Not everyone has a need for a CNC machine. But this drink serving robot has the potential to pluck the “I want that” string in most people’s brains. It is configured to mix cocktails but could just as easily be built as an any-flavor soda machine. It was a big hit on the Internet when it premiered on YouTube back in 2012. Since then it’s only become easier to build your own version because of increased availability of tools, information, and components. There’s a display, buttons for user input, stepper motors, electric valves, and tons of LEDs.
Let’s look at how much of this machine you could build with parts available on Tindie and how many parts you would need to source from a specific supplier or get from your parts box.
First lets take a look at the parts list for this machine, taken partially from the Inebriator website:
- Stepper motor (for driving drinks shelf)
- Force sensitive resistor (to detect presence of a glass)
- RFID sensor (used to gain admin control of the machine)
- RGB LEDs (illuminates drink tray and each spirit)
- Hall Effect sensors (for position sensing)
- Electric solenoid valves (for dispensing drinks)
- Display (for showing menu)
- Linear Rails + toothed belt (drinks shelf moves left and right with this)
- Arduino Mega 2560 (used for controlling motors, solenoids, and LEDs)
- Fez Panda II (used for controlling display and input buttons)
This parts list may not be 100% accurate, the Inebriator website doesn’t provide detailed documentation so some of this is guesswork from looking at photos. With that said, it won’t be hard to figure out how to build this!
Parts available from Tindie:
This build uses a lot of solenoid valves. One for each spirit and soft drink bottle. Each solenoid draws several hundred milliamps so you’ll need a driver board to control these outputs. Thankfully, Electronickit has you covered with their 16 channel digital power shield. Capable of delivering up to 1 amp per channel. It would be possible to also drive the stepper motor using this board except that most if not all of the outputs will be used up by solenoids. Due to this we’ll take a look at a separate stepper driver board.
This stepper motor drive controller made by Icstation uses the L298N H-bridge driver chip which can supply 2A peak current per bridge. Comes with screw terminals for easily wiring up motors and header pins for connecting to your microcontroller of choice.
Adding RFID authentication for admin rights will prevent unauthorised people changing settings like the amount of alcohol per drink etc (this safety feature will surely get the project approved for the next office party). This NFC/RFID development board by Exelene integrates the PN532 NFC controller from Phillips which can easily interface with any microcontroller over UART.
This OLED display breakout board by Friedcircuits communicates via SPI. In the original Inebriator Bot build they added a fancy display with nice graphics. For a more bare-bones text only approach, a display like this could be used. This eliminates the need for a separate processor just to drive the display.
Parts to source from specific suppliers:
Parts like the linear rails and stepper motor can be bought as a combined unit or made separately. Assuming you buy a ready made module then the other parts you will need to go and buy are:
- Solenoid valves
- RGB LED strips
- Microcontroller board
- RFID tags
Parts from your parts box:
- Force sensitive resistor
- Hall Effect sensor
- Buttons (for user input)
Assuming that the Hall Effect sensor is used only for zeroing the stepper motor then it is reasonably feasible that you have one lying around somewhere. The force sensitive resistor is used to detect when a glass is placed on the machine. There are other solutions that you could hack together using the spare parts bin. It might be possible to use a micro-switch or even an IR LED emitter/ receiver pair.
Build it with Tindie score:
Here is a breakdown of how much of this machine you could build using Tindie:
- Tindie : 55%
- Other suppliers: 35%
- Parts Bin: 10%
Not a bad score! The other suppliers score includes things like buying a development board like an Arduino (although also available from Tindie stores) and the Linear rail + stepper module. It should be possible to hack together a DIY version of the linear rail system using a stepper motor and pulleys if you happen to have those lying around.