For the instant pot. It’s just a regular pot. Take it out and stick it in the dishwasher.

The problem with cleaning an instant pot is not the metal pot itself, but the body and lid.

The lid is easy, you can just wash in a sink.

The body is a little annoying, but I've had good luck just running a damp folded cloth/paper towel around it towards the wider part, takes a few seconds.

I would add all the unnecessarily loud and often endless beeping to the list of nuissances.

I appreciate the beeps might have a purpose for accessibility but it really feels like the mute function should be active by default, rather than digging through the manual to find out how to mute it.

> Though some kind of temperature sensor could be nice

Some microwaves have a steam sensor, and use that to detect how cooked something is

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiS27feX8o0&t=239 at 3:59

Just curious...why use a microwave for hot water instead of an electric kettle?

Personally, I don't own the latter... and have no desire to. Microwave serves that need and more

If I'm not mistaken, using a microwave to heat water is significantly less efficient than an electric kettle; a lot of EM energy is wasted just bouncing around the cavity and heating up the air.

And an electric kettle will boil water quickly and controllably (no sudden boil-overs), often in less time than a microwave.

And more safely, as there is no possibility of superheating the water.

One less thing to have, and I think it might be quicker? Not sure on that, but I do know that electric kettles are much more prevalent in the UK with their 230V mains.

Exactly. At some point I figured out I only heat water. (Tired of cleaning it.) So I left it on the curb (poof, gone). I learned a normal small pot boils water faster anyway. Felt really stupid (facepalm) about that.

Fair enough! Looks like there is a big difference in electricity between US and UK as well? I am in Australia and we use our kettle (with several different preset temperatures) all the time.

Let’s say you want to hear to 85c instead of boiling. Or just use it to heat water to 40c for baby formula.

Electric Kettle is wasting energy either way - almost none have configurable temps.

You can get a kettle for £30 now with temp control, albeit you choose from 4 temps - 40/60/80/100 (low-mid range, low prices are around £12; mid would be £30-50 IMO): eg https://amzn.to/2Us6fPP [aff].

Strangely all UK stores (Tesco, John-Lewis, Currys, et al.) appear only to sell the traditional boil-only ones, which is curious.

As I drink primarily instant coffee I'm in the market for a temp control kettle, hopefully with double-wall insulation. Open to suggestions!

I found a decent one on Amazon that has a thermometer - so you can hit any temps you want to, at the cost of having to watch it (worst case you dilute with a bit of cold water if you overshoot). Very noisy though (Klarstein)

I purchased one with a temp setting, they exist and are amazing.

This is the one we have at home https://www.breville.com/au/en/products/tea/bke720.html, works great!

Normal electric kettle does not work by sensing the temperature, but by detecting change of pressure inside caused by the boiling water. The mechanism is purely mechanical, simple, cheap and reliable but there is no way to make the temperature configurable.

Or rather an induction stove, which anecdotally seems to boil water faster.

Speed plus that way I don't need to own an electric kettle.


In terms of time and energy, a kettle is faster and more efficient.

I guess a kettle is a single-purpose tool, and if a microwave oven is available, and you don't mind waiting while large volumes (1+ litres) are boiled, and have suitable receptacles to hold and contain that much water while boiling inside a microwave oven, this makes some sense.

(In contrast, I don't own a microwave oven.)

It depends where you live. Kettles are faster in the uk, but the us base power isn't fast enough to be fastly powerful.

It's the same electricity, given two times the current, at half the voltage your kettle will boil in exactly the same time, because P = V*I

But given that most circuits in a house in the U.S. are limited to 15A or 20A (rare), you can't just double the current. Electric kettles in the U.S. are limited to 15A and therefore a max power of 1800W.

1800W kettle is still going to boil faster than a microwave, surely.

Thanks for the correction, I didn't know that in the UK kettles commonly have a power rating of up to 3KW. Looks like the EU tried to ban such high power appliances in 2014, but I don't think they did. MediaMarkt in Germany has many kettles with power rating of 2400W. This would be doable in the US (barely), but only with 20A wiring and NEMA 5-20 sockets, which are not very popular.

In the US, I've only ever seen 20A circuits in garages/workshops. Kinda wish we had gone for 220v like most European countries, but it's far too late to change that now.

Because in the US, it is more and more common to run everything on 14ga wire. It’s just cheaper to run low end plugs most places.

OTOH, in my workshop, I just got done running a 60A circuit at 220v for a welder. I wish I could have the same for a kettle.

I think of the US as the best of both worlds because we have split phase so you can get 240 if you want, but we run the safer 120 to most of the house.

Similarly, in Ireland where we run 230VAC single phase, three phase 400VAC allows up to 22kW to be delivered, which is about to become extremely useful as we migrate to electric transportation.

Also, on safety, I don't know the statistics, but subjectively, electricity feels much more dangerous in the US because of the plug and socket design.

Refer my comment elsewhere in this thread, but I suspect your belief that '120 is safer than 230 or 240' is misplaced.

F.e. standard USA circuits are 15A, IIRC. In Australia, in contrast, it's typically 10A.

Hence, Australia's safer than USA - though realistically any amount of current is fairly unpleasant.

That's not how ohms law works.

The current is determined by the voltage divided the resistance.

The current that flows during a shock would not be limited by breaker size in any country -- you'll be long dead by the time 1 amp flows.

Code requires 20amp circuits in the kitchen (and garage). However it allows 15amp outlets so long as you can pass the full 20amps through, which all do.

Or did you mean. 230 volts?. Every time I accidentally come in contact with mains (only twice in my life, but that is more than enough) I'm glad we are lower, and wish it was less.

You didn't mention where you are.

In any case, regardless of geographical location, voltage doesn't kill you -- current does.

In Australia most household circuits are ~230V AC at 50Hz at 10 Amp, though 15 Amp circuits are not uncommon (the earth pin - we have three pins in a frowny-face configuration, earth being the lower / vertical one) on those are much larger, so you can't accidentally put that into a standard 10A (female) socket.

We have three-phase options too, which is ~ 415V AC - not something that's commonly used in residential environments.

In any case, 230V @ 10A is less dangerous than 110V at 15A.

V=ir. That simple equation is why you are wrong. Double the voltage and the current goes up. The human body is high enough resistance that you won't blow a fuse so current depends on voltage.

I get V=ir, but I'm not seeing any good answers to the question of non-linearity of humans' resistance.

I will note that 0.2A is enough to stop your heart, and 2A will almost definitely kill you (with enough damage that you're probably not coming back).

Consequently I'm not sure how a 15A (USA) circuit could be considered safe even in the relative sense.

Voltage determines the current that actually flows during a shock. The amperage ratings you are citing are the maximum amperage that can be drawn before the breaker pops. This protects from fire, it does nothing to prevent death from shocks, in any country. You will be burnt to a crisp before you trip the current-limiting breaker, in any country.

High voltages are dangerous because they can overcome the resistance of human skin, which then enables current to flow.

Right, so assuming everyone's got dry hands, or comparably dry hands, then you'd expect to see lower fatality rates in the USA (and other countries that use ~110V) compared to countries that use 230-240V.

Does that hypothesis actually align with the data?

I'm struggling to find good figures that spell this out on a region by region basis.

The data are often muddied, f.e. by including lightning strikes, ladders or trucks hitting overhead high-voltage power lines, self-harm / suicide attempts, etc.

For example, some Australian data for a 2-year period [1]

  > 55 deaths involving electrical injury - 50 male, 5 female
  > 8 were lightning strikes
  > 17 were intentional self-harm
  > 18 were were due to exposure to other specified electric current
Either way that's about 26 / year out of a population of ~25M ~= 1 per million.

In the USA I'm finding:

  > Electrocution is the fifth leading cause of occupational injury death
  > 41% of cases involved overhead power lines
Alternatively [3] for USA:

  > Electrocution is sixth among causes of workplace deaths
  > Electrical hazards cause more than 300 deaths
300 out of a population of ~330M ~= 1 per million

[1] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/electrical-injuries-d...

[2] https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/8/4/306

[3] https://www.electrocuted.com/safety/statistics/

Addenda - my numbers are wrong.

I was including lightning strikes in the AU numbers, but the US numbers were electrical (lines, domestic, construction, etc) only.

So fatality ratios skew higher in the USA than AU, at least. The numbers are quite low in both cases, so the ostensible safety benefits of 110V at 15-20A may not be terribly compelling in practice.

That would've made Brexit a lot more popular!


It takes 60s to heat a cup of water to boiling. I'm not heating a liter of water.

> Speed?

I just have a big 12L boiler on the counter, it's always hot and usually full, and I never have to wait very long for a hot drink. It's amazing. I couldn't live without it now.

Faster and not a single purpose device.

It definitely isn't faster.

Clearly you’re not British

you could plausibly say microwaves are wireless electric kettles, designed to heat water (molecules)

> My second rage inducing grievance is bad cleanability. All the places dirt, scuz, grime fill up. Nooks, crannies, crevices, shelves, dials, mounts.

This bugs me to no end, and it isn't limited to consumer-grade appliances. Work tables, counters, and other surfaces will be made of a food-grade stainless while simultaneously having a giant crevice that can't be properly accessed without a pressure washer and which has the moldy gunk cleaned out of it...never.

> I just want hot water. Give me hot water.

I always forget that Americans heat water in the microwave instead of an electric kettle.

Some of us. I do it on the stove in a pot or a kettle.

I'm sure these are bad for the environment but at least in Japan (and Taiwan?) pretty much every household has a water boiler. They do have buttons but in general you turn them on, they keep the water at 90, 95, or 98c.


We have one and I think it's incredible and incredibly useful. I'm curious about the "bad for the environment" comment.

Ours is a 2005 model and it is in pristine condition, has no scaling, because we descale it once or twice a year, and it still works as well as it did when it was first purchased. My wife is Chinese-American and "water pots" are standard fare in most Asian households. Ditto for Zojirushi Rice Cookers. For the record, our rice cooker is 13 years old, is used 4-5+ times a week, and both looks and works as if it were brand new.

How is this an improvement over an electric kettle?

The water is always hot. Instant coffee and beverages are popular there, so it makes a difference that hot water is ready to go with no waiting time. And in Japan at least, the household voltage is only 100V, so kettles take forever to heat up.

It wastes power (and AC load) but might save a tiny amount of time compared to a low power electric kettle.

They keep the water warm indefinitely, apparently.

Isn't it dangerous to microwave water due to superheating?

I had just written a reply about how superheating is unlikely because the water would have to be pure (i.e. distilled), but I looked it up and it turns out that's a myth! So exploding superheated water is indeed a potential risk from microwaving

I'm always on the lookout for it (if I see bubbles, I know it's safe), since I regularly boil water in the microwave, and I've even tried to superheat water just to see what it was like, but I've never actually succeeded at it. My understanding is that it's more about whether your container has nucleation sites for bubbles to form than about the purity of the water. My pyrex measuring cup must have plenty of scratches on the inside.

try boiling it twice. once, cool a little, then try it again.

Thanks for the tip, but no luck; it just started boiling again.

but did it start to gradually boil, or boil sort of all-at-once?

Only if you use far too much power x time.

You know, I've boiled water in the microwave and then forgotten it (I want a nag beep)...

So I heated it a second time and it got to boiling point violently all at once.

I think it's because all the air is boiled out of it the first time, which agitates things as it reaches 212f/100c

This reminds me of a particular popular shaving brand. Their shaving foam comes in a steel can, which readily corrodes in the wet bathroom evironment, leaving rust stains.

You can have a nice user interface.... you just have to let them collect all the data all the time. (5g will make this worse)

Oh wait, that doesn't mean it's better and the intrusiveness cancels out all the convenience plus more.

That’s a good interface, but I do prefer the slightly more sophisticated electronic interfaces that provide a single “Start/add 30 seconds” button. Those usually have other rarely-used features too, but I do 95% of my microwaving with that single button.

Yeah, me too. This is one of those instances where for this specific purpose, I kinda wish the manufacturers had access to the data of which features people use. All the complicated multi-timer stuff for cooking different types of foods is so rarely used that I wouldn't even trust that I know how to program it correctly if I ever wanted to. I imagine that if they had telemetry on feature use, they'd realize that everything but the most dirt-simple UI is completely wasted effort on their part. Of course, the bells and whistles are how they fill checkboxes, so there's a marketing aspect to it even if it's worthless. Most people are going to look at two otherwise equal microwaves and pick the one with the best feature list.

BTW, amusingly enough, my microwave manages to overcomplicate even the "add 30 seconds" button, because after 7 presses, it switches to "add 60 seconds". You can't use it to do 4:00 because the 8th press goes from 3:30 to 4:30. :D

Edit: I should add that I absolutely do not want my microwave to record telemetry and phone home with it. But if they could magically know that 99.99% of user scenarios could be covered without all the fancy features, I think that would be useful.

But how many times do you have to spam-press that button to heat a decent meal properly? I'd rather have a dial than having to press a single button 8 times for 4 minutes of heating.

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.

To reheat a "decent meal"†, you usually need to microwave the components of it separately, since they'll have very different thermal masses. And if you're doing that, each individual component isn't going to take very long. One minute for this (2 presses), two minutes for that (4 presses). The overhead of swapping meal components in/out swamps the button-presses.

Plus, if there's any sauce in any components, you'll need to be stopping the timer every 2.5 minutes to stir it around, lest you get a sauce that starts boiling/burning in some parts while still being frozen/tepid in others.

† As in, "something better than a TV dinner." One of the main reasons (other than cost) that TV dinners generally have such strange/unpleasant/non-complementary side-dishes in them, is the fact that the components of the meal are chosen to all have matching reheat times. (And even then, many still have instructions requiring you take things out half-way to poke holes in plastic etc., to switch some meal-components from being both irradiated themselves while also being steamed by irradiated water, to only being directly irradiated.)

> such strange/unpleasant/non-complementary side-dishes

I'm curious, what's an example?

All the frozen dinners at my supermarket are a protein (beef, chicken, turkey) with a starch (noodles, mashed potatoes) and maybe frozen veggies. Often with sauce/gravy. All totally normal.

I'm struggling to imagine a strange/unpleasant side dish.

Really, you find that peas-and-carrots combo not unpleasant? Maybe a normally fine veggie combination, but when frozen and then tossed in a microwave...

I think peas and carrots are a pretty common vegetable combination even when fresh.

And of all vegetables these freeze and microwave pretty well!

I mean, it's perfectly pleasant. Delicious, even.

Also, freezing and then microwaving is literally indistinguishable from steaming fresh over hot water in a pot.

The whole point of freezing is that no flavor or nutrients are lost, only texture because cell walls burst -- but then you lose the crunchy texture because cell walls burst equivalently when steaming anyways, which is why freezing+microwaving works so well. Nothing is lost at all.

Another way of looking at this is that in the best case frozen plus microwave veg mix can match up to a way of cooking fresh veggies that is easy but with bland results, and only that if you ignore texture....

I occasionally steam veg, but more often Blanche and then do something else with them, not something that works as well with frozen.

Also, losing texture isn't a small thing.

Have you.. actually tried steaming something?

I've cooked various cuisines at home for decades, including a stint in a professional kitchen.

I'm not suggesting you microwave your shumai dumplings or your egg custard.

But for your standard fibrous veggies like peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, lima beans, etc.?

Yes, frozen plus microwaved vs. steamed yields identical results, provided you stir in the microwave every minute to avoid building up hot spots. It's just physics.

Ok you've added 'fibrous' now, and to be honest of that list I've only steamed peas, but quickly realised I prefer boiling them if nothing else than because it's easier.

I tried kale in the microwave once (with a bit of water and covered in cling film (seran(?) wrap)) and it was awful.

To me at least 'stir in the microwave every minute to avoid building up hot spots' just isn't easier, I only use mine for defrosting/reheating things (I live alone so there's always multiple portions left over).

If we're going down this route, 'Really, you find any microwave ready-meal in its entirety not unpleasant'?

I've had some microwaved meals that were really rather nice -- Saffron Road's Indian dishes are pretty good, for instance.

The UX for mine almost gets it right...

If I hit 1,2, or 3, it will cook for that many minutes with some (very minor) level of 'sensing'; If you hit 3 when you meant 1 you're still gonna get a dry brick still, but I don't find myself having to 'fine tune' my cook time to the second.

However, I never remember the right order of events to specify a power level, because this thing apparently lets you pre-program multiple cooking phases (e.x. 6 mins at 50%, then 3 mins at 30%).

And honestly, it would probably be a great feature if they didn't skimp out on the screen or buttons.

I'm imagining something where either the buttons light up (for example, to clarify whether I'm setting Power level, or Time) or a screen that doesn't feel like it came out of a 1980s LED Calculator warehouse.

I recently bought the Alexa enabled Amazon microwave. I just say “Alexa, microwave at power level 5 for five minutes”, and it starts right up. Of course the first time I tried saying “Alexa, microwave at 50% power for five minutes” but Alexa helpfully said “you have to select a power level between 1 and 10”, so the UX was easy to grok and I haven’t messed it up after the first try.

Mine has a knob rather than numeric pad, but also that 'start with default 30s' button. So I hit 'start' then spin the knob, no multiple press or beep required.

The only things I heat for more than a minute require stirring or repositioning every 60 seconds anyways, unless I want a burnt bottom while the top is still ice.

If it's more than 60s or 90s, depending on whether the microwave starts when you hit +30s, you just use the actual time, which is usually 4-5 button presses including hitting start.

For many things, I agree that dials are the easiest. The only downsides are needing to be careful if you want exact times and not having adjustable power levels. A microwave with a dial for power would be awesome though.

Exact times are just fooling yourself.

I would say most UK microwaves have a time knob and up/down buttons for power.

They're helpful for certain things, like cold bread (15s is great, 20+s is too much).

What is cold bread, and what's the output, after these 15s?

Keeping bread in the fridge and want it very quickly room temperature for a rush sandwich? Does it really need to be in the fridge?

Yes and yes. It doesn't need to be in the fridge, but certain kinds go moldy much slower there.

My favorites are the ones where the first couple number buttons (say, 1-6ish) are shortcuts for the corresponding minutes. If I need a non-30s divisible time, or something longer it's more presses ("Time Cook" and then the entire time, then "Start") but for 95% (at least) of what I use it for it's faster.

I mean my microwave has an electronic dial to enter the time which increments by 5 seconds starting at 10 seconds, and a Start/Another 30s more button, so you can set it to any time very quickly. It's the cheapest model that doesn't have the physical mechanical controls.

I think it depends on one's definition of "decent meal" :-). I can put a frozen burrito into my microwave, press "1 minute," press "+30 seconds," and have a perfectly acceptable breakfast in two presses.

Over time the digital dials go a bit rubbish and sometimes jump up and sometimes down and all over the place as you try to dial it up. I have to revert to using beep beep beep on mine to build up the 30seconds.

Mine has the 30s button, but also a numeral pad that if I want 5 minutes of heating I just hit the “6” button once and it starts already with 6 minutes. Pretty good UX

>if I want 5 minutes of heating I just hit the “6” button once and it starts already with 6 minutes. Pretty good UX

and then stop it with a minute left?

Yep! Just in case I realize it needs to go back for a bit extra heating.

Got a new Panasonic one with grill and convection and was pretty anxious about the digital interface. But they managed to get it even better. If you ignore the extra options you just rotate the digital wheel that goes in 10s increments up to (I think) 3 minutes and then to higher increments. Then you press "start".

And the grill/convection plus a slightly larger size should allow me to use it instead of a regular oven, at least for my limited needs. Still to be tested.

We have a microwave at work, I used it once and it took me 5 minutes do actually make it do something. It is like someone just slapped some buttons and dials and a display on there without thought and created some twisted logic just to annoy the user.

I only ever bought two dial microwaves. Power and time, two variables, easy to understand and intuitive.

Granted, I might try the microwave Technology Connections demonstrated [0] because it sounds like it actually works.. but no chance of getting an old model where I live... or anywhere else.

0: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiS27feX8o0

But your food must have been so much more enjoyable after clearing the microwave button gauntlet?

I could never go back to a non-sensor microwave. I have no idea how long time anything should take to reheat in minutes and if I had to do it manually I'd be bound to mess it up. Requiring the user to know how long time some random food should take to reheat is BAD ui.

I just press start on our microwave and it heats it up to an edible temperature. Press the up or down arrows to change the goal temperature. There's another button for defrost that goes slower.

It's 15 years old so not exactly high technology.

You might be interested in this video https://youtu.be/UiS27feX8o0

The problem with this kind of microwave is the UX is just too complex. I don't want to navigate a UI to select the exact type of food I am cooking. All of my microwaves have had this and I have never used it.

I currently have the stupidest microwave ever invented. There's a big rotary dial that turning clockwise does some weird weight thing that nobody would ever use instead of setting the time to cook. If you want to set the cooking time, like anybody who isn't some kind of psychopath, you have to turn it anticlockwise and then clockwise.

Mine does mass-based defrosting, which makes sense to me and seems to work well.

(A defrost button that is a shortcut to 270W power, then turns the usually time knob into an approx mass selector from which it presumably has some time look-up table.)

I had one of these, too inaccurate.

The one I have now, a higher end model with plenty of features and auto-stuff. But it is actually simpler when used as a basic microwave.

It has two big buttons: start and stop. If you press start, it sets the timer for 30 seconds and runs at max power. If you press the button when the microwave is running, it adds 30 seconds.

If you want more precise timing, you can also preset the time using + and - buttons and set the power with the "power" button. Then press start.

It also has a nice safety feature. The microwave will refuse to turn on if you didn't open the door recently. This is to limit the risk of running it empty, which can damage it. From my experience, it is an actually useful feature and not an annoyance.

So, 3 improvements over the "two dials" interface: easier for the most common case (30 second start), more precise timer when you need it, and an added safety feature.

>This is to limit the risk of running it empty, which can damage it.

It's always struck me as odd that just about every microwave out there will put a couple of thermal cut offs in there but none of them have any kind of microwave intensity sensor to actually detect when the cavity is empty or presenting too low of a load. Even the naive approach of just adding a weak antenna and attenuating the crap out of it would seem to be cheap enough in added parts at least for "luxury" brands and it would not only protect the microwave from damage but also allow fine power level control based on actual intensity instead of just total load.

> too inaccurate

Yeah, I pop popcorn all the time.

After enough iterations, I've learned that 2 minutes and 22 seconds is the right amount of time. A longer time risks burning, and a shorter time won't pop as many kernels.

With a knob, I don't think I'd be able to dial in 2:22. So I'd have to stand there and monitor it the whole time instead of being able to walk away. And microwaves are supposed to be convenient.

The very first microwave (1967) had two dials, a coarse and fine timer (and they are additive):


This is also the preferred style of microwave for blind people, because there's a direct relationship between mechanical tactility and performance.

I own this one [1]. Defrosting is manual but otherwise it’s the best microwave I’ve ever owned. I also expect it to last for a long time since it’s a commercial grade. Single dial for time. Single beep when done and NO other sounds. Safe and intuitive enough for my kids (inset in our island cabinet at adult waist height).

[1] https://shop.sharpusa.com/medium-duty-commercial-microwave-o...

I had the same. Although, i only use up to 3 minutes, so the second dial is very innacurate to my needs. Who puts a microwave on for 30 minutes!?

They're so inacurate it hurts. My parents one is so bad that you have to put it to 5 minutes before it'll do anything, manually count 2 minutes, then stop it.

Most mechanical timers are like that, like kitchen timers too. They need a certain amount of force to get over the static friction of starting the device.

Instructions will generally tell you to wind past a certain point (in your case, probably 5 minutes) and then wind back to your preferred time.

Me. I cook mostly in the microwave, so I program it typically to 25 minutes and more, until a meal will be finished.

I'm quite fascinated... what exactly do you cook? I've never heard of this.

I assume that when you cook for 25+ minutes, you're using the lowest power setting?

I cook in the microwave everything, except eggs. I have a large programmable microwave with grill and convection.

Most often, I just preprogram microwave to 1) heat water for 4,5-5 minutes at max power to boil it, then 2) keep water hot for meal specific duration from 10 to 60 minutes at 30-40%, like in slow cooker. It works for a single meal, but I'm single, so it works for me. If microwave is not programmable, e.g. at work, then I cook at 60%, but it's a bit hard to guess proper cooking time and get reliable result.

I will not publish all recipes there, of course. By a book.

Now I cook in the microwave everything, even eggs.

While some ways to cook eggs may be trickier, there exists at least one very simple way. Break one egg and put the content into a glass cup (thermoresistant). Add a little oil (e.g. olive oil) and salt. Beat well with a fork, then 1 minute at microwaves should be enough.

I'm also very curious to hear how a meal can be cooked in just a microwave. I have severe food allergies and this would be great especially when I travel and stay in places that don't have a full kitchen. Can you point me to a recipe book you'd recommend, if you don't want to post the recipes here?

After my parents died so the quantities of food to be cooked became smaller I have also transitioned to cooking only with microwaves.

However, I had abandoned other techniques like frying many years ago, so the fact that using microwaves is restricted to steaming and boiling poses no problem for me.

I boil food that requires added water, e.g. rice, corn flour, semolina or other dry cereals and dry legumes, such as dry beans, lentils and so on.

I cook by steaming (in glass vessels with lids) meat, fish, invertebrates, fresh and frozen vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, onion, cabbage and many others), certain fruits (e.g. quinces), potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, green peas or beans and so on.

Most vegetables can be steamed or boiled at full power, depending on kind and quantity at times between 5 min and 15 min, while animal food usually requires steaming at reduced power (e.g. 440 W) for 15 min to 20 min (after a short time at high power to preheat).

I drink a lot of herbal teas and I make those using a glass teapot in which I put 1 liter of water, I preheat for 4 min, I add 2 tea bags, then I heat again for 2 min. It is much more tasty than made on a kitchen stove.

Using microwaves has 2 advantages: much shorter time and perfect reproducibility.

Because I eat only food that I cook myself from raw ingredients, before converting to microwaves I wasted a large part of one of the weekend days with cooking food for all the next week.

Now I cook each day mostly what I am eating that day, wasting just 15 to 20 min at most, on average, except when some ingredients can not be partitioned in small enough portions, e.g. a packet of meat that must all be cooked immediately, when that ingredient after cooking will be kept refrigerated and parts of it added each day to whatever else I am cooking.

Every time I am buying something that I have not cooked before at microwaves, that may require a little experimentation to determine the right cooking time. However, once the time is known, it will be used forever in the future, because the results will be the same.

Once you have steamed or boiled the food ingredients that require thermal processing, they can be mixed as you wish according to any traditional recipes.

Wow. Super comprehensive guide, thank you so much. I'm going to try this out by cooking my rice in the microwave next time, and try and take it from there. I already did vegetables and sweet potatoes in there, but didn't think about doing rice/cereals and even meat in there.

My native language is not English, so I cannot recommend cooking book in English.

Cooking in microwave is really simple, when you understand how to regulate cooking temperature with water, and how much time and power you need to cook meal.

Example recipe: put into a dish cup of water, half cup of rice, slice of chicken at top. Cook for about 20 minutes at 600W, or (easier) cook at 900W for 5m, to boil water, then continue to cook at about 40% for about 18m. If it undercooked: warm it again and keep warm for some time. If it overcooked or boiled out: next time add more water or/and reduce cooking time and/or power. At the end, add butter, vegetables, salt, etc. To keep the meal warm at low power and to avoid excessive drying at high power, cover the dish with another dish.

Similar recipe here: https://steamykitchen.com/22048-how-to-cook-rice-microwave.h...

Cooking entire meals by using a microwave was a trend sometime during the 70s or 80s so check out the cooking book shelves in a second hand store or eBay.

0-5 should be half the dial; You need increasingly less resolution past that. I assume that would greatly increase the electro/mechanical (?) complexity of the dial (increasing cost).

That seems like a good setting to thaw meat (on very low wattage).

I think the majority of people (including myself) have never actually adjusted a microwave from full power. I imagine it would do a lot better at defrosting meat without drying out the outside.

Last time I bought a microwave, I distinctly remember scrolling past the best selling models until I got to one (that still had good ratings) with just two rotary dials. Wattage and time.

I either want low wattage + long duration or vice versa, so dials (which allow very speedy rotation between the endpoints) are absolutely awesome for the job.

Microwave a family sized frozen lasagna or defrosting a whole chicken are the only things that come to mind.

Oh, wow. I'd imagined buying or designing a microwave with this API. This is wonderful! I've heard that the terrible APIs on most microwave are due to pressure from management to increase feature count, or something.

My current microwave (a Miele) has the time dial. It's not as simple as the Argos, but I basically don't touch buttons on it otherwise. If only it didn't have the clock built in.

My second best microwave was a Samsung. It was terrible in the way all Samsung products are EXCEPT it had a "sound off" button so your microwave didn't wake the whole house when it finished cooking your 1:00am burrito. After about 3 years (standard for Samsung products to become garbage) it stopped working and I replaced it with the 3 year newer model that didn't have the volume kill switch.

Thankful for Samsung models here in the UK, the only brand I could find that let you disable the beeps (hidden behind a button combination but detailed in the manual).

Coincidentally, technology connections just did a recent YouTube video on microwaves that might be of interest to you.


This, just commented the same over at HaD.. The currently best microwave UI is two dials, one that winds up the mechanical timer, one that selects the duty-cycle of the magnetron.

Funnily, I found this really expensive, but slightly broken microwave in the trash some months ago, and fixing it up with my own controller is still on the to-do list.. (sure, I could easily afford to buy a new one of the same model, but I could never make myself spend that kind of money on a microwave)

I agree that 99% of people are not going to use all these fancy functions, but wattage and volume still matter.

The one you linked seems a little bit too small for me (I use a 1200W one).

Power dial is the most useful; I think buttons are good for time though, particularly since 10s can make a big difference in a microwave.

I see (and agree) with the appeal for simplicity in microwaves. But having owned microwaves of both types, I did really like the ability to precisely set/see the amount of time a microwave program would run via a digital display. I found lots of these time dials imprecise, especially for <90 second jobs.

Those mechanical timers were bad. I remember having to turn them way up and then down, and their timing drifting and needing compensation.

Sharp still sells commercial microwaves with a dial, but it's digital and so just works, like the Sharp R21LCFS.

My microwave has "sensor reheat" which I like quite a bit. But all the rest sucks, and I would love two analog dials.

(one exception: I would not like a mechanical analog countdown dial, the kind that ticks)

I own that very microwave and agree completely.

It has never made me lash out in frustration, unlike every smart microwave I’ve used. It turns out, I also have never needed accuracy to the second when reheating food.

Similarly, I draw parallels here to other household appliances like a washer and dryer. For instance, the best washer and dryer you can own is a Speed Queen and they have similar simple dials.

I have a 850 W Moulinex that I inherited from my mother thirty years ago. Same interface as your Argos one, still going strong except for the interior light.

This is the style I have. I bought it last year, first microwave oven I have ever purchased.

Agree completely! Even the sounds on "more advanced" microwaves are worse.

I moved into an apartment with a high-end washer/dryer combo and was displeased to find out that it comes with a 30-second jingle every time it does anything that you can't turn off. Apparently it's ubiquitous now as I've whined about this to any visitor who hears it and they tell me theirs does it too.

It seems like a show of power. "You're going to give us $4000 for some appliances and we're going to make you listen to a 30-second MIDI track each time your load is done, and there's nothing you can do about it :)"

I've pulled open microwaves and removed the buzzer. My flatmate thought I was nuts at the time but as a person often up late reheating things it's a considerate thing to do, there's no need for a device where you can't turn off the sound. Even worse when it continues making noises every 30 seconds afterwards until you open the door. RIP anyone who likes to cook then cool.

Microwaves are already loud appliances, I can hear it running from the next room. Meanwhile you'll be hard-pressed to find a toaster that beeps.

I have recent (current model), reasonably high-end Samsung washer and dryer, and while they have a jingle like that, it's fairly easy to turn off (it's a secondary function on the control for the dryer, but even there is clearly marked so not obscure.)

I enjoy my LGs jingle. It is nice and distinct from the generic beep everything else gives.

And there are plenty of other fans. :)



mostly these are configurable to replace with a beep. Lot's of people like the melodies it seems.

Nooo, that's way too little time complexity!

> "ding"


Yes, the dumb ones just ding once.

That actually looks amazing to me. Add a popcorn button, and I'm sold.

Tangentially related, Technology Connections published an interesting video just a few days ago, "The Antique Microwave Oven that's Better than Yours": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiS27feX8o0

Looking at that video all i can think is there's a reason no one makes a microwave like that anymore. They suck. No one wants a 3 level deep option to specify 'Reheat - Potato'.

Yes you can make a microwave that cooks certain foods to perfection but it turns out that you can also get very close by smashing a +30second button or spinning a dial. You don't even have to read a manual.

Well you can surely design a better UX while still maintaining the smart sensors.

Camera/lidar/infrared and some ML to see what the food is and then a one button 'cook'?

That'd be quite awesome tbh.

Only works if there's a subscription to recipes for the food inserted, improved potato recognition etc.

Bonus if, after 18 months, you need to buy a replacement microwave because a security certificate has expired.

> Only works if there's a subscription to recipes for the food inserted

And then you get a Netflix vs. HBO Max problem where one subscription doesn't have potato recipes and the other doesn't have anything that contains butter.

Ha, my ex would have been furious as DRM would have prevented subs to cooking programs from her or my countries, but just ones for USA food.

Disclaimer: I currently work for June Oven.

The June Oven does this, and it works pretty darn well IMO. It's using just a video camera to do food recognition, but it's fairly high-accuracy for recognizing supported foods. The first few times you do it, frankly, it feels kinda magical.

But, actually, a lot of my usage doesn't lean on the pre-set programs. Rather, I do a lot of 'reheat leftovers' by sticking a temperature probe into the food, hooking it in to the oven, and having the oven automatically reheat until the internal temperature is warmed.

The June Oven doesn't really work out in practice:


I suspect this would be similar to the first full screen smart phones. I had one of those. Long before the iPhone was a thing. It sucked.

The idea is good. It'll just take a while before someone gets the implementation right.

The problem with the UX is you have to input the type of food you are cooking. Its easier to store the cooking time in your brain than to input the type in a huge list.

Unless the microwave can auto detect what the food is I can't see how this can be fixed.

Maybe a good next step for this project... the display is already there. :)

> No one wants a 3 level deep option to specify 'Reheat - Potato'.

You don't need that, there are also bookmarks and an alphabetical index. And actually as every item listed on the screen has a separate button, it's almost always less button presses than smashing your +30 seconds button.

>less button presses than smashing your +30 seconds button.

Pressing the same button rapidly 4 times is faster and easier than pressing 3 buttons after reading a menu

Anyway there is also a num pad here, seems like for two minutes you press "2", "0", "0", "Start". If it would be a three column num pad instead of a five column one, most people would already have a muscle memory for it.

All I need is a +30 second button and a Power Level button that cycles through the available power levels. Oh, and I guess a cancel/resume button? But maybe just auto-clear when you open it. And resume by hitting the +30 again :)

> but it turns out that you can also get very close by smashing a +30second button or spinning a dial

Isn't that only the case if you already know how long to microwave a potato?

Alexa interface? I'm not really joking. "Alexa, run the microwave to reheat a potato"

This same guy made a similar video about an antique toaster and the absolutely ingenious way it works without any electronics still haunts me to this day

and it works better. There's no timer on it, you just set the amount you want it to toast. I'm surprised nobody has ever tried to replicate to it, not even on kickstarter.

And when it was posted here, he was lambasted for it.

Was just about to post this video.

I think some of the su comments suggesting AI/ML or IoT seem to miss his point: in a lot of cases, good old fashioned individual problem solving expressed as decision trees and lookup tables can do wonders.

Sure, it's a lot more ambitious as a VC-backed company to "solve" cooking by having the one algorithm to rule them all, but in most cases it's not even known that this is an algorithm that is decidable.

What I know we can do right now is to add a sensor to cook a potato, heat a hot water bottle, and cook popcorn with minimal logic and good testing. This way you'll also have a product that helps most users do 80% of their tasks while the cook-anything algorithm is still burning millions in stealth. If you're smart you may even collect enough data and operational knowledge building this product to put you way ahead of other teams, should you wish to go the AI route.

I also came here to post that... the inclusion of a humidity sensor makes for an amazingly better Microwave oven. Who cares about the User Interface if it can do things no other microwave can, I'll put up with it.

Imagine finding a base microwave that works, adding the humidity sensor, AND a thermal camera of some sort... you could bring food up to temperature and hold it there. The tricky bit is shielding the camera from the RF field.

This is a huge peeve of mine. The firmware in the 2020 mass market trash is the same as 1995; they have no reason to change it because you'll keep buying the hardware over and over again.

And it's buggy. Try opening the door on the first "finished cooking" beep. It will keep fucking beeping for 5 seconds even though it has a door sensor and it could stop the beeping.

It's always amazing to me how bad a lot of consumer UI is. Consider the microwave has a fan. If you are in the room you can hear the fan go off. Why beep right away. Why not wait 10-30 seconds. And then there are the ones that beep every 30 seconds of no one opens the door, forever.

There are things like my Prius HVAC. Yesterday afternoon it was 80 degrees. And I had the air on. Tonight it's 45 degrees. When I turn the car on it blows cold air at me. Even though it knows it's 45 degrees out. Dumb.

I open the door before the time is up to prevent the beeps. Alas, when you hit clear to show the time again, there's a beep.

They are all buggy. Mine does not beep after the door is open, but rather the start / +1 minute button will start the microwave with one minute, or add one minute if the microwave is "cleared" or running. If it hits zero seconds, then you press the button it does nothing until you hit clear.

Try to find any CPU from 1995 that is still available. Most are no longer on the market and so they had to rewrite the ui again for no good reason.

Does it stop beeping if you open the door after the second beep? Aftermarket potential for smart microwave door buttons….

No, once it's in that "battle stations" mode it won't stop for anything. Every mike I've had for decades.

# Microwave oven

- Display in orange, just bright enough.

- Default to no clock until time is set.

- Quality-feel dial for duration. Digital and dynamic so faster spinning adds more time per rotation.

- Quality-feel dial for power.

- Quality-feel dial for function, or possibly buttons for this.

- Dial could be pushed for start or other feature. Push again for pause. Push and hold for reset.

- Door opens downward, horizontally mounted.

- Door has a handle; no door button.

- One single pleasurable beep or sound when finished. Alternatively: continuous sound modulated to convey how long remains. Alternatively: silent switch!

- Never beep unnecessarily nor inexplicably.

- Expire remaining time after a short while.

- Indicate when not empty but not running.

- Less noisy afterward than during.

- Large enough.

Make the bottom as flat possible while still rotating content. Rotate the radiation stuff instead? Probably too complex.

# Microwave oven

- Default to no clock until time is set.

Yes. Nothing is more passive-aggressive than a flashing "12:00" Just be blank, it's fine.

- Quality-feel dial for function, or possibly buttons for this.

Stick with buttons for the functions, but make them real buttons that move, not membrane switches with no tactile feel. There can still be a membrane cover over it for ease of cleaning

- Dial could be pushed for start or other feature. Push again for pause. Push and hold for reset.

This must be done right, though. I hate a lot of multi-function dials that both spin and depress, because they often make it too easy to accidentally twist the knob a bit as you're depressing it. Detents should be solid and deep to avoid this.

- Door opens downward, horizontally mounted.

Heh, I'd rather it swing upward, so it's not in my way as I load or unload the oven.

>Heh, I'd rather it swing upward, so it's not in my way as I load or unload the oven.

The main issue with this orientation is the rising steam could scold your hands. I guess having an elevating hinge to pop the door out first would largely fix the issue.

What if it was like a sliding door which treadmilled into the side of the microwave?

That would be really cool, but I'd be suspicious of long term reliability or the quality of the shielding in such a setup.

You'd have to figure out how to make it robust against bits of food and grease. I don't want to have to clean and lube the track every 6 months.

And if you did design it to be hassle-free and just as good as a plain door with respect to shielding, then I assume it's gonna be expensive :)

> Rotate the radiation stuff instead? Probably too complex.

I don't know why this isn't more common, my family's early 90s microwave didn't have a rotating base. It wasn't an expensive model. It was very easy to clean.

I assume the radiator moved. Or perhaps it was just terribly uneven, but we never noticed.

Yeah, most of them used to have a metal beater in the too that rotated the beams. But people like to see their food go around.

If it has a membrane keypad, it doesn't squeak when pressing buttons.

(Just replaced a 20 year old microwave with a new $500 one from GE. Which has a squeaky keypad. A cheap $59 table-top microwave from Walmart doesn't squeak, why does this one? Contemplating a warranty call..)

> Door has a handle; no door button.

Door button is a safety feature. Door handle would be inherently less safe because easier to forcefully open and easier to break in such way that it opens itself.

> Expire remaining time after a short while.

That would make interface unaccessible for people who can not react and press buttons fast enough.

> Door button is a safety feature. Door handle would be inherently less safe because easier to forcefully open and easier to break in such way that it opens itself.

Really? I've seen plenty of button less ones. The door switch is a safety feature. Open the door, the power stops, I'm not sure how the button is relevant?

The delay could be something like 10 minutes...

That will still exclude people who needs more than 10 minutes.

Who needs more than 10 minutes to press one button besides someone who is currently having a stroke?

I mean, this is awesome, but wouldn't it be just better with Topre switches ? And the pad is just plain bulky. Just make it 8 keys with one being a modifier, and move half of it to a layer. And...

Oh no. It's happening again.

Cherry Brown, accept no substitutes.

Cherry switches are considered mediocre these days. There are way better tactile switches with smoother operation and tactility levels to suit all tastes. Example being the Zealio V2 67g.

Chorded keyboard required to improve interface!

I only ever press 2 buttons on my microwave. +30 seconds, and Stop. The other 10 might have stopped working years ago and I wouldn't have noticed.

You use Stop? I use +30 seconds... and just open the door to end it early. ;)

Stop is needed to reset the timer for next time :)

Cycling power does same

That’s another “touchpoint”. Just wait for the next power outage

Buttons are nice because they're easy to wipe down, but dials are great for quickly selecting any duration.

If you're having to wipe down the outside of your microwave more often than once every 2-4 weeks, you and I have very different cooking experiences.

Do you have over-the-range one? If not, that's probably the difference. If you do, I'm guessing you don't cook anything in oil very often?

If I have a choice, I'll never have an over the range microwave again. A counter microwave costs like $30-$100; over the range units cost like $400+; and they get really gross.

Got a built in Bosch one that happens to also be ... a regular oven. Handy to have two ovens sometimes

wipe down the outside? What do you mean? /s

This is the most pimped out microwave I know of:


Using a raspberry pi, this microwave was modified.

For the love of God please just give me a microwave that makes zero noise, ever. No when I press buttons and not when it finishes cooking. I feel like every microwave I have has the most shrill, grating, ear splitting beep ever and it doesn't stop for 10+ minutes when something finishes cooking. I flinch every single time and often I can't immediately get up to turn it off because I'm in a meeting or something

Edit: I just found the setting on my microwave to mute it and I could cry

> There are a bunch of other buttons, but I didn't bother since I don't use them anyway.

Last time I asked my friends which of those extra buttons they used in their microwave, I found it amusing that each one responded with a completely different thing.

HackerNews, do you use any of those extra buttons in your microwave? If so, which ones?

From the rest of the thread, everyone uses time selection, power selection, and stop. The pizza button, defrost setting, etc., I've not seen anyone mention across a few dozen comments (though I didn't do a thorough study).

I'd venture to add that a clock config button might also be appreciated by many even if you use it only after power outages and so people don't realize they want it.

My previous microwave had a +30s/start button, power selection, and of course clock setting. And other stuff that I never used. I'd only ever hit start, optionally after power selection. It would instantly start (my current microwave first waits two seconds for more input) and allow me to press it more for more time (my current one rejects adding time). The button was also nice, I don't know how to properly describe it but it was a nice clicky button that extruded, where my current one has a small pressure pad for the quick start button.

I don't feel like I'm asking for much. A start button that actually starts, lets me add time, and that's not tiny and needs a bunch of pressure to register. One proper button. The rest can be crappy, I don't use that most of the time.

> From the rest of the thread, everyone uses time selection, power selection, and stop

I never use power selection myself. (I imagine it's mostly for defrosting?)

Our microwave, an excellent almost-20-year-old Daewoo, has a rotary timer knob (endless turn, digital); a start button that also acts as a +30s button if you haven't used the timer knob beforehand (and that can be cued up multiple times); and a stop button. The buttons are tactile nubs rather than flat buttons. Those are sufficient and perfect for me.

It also has a single button for power selection, another for clock setting, and another button that has something to do with presets or weights or... actually I have no idea. I use the clock button twice a year and after a power outage.

When you use the microwave oven also for cooking, not just for reheating, then the power selection is mandatory.

Cooking meat at 1 kW will usually make it explode.

I don't know if it counts as "extra", but someone once said "as neglected as the nine button on the microwave", which struck me as odd since whenever something needs to be heated for a minute and a half, I always enter "90" instead of "1:30" since it's two buttons to press instead of three.

I always hit one button multiple times, so I'd hit 99. Infinitesimally faster than hitting two buttons once.

In that case I think 88 would be closer to 1:30 - it's only two seconds off rather than nine seconds off. But it might be better to be nine seconds overcooked than two seconds undercooked.

Superficial hacks like these are weird in a kitchen context. All I can think of is: dirt and grease everywhere.

On the other hand maybe hacking the rotating plate to oscillate vertically a bit, to avoid the infamous energy spots.

The hack I want to do is to modulate the power to the turntable so that it always ends in the same place it started.

It's annoying when you put in a coffee mug or pyrex measuring cup and the handle is facing the back of the cavity when you open the door.

Usually the motor is a cheap AC synchronous motor, the RPM is fixed. So it's just a matter of deciding to start the power late or cut the power early based on remaining time.

Apparently when I was a little kid, maybe 6 or something, I figured out how to deal with this. I was too short to reach the back of the microwave, so if I put something in the front, and it finished in the back, I'd have to call my mom over to help me. I figured out how long the microwave took to do a full circle, and how long it would take to do a half circle. So when I knew it would finish with a half circle, I'd push the food in as far as possible, I'd nudge it with my fingertips. When it was done, the food would appear in the front and I could grab it.

The microwave I used as a kid in the '80's did this. Dead simple, just a rocker switch riding on the motor shaft, triggered by the split pin that attached the turntable base, which controlled power to the motor in parallel with the microwave controller. When the time was up the table would continue turning until the switch tripped. Stopped in the same place, every time.

This 'aware positioning' would be good for a breadmaker paddle too. Only disrupt one slice.

(Or you can just remove the paddle before getting to the baking stage.)

Would a very very nice hack indeed.

You could print an alternative to the little rolling ring that has a small cam built in. That would actually be useful!

You it would be as simple as a wedge and a roll

Technology Connections just put out a video about an old microwave that he contends has better features that most you can buy today. Also it explains how microwaves use a humidity probe to sense steam escaping from say a microwave-popcorn bag to determine when its done.


I'm not sure why a shell script called push.sh is included in the repo, but I suspect it is because the author is not aware of .gitignore.

  find . -type f -name "*.DS_Store*" -exec rm -f {} \;
Allow me to help; https://git-scm.com/docs/gitignore

I've been leaning on an online .gitignore generator [1] as of late. Just punch in whichever combination of OS, Build Tool, and Development Environment you're using, and it provides some reasonable defaults that filter out IDE config files, temporary files, build output, and other undesirable shrapnel.

As an added bonus, the site outputs a URL that can be easily fetched with your command line tool of choice and output directly to a .gitignore file.

[1] https://www.toptal.com/developers/gitignore formerly known as [2] [2] https://gitignore.io is the easier-to-remember entry point.

As a note he's using an STM32F4 to drive the thing now, which is a microcontroller also used in small hobby quadcopter flight controllers


Instructions unclear, microwave now chasing dog

Please be careful. A microwave will typically have a capacitor that is capable of killing you well after it has been unplugged.

Also a beryllium magnet which is poisonous

Beryllium is not used in magnets.

There's no evidence that consumer microwave magnetrons ever used beryllium insulators either, as that is an extremely expensive material. The ceramic insulator is alumina (essentially synthetic ruby).

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