You may remember Gibson, of the Bright Signals creative agency, from the digital Sjoelen game he created for Heverlee Beer. For this project, Bright Signals was hired by Asahi beer to build a modern vending machine for cans of their famous super dry lager. Rather than starting with a new vending machine, Gibson decided to use a vintage machine from the ‘90s.
It seems strange to call something from the ’90s “vintage.” But, if ’70s stuff was vintage in the ’90s, then ’90s stuff is vintage now. In any case, the machine sourced by Gibson was in fantastic condition mechanically, but was missing some of its electronics. In other words, it was perfect for a retrofit.
Gibson started by deciphering the mechanics of the machine, which uses a complex series of arms and linkages to dispense tasty beverages. Surprisingly, just one AC motor is used for vending, and everything else is done with DC motors and clever mechanisms. To control vending, Gibson used the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins for ten microswitches and five motor relays.
The front end touchscreen selection and payment system was programmed by Gibson’s colleague Jack, and the cleaned-up machine was sent off for vinyl wrapping. With a fresh facade, it was placed in its new home next to a draft beer dispenser for thirsty patrons to enjoy.