Drinks Machines

(Mike Ando) #103

Due to being in hospital I was away from the space for a bit, but I’m once again back. The Vigo machine was temporarily not accepting coins or vending cans, but it looks like it’s been been all fixed now with the highly precise and technically complicated procedure known as turning-it-off-and-on-again.

A&W Creaming Soda has proved way more popular than I anticipated. Seems you all loved it! We’re almost out of this option, then another brand-new-never-vended-before option will be added to the international drinks machine. Because I can’t resist keeping things fresh & new.

Speaking of never-vended-before, I’ve decided that I’m gonna start making the random line a bit more random. For at least the next two months, the rate of “rare” cans is gonna go up as I start adding at least one rare can per week. I won’t bother posting on here about the ones we’ve had before, only for the brand new ones, just to document it on here publicly so people other than the lucky winners know the lengths I’m going to to get us a continuous supply of new random drinks. However, in return for this the rate of “cheaper” cans is going up. However, in return for this, the rate of standard “import” cans are going to go up too, while “local” cans will go down in odds. Basically there’ll be roughly equal chances of getting a “cheaper” can as either an “import” or “rare” can, to help balance out the prices. Basically this means less local cans will come out of this line and more import/rare cans. So the random line is getting more valuable with higher variability!

This week’s rare random drop is Sangaria Cider - but not what you think. The word “cider” means a completely different kind of drink in Japan. It’s kinda like lemonade, only not really. Similar to Ramune, if you’ve ever had that before.

(If the random line were a loot box, the highest potential reward value’s gone up, and the odds of all non-local options are now more equal than before)

(Stuart Longland) #104

:slight_smile: That technique solves a lot of problems.

That said, good to hear you’re back from hospital and hopefully recovering well.

(king.michaelr) #105

Just as an FYI, the Mountain Dew line on the local machine is currently vending raspberry lemonade.

(Mike Ando) #106

I’ve now finished cleaning/lubricating/servicing all the electronics in both machines. The wiring to line 6 was pretty melted from a previous fire, in some spots right the way through the insulation, and it was only pure luck that it hadn’t shorted out so far. I’ve replaced some wires where easy, and the remainder has been wrapped in electrical tape. I’ve got a short list of other things that need to be replaced, such as micro-switches & neon indicator lights etc. I’ll get around to ordering them & installing them soon.

(The final line has been finalised)

I’ve bought another 316 cans to restock our supply in the store room. We were starting to run low on Coke - which is outrageous and something that shall never happen so long as I’m still helping out with these machines. All the Coke, All the time!

A&W Creaming Soda is now gone from the import machine, which means it’s time for yet another brand new, never-before-vended flavour. Dr Pepper is always popular, and so is Cherry Coke. And so I present to you… Cherry Dr Pepper! Yes for real, this is an actual thing!

(Dr Pepper and Cherry, together at last)

This week’s random can is T.A.S. Mango Juice Drink! Don’t ask me what it tastes like - I don’t try these first, I just acquire 'em for y’all. This one comes from Thailand, and given it says “shake well before serving” on the back I’m gonna assume that means it’s not carbonated.

(Perfect if you’re from Tasmania and you enjoy doing Tool-Assisted Speedruns of your favourite games)

May the random odds be ever in your flavour!

(Stuart Longland) #107

That could also be a Thai practical joke. :slight_smile:

(Mike Ando) #108

Pepsi Max is out, and it’s been replaced with Vanilla Pepsi Max. Don’t like it? That’s ok, it won’t last long, I rotate through different options pretty quickly :wink:

The current full line-up is as follows:

Local drinks:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Creaming Soda
  • Raspberry
  • Random
  • Vanilla Pepsi Max
  • Ginger Beer
  • Water 600ml

Vigo’s Imported Emporium:

  • Cherry Dr Pepper
  • Cherry Coke
  • Dr Pepper
  • A&W Root Beer
  • Grape Fanta
  • Strawberry Fanta

The random can of the week is Vimto from the UK. Made from Grapes, Raspberries, Blackcurrants, plus a whole bunch of other secret ingredient spices, I guess the best way to describe this one is “fruity”.

(The “Vim vs Emacs” argument is crossing new boundaries these days)

May the random odds be ever in your flavour!

(Mike Ando) #109

I skip restocking the drink machines for one week, just one single week, and this is what happens…

(182 cans loaded into the machines from just two weeks since it was last stocked. SO many cans)

The ever popular Pasito’s making another comeback. I think I forgot to change the label on the button though, and I can’t remember which line it’s replacing, but it’s either Creaming Soda or Raspberry. So I guess treat it as a second semi-random line until I’m next in to change a label? :stuck_out_tongue:

This week’s random can is T.A.S. branded Aloe Vera with Lemon Juice. If you’ve never had Aloe Vera flavoured drinks before you probably think this will taste bad. But if you have had them before, you probably know it’s pretty delicious!

(Contains 18% Aloe Vera juice plus 12% Aloe Vera pulp, hot dang!)

So how about it, are you feeling drink-lucky, punk?

(Stuart Longland) #110

Will the vending machine have enough space for an Emacsto?

You know what they used to say… Eight Megs And Constantly Swapping… :stuck_out_tongue:

(Mike Ando) #111

I’ve been too busy with Supanova to update this lately, but I haven’t been too busy to keep doing at least a little work on these machines.

To start with, as the container recycling refund scheme is finally in place in QLD, our can crusher has been removed and a new recycling bin has been added. For now it’s easier if the cans are intact so we can use the self-service refund thingos. From now on until further notice, please don’t crush your cans - the main reason why we’re not raising the prices of the vending machines is because we’re expecting to be able to get that money all back :wink: Also, I am not the person who is managing the container refunding business (my volunteer time is already stretched too thin as it is), so don’t ask me anything about it.

Good News, Everyone™! The bad micro-switch in the local cold drinks machine has been replaced, which means this machine now has all eight lines working again! In celebration of this, back by popular demand is Kirks Diet Lemon - which means we now have two diet flavours on offer again (the other being Vanilla Pepsi Max) as well as bottled water. Healthy food, taste so good. Thanks to @lhovo for the donor vending machine and @nogthree for ripping its guts out for spare parts.

(The new micro-switch, on the top, is Cherry branded. That should be good for a few million vends.)

There’s been two random can additions since the last time I posted - T.A.S. Lychee Drink and T.A.S. Guava Juice Drinks.

(This icy lychee’s not so pricey)

(Winner beware, this is another puree drink!)

The current full line-up is as follows:

Local drinks:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Vanilla Pepsi Max
  • Pasito
  • Fanta
  • Random
  • Diet Lemon
  • Ginger Beer
  • Water 600ml

Vigo’s Imported Emporium:

  • Cherry Dr Pepper
  • Cherry Coke
  • Dr Pepper
  • A&W Root Beer
  • Grape Fanta
  • Strawberry Fanta

Finally, sad news: between Tuesday the 6th of November at 11:34pm and Tuesday the 13th of November at 6:15pm, $1 was stolen from the change exchange. :frowning:

(Brendan Halliday) #112

I’m reasonably sure this was me, sorry. Had a 1 dollar the machine ate and didn’t like the 2 dollar coin I put in so I grabbed one from the change exchange. Will return it to the exchange when I’m there next on Tuesday.

(Mike Ando) #113

So for those that don’t follow me on other social media, my health has been in a slow & unfortunately unstoppable decline for many years. The reason I haven’t been at the space since early November is because I’ve been in hospital for most of that time. In fact, when averaged over the entirety of 2018 I spent roughly one day a week hospitalised - and that’s not counting my time spent as a hospital outpatient or time spent seeing other medical professionals etc. This trend is predicted to increase next year. I can’t manage a full-time job either any more and these days the Disability pension is my primary source of income. As 2019 approaches, for my own health and because I unfortunately can’t always be reliable nowadays, I need to reduce some of my commitments & responsibilities throughout many areas of my life. I figured the best place to start is with the low-hanging fruit: things that aren’t too specialised or me-specific, things that don’t require much skill or knowledge to do, and things that people other than me could easily take over.

Effective immediately, I will no longer be purchasing drinks for the Hackerspace’s drink vending machines. Someone else will have to do this job. I’m not going to be chasing to find a replacement nor will I be chasing to make sure they do their job regularly because I need to be completely free of this responsibility. If the machines run out of a flavour or you don’t like something on offer please don’t talk to me about it because I won’t be the one doing this from now on. I’ve been volunteering to do this job for over 5 years now; I think it’s time I pass the torch on to someone else.

I will still do my best to re-stock both the machines and the change exchanges for the weeks that I can make it to the space, as well as performing the regular general maintenance on these machines when I can too. I may be able to occasionally make smaller purchases for the random line to keep it interesting, but not for the bulk purchasing of the majority of our drinks. Technically by our rules the job of “Ensuring that adequate stock levels are maintained for consumable supplies” falls on the job of the Vice-President, but I’ve always interpreted this to mean it’s only the VP’s job to make sure it happens, not necessarily the VP’s job to do it, and I would highly recommend this job be taken on by someone that isn’t currently on the Executive or a Cause Leader (they’re busy enough as it is).

Many years ago I wrote some advice about maintaining these machines. Most of that still applies, but here’s a couple newer things just specific to those who are buying drinks:

  • The number one most important thing is to be reliable & dependable. Letting a line go empty acts similarly to “broken window theory” - it suppresses sales as people don’t like to be advertised a flavour then being told they can’t have it. If you’re really caught in a bind because you didn’t buy enough in advance, remove the label entirely from that line. Keep in mind that having these machines not operating correctly can potentially cost us over a hundred dollars per week in lost sales.

  • Similarly, swapping flavours regularly and frequently rotating what’s on offer not only keeps people happy so everyone can have their personal favourite sometimes in stock but also increases sales too. We “only” have 14 different drink lines and there’s way more than 14 different flavours out there. Variety is the spice of life and all that jazz.

  • These days members are much more accepting of sugar-free drinks like Pepsi Max, Kirks Diet Lemon, or Raspberry Coke No Sugar etc. I’ve been trying to have two sugar-free options in the local drinks machine, but keep in mind that diet drinks expire in a matter of months so don’t stock up on them. And definitely check the expiry date on any diet drinks you buy, so you’re buying only the freshest boxes on the shelf.

  • Wherever possible, buy official Coke branded products over the alternatives (such as Lift instead of Solo/Kirks Lemon, Fanta instead of Sunkist, etc). They sell way better, more than enough to make up for the price difference.

  • My suppliers for local drinks are Coles, Woolworths and IGA. Check the websites of the first two to find out what drinks are currently on sale at your local store. IGA doesn’t have an online store but you can normally find any drink deals listed in your local IGA catalogue, some of which are available online, but others are only available if you get one as junk mail. I investigated establishing an account with Coca-Cola Amatil directly a while ago but the prices they wanted were way higher than standard supermarket prices so I didn’t pursue it. Supermarkets during sales are where most small-time vending machine operators obtain their stock.

  • I have a bunch of suppliers for Import drinks that I bounce between depending on pricing & stock availability, such as Costco, Fairdinks (who basically buy from Costco then offer delivery for a fee), The Reject Shop, The Professors (who will give you an additional discount if you register & say you’re buying for a not-for-profit), Kelly’s Distributors, USAFoods, Funworks, and a whole swath of little back-alley foreign supermarket stores throughout Sunnybank and West End.

  • Don’t ever by Lemonade (it never sells & sits in the machine taking up space for a whole year until it eventually expires & has to be thrown out), or Irn Bru (it’s capable of permanently staining clothing, tables and even concrete if spilled which is too much of a risk).

(Jaimyn Mayer) #114

Thanks so much for all of your hard work over the years. Whilst not many people personally thank you, every single person appreciates the significant amount of time and energy you’ve put into the drinks machines over the years. It’s not an easy job organising the purchase of and restocking of hundreds of cans on top of the normal maintenance required for the machines.

I’ll definitely help out where I can in the purchasing and restocking of items.

(Stuart Longland) #115

Is there somewhere where the inventory could be tracked, and so if someone happens to see some soft drinks at a reasonable price and use-by-date, they can pick up a box or two for the space? Or if we know we’re low on a particular line, someone can say “Yep, I can pick some up on my way to the space”.

Maybe this thread or a board on Trello might work for this.

It’s a big job really to keep up with what’s there, and @riumplus you’ve done an excellent job from what I’ve seen. I’m thinking it may be easiest if we can split some of the sourcing work up a bit though so it’s not a burden on one person.

It’s all too easy to forget that the cans don’t just materialise inside the vending machines on their own, someone puts them there. :slight_smile:

(Louis Talbot) #116

I’d definitely be happy to assist if there were a way to spread it out, but I’ve got a pretty inconsistent work schedule and wouldn’t want to take on a responsibility I’m not sure I’d always be able to meet.

(Emily Taylor) #117

Hey @riumplus, sorry to hear things aren’t going your way, but I’m glad you’re putting yourself first!

I figure that, as I’ve taken on stocking the food machine, that stocking the drinks machine could be part of one role that does both. I’ve already restocked drinks today and I was going to ping you about sourcing more stock, so thank you for reading my future mind and writing all your experience up!

I have a couple of ideas for making stocking smoother, and I like @Redhatter’s idea of making stocking levels visible so if anyone catches something on sale they can grab it (Particularly the harder to find stuff). I know @nogthree has talked about some sort of server reporting on top of the spacebucks system, but as that would fall under infrastructure I’ll leave it to him to comment on.

One of my ideas is to approach the local Woolies or IGA and talk to management about either setting up a regular purchasing order or having an account that could qualify for a discount. @jabelone recently shared the relevant spacebucks purchases from drinks, so I could take that and work out what a regular order would look like. Add that to regular lines for the food machine, and I think it could work.

Lastly, I’m adding my thanks to the pile, it’s always nice to be able to rely on grabbing a cold drink when arriving at HSBNE, and it wouldn’t have been possible without all the effort you’ve put in :smiley:

(Brendan Halliday) #118

I’ve put together a shared Google Sheets file for people to refer to for stocks for the machines and what we have on hand and have audited the contents of the machines and storeroom.


@riumplus, you’ve put in an extraordinary amount of effort in taking on these machines for so long, your work has not gone un-noticed and it has certainly has been worth it. Thank you for the effort you’ve put in over the years.

(Mike Ando) #119

Couple more things while I think of them:

  • For knowing what to buy & when, my current system was to load the machines up (which gives you roughly 2-4 weeks of buffer depending on the line until they’re empty), then just taking note of what boxes are in the store room. I photographed the store room weekly, both to help me remember what was in there and to help identify any theft (which does happen). I also photograph the buttons of the machines every time I changed a line to know what was currently in them. Super complicated & advanced system, I know :wink:
  • Wherever possible I only ever filled the machines up with whole boxes. This makes it much easier to identify stock levels because you can therefore assume the boxes are all full, and it helps reduce theft (people help themselves to cans that are easily available but are less likely to open sealed boxes)
  • Don’t over-fill the lines, the motors will seize up and not vend anything. Max level varies per line but is around 2/3rds for most flavours, and around 1/2 for bottled water.
  • The point of having a stockpile in the store room wasn’t just so I could capitalise on sales, it was so I could buy 500 cans at once and be done with it for a couple months rather than dealing with the hassle of buying/carrying to the space/lodging for reimbursement a couple boxes every time with my usual shopping trips. Assuming an average of around 70 cans sold a week, you’d have to buy 2 24-pack boxes and 2 10-pack boxes every single week just to keep up. I highly recommend buying in bulk and using the store room to your advantage as a buffer to reduce the workload where possible. Just don’t stock up too much on diet drinks.
  • I still have copies of all the drinks receipts I’ve lodged from late 2016 to now through Xero (including if they were local or import drinks, number of cans, cost per can, total cost, etc), and potentially earlier if I did through my photo archive. Drinks bought is, unsurprisingly, a rough approximation of drinks sold. If someone has a need for those numbers I can dig through my records to convert them to a more accessible & public form, or if I’m busy the Treasurer should have access to do the same via Xero. I can’t remember if a summary of drinks expenses/profits was or wasn’t mentioned last AGM (I couldn’t find it from a quick search of the forums).

(Mike Ando) #120

So as I originally announced, I’m not physically buying drinks, but I’m still doing servicing & maintenance work on these machines when I can. The second line from the top on the local Cold Drinks machine is still playing up - sometimes it automatically vends a can from this line the moment you tap your RFID card or insert correct change, similar to if the button was stuck depressed. The problem is, the button isn’t stuck depressed - the entire front button area has been completely checked & ruled out, piece by piece. The microswitch has been replaced with a brand new one (Cherry brand at that), the plastic sheet swapped, the button entirely removed & lubricated, etc. So the problem has to be somewhere deeper in the machine.

Because the fault is intermittent it’s hard for me to diagnose it (can’t check stuff out if I can’t reproduce the error), so I’m going to try swapping components from this line to other lines in the machine and we’ll see if the problem moves or if it stays in the same line. This means this line will be going in & out of service, and the machine may or may not do the error on you and auto-vend a can. If that happens to you, please be sure to mention it on Discord to me asap with the time/date, how you paid and what auto-vended. I’m going to attempt setting up the machine so it will only do this when I’m on-site, but as you’d expect I can’t 100% guarantee anything with an error I can’t figure out yet.

In other news, there’s a new fancy can in the random line! Teptip branded Piña Colada - Taste of the Caribbean. Non-alcoholic with 40% Pineapple juice, this is sure to relax you like getting caught in the rain.

(Not suitable for those who do Yoga. Must have half a brain to consume.)

In fact I’ve bought a whole stash of new flavours to seed the random line over the coming months. A couple may be liked so much they may turn into a dedicated line, but others… Well let’s just say that surprises are always fun. :smiling_imp:

(…Aaand I purposefully photographed them in an opaque bag. Mwahaha.)

(Miles Whiticker) #121

First for cherry switches rule

(Mike Ando) #122

Just a little update - I swapped over the three microswitches that are directly against the dispensing motor mechanism. The problem persisted and it stayed in line 2, so those can be ruled out as the cause. I’ve disabled line 2 again for now until I can next be in.

I’m starting to run out of potential causes, heh…