The Perfect Beer Every Time

 

The Pour Master Pro is a beer pouring robot, designed and built by a team of beer/robot lovers as their entry to the Red Bull’s Creation Contest. Pour Master keeps it simple (opposed to some of the other bar bots we have seen), it uses a modified kegerator and tap for the beer, and a few sensors which it uses to maintain its state and pour the perfect beer. The standard tower on the kegerator was replaced with a rack and pinion driven tower constructed using the Vex Robotics Design System, this allows the Pour Master to set its height to the size of any glass using a limit switch and a set of ultrasonic rangefinders.

For a perfect pour the beer must not spill over the side of the glass and needs a decent 3/4″ head, to manage this the Pour Master uses the ultrasonic rangefinder to detect the thickness and height of the head. The entire thing is controlled by an Arduino running a finite state machine which provides state feedback to the user with an LCD display. Check out the video after the break for their competition entry, now all you need is one robot to make the beer and why not another to drink it.

Comments

  1. sneakypoo says:

    Skip to the 6 minute mark if you want to see the thing actually doing something.

  2. Alex Parting says:

    Those are awful pints.

  3. Epic says:

    Wow! This is a sweet hack! You should check out http://tech-revolution.com/forum/forum.php

  4. carbinefreak says:

    wow they like a lot of head……

  5. sp00nix says:

    i was expecting it to tilt the glass lol

  6. bin says:

    Cool Project, but there are other ways if you prefer bottles ;-)

  7. Moi says:

    Next step…conveyor belt for the glasses :)

    Needs a longer nozzle for THE perfect pint!

  8. Andy says:

    Perfect? Too much froth for me.

  9. mad_max says:

    That is awesome. Most people don’t like the foam, but any serious beer connoisseur will tell you that the head lets you taste extra ingredients that you wouldn’t otherwise detect, so it is important. I like how the stick that detects the height of the glass also serves to break the surface tension of the foam so that it won’t spill over the edge of the glass. Not sure if that was intentional or not.

  10. patman2700 says:

    If they were ever to use this system with a live beer, it would spill all over the place and fry the circuitry. There’s just no getting around having to either tilt the glass or the spout.

  11. patman2700 says:

    @ mad_max

    I think you’re confused about surface tension. If the stick were to break the foam’s surface tension, it would spill over. That seems to be a problem, actually.

  12. CRJEEA says:

    I think it should be able to tip the glass as it pours and change the angle according to the level of liquid. And have the option of drawing shapes in the head. (Eg. shamrock leaf)
    And a bit of a redesign on the pour switch.
    Other then that this is a quite well thought out hack. Well done (:

  13. Josh says:

    Great idea. Is it still under development? I have a few observations. I mean them with no lack of respect of what the team has already accomplished, merely ways to improve it.

    1) They stressed the 3/4″ head as being the perfect pour but I didn’t see that in action. The foaming is usually controlled by the barkeep angling the glass. Perhaps v2.0 can be crazy like that. Another option would be to use a bottom-filling mechanism to build the volume (see Blichmann Engineering beer gun) and then a pour function on top to add the head. Some might consider that cheating though as it is now a perfect pint but not poured “perfectly” in the classic sense.

    2) The gas pressure is mentioned as needing to be precisely calibrated but different beers are carbonated at different levels. Could the system be made to account for different carbonation levels and/or serving pressures? I imagine right now the team is adjusting the serve pressure until the desired head level is achieved. This will vary with temperature though. (See note 3)

    3) The liquid lines going to the spout are not contained within the cooling system. It doesn’t even look like they are insulated. If you’re not having a party with frequent pours, the first half a pint or so will be warm and carbonated differently than the second half. (PV=nRT)

    Keep up the good work. Very inventive.

    -Josh

  14. DC says:

    Wouldn’t it have made more sense to use the pre-existing and most likely more powerful VEX microcontrollers rather than interfacing all the VEX sensors to an Arduino?

  15. brad says:

    pretty slick. can it handle the 7-minute guinness pour though?

  16. Robogreg says:

    hey all,
    I am glad you guys like the pour master. I wanted to answer some of the questions in the comments.

    This Project was built in a short time frame as a qualifier for the Redbull creation competition, which the team will compete July 7-10th.

    “The perfect Pour” This is something we debated long hours about when building this. we actually found that running the kegorator at a lower Co2 pressure was effective at keeping the foam down. The demo pours that we did for the video (30mins before the video was due for the contest) were not very good. The machine pours much better now and has a few more features.

    Obviously every different kind of beer will pour differently, but since this is a single keg unit, we can tune for each kind of beer.

    One of the major challenge with this was to be able to pour into any size glass without knowing it’s volume, which dictated that a mechanism for tipping the glass would limit the containers (pitchers + solo cups for example) the machine would work with.

    We used the arduino instead of the vex controller because the competition mandated using an arduino as part of the project. The eventual plan is to move it to a vex controller and add a robotic base to it also so we can drive it around.

    Thanks for the feedback and I will be sure to post some of our later videos with better pours on youtube.

    Greg

  17. Techartisan says:

  18. avrfans says:

    Cool, I can’t wait to diy

  19. I cant believe you’ve wasted thirty seconds of my life by linking a “beer drinking robot” clip that neither drank beer, nor is a robot.

  20. Bob says:

    @vex,
    Guinness is one of the most complicated beers to pour correctly. This machine doesnt seem to achieve most of the steps needed for a perfect Guinness pint. For starters, the glass needs to be tilted at 45′ for the pour. Secondly, the “pour” is actually a three step process: the glass is first half filled, then the guinness is allowed to settle for a couple of minutes, then the second, slower pour fills it to the top. No paddle is used unlike other pours. This machine might be great for other beers, but would never pour a good pint of Guinness.

  21. JamDog says:

    @mad_max

    You obviously are not a “serious beer connoisseur” because while some head is good, you don’t want half of your beer to be head (like in the second pour here). In this project, they advertise a perfect 3/4″ head, which is definitely not happening in this video.

    Even so, awesome build.

  22. Robogreg says:

    here is a better pouring video after some software tweeks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzABRMW-yMs

  23. Justin says:

    guys, here’s a video of a better pour from the Pourmaster

  24. qwerty says:

    Where does one find those Meccano-like metal frames and strips? When I was a kid they made fantastic general purpose pieces like those, but nowadays they just sell ugly specialized kits that severely limit their usage because they want to sell you a new different box every year.

  25. Imi Votteler says:

    Perfect pint?! Did you see the amount of head on that? Also, why are you drinking out of a glass shaped like a shoe… are you 5 years old? ;)

    Robotics & beer is always a good mix, this one more novelty than actually good. Either way… beer me

  26. Looking at the mechanics of this thing, I don’t think it can last too long.

    This will probably need plenty of recharging and will be too expensive to operate or install.

    I know a thing or two about beers, and not much about robotics, but I’d just prefer pouring a glass down myself rather than using a machine to do it.

    Moreover, who still drinks out of a shoe shaped beer mug?

    Interesting to see that a lot of kids on Facebook still seem to love this idea.

    C

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