Basic Stamp Controlled Kegerator


evan jensen sent us a link to his basic stamp kegerator.  the microcontroller monitors and regulates the temperature, and outputs status information and the name of the current beer to an lcd display.  this looks like a fun project if you are looking to get started with hacking electronics.  for our non beer drinkers, i can assure you that root beer is also best served cold and from a tap.

i’ve never used a basic stamp before, but i’ve noticed that a lot of other people are using the microprocessor to do cool things, including james the weather ballon hacker from earlier this week.  i just ordered a starter kit last evening, so if people are interested maybe i can post an introduction when i receive it.

20 thoughts on “Basic Stamp Controlled Kegerator

  1. Its funny cause i orderd one of these chips shortly before both articles came out, but heres the one i got, looks like its a cheap PIC chip with a bootstrap loader (i guess) which interprets a language. So it’s just like the more expensive ($80), but they can be had for cheap (~$12) for something which (I think atleast) is comparable.

  2. A cheaper alternative is to use the Microchip PIC processors ( ). There are some C compilers available for it, but the coding is so simple, this would make a good introduction to assembly language. (The PIC only has 35 instructions, after all ;)
    As for the LCD, save the money on a serial LCD and get a plain old LCD with a HD44780 driver. This link can get you started with the interface:
    PIC chip < $10 LCD display < $15 Knowledge gained = Priceless You can build a programmer from Internet instructions or buy a "PICkit 1"

  3. Basic stamps are great as an instructional tool, but i find them somewhat lacking when you need to do time critical or complex tasks.
    We used them in embedded development classes here in school, they are very easy to get going and the language is simple. But for an hobbyist i find them kind of expensive.

    I started out at home by getting samples for free from some chip manufacturers and building the programmer from some schematics from the net. Also for an research project for school i looked into quite some archictectures and used them all more or less. But i found the AVR devices best combination of speed, price and utility.
    The AVR series can be programmed by the same programmer (unlike the PIC series or masses of 8051 devices available) and the instructionset is very geared to programming in C. There is a complete free development enviroment for the AVR (winavr) for download. Well if you want more information check up on

  4. Maybe thats just me, but I can’t understand why someone would want something like the basicstamp, when you can have a PIC or AVR microcontroller for a 10th of the price…


  5. Yes, the PIC’s can be cheaper in quantity. However the PIC programming board itself is about $99. That will buy you 2 BasicStamp 2’s, which have a LOT of flexibility. The stamps can be programmed with only a home-made cable and a breadboard, you don’t *need* to buy the Stamp prototyping boards. The Stamp also needs only a steady DC voltage to run. PIC’s need an oscillator and a couple of other (albeit very minor cost (eg 7805 in most cases, couple of filter caps, etc)) outboard components.

    Also the PICs and AVR’s are programmed in a language that is more difficult for most people to learn.

    The Stamp is not the be-all end-all micro by any means, but for home hobbyists the learning curve and barrier to entry in terms of $ and time is much less than the PIC.

  6. I agree with most posters that the Basic Stamp is more expensive. I am just getting into Pics and Amtel microcontrollers, but there is no way I would have first jumped into these controllers without first playing around with the Basic Stamp.

    Plus there are boundless amounts of doc and projects available on the Parallax website.

    I would say for someone brand new to microcontrollers (like me) the Basic stamp is the way to go.

    BTW once you learn PBasic (the BASIC language used in the stamp), you can you use the same command set in PicBasic (a BASIC compiler for PIC microcontrollers)

  7. Rumor has it a guy at my work has done the same thing, but also has a digital scale set up inside. He weighed an empty keg, a full keg, and wrote a program to show the % of beer in the keg on the LCD.

    I’ll try to find a picture, if it’s really true

  8. The OOPic is worth looking at too. Its basicly a PIC microcontroller with a preprogrammed OS that will load your programs from a serial eeprom. It s super easy to program in either basic, java or c. It has lots of built in functions for everything from r/c servo’s to a digital compas. Pretty cheap and very powerful.

  9. The basic stamp in my kegerator manages beer flow; screw temperature; The vending machine that it is in regulates that — and displays the temp on the outside as well!

    Site operators: Please allow posters to decide when they want to use lowercase letters and uppercase letters. Style at the expense of readability and usability is complete SHIT (Normally, you would see how I typed SHIT in all caps there for emphasis.)

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