Kitchen Island Makes A Mean Cocktail

[John Creswell] built a heck of an automatic bartender in a kitchen island. The image on the left shows a top-down view of the inside of the cabinet. There’s a mini-fridge where the liquids are stored, and around the perimeter of the cabinet [John] mounted sixteen pumps to get the beverage up into your cup. Drinks are dispensed from the lighted serving fixture on the right by selecting your preferred cocktail from a computerized menu. According to his writeup the project was finished about five years ago, making us wonder if he’s tackled any upgrades such as adding support for smartphones.

[Thanks Zack]

20 thoughts on “Kitchen Island Makes A Mean Cocktail

  1. Funny, About five years ago, I was at his house and saw this thing in action. Very sharp guy. If I recall correctly, he had just switch from trying to use windshield washer pumps to these ones in the picture.

  2. A friend of mine was talking about needing to install a bar in the house we will be moving into this summer (until we graduate college), well looks like I found a little something to take this to the next level. Thanks hackaday you made my day.

  3. I noticed that the pumps are intended for water delivery. I’m curious if the builder checked for compatibility between the pumps’ internal parts (seals, for example) and extended immersion in alcohol.

    Nice execution of the project, in any case.

  4. Nice project, but I’d have mounted the fridge with the door facing of the cabinet’s doors such that the fridge is accessible from the outside. Also, I’d have kept the freezer compartment intact so that it can be used to make ice cubes. There are some other things to question: the choice/size of the pumps, the food safety of the materials, the positioning of the controller and the thing that the laptop is supposed to be on the countertop ready to be inundated when someone knocks over a glass.
    Overall, I think this is a really nice hack!

  5. What’s with the obsession of wiring wireless modules or smart phones into drink serving systems? You have to physically be there to put your cup there or at least pick it up when it’s full. What’s the benefit of wireless?

  6. @skinner
    It’s to look cool in front of your iFriends at your iParty.

    Very cool hack. I thought of a small portable version.. Think round metal trashcan and mini-fridge for donor parts. Add a robust handle on top to carry it, and maybe a door in the side to restock. A single plug from the bottom rear and a touchscreen/spout/drain on top. Anyone else visualizing this with me?

  7. @Spork: Brilliant idea. Though if you build it based on mini-fridge parts I can’t see if really being able to be carried. At least not by one person. Those things are damn heavy. Maybe some small peltier units or something? It’s gonna take a while to get cold too…though if you insulate it well enough you could probably move it without it warming too much, so that could be alright.

    Could maybe base it off a _very_ small mini-fridge, like this one:
    Though you’d obviously want something colder and cheaper…

    But yea, I’m thinking that you’ll need a very light cooling system to make something like this portable…because with the drinks and the pumps and electronics and everything else, it’s going to be pretty heavy already. Could throw it on wheels or something though.

  8. Awesome build. I always wanted to build one of these.

    Can’t avoid commenting this statement about the hole in the fridge tho:
    “Liquid won’t conduct heat as well as air, so the heat won’t travel far into the unit.”

    This is just plain wrong. Liquid conducts heat way better than air. :)

  9. Hello all. This is my “creation” – saw a link to hackaday from a friend’s Facebook.

    I would be happy to provide the program code to anyone who wants it, it’s un-compiled VB and needs some tweaks but ran pretty well using on-the-fly compiling.

    The pumps held up fine with alcohol. One pump had to be discarded after fruit juice sat inside too long and molded. Subsequently, I flushed the tubes with water if anything nonalcoholic was being used in that line.

    The pumps themselves were too powerful out of the box, I had to use a AC-DC converter that reduced the volts. Or amps. I can’t remember without going back to check.

    I eventually removed the fridge, it wasn’t worth the hassle. I tried mounting it with the door facing out, but it didn’t quite fit. The tubes come out the door side because I didn’t want to risk nicking a freon line by cutting through the side; obviously that would have been the preferred method if I could have done it.

    As far as weight – I made the tiled top removable, so it wasn’t bad to transport. It was also on wheels, which are hidden underneath.

    Yeah… My bad about the air/liquid heat conduction thing.

    Feel free to contact me at creswel1 at msu dot edu if you want other information.

  10. I can imagine something like this in a robot form factor, use your smartphone to request a drink and the robot drones over to you, requests your glass, and mixes your drink. :D

  11. Hmm, another thought, to address the concerns about the food safety of the pumps: Couldn’t you pump air into the top of the bottle and let that force the liquid out the bottom? At first I was thinking that wouldn’t work too well because of the compression of the air, but I actually don’t think that would be much of an issue. Ideally you’d want the tap below the fluids if you were doing that, but either way, there will only be compression if there’s something pushing against the flow of the liquid. I can’t imagine it would compress too much with the end being open…

    Or am I being stupid? It would be a little less precise, but I can’t see it being that serious of an issue.

  12. @andar_b

    there is already a robot bar tender call Bar2D2 which I think fits your description

    That could work reall well and there are a few options for doing that. The easiest method i can imagine would be to have a pipe run into the bottom of your bottle and a pressure line at the top which when pressurised should force fluid out the pipe into the rest of the system. It would make accurate measuring rather tricky though, because you would get different flow rates at different pressures and different volumes of liquid remaining. Small pumps for this kind of system are probably cheaper, easier and quieter. On the other hand for an industrial application it could be made to work quite well and I think your question may have just solved a problem of mine!

  13. @WolfPack:

    If you keep the output spout at the same level as the bottles it shouldn’t make measuring that inaccurate. If you pump in 10ml of air, yes it will compress at first…but fluid is going to flow until the pressure inside equals the pressure outside…which will require 10ml of fluid to be displaced. Of course, the greater the vertical distance between the spout and the bottles, the greater the pressure of the column of fluid in the tube, which would begin to compress (or decompress if it’s lower…) the air and make accurate measurements harder, but if you design, say, a portable one that is more like a keg (with the spout in the side,) I think that could work pretty well.

  14. @Skinner – “What’s with the obsession of wiring wireless modules or smart phones into drink serving systems?”

    Because there are some here who have an unhealthy obsession with Arduinos and any opportunity to shoehorn one into your project should be welcomed with open arms.

  15. @Urza
    My idea for a mini fridge was one of the very small 12VDC types. I have one that can’t weigh more than 5lbs. That said, locking casters would be a great idea.

    @WolfPack and Urza
    Wouldn’t inverted bottles with a check valve work? The valves let air in, but not liquid out. The inverted bottle happily supplies your peristaltic pumps (which are below the bottles) with liquid and the pump only has the strain of delivering the liquid to it’s destination. Pump can deliver metered quantities and tubing could be easily cleaned/replaced. Any downside?

  16. @Spork:

    Ah, yea, one of those 6 can mini fridges or something? That’d work, though you’d probably want more than one. Or just buy some Peltier units and build your own – I’m pretty sure that’s all those fridges are anyway.

    Also, the point I was making about the pumps was trying to get rid of the contact between the liquid and the pump. Some people here had mentioned concerns about the food safety of the pumps – and the possibility of the alcohol dissolving seals and such – so I was just thinking that it should be possible to only pump air and still get fairly accurate measurements if you did it right.

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