There is a reason even used vending machines tend to sell for surprisingly high prices: they’re neat. Most of us have fond memories of the goodies we’d get from vending machines when we were kids and our parents were generous enough to give us a quarter. But, even more appealing than simple nostalgia is their fantastic mechatronic design. Mechatronics is the intersection of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and programming, and few machines embody the discipline more than the humble vending machine.
Now, thanks to this nice kit from Retro Built Games, you can construct an actual four-choice coin-operated vending machine yourself — for far less money than a used machine from a dirty truck stop. The frame of the kit is made of laser cut birch plywood. For those of you who are into carpentry, they’ve even taken the time to ensure that the good side of the plywood is the side that faces out. The kit also includes the hardware you’ll need to assemble the frame of the vending machine, and optionally a Nokia LCD to display information to hungry patrons.
You will, however, need to provide the electronics and other hardware to finish the build. That includes a microcontroller (like an Arduino), and motors or servos. Considering the kit only costs $31, that’s still a bargain. In the video above, Ryan Bates shows one way you can finish out your vending machine, which looks great as it is. But, the great thing about this kit is that you can create whatever kind of machine you really want!