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Linux-Based Bar-Monkey 551

An anonymous reader writes "The Bar-Monkey is a bar built around a 486 running linux that can dispense an 8 ounce mixed drink in under 10 seconds. It uses a Matrix Orbital Serial LCD panel with a keypad built into the bar surface for user input. Three Harvey Mudd College students built the bar in their spare time last semester. The bar holds 16 ingredients with which it can currently mix 188 drinks stored in its drink database. Total project cost: $235."
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Linux-Based Bar-Monkey

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  • by mirko ( 198274 )
    Boris Vian fans will remember this jazz piano which was modified to create such drinks...
    Hey, in this time, nerds use to do jazz :-)
  • Old News (Score:3, Funny)

    by DasBub ( 139460 ) <dasbub@noSPaM.dasbub.com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:44PM (#5056134) Homepage
    Pfff, they did this in Short Circuit way back in the 80's.

    And THOSE things had lasers, fix you right, mate!
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ninja Master Gara ( 602359 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:44PM (#5056135) Homepage
    Finally, the Linux "killer app" emerges! Windows is DOOMED!

    Hell, it's even cheaper than some versions of Windows, and it pours liquor!

  • imgnie (Score:5, Funny)

    by Seehund ( 86897 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:44PM (#5056141) Homepage Journal
    a beowlfu clstr of theeeeeeeeeeesse

  • by vondo ( 303621 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:44PM (#5056142)
    Dispenses 16 bottles of liquor for $235? Even if the hardware was free, I don't think I'd be drinking anything that came out of this "monkey."
  • by drblunt ( 606487 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:44PM (#5056146)
    Now, the bar monkey, all the alcohol, none of the needless social interaction!

    • take this, a george foreman grill and a dance dance revolution machine and you've got a night on the town without ever having to leave your parent's basement.
  • what a breakthrough :D finally, something we all can use.
  • uhm.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by 216pi ( 461752 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:45PM (#5056150) Homepage
    looks like the bar is smoking...

    this was the very first slashdotted bartender...
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:45PM (#5056153) Homepage
    "You want some more?"
    • LOL (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:48PM (#5056195)
      Bahaha that was a great scene.

      For those of you who missed the reference, it's from the highly underrated Fifth Element. This guy is pouring out his heart to a bartender, and asks if he knows what he means.

      Camera angle cuts over and the bartender's a robot. It shakes it's head no and askes "You want some more?", which is funny since that's pretty much the reaction I've gotten from human bartenders the two or three times I've gone to drown serious sorrows.
    • I can almost guarantee this will be modded down for lack of recognition []. How about:

      Cornelius: "I feel so guilty sending her to do the dirty work. I know she was made to be strong but she's also so fragile... So human. You know what I mean?"
      Bartender: [shaking head]
  • Hrmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by ThrasherTT ( 87841 ) <thrasher AT deathmatch DOT net> on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:45PM (#5056156) Homepage Journal
    Apparently the Bar Monkey is serving Harvey Mudd's web site as well...
  • Barmonkey! (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:46PM (#5056158) Homepage Journal

    bleep bloop
    "Tea, Earl Grey, Hot."
  • by GreyPoopon ( 411036 ) <gpoopon@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:46PM (#5056159)
    Coupled with the latest study [healthcentral.com] on alcohol and the heart, it looks like we can now officially say that Linux is good for your health!
  • This is actually a very interesting idea. Although its cool that its being done on Linux, it doesnt mean that it couldnt be done on Windows. But its still a cool concept. Ill probally end up building one for myself since I cant mix drinks to save my life.
    • Re:Nice concept (Score:2, Informative)

      by neurojab ( 15737 )
      Using windows would almost double their budget, so I think it's fair to say it can only be done cheaply and legally with a free OS.
    • Re:Nice concept (Score:3, Interesting)

      by j_kenpo ( 571930 )
      Now that I think about it, this is actually a very good money making idea. This could work wonders in resturaunts and bars where heavy volume is a problem. Id probally do it a little differently so instead of reservoirs you just attach the actual bottle to it (similar to the Jaggermeister dispensers if youve ever seen one), but if youve ever seen resturaunt employees who have to wait on an overworked bar staff, you could imagine the potential for this. This is actually a very interesting idea, I give props to the creators..
    • by fleener ( 140714 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:10PM (#5056440)
      Windows would incorporate Drinking Rights Management to ensure kiddies are only served root beer.

      Before each drink request, imbibers of legal age must slide their driver's license through a slot for verification, along with the card of a preauthorized designated driver (even for home use). Remember to make each successive drink request with the same glass you used for your first request, or nefarious activity will be suspected and the tap will shut down, forcing you to call Microsoft for a reactivation code.
      • Oh, and add to this that the drink master remembers your drinking habits including what drink, how many, what time of day, and what day of the week. As such, if the drink master feels you are overdrinking it will send your address to counselors and doctors who will then contact you by unsolicited mail. The drink master will also make your drinking habits available to your employer for a price.
  • But..... (Score:5, Funny)

    by pimpmaster ( 324278 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:46PM (#5056165)
    Can it make a Flaming Homer..
  • by warpSpeed ( 67927 ) <slashdot@fredcom.com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:46PM (#5056171) Homepage Journal
    This might be the closest some geeks get to "sex on the beach" on demand.

  • I want one (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chocolate Teapot ( 639869 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:47PM (#5056183) Journal
    Does it require a designated driver?
  • Currently has 30 registered user accounts, with expected rapid growth as people cease being broke.

    This part is also right before the CounterCentral number of 860... there is certainly going to be rapid growth in traffic as well as interest.

    Oh, and are there enough people out there who will "cease being broke"... the inverse of which now also happens to be the state of their site!

    • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
      they'd make sure that they put the 'tip jar' server on a more robust machine!

      hmmmm.... I wonder if they're set up so I can use paypal to buy those guys a drink?

  • Needs ice (Score:4, Interesting)

    by D3 ( 31029 ) <daviddhenning@gmail . c om> on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:48PM (#5056193) Journal
    I didn't see ice being dispensed. How about a Lego robotic arm to grab a couple cubes and toss them in the glass!
  • Using an unreliable battery-operated device to replace a pad and paper to store names and addresses? Nope.

    Making our lives miserable and giving us the attention span of hyperactive gnats by making us always available for harassment via telemarketers, pages, e-mails, and instant messages? Nope.

    Giving us carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis just to move a cursor around the screen or pilot Mario around? Nah.

    Making it so our kids can't use a paper library or fix their own spelling errors? No way...

    Making it so the documents and esigns we spend our lives writing and creating have a recoverable life span less than a tenth that of the lowest-grade _paper_ available? Not even close...

    Mixing a perfect gin and tonic? Now THAT'S technology!!!
    • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:36PM (#5056664) Homepage
      Why not have this baby track it's users by sex and approximate weight?

      Since the user would get all their drinks from the machine, it could generate a report on what a user's BAC is likely to be (x number of drinks over y amount of time, adjusted to body weight). It could flash this info the the user everytime they buy a drink, so they know if they're going to be over the legal limit for driving or if they're getting close to dangerous levels. Hell, the barmonkey could even cut people off.

      "I'm sorry, the Monkey says you've had enough, dude."

      • by trentfoley ( 226635 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @03:02PM (#5056989) Homepage Journal
        ...the barmonkey could even cut people off.

        "I'm sorry, the Monkey says you've had enough, dude."

        This feature would dramatically reduce the MTBF of the unit. Clinical tests have shown that human bartenders, having arms -- and frequently firearms, can get away with this behavior. However, defenseless mechanical devices tend to be smashed in to little pieces.

      • Why not have this baby track it's users by sex and approximate weight? ... it could generate a report on what a user's BAC is likely to be ... Hell, the barmonkey could even cut people off.

        Hmmm, that's entirely up to the owner of the machine but your ideas will show up in the WindowBar that Bill Gates will make. It will be advertised for three years, on the market in five years, cost four times as much, give you advice you don't want, report all this info back to Microsoft, then cut you off when your license runs out. Have you seen the clippy animation where he flips you off and calls you a weenie? You will.

      • Why not have this baby track it's users by sex and approximate weight?

        select name, phone from users where sex='F' and drunk=True and approximate_weight=Whatever you like

  • too bad... (Score:5, Funny)

    by trybywrench ( 584843 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:49PM (#5056201)
    it doesn't have a web server built in then we could /. it and keep people from getting there drinks. Maybe a fight would break out and spread to the street. A few bystanders get involved and we have the first /riot.
  • by Duds ( 100634 ) <dudley@enter[ ]ce.org ['spa' in gap]> on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:49PM (#5056205) Homepage Journal
    Right, let's get some of these out of the way

    - Can it mix a flaming Homer?
    - To add a new drink do you need to recompile the kernal
    - Can you get KPeanuts?
    - It'd do it in 9 seconds if it ran Gnome
    - To get ice do you have to type MixScotch -ice
    - Ah, but will it listen to how bad your day was. "Barmonkey? yeah Windows 98 crashed again"

    Hmm, that's probably all of the non technical posts for this story.
  • Does it know how to mix a Slashdotting, on the rocks?
  • $235?... (Score:3, Funny)

    by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:50PM (#5056214)
    ... Does that include the drinks?
  • by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) <bittercode@gmail> on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:50PM (#5056220) Homepage Journal
    Wasn't that the guy Captain Kirk condemned to live w/a bunch of robot replicas of his wife?

  • Anyone has a mirror? Monkey is already dead :(
  • 10 Seconds? (Score:4, Funny)

    by GMontag ( 42283 ) <.moc.gatnomyug. .ta. .gatnomg.> on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:51PM (#5056228) Homepage Journal
    TEN Seconds? For crying out loud! That is an eternity when my glass is empty! Human bartenders are much quicker, well after I get them properly trained.

    Then again, this thing might be a lot faster with draft Fosters only, rather than having all of thos other confusing ingrediants mucking things up.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:51PM (#5056230) Homepage Journal
    The bar holds 16 ingredients with which it can currently mix 188 drinks stored in its drink database. Total project cost: $235."

    16^2-16 = 240. Where'd the rest of them go? :-)

    Now imagine if you will, a Linux powered lunch counter cook...

    Man: Well, what've you got?

    Waitress: Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam;

    Vikings: Spam spam spam spam...

    Oh, wait, it's already been predicted. Nevermind.

    • That should really be 16! (2, 092, 278, 988, 000), not 16^2 - 16, as a drink may consist of more than two ingredients (whether or not the glass could contain 16 measures is another matter). However, I hope it wouldn't suggest Coke and Tonic, 'cos that'd be nasty.

  • Text from main page (Score:5, Informative)

    by missing000 ( 602285 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:51PM (#5056234)
    The Bar Monkey
    Designed and Implemented by Steven Avery, Dustin Cooper, and Brad Greer
    of Harvey Mudd College

    The Bar Monkey, simply put, is a vending machine that serves mixed drinks. It houses 16 reservoirs which currently contain the following ingredients:

    * Vodka
    * Rum
    * Tequila
    * Whiskey
    * Gin
    * Amaretto
    * Triple Sec
    * Kahlua (or coffee liqueur)
    * Midori (or melon liqueur)
    * Orange Juice
    * Pineapple Juice
    * Cranberry Juice
    * Sour Mix
    * Cola*
    * Tonic*
    * Grenadine*

    *Ingredients currently under consideration for replacement

    Using these 16 ingredients, a total of 188 different drinks can be made, with the included ability to add ounce increments of each ingredient to customize (or create) a drink. The drink database is easy to update and nearly infinitely expandable.

    Customers sign up for a user account, for which they are assigned a unique, 5-digit, hexadecimal PIN. The account is debit-based, with each drink charging the customer at cost for the drink they are purchasing, automatically deducting from their account balance.

    All told, the project took about 3 months and $235 to complete. It is worth mentioning, however, that the LCD (the most expensive single component) was donated (approx. value: $100+), and various other components were otherwise acquired for free. The Bar Monkey was graciously funded by West Dorm HMC, even though we were overbudget by $85. Continual maintenance and occasional improvements are still always a concern.
    Some Pictures:

    Beta Testing
    Here's the cabinet when it was just a few shelves holding empty 2-liter bottles. One pump is hooked up to the computer for the purpose of taking time-constant data.

    Soldering I
    Having collected the time-constant data, Steve and Brad dutifully solder half-inch jumpers to each of the 4 leads on each of the 16 relays. Neither of us knows, to this day, why we did this outside.

    Soldering II
    Closeup of the meticulous but tedious jumper-soldering process.

    Bartop Under Construction
    The unfinished bartop, with various tools, containers, and other helpful things strewn across it in the midst of hard work.

    The Monkey's Central Nervous System
    The finished relay board, connected to the computer via parallel ports. The computer is running the Bar Monkey program, which displays the drink code prompt on the LCD.

    LCD and Keypad Closeup
    The above-mentioned drink prompt, but closer.

    Behind the Scenes of the Relay Board
    It looks really nice and neat on top, but the relay board was quite possibly the most difficult part of the entire project. What you see here are 16 relays, 16 diodes, 16 resistors, 16 transistors, and approximately 70 small segments of wire (not counting the 64 jumpers).

    Inside the Finished Product I (shown above)
    Pretty self-explanatory. The pumps and their respective reservoirs in place, the computer and relay board safely tucked on a shelf, the LCD behind a half-inch of acrylic, and all the tubes pulled through the PVC dispenser neck.

    Inside the Finished Product II
    Same as above, but from a different angle.

    Electronics Closeup
    The LCD, with extension cable to the keypad and serial cable to the computer, is at the top right. The bottom of the computer is unimpressive, though dominant in the frame, and the relay board is seen off to the side.

    Outside the Finished Product
    Here we see the Bar Monkey as customers see it, complete with Dustin's excellent stencil design and the nozzle, which is removable for cleaning.

    The Finished Bartop
    The top of the Bar Monkey, covered in rugged black plastic with a viewing window for the LCD.
    Finished LCD and Keypad Closeup
    It still looks pretty much the way it did when it was unfinished, only now it isn't just laying on the floor.

    Drink Confirmation
    The true beginning of the customer's experience with the Bar Monkey.

    Technical Specs:

    * Runs a program written in C by Dustin Cooper, in Linux.
    * Bartop is approximately four feet above the ground.
    * Holds approximately 1.75 liters of each ingredient.
    * Uses 16 windshield washer pumps run by a 12V adaptor. Pumps are connected in parallel and run sequentially by the program.
    * Dispenses an 8 oz. mixed drink in less than 10 seconds.
    * Currently has 30 registered user accounts, with expected rapid growth as people cease being broke.

    CounterCentral hit counters
    Since 10:00 PM EST on Jan 7, 2003
    • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @04:24PM (#5057889)
      "we were overbudget by $85"

      Wonder how that happened...

      "Beta Testing"

  • Isn't that the academic institution where all the teachers are androids who wear a necklace with the course number they teach on it (and otherwise almost tend to look like each other)?

    And didn't I hear the headmaster android was named Stella?

    Or was all that something in a dream I had last night?
  • by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:53PM (#5056256) Homepage
    If you beowulf them do you get an AA meeting?
  • The Linux (Score:5, Funny)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:56PM (#5056292) Homepage
    1 can of Mountain Dew
    2 shots Finlandia vodka
    splash of triple-sec
    twist of lime
    straw for networking

    Serve with ice.

    Made this up as a joke at an ACM party back in college (we had a "Windows" too, but it was horrible and weak), but the Linux continues to be a favorite of mine.
  • by Boss, Pointy Haired ( 537010 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @01:56PM (#5056298)
    You have to sign-up for an AdultCheck(TM) ID before you can get an account.
  • finally (Score:2, Funny)

    by andih8u ( 639841 )
    a sysadmin job you can really love
  • by extra88 ( 1003 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:00PM (#5056340)
    My biggest beef with the interface is you have to enter a numeric code to pick a drink thus requiring some chart of all 188 drinks. Once you've partaken of the Monkey a few times, are you really going to be manage it? A-ha! The interface is intentially difficult to act as a throttle on consumption. Once you're sufficiently drunk, you can't manage to order another.

    For v.2 I'd use a bigger LCD and display actual drink names, possibly grouped hierarchically by type or primary ingredient. Drink numbers would remain to act as a shortcut for patrons who remember the number of a drink they order often. A touch screen would kick ass but I think they're less robust and more expensive.

    Since each patron has an account, I'd give it a "The Usual" button which could be set for each patron. Instead of a PIN, I'd also consider a card swipe. They're students so they could use their student ID as the card.
  • Problem (Score:2, Funny)

    by Sh0t ( 607838 )
    Only problem of course is soon coke will be sending out viruses that turn all the pepsi formulas into shit so people migrate away from pepsi. Or something like that...
  • Until we figure out a way to make a distributed system of these so that my Bar-Monkey can use someone else's liquor, I'm not interested.
  • by wizarddc ( 105860 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:02PM (#5056368) Homepage Journal
    And not a drop (of water) to drink. GUess they like their drinks pretty strong at Harvey Mudd.

    The Bar Monkey, simply put, is a vending machine that serves mixed drinks. It houses 16 reservoirs which currently contain the following ingredients:

    * Vodka
    * Rum
    * Tequila
    * Whiskey
    * Gin
    * Amaretto
    * Triple Sec
    * Kahlua (or coffee liqueur)
    * Midori (or melon liqueur)
    * Orange Juice
    * Pineapple Juice
    * Cranberry Juice
    * Sour Mix
    * Cola*
    * Tonic*
    * Grenadine*
  • ..does that mean the drinks are "Free?"

  • by CoderByBirth ( 585951 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:03PM (#5056386)
    ...of a machine at my university:
    "The Stochastic Bartender"
    Basically, it's a modified slotmachine, where instead of the three cherries, bananas and apples, there is a type of hard liquor, one liqueur and one mixer.

    Drinks from The Stochastic Bartender cost half, on one condition - you only get to pull that lever once.

    I'm telling you - that devil piece of machinery can come up with some truly repulsive shit:
    4cl Bäska Droppar ("Bitter Drops", Swedish vodka spiced with wormwood, this stuff makes you feel like a man)
    Blue Curacao
    Grapefruite juice
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:03PM (#5056387) Homepage Journal
    This guy is using windshield washer pumps to move the fluids.


    Sorry, I'd rather use something less likely to contaminate the fluid I was moving.

    A peristaltic pump [google.com] would be far better - you get volumetric measuring free, and you can use medical grade non-contaminating tubing.

    • by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:19PM (#5056521) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, peri pumps are great. We have hundreds of impeller pumps to recirculate ink on our presses, and the are always dying, going off balance, or developing other problems. Plus, they have to be meticulously cleaned with every ink color change. We're moving to peri pumps exclusively in the next few months...just rinse out or throw away the tube, snap in, and go.
    • When I was in college, a friend related a story from when he was in high school. He thoroughly cleaned out his windshield washer system (pump, reservoir, tubing, etc) and ran the tubing to a nozzle under the dash. He then filled the reservoir with alcohol , and was able to make his own mixed drinks while road-tripping. He even hooked up a reversible pump so if he ever got pulled over, he could just suck the drink back into the reservoir!

      (yeah I know, DISGUSTING. and STUPID too!! but he was in high school, so he was young & stupid by definition :) )

      Anyway, his "system" worked great until one day when his dad used the car & the windshield was dirty.......
    • Yeah I think those would be great. Unfortunately the ones you were pointing to were specialised and very expensive. I think a good alternative would be to go to your local model shop and buy a fuel pump. These are used for getting the fuel into model planes etc. These are almost always peristaltic pumps. You can either get a ready motorised one or get a manual one and hook up a stepper motor to it for precision.

      As long as they've never been used to pump fuel they should be fine, plus as they are designed to pump fuels the alchohol should not make it perish or degrade.
    • actually the solution is to use solenoid valves and CO2.

      if you would simply buy a few old pepsi or coke premix containers that are stainless steel and simply use older but still purchaseable at low cost soda fountian parts you can have each of the canisters hold each ingredient in a fridge. pressurize each canister as they are supposed to be via CO2 and use stainless solenoid valves. you wont get super accurate dispensing unless you do aholding bottle... open valve 1 fill 1 ounce length of line, close valve one open valve 2 to dispense while valve 3 opens to purge the line to actually do the dispensing.

      I'd just go with a simple timer and open the valve for a certian time constant.. if someone accidnetly get's a stronger drink... whooptie doo.

      I discovered adding a soda bar to by basement is dirt cheap if you go for the older technology.. I purchased the premix-canisters from ebay for $5.00 each and simply use food grade tubing and CO2 is the absolute cheapest gas on the planet.

      PROBLEM... Orange juice is horribly acidic and will attack anything... including stainless steel. get low acid juice or remove that ingredient from your selection.

    • There's a good story about the windshield washer pumps that I haven't seem anybody tell yet. Before I tell it, though, I need to say a few quick things. The first is that I've spent a fair amount of time with Harvey Mudd students recently, and they tend to be seriously gifted individuals. I've also spent time with M.I.T., CalTech, and Rose Hulman students (to name a few), and I have to say that the Mudders are seriously underrated on the global undergraduate stage. These folks are personable, inquisitive, dedicated, and enormously talented. And funny. Really funny.

      Forgive me if I'm telling it wrong, this is second- and third-hand information.

      Not long after the bar monkey became operational, it was being used over the course of an evening to serve cocktails in the lounge. When the students retired for the evening, they deactivated the monkey and left to finish their 'stems homework and whatnot. Later that night, there was a localized power disruption, though I don't know its duration. What I do know is that the monkey wasn't on a UPS of any sort (and for $200, can you really blame them?) and lost power.

      When power was restored, and the machine booted back into linux, the parallel port data bits were apparently all lifted high at some point in the boot process. This, unfortunately, meant that all of the liquor-dispensing windshield wiper pumps were briefly activated. Now, as someone who has hooked a large inductive load to a DC power supply can attest, the momentary current draw of having all of these pumps simultaneously active was not negligible. In fact, it overwhelmed the power supply, but only after a shot of Bottle 1 + Bottle 2 had been dispensed onto the floor. Vodka and rum, I believe it was.

      Now, when the power supply sensed its overcurrent condition (I believe this is how the story goes), it did the noble thing and: rebooted. You can see where this is going: lather, rinse, repeat. The rebooting webmonkey once again lifted its data pins high, once again tripped the power supply overcurrent sensor, and once again rebooted the monkey (all the while dispensing yet another tasty shot of Bottle 1+Bottle 2 onto the floor).

      By the time someone came back to check on the monkey in the morning (a few hours later), the monkey had apparently drenched the floor in vodka, and was still rebooting. I'm told only bottles 1 and 2 were drained, and that the rest of the precious nectar was left intact inside the monkey.

      I'm convinced that nobody who witnessed the aftermath of this event will ever again neglect the power cycling / bootstrapping phase of an electronic device. I don't have a link to it, but I seem to remember AT&T having a similar problem with their switching software across the Atlantic seaboard, maybe six or seven years ago. You can draw your own conclusions, but if I were trying to hire a hardware engineer (not that there's really any other kind, you wimpy IT CS MIS MSCE slashdot derelicts), I'd give much greater weight to their ability to explain the projects they've completed (and the associated lessons learned), than I would to a 4.0 GPA or a Cisco certificate of trainability.

      Mudd grads (math, science, engineering, and other) are presently worth four times their weight in silver the first year after they graduate -- and that's a bargain. They should be worth at least one twenty-fifth their weight in rhodium.

  • I want one! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by davidmcn ( 606752 ) <dmcnelis.gmail@com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:06PM (#5056413) Homepage
    This is awesome! This has plausable commercial implications. How nice would it be to goto a bar and not have to worry about tipping someone, you just slide your credit card or insert your money and select your drink and you get it in 10 seconds. If I owned a bar I would consider it. After all, the money stuff would be pretty standard to implement, people have been doing stuff like that for years. So say you need 3 for your bar to operate efficiently and you would normally have 2 bartenders working. So you spend $500 a piece on the robots, and you normally pay 2 bartenders $5/hour+tips to work the bar and your bar is open from noon to 3 am each day. That accounts for $150/day in employee expenses.

    Now you implement the robots and your initial investment in them is $1500 and cost to run is literally nothing but electricity. In addition you would need 1 person there responsible for checking IDs and swapping out liquours, so that is say $100/day because you aren't giving the person tips anymore. You've saved yourself approximately $50/day in operating costs which means in 30 days the robots have paid for themselves and you see profits increase by $50/day which over the course of the year is $18,250. I'd say this is a bloody good idea if someone had the resources to market and mass produce this.
    • How nice would it be to goto a bar ... and select your drink and you get it in 10 seconds.

      However, this would be illegal or unwise in states where the bar owner is assumed to have liability for the actions of overly inebriated persons. Half of bartending school is how to recognize and handle customers who have had too much. Sad but true, in our litigious society.

      Not to mention that you're a cheap bastard for not wanting to tip :-).

    • This still doesn't make sense, because even a green Linux admin is going to cost you more than 4 full-time bartenders easily.

      No machine can run without maintenance forever.

    • Re:I want one! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FleshMuppet ( 544521 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @04:53PM (#5058134)

      This is awesome! This has plausable commercial implications. How nice would it be to goto a bar and not have to worry about tipping someone, you just slide your credit card or insert your money and select your drink and you get it in 10 seconds. If I owned a bar I would consider it.

      You obviously haven't spent enough time in a bar, and have never been a bartender. Bars don't sell liqour - they sell socialization. You already have a self-service bartender, it's called your home liqour cabinet. Most humans go out becuase they want to socialize. They like talking sports with Jeff behind the bar, or flirting with Suzy the cocktail waitress.

      Any bar using these would loose revenue quickly. I've been a bartender, and I can tell you this - a good tender, or a good staff can easily double or triple a bar's income. A bad one can drive customers away. A good bartender makes customers feel good... so they stay and spend more money. If that bartender makes a good enough impression, they might keep coming back and doing so on different nights. A bad bartender makes people go elsewhere. So you can have your robot bar, but I'll stick to my old-fashioned, human charisma driven service model. And come Friday night, I bet my bar will be the one that's packed.

  • by RetroGeek ( 206522 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:14PM (#5056472) Homepage
    So now you can punch the monkey, and it gives you a drink.

    And if you are two drunk to punch the monkey, you need to go home.....
  • by warpSpeed ( 67927 ) <slashdot@fredcom.com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:15PM (#5056475) Homepage Journal
    Is it scalable, can it handle 32 bottle processing?

    Can it handle a Big Gulp Gin and Tonic?

  • Mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by chrisbolt ( 11273 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:20PM (#5056528) Homepage
    Mirror here [].
  • by CaffeineAddict2001 ( 518485 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:20PM (#5056533)
    and brings a monkey along with him. The bartender notices the monkey stealing martini olives, sticking them up his butt and then eating them.

    The bartender asks the man "What the hell is wrong with your monkey?"

    To which the man replies "He ate a cue-ball last week. Now he measures everything before he eats it."
  • Slightly OT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BitHive ( 578094 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:22PM (#5056553) Homepage
    I've always wanted to do little projects like this, where a computer controls various relays. The only thing I don't know how to do is get the computer to control them! Are there inexpensive kits that connect to, say, a serial port? I'd love it if anyone who has experience with similar things can tell me how to do this cheaply.
    • by wowbagger ( 69688 )
      Use your computer's printer port - 8 bidirectional lines you can wiggle to make things happen.

      I'd suggest using solid state relays (SSR)'s - your printer port wouldn't drive a normal relay directly, but it could drive an SSR.

      Either that, or use the printer port to drive a transistor, then use the transistor to drive the coil on a standard relay.

      Don't forget to add a snubber network across the relay coil - either a diode or a capacitor. Otherwise the inductive kickback from the coil when you de-energize it could fry things.

    • Re:Slightly OT (Score:5, Informative)

      by cosyne ( 324176 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @05:25PM (#5058481) Homepage
      I've always wanted to do little projects like this, where a computer controls various relays. The only thing I don't know how to do is get the computer to control them! Are there inexpensive kits that connect to, say, a serial port? I'd love it if anyone who has experience with similar things can tell me how to do this cheaply.

      There's a book called Controlling the world through your PC, or something like that. It's old and comes with a floppy disk, but i recall it having schematics for hooking things up to the paralle port. You can wire it directly but you generally want opto-isolators so you can't fry your computer. You can also get a wide array of stuff to interface to the serial port. I like the motoralla 68hc11 microcontroller. It does cool shit (we actually used one in a previous barmonkey prototype), and the evaluation board with chip runs around $100. Try http://www.axman.com/
      Also, the amazon page for the above book:
      http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail /-/1878 707159/103-7968018-2248661?vi=glance
      The "customers who bought this also bought this" section may be helpful
  • After about 3 drinks this machine will be useless. Who's going to remember a 5-digit, hex PIN.

    At least it's not voice recognition, then I'd be in BIG trouble.

    I'ddd liiikke an Aba..laamba Slaammmer plleease.
  • by Ligur ( 453963 ) <ligur@jakin.gmail@com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @03:32PM (#5057324)
    What I wanna know is if it can make a pangalactic gargleblaster.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle