The BarBot – Touchscreen Automated Drink Maker

I’ve been working with 3D printers for a while now. Watching them move and print can be mesmerizing. I wanted to make a fun gadget that would demonstrate my skills and create an interactive conversation piece for a party. Hence The BarBot. It’s not a new idea but, I knew I could do it better than most that I’ve seen online and take it a step or two further.

Custom Designed Printed Circuit Board

My BarBot features two stepper motors to create linear actuation in two directions; Move the drink from bottle to bottle and dispense the ingredients. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. Along with the motors there are two end switches to home the motors so they know their positions. I designed and printed all the plastic parts. The horizontal linear actuator is a single steal rail with two rail guides. eBay Link to Steal Rails

Also my dispensers measure one shot every time. Making it do half shots and quarter shots is much tricker. Here’s a link to those racks where I used two for 12 bottles. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Q42XL9Q

I have an Arduino Uno controlling the motors and acting as the I/O controller. From there I have the Uno connected via USB Serial to the Raspberry Pi. Connected to the Raspberry Pi is a 7″ touchscreen and a 1080p Camera with an extended ribbon cable for camera placement.

The main brains (RasPi) boots up directly to my custom application that holds the drink database, system state (making drink, current ingredient, motors homed, etc), and real-time communication to the motors. I developed the applications using Javascript with Node.JS, C programming language, Socket.IO and JSON.

This project is intended to demonstrate my Software, Electrical, Mechanical and Automation skills. I hope you like it. I am still adding more features and fine tuning the system. Stay tuned for more. Check out my YouTube Channel for updates. https://www.youtube.com/c/ConsultingjoeOnline

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VR Supervisor

VR Supervisor Software Solution

Here was a solution I created for computer management problem. My client tasked me with creating a management tool to control his Virtual Reality systems. I was able to do just that; I created a server/client control software that allows the staff to control a single VR station or all eight stations at once. It allows the user to start or end a VR application. Other features include a timer with audible indications and WiFi LED integration.

Software Platform – Node.JS – JavaScript

I wrote the applications with NodeJS, a popular server-side JavaScript runtime built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. Companies like Netflix, LinkedIn, PayPal, eBay and even NASA use NodeJS to solve problems and make tasks more efficient. NASA even uses NodeJS to decrease the number of procedural steps from 28 to 7 in processing data to ensure astronauts stay safe and alive. Learn more about the EVA Space Suits at NASA’s website. (NASA Reference)

More Features

There is no limit to how many VR stations my software can support. They would just fill-in the content window of the admin console page and they would all subscribe to a real-time network connection. You can choose to adjust the volume of an individual station or all eight stations at once. You can select colors, modes and patterns for the projector screen’s WiFi backlit LEDs. The same LEDs integrate with the timer system to alert staff and players that time is running out. From then, time could be extended or the system can be configured to automatically terminate the active game or application. The VR Supervisor will also index configured folders for available executable applications to allow the staff to select and end only installed applications.

Consulting Joe for Your Next Idea

Moral here is reach out to bring your ideas to life. I can make both tangible and intangible products, or both that work seamlessly together. So Consult Joe Today.

Also check out: http://gammavr.com/

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Alfa LEDs

Alfa Romeo RGB Grill LEDs with Bluetooth

The Look

I wanted to make my new Alfa stand out from the couple others I’ve seen round rarely. As if the front end of the Giulia isn’t beautiful enough. It seemed like it was a necessary and obvious mod.

The Guts & Brains

I made this 49 LED strip out of SK6812 addressable RGB LED strips. Similar to the common WS2812b strips but brighter and with a true white. Check them out here on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FVRR4KL/. I also used an Arduino Nano clone that has its own USB to serial chip built-in. Another new key component is the HC-05 serial Bluetooth module. It’s an older V2.0+EDR version of Bluetooth but it has great range. The only downside is that iOS/Apple devices don’t support 3rd party Bluetooth unless it’s made for iPhone/iPad or its the newer Bluetooth 3.0/4.0+LE

The Interface

I wanted to create a menu system and be able to hit buttons to ascii characters to change the light show modes. So far I have the default/power on mode of pure white. Then by Bluetooth you can choose “Demo” to change to an animated demo reel that comes with the LED library FastLED on the Arduino. Then I have added a Knight Rider mode. Even a special Alfa Knight Rider mode that doubles up the “V” in the grill. And finally, I have a “Fire” mode that looks like flames.

There is a menu display when you first connect with a Bluetooth terminal app on Android. I use, “Bluetooth Terminal HC-05”. It lets you assign rows of buttons to macros of strings of text to send to the device. It also allows to to see the available options in the device and you can enter, “H” to see the menu at any time.

The Code

The code is still in progress, feel free to check it out on GitHub. I hope to be updating and completing code so I can add this to my car permanently.

The Bugs & Improvements

I hope to add a few more modes and brightness control very soon. Currently the only bug in the system is the Bluetooth communication is talking to the Arduino over software serial. There are a lot of timer interupts between the FastLED library to control the lights that sometimes (30% of the time) the Bluetooth message to change a mode is missed and a different ascii character comes through. This means you have to enter the command or hit the button a couple, few times. This is easily fixed by changing over to the hardware serial UART. I have not yet done this but feel free to make a pull request for an alternative sketch.

I also have plans to design and print a circuit board to easily house the Arduino, Bluetooth module, connectors for lights and power. I have already 3D printed a couple cases to protect the guts on the road.

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Software – Comprehensive Point-of-Sale System

Around 2012 I was contracted to create a custom E-Commerce system to allow for custom categorizing of cell phone, tablet and computer accessories and their associative devices. It was a success. It covered all the business needs to sell online. It was later evolved to also sell on other online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Bonanza.

The clients were so happy with what the system can manage as far as inventory, orders and users that they hired me full-time. I was then tasked to build a system for their storefront locations. The system I created showed updated inventory across the company (stores, warehouse and sold online inventory). I created a point-of-sale system to replace a system by B2B soft that focused on phone carriers and phone activations.

My POS system offers phone activations, bill payments, device repair orders and much more. It does sales, exchanges, returns, split tenders, price updates and store credits. My point of sale works with multiple store locations, users, and chip and pin credit card machines. I have experience with Virtual Merchant, Converge Pay API and the Ingenico is250 Touch.

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USB Distance Sensor and Software

I have created a simple distance sensing device with an Arduino Mega and an ultrasonic distance sensor to measure up to 5 feet. Also it is communicating to the host computer via USB at 115200 baud which allows for fast data updates and precision.

Below is a mockup of the software to customize and extend the uses of the device. Do anything from scroll through the web with hand gestures or create an invisible tripwire in your room or doorway. You can even use it to count customers entering your store or how many times your front door opened throughout the day.

Use if for real world data analytics or to improve energy efficiency around the house .

I plan to sell my distance device for a low price to get it into people’s hands and to cover my time in the software. I believe the software to this product will create the most value to average customers of all ages. My price point in mind is $24 on a production scale. But if you have a useful idea for this that has distance measuring needs I would create a custom one with some basic software for $50. It can be expanded on and it’s open source so all the code is available online.

Over the weekend my friends and I had a chuckle by creating a tripline to play randomized fart sound effects. Anything someone would grab a beer in the kitchen they would get a new fart noise. Goofy but a good example of the many uses it can serve. My favorite is scrolling through web pages when reading articles online. You can control volume or skip the song on iTunes. My devices is like a one dimensional Leap Motion. A Leap motion can see your hands in 3D and can do endless number of gestures. to control your computer, interface with software or play guys with your hands being the controllers.

Checkout the Store to see if it pops up in the near future. 😉

Goodbye for now.
-Joe

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