Drinks Machines

(Mike Ando) #63

It’s been a week of testing the new imported drinks machine, and so far it’s been very popular. So popular in fact that I’ve added another flavour - Mother Energy Drink! Each can packs 120mg of Caffeine, roughly four times the amount of a can of Coke, and enough to keep you buzzing for longer.

You have no idea how rare it is to find normal-sized 375mL cans of energy drinks for a reasonable price. Energy drinks are almost always in weird-sized cans and/or $3 each. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, Pasito has made a return to the $1 machine! We haven’t had it for a while, so I thought it was time to bring it back!

Also also… I will neither confirm nor deny anything, but I’ve heard a rumour that there’s something pineapple flavoured in the Random line. :wink:

(Mike Ando) #64

It’s been another week and another shipment came in, so I thought it was time to add another flavour to the $2 vending machine… Irn-Bru! This Scottish drink is the #1 non-alcoholic beverage in Scotland, displacing even the mighty Coke, and the #2 Scottish drink overall after Scotch Whiskey. It’s got a kind of citrus-y, orange-y, ginger-y flavour that’s even harder to describe than Dr Pepper.

Additionally… I will actually confirm it this time - the random line has something Raspberry flavoured thrown in there. :wink:

(Nathan Beveridge) #65

Not sure if these cans are the same but I remember many years back in England seeing that the can had a warning about staining things on the side of it…it is very orange.

(Lauren Shearer) #66

Think Lucozade, add hops, and you won’t be far off.

(Mike Ando) #67

The imported drinks machine has been way more popular than I anticipated. It’s hard to say for certain by how much, but sales from this machine now are much higher than sales in this machine when it used to sell alternative local flavours.

So let’s start the first bit of good news - Dr Pepper is back! Somehow we drank through our entire stockpile of Dr Pepper in two weeks, at a rate approaching our consumption of Coke. And Coke sales haven’t taken a dip, either! I’ve ordered a larger quantity to help keep this flavour around, since it’s proving quite popular.

Next up, to be just that little bit more tempting, a new flavour has been added to the $ machine… A&W Root Beer! Yes this is proper Root Beer, imported and available to all. If you’ve never tried it before, it tastes kinda similar to Sarsaparilla. And no it’s not alcoholic, just like our Ginger Beer isn’t alcoholic. :wink:

This also means the $2 machine is completely full of flavours, with every button serving something different! The current line-up is A&W Root Beer, Dr Pepper, Welch’s Grape Soda, Strawberry Fanta, Mother Energy Drink, IRN-BRU. As always, expect these to change in the future depending on their availability.

Finally… I’ve been busy stocking up our stockpiles for the local drinks machine. Sales prices were good, and we needed to restock. Things are now good to last us a few months… And I’ve removed a few flavours from this photo, to hide some surprises I have planned for the future. :wink:

(Mike Ando) #68

I keep forgetting to update this with status updates. Whoops!

First up, our supply of IRN-BRU has been exhausted… And in its place has been substituted Canada Dry Ginger Ale! If you’ve ever flown on a plane internationally and asked for Ginger Ale, this stuff should be familiar to you because it’s the brand most airlines use. Fantastic for settling queasy stomachs, great bitey taste of ginger.

Secondly, thanks to a few donations from @theban the random line now includes something a bit extra random… San Pellegrino’s Chinotto, for those who are feeling extra lucky and are in an Italian mood.

Finally, we need to have a serious talk about raising the prices in the drinks machines - I’ll leave that one for now until I’ve figured out the path of least resistance to propose to the group, but consider this notice that this item unfortunately needs to be moved up from far-future plans to more-immediate plans. So no talk right now, but it’s coming very soon. :stuck_out_tongue:

(James Churchill) #69

Chinotto’s a bitter citrus drink that isn’t to everyone’s taste, so if you get it and don’t want it, I will absolutely buy it off you. :smiley:

(Mike Ando) #70

I gave both machines a service on Tuesday, cleaning and calibrating everything. The Vigo machine was flashing with an error code (one of its optical sensors in the coin counter tubes was dirty); that’s been remedied and cleared. Both machines should be a little better about accepting coins for the next month or two, but as always neither machine is perfect simply because they’re old (especially when accepting those pesky 50c pieces).

As part of this process, the announced price increase has happened, however I haven’t raised prices as much as announced. Local drinks are now $2 a can, but imported drinks are only $2.40 a can. We’ll be making less profit per can on the imported drinks compared to local drinks this way, but this machine is a bit of an experiment anyway so if I feel it’s not set appropriately then we can always just change it again in the future.

And one final note - please don’t complain about the price increase because I and the other people who manage these machines are all volunteers and none of us receives a single cent for all the work we put into maintaining them, and bagging out volunteers isn’t cool. We mainly wanted to make it a little bit more worth our time to continue managing the machines by moving the prices a little closer towards (but still below) market rates. No one’s forcing you to buy from these machines, you’re totally welcome to bring your own, the water cooler is free, etc. And with that, I’ll leave you with a reminder of what nearby restaurants are charging - here’s a photo of the sushi place’s menu! :stuck_out_tongue:

(Mike Ando) #71

I’ve spent some time lately doing some routine maintenance on these machines - cleaning the internals including the condenser fins & rubber seals, polishing the slides, wiping down and sterilising some of the internals that collect gunk, etc. I’ve also done a bunch of things to try and improve their reliability so they’re more likely to dispense correct change. In particular, the float amount in both machines has been dropped from 80% to 40% - because these machines are frequently restocked we don’t need much change in them, and halving the weight on the dispensing mechanism lets them move much easier. I can’t recall a single time in recent history when either of these machines had the “correct change only” light lit when it was actually due to a lack of float coins and not another fault, so hopefully this change will go totally unnoticed.

(There’s still plenty coins left for change)

In addition, the coin return chutes (which are made of old, degrading, now-bumpy-from-wear plastic) were cleaned, polished with steel wool & very lightly lubricated with silicone. This should help get rid of the fault where coins get stuck on the coin return chute and they don’t slide down do the change hole. A future To-Do is to replace them with 3D printed parts that have a deeper slope. Until then, if the machine doesn’t give correct change you can try giving it a small bump (not a violent whack) on the side of the machine near the change hole to knock any stuck coins loose.

(one freshly polished coin return chute!)

Finally, yes I’m aware that the import drinks machine is running low of flavours. I’ve tried more than once to buy more (and each time I tried to buy the store’s entire stockpile), only to be told they either won’t ship them to QLD or their online inventory counter is wrong & they don’t actually have any in stock. One store has told me they’ll have more in stock in a week, so for now these machines will just have to be a little empty. This machine is a bit of an experiment anyway and the flavours offered are strictly on a “while stocks last” basis. So if you’ve fallen in love with one of them, get in quick before it’s all gone! :wink:

(Mike Ando) #72

Consumers of canned drinks, rejoice - the international machine has been restocked! All lines have been filled, and this machine is now fully armed and operational. I’ve documented some of the hassles in our Slack channel #drinksmachines for anyone curious about the saga of soft drinks, because getting a hold of them has been a real doosey this time. But skipping right to the goods… Strawberry Fanta has made a comeback!

(now with 20% more berry per straw)

Also, we have a new twist on an old flavour… Grape Fanta! Welch’s is unobtainium all across Australia right now, so I thought it was a chance to try something new.

(I’m slowly raisin the bar. Well, except for when I make bad puns like that one)

As always, these flavours are strictly on a while-stocks-last basis, so enjoy them while we’ve got 'em because I already have something new lined up when we run out of one of the imported flavours. And that’s not all - if these machines weren’t already fruity enough for you, Raspberry has made a return to the Cold Drinks machine. Because why not have so many berry and small fruit flavours on offer at once!

The current lineup for both machines are as follows:

Cold Drinks local brews ($2):
-Diet Lemon
-Coke Zero
-Water 600mL

Vigo’s imported emporium ($2.40):
-A&W Root Beer
-Dr Pepper
-Grape Fanta
-Mother Energy Drink
-Strawberry Fanta
-Canada Dry Ginger Ale

(Mike Ando) #73

If you visited the Hackerspace between last weekend and Tuesday afternoon, you might’ve heard the Cold Drinks machine making a horrible noise. The cause turned out to be the condenser fan vibrating against the compressor. With big thanks to Nikki, this has been fixed - and it might just be the placebo effect talking here, but my opinion is that this machine is now quieter than I’ve ever heard it! Nikki also redid all the electrical connections to the fan/compressor too, cause they were looking rather old and corroded. We also noticed that the condenser (aka the hot side radiator) is very, very clogged with dust - cleaning this out is definitely on my ToDo list.

(the motor in question, removed from the vending machine, all cleaned/dusted, and a temporary plug fitted for testing purposes. Note to future maintenance people - the fan blades are backwards in this image; the bumpy ridges should go towards the motor)

(in case it’s ever relevant in the future, because it’s almost impossible to see it while it’s installed inside the machine, here’s the motor specs)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled sugar.

(Mike Ando) #74

I mentioned in the previous post that the condensers in these machines were rather clogged with dust. A clogged condenser means the machine has to run at a higher duty cycle. This means it uses more electricity & costs us more money, creates more noise, puts more wear & stress on the internal components, and doesn’t chill the cans as effectively or as quickly. I spent this Tuesday cleaning out the radiators on these machines with a combination of a brush, a broom, a skewer, some pliers, and a very careful/light application of some compressed air. I also straightened the bent radiator fins - which really doesn’t impact the condenser’s effectiveness very much, only a tiny fraction of a single percent, but I figured I’d do it while I was in there. Here’s some before/after photos to show how badly this job needed doing:

(Cold Drinks machine condenser before. Yes some of the rows are completely blocked)

(Cold Drinks machine condenser after. Muuuuuuch better. Its air resistance & resulting airflow through it is around 3x - 4x better than it was before!)

(Vigo Vending machine condenser before. Not as bad as the other one, but still needing a clean)

(Vigo Vending machine condenser after. Maybe 2x better resistance/airflow by my rough guess)

(Mike Ando) #75

I’ve been a busy bee the past few weeks. I’ve done a few more things to hopefully improve the energy efficiency of our drinks machines even more. A notably big one is adding a second layer of insulating bubble foil to the vending flaps - these were still getting covered in condensation which means cold is leaking out of the machines & it’s also a potential health hazard. Hopefully two layers should be good enough for us!

(the Cold Drinks machine’s vending flap - now with twice as much insulation!)

(Vigo’s vending flap is now twice as reflective)

Also, we have new flavours in the machines! In the local machine, Fanta has made a comeback along with Kirks Ginger Ale. In the import machine, Canada Dry Ginger Ale is all gone and in its place, we finally have… Cherry Coke! I’ve been trying to get a hold of some for a reasonable price for months and finally obtained some! We’re almost out of Dr Pepper too, and I have another flavour all lined up ready for that position… But I’ll only reveal it once it’s in the machine. :wink: (note to other future people who may buy soft drinks - never buy lemonade or Sprite. It doesn’t sell here, and I have to fight the expiry date on the cans - yes they go that slowly)

Also also, just so you know, this is how many cans I put in the machines last week. Some weeks we go through a lot of cans.

(So many cans)

Finally, the random line has something… coconut in it. :wink:

(Delicious coconut water - now in can form!)

(Mike Ando) #76

Ahoy there, hackers! I’ll keep this one short & simple. Our supplies of Dr Pepper have been exhausted, so the import drinks machine has a new flavour… Pineapple Fanta! Bet you didn’t even know that was actually a thing.

(Filled with pineapple-y goodness)

Additionally, because we were running low in the store room I’ve had to buy more drinks for us. Rather than show you a nice, neat line of drinks at the space I thought I’d show you what it’s like to actually buy this many drinks. I can generally stack a maximum of around 300 cans in a shopping trolley before I hit the volume limit, which is good because that weighs around 120kg and pushing a 120kg shopping trolley takes a lot of effort to keep it under control. You can see how this starts approaching the hard-limit of economies of scale where I can’t just “grab one more box while I’m at it”, buying more cans involves a whole second trip from the car, through the store, through the checkout counter and back to the car… And for what it’s worth, my small compact car maxes out at a little over 2 trolleys worth before I hit its maximum weight limit so beyond that I need to take a whole second drive. That’s also assuming I haven’t cleared out the shelves of that supermarket already, which I usually do with a just single trolley’s worth for Kirks drinks. :stuck_out_tongue:

(Keeping control of a 120kg shopping trolley down the ramps is fuuuun!)

Popcorn Vending Machine
(Colby) #77

MVP :pineapple::pineapple::pineapple::pineapple::pineapple::pineapple::pineapple:

(Mike Ando) #78

The machines have been rejecting coins lately, so I’ve given both machine’s mechanisms a clean. This should help make them behave a bit better.

Also, Mountain Dew has made a comeback! This means between both machines we now offer five different flavours that contain caffeine. Delicious, delicious caffeine for all that intense hacker concentration.

Finally, when I went to refill the change exchange today I noted that it was only at $37.20 when it’s supposed to be at $40 at all times. Meaning, someone’s been either taking money or “borrowing” from it. This is a reminder that we no longer replenish the change exchange from the vending machines, we only convert notes back into coins again. So if it runs low it will stay that way until the person who took extra money replenishes it, or someone else makes a donation to cover your naughty borrowing ways. If it runs low, there may not be enough coins left for future people to get change and we may just remove the change exchange entirely. So don’t take money or “borrow” from it unless you feel like ruining it for everyone. :stuck_out_tongue:

The current lineup in both machines is as follows:

Local “Cold Drinks” machine:
-Mountain Dew
-Coke Zero
-Water 600mL

Imported Vigo machine:
-A&W Root Beer
-Pineapple Fanta
-Grape Fanta
-Mother Energy Drink
-Strawberry Fanta
-Cherry Coke

(Mike Ando) #79

It’s time for another shake-up of the International drinks machine. We’re running low on a few of our regular flavours so I’ve put a new one in there as a test… Appletiser! Originally from South Africa, this carbonated Apple juice has a sweet taste yet has no added sugar. Normally available here only in fancy glass bottles, I’ve managed to acquire some full-sized 375mL cans. There isn’t many cans of this, so get in quick!

(These cans of Appletiser also have a unique semi-matte texture to them, too)

Speaking of new flavours, if you’re feeling lucky you might get something… brewed in the random line.

(Brewed ginger beer makes for the best ginger beer)

(Mike Ando) #80

I’m still having trouble buying suitable imported drinks. Most of my suppliers are out of the stuff we usually get. That means it’s time for another new flavour!

Nexba Cola looks and tastes like an imported Mexican Cola, but it’s actually Australian Made & Owned. This sugar-free drink has only 11 calories per can and it uses Apple extract & Black Carrot Juice for its flavour, so it’s strong in its Cola flavour without being overly sweet. It’s proving to be more popular than I expected so who knows how long this one will stick around!

(Nothing artificial, everything delicious)

(Mike Ando) #81

I’ve been paying so much attention to the premium import drinks machine, it’s been a long time since I introduced a new flavour to the local drinks machine. Well I wanted a new replacement for Pasito so I went to a few different shops than usual, and making a comeback after many years of absence is… Lemon-Lime Solo! It tastes decidedly “green” - no really, if you imagined green as a flavour, this is pretty close.

(No relation to Han Solo. But if Han was having a soft drink, you can bet he would “drink first”)

The current lineup in both machines is as follows:

Local “Cold Drinks” machine:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Lemon-Lime Solo
  • Kirks Ginger Beer
  • Lift
  • Random
  • Coca-Cola Zero
  • Mountain Dew
  • 600mL Water

Premium import “Vigo” machine:

  • A&W Root Beer
  • Appletiser
  • Dr Pepper
  • Mother Energy Drink
  • Nexba Cola
  • [blank]

(Mike Ando) #82

There was a bit of a jam in the Vigo drinks machine coin acceptor that I’ve cleared out. The culprit was someone inserting coins too quickly. A good rule to follow is never quicker than one coin per second, or if you’re not so good with guessing time just wait until you hear the coin finish clunking into place before inserting the next one.

(This coin accepting mechanism… has been jammed!)

It’s also time for another small shake-up of the flavours! I’ve had a request for an alternate diet soft drink, so since we have Nexba Cola in Vigo, Coke Zero has temporarily been replaced by Kirk’s Diet Creaming Soda. There isn’t much of this so get in quick while we have it; once it’s gone, there’s a small supply of Kirk’s Diet Lemon ready to come next.

Appletiser is gone from the Vigo machine & it’s been replaced by some old favourites… Cherry Coke and Strawberry Fanta. Enjoy!