Alan Baker, a good friend and co-worker has decided that it’s time to build a Bar Monkey.
What’s a Bar Monkey? Well the idea comes from the guys at BarMonkey.net. Basically the idea is to have some computer controlled hardware (relays and pumps or valves) that pour precisely measured amounts of liquors and mixers to make your favorite drinks.
Among all the different variations on the Bar Monkey there are really two ways to deliver the mixers from bottle to glass. The first is to use pumps to carry the liquid. The major problem with this is that food-grade pumps are very expensive ($50 and up). Others have used cheaper windshield wiper fluid pumps but Alan and I were concerned about the safety of the materials used being in direct contact with consumables.
That led us to the other option which involves pressurizing the line (either with compressed gas or gravity) and using shut off valves from a refrigerator to control flow. Alan has chosen to pressurize with CO2. Originally we were going to use a CO2 canister from a paint ball gun. The small size and low price of these is ideal, however we are having trouble finding proper threaded fittings.
Flow control will be accomplished with refrigerator ice maker valves. Alan found these valves for $15/each at WaterFilterMart.com however they seem to have gone up to $22 almost immediately after Alan bought them.
The brains of this operation are the Kit 108 Serial Relay Kit from ElectronicKits.com. Each kit can control 8 relays capable of running the shut-off valves. The kits are connected by the serial module upgrade kit which allows you to join two of the controllers together to control 16 valves.
So the purchasing phase is nearly done and we hope to start assembly soon. Click here to view the complete shopping list and check back frequently for updates on our progress!