The Bar Monkey In Action

Pouring a drinkAfter months of planning and weeks of construction, on New Years Eve, 2005 Alan’s Bar Monkey finally made its debut.

I have updated the Bar Monkey image gallery with more photos from the construction, testing and first night of use.

The first night was a limited success. The Bar Monkey made tasty drinks, and calibration was easy, but due to gas leaks in the caps we ran out of gas after only two rounds of drinks.

So we’re currently experimenting with different methods of making caps. The original design used hot glue, but leakage has been a problem. Alan attempted to seal these leaks with silicone sealer but this didn’t help much.

The most recent attempt was made with 30-minute epoxy. Most of us held that this had a better chance than other methods we have tried, but actually failed completely. It seems that polyethylene (which the tubing is made from) is extraordinarily difficult to glue.

So we’re back to the drawing board for caps, but check out the image gallery for pics of the unit in action. There will be more to come.

As time allows I will be posting more info on the construction process and some better pics of the finished unit. Also check out my other stories on the planning process and the relay assembly.

drinks, cocktails, alcohol, bar, bar monkey, electronics, drink, cocktail, alan baker

Bar Monkey Relay Assembly

Relay Kit CompleteSo Alan has made some good progress on the Bar Monkey. The relays are mostly complete (a few nights soldering between grading finals) and the next step is testing them out.

According to Alan the relays were fairly straight forward. The only big challenge was figuring out the orientation of the IC chips. Thankfully they mount in sockets so it’s fairly easy to switch them around.

Check out my Bar Monkey Gallery for some pictures of the relay in various states of assembly.

Check back often for updates on the project!

drinks, cocktails, alcohol, bar, bar monkey, electronics, drink, cocktail, alan baker

A Bar Monkey in the Making

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!

drinks, cocktails, alcohol, bar, bar monkey, electronics, drink, cocktail, alan baker