With the rising popularity of electronic textbooks and laptops being used for schoolwork, the ubiquitous high school locker is becoming less and less necessary. So, students are left with a private storage space that they don’t really need. Why let it go to waste when you’re an enterprising young man with budding electronics and fabrication skills?
[Mistablik] is one such high school student who decided to take advantage of his unused locker. After a “wouldn’t it be cool if…” discussion with his friends, [Mistablik] decided to use his summer break to construct a soda vending machine that fit entirely within his school locker. Quite an ambitious project for a high school student, but the result speaks for itself.
Using an Arduino, coin acceptor, LCD screen, and a handful of other components, [Mistablik] started by prototyping the electronics in a shoebox. After his prototype was proven, he used his school’s laser cutter to fabricate an acrylic control panel and enclosure. Other than a couple of hurdles involving false coin triggers caused by static electricity, the process went smoothly and he was able to move onto the soda dispensing part of the build.
Because [Mistablik] was building this in his school locker, it was important that the build was entirely self-contained and that it wouldn’t require any modification to the locker itself. Once again he turned to the laser cutter to build a two-chute system for dispensing two varieties of soda. Using Fusion 360, he designed and 3D printed the dispenser mechanism.
The finished product fits nicely into his locker, and quickly became a source of chatter around the school. [Mistablik] even used the vending machine to ask his girlfriend to prom, a technique sure to win any geek lover’s heart. Vending machines are popular builds for hobbyists, as they are a fun way to combine electronics, mechanics, and programming. But, this project stands out for its unique requirements and inspiring story.
[thanks to Slartibartfast for the tip!]