Parts Vending Machine

I've been slowly (very slowly) setting up a small store at Resistor to carry electronics parts and prototyping tools, since there aren't any retail stores in town pfizer viagra cheepest prices where you can pick up an Arduino RIGHT NOW. While ordering parts and figuring out where it will all go, I had a vision:

Vending machine full of components!

I've been surfing Craigslist and eBay, and while I'm not allowed to bring any new equipment into the space until we're all settled in post-move, it looks like a used vending machine can be found for $300 – $700 depending on what you're looking for.

One of the old school snack machines sounds just about perfect, but the one we found can only handle prices up to $3.95. Most vending machine hacks I was able to find were about getting free stuff out of them, not modding them to sell out of. Another fun hack which probably wouldn't be terribly difficult would be hooking it up to the net and letting people pay with PayPal or credit card.

I'll continue to hunt for the perfect machine, but in the mean time I'd love to hear about any vending machine hacks folks have seen or done. Because clearly what we need a robot who sells robot parts!

Filed under: Hacking

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6 thoughts on “Parts Vending Machine

  1. eagleapex says:

    I’ve seen a very expensive vending machine at te airport like this one: http://gizmodo.com/5031695/best-buy-vending-machine-haunts-dallasfort-worth-airport
    I’m sure the machine is expensive too. Have you tried contacting a local vendor for a used one?

  2. Gregory Weir says:

    Rose-Hulman, the college I attended, has a web-accessible soda machine. You can see its website with contact information at http://soda.cs.rose-hulman.edu/

  3. Jonathan says:

    Haven’t seen it in person, but since a vending machine really isn’t much more than a bunch of motors, solenoids, lights and switches, consider rebuilding the controller from scratch. It can be a fun project and by selling the original boards as spares it can probably fund itself and maybe even lunch for you and your crew. This may spark your imagination, even though it’s a student project and therefore a bit overdone:

    http://ece.colorado.edu/~ecen4610/expof08/VENDETTA_PDR.ppt

    If you decide to use a coin box or bill acceptor, see the interface spec at http://www.vending.org/technical/MDB_3.0.pdf which describes the interface to bill acceptors and coin boxes. Other than a tiny amount of electrical interfacing, it’s nothing that standard microcontroller UARTs including the ATMEGA haven’t been doing for decades.

    You may have the good fortune of happening upon a machine with separate CPU and driver boards. If you do, that’s a good thing because interfacing will mean little more than reverse-engineering the existing board and doing a bit of wiring. If you’re not so fortnate, there are motor control shields for Arduino that have more functionality and less I/O than what you’d need but have the advantage of being prefabricated and ready-to-use. To fit within your I/O budget you may wish to borrow ideas from the painfully obvious US Patent 6,008,597 and/or link multiple Arduinos together somehow. Or you might need to assemble your own shield with some power MOSFETs to reclaim I/O for other purposes.

    Of course, the details of the hack depend on what carcass you have in front of you and how much time and money you’re willing to sink into it.

  4. Shawn says:

    Metrix Create:Space in Seattle has a vending machine for parts & crunchies, they might be able to help.
    http://metrixcreatespace.com/
    http://everythinginthesky.com/post/223770618/this-thursday-oct-15-metrix-create-space-will

  5. If I do actually steal this idea, I’ll be sure to give you credit. Although I begin to wonder how I’d limit a machine to <50 items and what I'd fill it with. If it's something I can think of, I probably already have it, and I suspect other electronics makers are the same way.

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