Re-engineering vending electronics

1 minute read 02 October 2011

I've always been fascinating by vending machines.

Theres something romantic about the defunct automats. I see their return in our future, especially as we move to a service based economy, and then look to take more cost out of that sector. I look to ubiqoutious technological countries like Korea or Japan with interest as their societies find hilarious and awesome uses for vending.

And as the maker movement looks to understand the world around them, I see us dissecting all the 'black boxes' of our society. Vending is one of those boxes and I think its time we opened it up.

Finally, I've seen a need in collaborative spaces like hackerspaces to account and paying for goods.

My goal is to create an arduino interface to modern vending standards, specifically MDB. I want to utilize as much as possible existing resources so as not to support more than I have to, and so as to fit within the arduino ecosystem as much as possible. Ideally this should lead to custom arduino vending machines of all shapes and sizes in every hackerspace in the world.

Why mdb?

  • It hasn't been done and open sourced yet
  • Its a pain in the butt (see point 1)
  • Still the industry standard
  • All the old stuff runs it! Hackers like cheap old stuff
  • Cctalk doesnt seem prevalent in the states.
  • Pulse is easy and documented online (though I may support this too)
  • I need MDB for the vending machine equipment I already support and spent hundreds on

My Process will be:

  • research the specifications doc-already taken a look at these and they don't seem helpful
  • get some gear to play with
  • sniff the data lines (pics)
  • figure out a way to talk to them (existing arduino libraries? or write my own?)
  • test and sniff
  • prototype the hardware

I look forward to posting at each step!