Nov 20, 2015 | By Alec

The Russians are known for loving a drink or two or three (or more), as they are amongst the biggest drinkers of spirits in the world. The Russian population annually drinks around 13 liters of alcohol per capita, and it is therefore hardly surprising that this reflects on their making community as well. One Russian hacker going by the internet handle ‘Strn’ recently shared a very cool build that is guaranteed to be a hit at any party: the partially 3D printed Alkomat bartending machine, capable of serving five different drinks at once and playing a fun tune while it’s at it.

As the Russian hacker explains on popular Russian technology website, this Wi-Fi connected machine is based on the Rumbot – an Arduino build that serves mixed drinks and circulated the web some time ago. However, the Alkomat is especially impressive because it combines a number of second-hand electronics to form a compact party machine. And as the developer explains, it works brilliantly. ‘Development took about 6 months and was a gradual process taking place in my spare time, without rushing things. A lot of things were learnt and improved while building, but the finished product still works!’ he writes. ‘This building project isn’t about promoting the use of alcoholic beverages, but about taking a good idea and making it a reality.’

So what is it made of? Essentially, the entire chassis is an old inkjet printer, with added wooden panels for extra rigidity (taken from an old cabinet). Using a printer carriage and a paper feed, the motors move a nozzle around and pump the chosen fluids into your glass. To control it, Strn incorporated a Microchip PIC microcontroller and a Sparkfun ESP8266 Wi-Fi module. The fluid pumps themselves are hooked up to a nozzle system controlled with a ULN2003-based motor driver from Texas Instruments.

The glasses themselves are placed on a recycled countertop tray with cut out holes to ensure that everything is stable. Attached to a recycled CD tray motor, this tray with drinks is festively pushed out again once the glasses are filled. This is combined with a built-in MP3 encoder, which plays fun tunes once the glasses are ready for consumption. A voice message can also be integrated. And if you’re only with four people, no problem: with the help of a number of photosensors embedded in each slot, the Alkomat senses what can be poured where. To get started, simply put the glasses in place. Then choose the items you want in the menu. These fluids are then pumped through the tubes until they reach the nozzle. The current cocktail recipes even enable the user to use different doses of fluids, but that all depends on the programming choices made beforehand.

The only downside to this fantastic drinking machine is that the Alkomat’s booze selection is only limited by the bottle slots at the back of the build – there’s enough room for four bottles. With a web page running on Sparkfun's built-in HTTP server, up to five different drinks can be selected. The Alkomat also, as you can see in the photos above and below, features a 3D printed button OLED display, which can also be used to select drinks. The panel itself was designed in a CAD-CAM program.

Some other 3D printed parts are also included on the frame, including the nozzle holder. ‘Originally I wanted to do a single nozzle tube, connected to all different fluids via a mixer, but I settled for this multi tube solution,’ the Russian hacker explains. ‘The machine was originally intended to produce layered drinks as well, with fluids poured in different fashions. Bartenders do it by pouring on the edge or on the wall of the stack. I was planning to pour drinks by simultaneously rising of the nozzle. In the end, the mechanics allow for a movement of 4 cm.’ As a result, the layered drinks look pretty good.

The result is a fantastic mixing machine that will doubtlessly take any party to new heights. The Russian mastermind behind the Alkomat, however, isn’t finished. His next step is to build a better interface and to replace the boring web interface with a flash app. ‘Now mastering Android, and I plan to write an Alkomat app,’ he says. Check out the machine in action below.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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