Automated Drinks Mixer

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The Concept

This group of students came up with the concept of constructing a mixer which will take set amounts of beverages and pour them into a glass thus making a cocktail. The process is to be automated so that by pressing a button the electronic controller will turn on pumps attached to the various beverage bottles and deliver the required volume into the glass. By changing the switch to the controller a different combination can be achieved as it will turn the pumps attached to each beverage bottle a different time and hence deliver a different amount to the glass. The mixer can be used not only for making alcoholic cocktails but for any drink eg a fruit cocktail. The overall idea is to take away the experience required by the bar tender to make drink combinations.

The Creation

The creation, ie the prototype produced, consisted of three 125ml bottles (soft drink containers) which were mounted vertically. At the bottle opening a plastic tube connected the bottle to a pump (window screen washer pump from a car) which is then connected to an exit nozzle by means of similar plastic tube. In the exit nozzle the three tubes deliver the liquids to a glass. The amount of liquid from any bottle is determined by how long the pump connected to that bottle is switched on. An electronic controller is programmed to switch on the pumps set times via relays. By altering the program the times for each pump can be changed and therefore the final mix in the glass.

Although designed as a drink mixer, this concept has other applications, for example it could be used to mix fluids in hospitals or in industry.

The project became the "highlight of the school week" for the students involved. They enjoyed working in a group situation and the brainstorming/engineering approach to solving problems. And there were definitely plenty of problems to solve from ensuring that the pumps were always primed as well as preventing leaks. Another challenge was the soldering associated with the electronic control circuitry. Overall the students embraced taking on challenges and enjoyed working in an essentially adult environment where they were responsible for their project and the solution to their problems

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