Robot bartender mixes a mean drink

robot-bartender-mixes-mean-drink

Back in 2002, [Dave] came across a discarded PUMA robotic arm and quickly set his sights on turning it into a bartender to serve drinks at his parties. Unfortunately, the arm was far from operational and being an engineer at his day job meant that working on this project was the last thing he wanted to do when he came home. So, progress trickled along slowly for years. He eventually announced a public deadline to spur him to action, and this years Pi(e) party saw the official debut of  ‘Sir-Mix-a-Bot’ – the robot bartender.

With the exception of having to build a new hand for it, mechanically, the arm was still in good condition when [Dave] found it. The electronics were another story however. Using some off the shelf components and his own know-how, [Dave] had to custom build all the controls. The software was written from scratch as well. (He lucked out and had help from his brother who was taking a Ph.D. program in robotics at the time).

As if the robotics aspect of the project wasn’t enough, [Dave] even created a beautiful custom table that both houses and displays his masterpiece. The quality of craftsmanship on his table alone is worth the time to check this out – there’s a short video after the break.

[Thanks Dave]

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Automatic beer pourer was hacked together from a bit of everything

beer-conveyor

This thing is really remarkable. It’s a beer draft system that automatically fills and distributes to your party guests. The approach is something of an industrial revolution for parties. A hopper feeds cups to the tap; once filled they are whisked off to thirsty guests using a conveyor belt system.

Many of the parts come from a washing machine that the team scrapped for the build — most notably the motor which drives the belt. But pretty much every part of it is salvaged. For instance, the conveyor belt that transports the full glasses was made from gluing sections of bicycle inner tubes together. To help ease the transfer of a cup from the filling station onto that belt a series of very long cable ties were attached to a pole. The tails from those ties act as a brush to stabilize the cup as an arm pushes it onto the conveyor. The best way to see all of this is to watch the entire clip embedded after the jump.

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Tweeting beer dispenser requires co-worker approval

tweeting-beer-dispenser

Having been faced with an empty beer fridge one too many times the team at Metalworks came up with an approval system for dispensing malted beverages. The trick was to remove the physical controls on a can dispenser. The only way you can get a cold one is to ask the machine via its twitter account. If there’s beer inside, it waits for one of your approved co-workers to give the go-ahead.

There are two versions of the machine. The first is a hacked refrigerator with a dispenser hole cut in the door. This resides in their Sydney office, apparently doesn’t work all that well, and is only shown in the video after the break.

The image above is version 2.0 which is located at their Singapore branch. It’s a much smaller device, but works very well since it started as a commercially available can dispenser. You can see the Arduino Leonardo and breadboard which make up the driver circuits.

There aren’t a ton of details on this, but it’s not hard to find about a million examples of an Arduino using Twitter. Here’s one that takes Morse code as an input and posts the message as a Tweet.

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Vintage Kegerator

Vintage Kegerator

[Kerber] got his hands on a classic 1950’s General Electric fridge, and converted it into this classy vintage kegerator.

As his build log shows, it took an intensive restoration process to get this fridge back in shape. He completely stripped it down, scraping off the sixty year old insulation, fibreglass, and glue. Then the chassis was sanded down to a smooth finish and painted black. R-19 insulation was added to replace the old stuff.

Next up was electronics. An Arduino, DS18B20 temperature sensor, and a solid state relay were used to regulate the temperature and prevent frozen beer. There’s also a Guruplug server that reads data from the Arduino every minute. It makes this data accessible through a web page, so the temperature of the kegs can be monitored from anywhere. [Kerber] admits that this is overkill, but leaves room for future expansion.

The kegerator draws about 180 Watts, and runs for about 6 minutes per hour to keep the temperature regulated. This is pretty impressive considering the age of the fridge. The final restoration looks great, and serves up data along with the beer.

Tesla Model S handle dispenses beer; hides when done

tesla-model-s-beer-dispenser

Let’s face it, sometimes you need to take time out from engineering cutting-edge electric vehicles to over-engineer a beer fridge. And to tell you the truth, after seeing what [Matt Brown] managed to pull off we now have a gut-felt yearning for one of our own. He took a beer fridge and added a vanishing dispenser handle from a Tesla Model S.

You might be thinking that this an expensive part, and you’ve be more correct than you realize. It’s not even a stock part. This is a prototype that someone threw in the trash. [Matt] plucked it from oblivion and milled a spot for it in the door of the fridge. Your average [Joe] probably doesn’t know that the Model S comes with handles that pull themselves flush with the body of the vehicle.

[Matt] dug out insulation on the inside of the door until there was room to cut a hole for the handle. The clamped the assembly in place and used spray foam to re-insulate as well as glue it in place. An Arduino monitors the area below the tap. When you put your glass under the spout the handle extends. When you pull on it a solenoid drives the tap handle forward. This sounds pretty dry, but we think the demo after the break will have you lusting after one as well.

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Kitchen island monitors and distributes home brew beer

This piece of furniture actually resides in [Matt Pratt's] livingroom but we think it would make a perfect kitchen island. The base is a chest freezer modified to keep the beer inside at just the right temperature. But this doesn’t just dispense the beer, the system is designed to tell you how many pints are left in each keg.

The freezer offers enough room for four five-gallon Cornelius kegs. [Matt] salvaged the weight sensors from some cheap bathroom scales and rigged them up with some plywood discs to serve as the base for each keg. After working out the electronics to reliably read from the sensors (which was no small job) he hooked them up to a microcontroller and a touch screen. As you can see in the video after the break, the system calculates the number of pints left in each keg based on its weight. This can be easily calibrated using the touch screen.

He didn’t talk all that much about the control hardware, but having see his post about ARM LCD dev boards we’d bet that’s what he’s using here.

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Double-kettle boiling rig for and easier brew day

[Dave] built a controller that lets him boil two kettles at once when brewing beer. The setup uses electric heating elements in each of the kettles. We prefer to use gas as it’s a bit easier to control temperature. But an electric system like this can be used inside during the winter months while propane is relegated to the outdoors. The other thing that immediately comes to mind is partial mash recipes that require steeping in one kettle, then sparging (rinsing off the grains) with water of a different temperature. That kind of thing is a snap since the two are controlled individually by the trimpots on the front of the control box.

Inside you’ll find two 220V solid state relays. The box itself plugs into the 220V outlet in his basement which is normally occupied by his clothes dryer cord. So as not to blow a fuse, the MSP430 chip driving the relays switches back and forth between them rather than turning both on at once. The system uses entirely manual control, but it should be an easy modification to add a thermocouple and PID algorithms if so desired.

After the break [Dave] shows off the system in a video clip.

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