Robotic Bartenders, Cocktail Machines, Bionic Bars, whatever you want to call them, I am fascinated by Barbots. You know, completely automated machines that can mix cocktails for you.
I’m interested for two reasons. First, I like to entertain, love gadgets, and I think a Barbot would be the hit of a party. Most folks have never seen one or even heard of one.
Second, they present many fascinating engineering problems should you wish to build one–a worthy challenge for the intrepid CNC’ers among us!
In this article, I did deep research on Robotic Bartenders to bring you as many ideas as possible for building your own Bionic Cocktail Maker. There are a LOT of Barbots presented here.
Hope you enjoy them!
Commercial Robotic Bartenders
Let’s start by getting a look at some professional-grade Robotic Bartenders.
Makr Shakr at the Tipsy Robot Bar and Cruise Ship Quantum of Seas
The Planet Hollywood Bar has two Makr Shakr Cocktail Machines. Check one out here:
CNC’ers will notice a pretty straightforward robotic arm seen at many CNC facilities. It’s got a drink mixing attachment, and the liquor bottles are suspended from the ceiling with push-to-pour spouts.
Here’s a better video of the Makr Shakr in action:
The Makr Shakr robot bar system is pretty straightforward. Off-the-shelf robotic arms and the push-to-pour spouts are also off-the-shelf. There’s a lot to be said for the spouts in terms of simplifying the need for complex plumbing.
Presumably the arms are programmed to a standard ceiling grid and other locations as subprograms. The subprograms can then be run by a user-friendly drink selection application.
Makr Shakr has the capacity for custom drinks to be programmed and it can even be programmed to dance to the music playing in the club when it isn’t busy making drinks.
Using the arms definitely gives a lot of visual pizzaz to the machine, which is important when selling to a commercial audience.
Monsieur: Cocktail Vending Machine
The Monsieur looks to me like some sort of vending machine. They see themselves at sports arenas, special events, hotels, movie theaters, and restaurants. I could definitely see them in those settings. The latest round of movie theater remodels in my hometown added alcohol to the mix (so to speak), but it’s just beer and wine. Having a Monsieur would let them kick it up a notch.
The Monsieur has a touch screen interface and uses peristaltic pumps to dispense the various ingredients to a glass. Each machine can handle up to 8 ingredients, with 6 ingredients going to a cold compartment and 2 kept at room temperature.
Another high-tech feature is the ability to trigger the machine via RFID bands. Say you have these installed in skyboxes at a stadium arena. The boxes are available for rent. Give the guests the RFID wrist bands when they show up and they can get drinks.
No wrist band? Sorry, no drinks!
This is a good video because it walks through the detail of setting up the machine, adding the alcohol, priming the pumps, and so on.
Somabar: Keurig for Cocktails?
By now you must have seen the Keurig automated coffee makers. They take individual serving cartridges and brew your coffee one cup at a time. Pretty cool!
That’s what I was reminded of when I saw Somabar. It’s a lot more affordable than the Makr Shakr or Monsieur Barbots–$499. But you can’t buy one yet. Yup, it’s one of THOSE Kickstarter kind of things. In fact, there’s more than one of these things out with slick advertising and nothing available yet–Barbotics is the other one I found.
I’m not the only one who thinks it’s like a Keurig, so did this video:
DIY Barbots: Linear Style
Hey, I’m not interested in buying a robotic bartender. I’m a CNC’er, I want to build one!
I just look over the commercial models to gain some design ideas. Now here are a collection of Barbots that individual DIY folks have created.
Linear Barbots use the same inverted bottle arrangement as the Makr Shakr. It’s easy to move a glass in XYZ with classic DIY CNC technology.
The inverted pour spouts are readily available for purchase. Two kinds are available. The most common just pours as long as pressure is applied. They also make metered pour spouts that will force a measure to be poured. No real need for the latter if your programming skills are good enough to figure out the metering.
Starscream 83 Cocktail Machine
OK, now here is some classic DIY CNC technology put to work making cocktails. It has a capacity for 18 bottles. Everything is controlled via Arduino.
I think you could pretty easily modify a Shapeoko machine to make cocktails by doing something similar and mounting the Shapeoko upside down under the table.
Hmmm, as long as the Shapeoko can be removed and put back into action as a CNC Router, a custom robotic bar in the corner might just be the ultimate wife-friendly accessory for a CNC’er!
The Inebriator V2
Here’s a similar machine with a bit better aesthetics:
Hacker House Robotic Bartender
Yest another linear design, but it has both inverted and non-inverted ingredients. The non-inverted ingredients are poured by using a small air compressor to pressurize their containers.
4th Axis for Your Robotic Cocktail Machine?
This is the same unit as above, but in a later iteration. The rotating axis is cool:
It certainly makes the unit a little more compact as well as allowing the capacity to make multiple drinks during a run.
Rumbot: Drink Responsibly!
Rumbot is another linear model. Instead of moving the glass, it moves the nozzle though. Ingredients are feed via pump to a 6 port nozzle–so it can handle up to 6 ingredients.
The niftiest feature of this design is the Barbot’s answer to Feedrate Override. You can twist a knob to set how strong it will make your drink!
BarMixvah: A 3D Printed Robotic Bartender
Behold BarMixvah, a 3D Printed Robotic Bartender!
“BarMixvah” and was created by Apple Engineer Yu Jiang Tham.
It uses an Arduino (a very popular inexpensive single board computer for projects like these) to control four peristaltic pumps. These little pumps are ideal for this application because they simply move rollers over plastic tubing. They’re easy to clean, easy to make food safe, and capable of metering ingredients precisely. Even better, they’re pretty cheap. BarMixvah’s pumps run on 12V DC and cost just $14 apiece on Amazon.
The project includes all the information needed to build your own BarMixvah including the stl files for 3D printing and the code for the software on github. Once complete, BarMixvah is run from a web server, which makes it easy to control from your iPad or other web browser.
DIY Barbots: Alternate Styles
Drink Making Unit 2.0
Drink Making Unit 2.0 is the product of the Evil Mad Scientist website. This interesting design is made largely of chemistry glassware. Ingredients are pumped using air pressure, with a separate tiny compressor for each ingredient.
Another unique feature is the use a a tipping cylinder to ensure consistent measures. When the cylinder is full to a certain amount, it tips up and pours its contents into the funnel and from there it flows into the drink.
Air compressor module, one per ingredient…
Accessories for Your Robotic Bartender
What’s a Martini Luge? I thought you’d never ask!
It’s a type of ice sculpture where you pour the martini at the top of the ice and it makes its way through the ice to your glass. By the time it gets there, it has been chilled very cold. Forgotten shaken or stirred, make mine a vodka martini, luged.
Martini luges are fun for parties and special events. Think of them as being to Barbots as manual machine tools are to CNC. Or think of cooling the drink as a second op, machining style. If you’re designing a linear style machine, you’ll be challenged to figure out how to tip the glass into the top of your Martini Luge.
The need to carve an ice sculpture to make the Luge raises the issue of possible further CNC involvement. Don’t like cocktails? No worries. You could still use a Barbot and Ice Luge to mix different party drinks. Try Italian Sodas, for example.
Custom Milled Ice for Your Drink
Start with Autodesk’s 123D Catch software that converts photos to 3D models. Add a CNC Router with high speed spindle that’s in a chamber chilled to -7 degrees C. Take a block of ice made from the finest pure spring water and slice a smaller blank from it. Place the ice onto the the CNC Router, cue the jazz music and make your ice cube:
When the cube is ready, put it in your finest crystal tumbler and add a splash of Suntory whiskey. Relax in your favorite chair and enjoy. They may not make the whiskey taste better, but they sure do look cool.
These ice cubes were made in many inspiring shapes. Here are just a few:
Maybe this is how the very wealthy enjoy their whiskey. It makes me think I’m going to need to add a special “Ice Cube Art” module to the Barbot when I finally get around to building it.
Design Choices: Dispensing the Ingredients
The major design choice for any Robotic Bartender is how to dispense the ingredients. There are 3 main approaches:
- Use a gravity feed pour spout. This seems really simple, so I like it a lot! OTOH, it requires a CNC positioning system which brings its own complexity.
- Use a peristaltic pump. Advantage–precise metering. Probably the most precise. But, they require periodic cleaning and must be purged of air.
- Use compressed air to displace the liquid. Simpler than the pumps but might be the most imprecise metering method.
You can buy peristaltic pumps pretty cheaply as mentioned above, or you could build those too. After all, you are a CNC’er. Here’s a good photo of one just so you can see how they work:
As the rotor spins, it pinches a section of flexible tubing that pumps that amount of fluid into the outlet. Pretty foolproof, and if you use food safe tubing, you’re good to go.
All in all, it looks fairly straightforward to create a Barbot. I’m just wondering whether any CNCCookbook readers have ever tried it. Tell us in the comments below!
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