Automated Pocky Dispenser

Sometimes, along comes a build project that is not so much a fail, as how not to do it. First off, some of us here had to look up what a Pocky is, never having heard, seen or tasted one – seriously. Once satisfied, we turned our attention to [Michael]’s Automated Pocky Dispenser. Took a while for us to figure out if it’s useful or not. But it’s a fun, quick project that [Michael] put together in around an hour using parts lying around in his office.

For those of you who’d like to know, a Pocky is a chocolate-coated biscuit stick, although you can also buy it in other flavors. You can grab one from a box, but maybe it tastes better when you dispense it by banging a big red button. [Michael] says he used  incredibly advanced construction techniques, but we leave it to our readers to decide on that. The key element of the build is the special “flexible coupling” that he built to transfer the rotation of the stepper motor to the dispensing mechanism. The rest of the build consists of an Arduino, stepper motor, driver, and giant red button. Special motor driving code ensures that the dispenser wiggles back and forth every time, preventing any stuck Pocky’s. And the Electronics are, well, hanging out for all to see. Happy with the success of his build, [Michael] is planning an upgraded version – to connect the Pocky Dispenser to the cloud for statistical gathering of office Pocky habits. He claims even Google does not have that data. To see the dispenser in action, check out the video below.

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3D printed dispenser flings treats at your pets

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If you’re stuck in the virtual world like [Kevin Flynn] you can still make sure your pup is rewarded for good behavior. Just follow [Jwarp’s] design for this Internet connect dog treat dispenser.

We were actually a bit surprised by the demo video. It shows that the compact unit is more than capable of reliably dispensing one treat at a time. It started as a wood prototype which allowed him to tweak how the servo motors worked before laying out all of the 3D parts in Sketch Up. Two motors cooperate to get the job done. The first allows one treat to exit that shoot coming from the center of the hopper. The other stirs the remaining inventory to both position the next treat and loosen any jams.

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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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Feedback for automated water and food pet dispensers

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[Enrico] figured out a way to fully automate his pet food and water. The system is in two parts, the water trough as seen on the left, and the food dispenser whose control hardware is shown on the right. The system is even hooked up to the network so that he can make sure it didn’t break down while he was away.

The water dispenser uses parts from a sprinkler system. Since it’s mounted outdoors it doesn’t matter if the water overflows a little bit. So [Enrico] set up the timer to run the water for three minutes every day. This acts as a backup system since the trough already has the ability to refill itself.

The food dispenser started as a commercial unit. To get feedback from the system he added a couple of magnets to the agitation motor and reads them with a hall effect sensor. In addition to an IP camera that monitors the area around the feeder (so [Enrico] can actually see his dog eating) there is a webcam which monitors the STM32 Discovery board which monitors the feeder. It tracks the number of times the dispenser has run.

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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R2D2 drink dispenser will happily tinkle in your glass

As with Jabba the Hutt we’d like to have our own service droid to serve up a cold one. We’re in luck; it looks like you can make your very own beverage dispensing droid if you don’t mind a little awkward dispensation.

The body started as one of those big protein drink mix containers. After spraying it white and masking off the entire thing with blue painter’s tape, the shapes for the blue designs were cut out and painted. Half of a foam sphere from the hobby shop was used to form the dome.

Liquids are dispensed by the pump system from a Super Soaker motorized water gun. You can see it fill up a beaker with a mysterious blue liquid in the video after the break. It’s a long way from challenging the Bar2D2, but it’s also something a mere mortal can build

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Any flavor sports drink at the push of a button

[Sage Spate] wasn’t happy with the boring flavors of orange, blue, or red sports drinks. He decided to mix it up by building this flavor-mixing drink dispenser.

He modified the caps for each bottle to work with an air-pressure system. This way the bottles themselves serve as the reservoir and can easily be replaced when empty. Each cap has two openings, one is used by the dispenser nozzle and includes a hose that will reach all the way to the bottom of the bottle. The other hole connects to an air pump. Raising the pressure in the bottle forces sports drink up and out of the dispenser hose.

One air pump is used for all three reservoirs with a set of solenoids to enable each flavor individually. [Andreas] sent in the tip and mentioned that some of the parts are salvaged from an ink jet printer but we’re not sure which ones. At any rate, the next step in the project is to add Arduino control which will allow for custom mixing based on preset recipes.

We’ve embedded the demo video after the break.

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