Selecting ingredients for your Bartendro January 05 2014, 1 Comment

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Aleta, Rob's partner, and have been a silent supporter of this project for quite some time. I decided it was time to step up my involvement and share some of the insights I've gained while helping demo Bartendro at various events. You'll see more blog posts from me as well as activity in the forums. When reviewing the forums today, I noticed that a few people have mentioned having difficulty with the process of selecting ingredients to load in the bot. I've noticed that the number of drinks on the menu will vary greatly depending on the combination of ingredients I load into the bot, and at times it will offer a surprisingly small number of drink options. With each drink requiring between 2-6 ingredients, it can be difficult to select the right combination to create a menu that is both well-populated and diverse. For this reason, I'm posting a few combinations for Bartendro 7 that we've had success with at various events at the bottom of this entry. Notice that the total number of menu options that the combinations below produce is still just slightly greater than the number of pumps on the bot. While intuitively it seems like a good idea to offer as many options as possible, we have found that as the list of menu options gets longer, people are more likely to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. They often don't want to read a long list and contemplate their options carefully; they just want a tasty drink quickly so they can return to the party. At Roboexotica in Vienna, Austria I helped serve drinks from the B15 four nights in a row, and many people took a glance at the menu and then asked me (or one of the other human slaves operators) for a drink recommendation rather than reading the entire list. When we're serving a large group, the amount of time it takes to read the list of options and decide can make a big difference in the length of the line waiting for a drink. Once I've selected the ingredients, I tweak the menu further. To increase the diversity of options, I may choose to hide beverages that are nearly identical, and add a few new recipes to the database using the ingredients at hand to add a fun twist. If I am planning on serving drinks to the same group again, I will check the pour totals at the end of the night from the "What's Popular Now?" list to determine which drinks were most popular and cull (hide) some of the drinks that are not popular. Moving forward, we're considering adding a button to pour the most popular drink of the event to help those who get dizzy in the face of so many options. We also have a more sophisticated tool in the works that will create a more personalized experience for admins to help you select ingredients, but that will take more time before it's ready. In the meantime, I hope these tips and the combinations below are helpful to you as you prepare for your next event. Have you found a good ingredient combination for B7 or B15?  Share it in the comments.

Bartendro 7 (B7) drink selection suggestions, ingredients, and menus:

Sweet and Creamy Drinks (16 options)

Baileys, Tequila, Kahlua, Orange Juice, Vodka, Milk, Amaretto

  • Mudslide: Baileys, Vodka, Kahlua
  • Iguana: Vodka, Tequila, Kahlua
  • 2nd Period: Kahlua, Milk, Baileys
  • Screwdriver: Orange Juice, Vodka
  • Baileys & Amaretto: Baileys, Amaretto
  • Black Russian: Kahlua, Vodka
  • Screaming Orgasm: Vodka, Baileys, Kahlua
  • Tequila Screwdriver: Tequila, Orange Juice
  • Brown Cow: Milk, Kahlua
  • Baby Guinness: Kahlua, Baileys
  • Girl Scout Cookie: Baileys, Kahlua
  • Mistofoles: Kahlua, Vodka, Milk
  • White Russian: Vodka, Kahlua, Milk
  • Pure Ecstasy: Vodka, Baileys, Kahlua
  • Blenheim: Vodka, Kahlua, Orange Juice
  • Toasted Almond: Amaretto, Kahlua, Milk

 

Fruity and Tropical Drinks (10 options)

Dark Rum, Grenadine, Tequila, Coconut Milk, Light Rum, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice

  • Saoco: Light Rum, Coconut Milk
  • Tequila Sunrise: Tequila, Orange Juice, Grenadine
  • Rum Screwdriver: Light Rum, Orange Juice
  • Beach Bum: Dark Rum, Pineapple Juice
  • Tequila Screwdriver: Tequila, Orange Juice
  • Pain Killer: Dark Rum, Pineapple Juice, Coconut Milk, Orange Juice
  • Calypso Baby: Pineapple Juice, Light Rum, Grenadine
  • Piña Colada: Coconut Milk, Pineapple Juice, Light Rum
  • Florida Sunshine: Tequila, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, Grenadine
  • Bahama Mama: Light Rum, Dark Rum, Grenadine, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice

 

A mix of things (14 options)

Baileys, Vodka, Kahlua, Milk, Tequila, Orange Juice, Vodka

  • Mudslide: Baileys, Vodka, Kahlua
  • Black Russian: Kahlua, Vodka
  • Iguana: Vodka, Tequila, Kahlua
  • 2nd Period: Kahlua, Milk, Baileys
  • Tequila Screwdriver: Tequila, Orange Juice
  • Screwdriver: Orange Juice, Vodka
  • Screaming Orgasm: Vodka, Baileys, Kahlua
  • Blenheim: Vodka, Kahlua, Orange Juice
  • Baby Guinness: Kahlua, Baileys
  • Girl Scout Cookie: Baileys, Kahlua
  • Brown Cow: Milk, Kahlua
  • Mistofoles: Kahlua, Vodka, Milk
  • Pure Ecstasy: Vodka, Baileys, Kahlua
  • White Russian: Vodka, Kahlua, Milk

 

Orange-juice centric menu (8 options)

Vodka, Tequila, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, Dark Rum, Grenadine, Light Rum

  • Calypso Baby: Pineapple Juice, Light Rum, Grenadine
  • Florida Sunshine: Tequila, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, Grenadine
  • Bahama Mama: Light Rum, Dark Rum, Grenadine, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice
  • Tequila Sunrise: Tequila, Orange Juice, Grenadine
  • Screwdriver: Orange Juice, Vodka
  • Rum Screwdriver: Light Rum, Orange Juice
  • Beach Bum: Dark Rum, Pineapple Juice
  • Tequila Screwdriver: Tequila, Orange Juice

Bartendro 3 Drink Ideas March 15 2013, 0 Comments

You just got your Bartendro 3 and turned it on, now what? What should you load it up with to get the best possible combinations of drinks? I spent some quality time with a cocktail recipe book writing down all the drinks which had three ingredients or less. I combined this new set of data with the drinks already available in our database and have come up with 12 different combinations for your Bartendro 3. We haven’t added all of these drinks to the database yet, but plan on debugging and testing soon. I’ve also included a bunch of cocktail recipes at the end of the post. Know there are a lot more options out there! What other possible Bartendro 3 combinations can you come up with? Possible Bartendro 3 Combinations Vodka, Kahlua, Baileys - Mudslide (1 Vodka, 1 Kahlua, 1 Baileys) - Baby Guinness (1 Kahlua, 2 Baileys) - Black Russian (1 Vodka, 1 Kahlua) - Girl Scout Cookie (1 Kahlua, 1 Baileys) - Pure Ecstasy (1 Vodka, 4 Kahlua, 2 Baileys) - Screaming Orgasm (2 Vodka, 1 Kahlua, 3 Baileys) Vodka, Cranberry Juice, Grapefruit Juice - Greyhound (2 Vodka, 5 Grapefruit Juice) - Sea Breeze (2 Vodka, 2 Grapefruit Juice, 3 Cranberry Juice) - Cape Cod (2 Vodka, 4 Cranberry Juice) Vodka, Kahlua, Orange Juice - Black Russian (1 Vodka, 1 Kahlua) - Screwdriver (2 Vodka, 4 Orange Juice) - Blenheim (6 Vodka, 3 Kahlua, 3 Orange Juice) Red Wine, Red Port, Cognac - Glass of red wine - Glass of red Port - Port in a Storm (20 Red Wine, 15 Red Port, 5 Cognac) - Port Cocktail (32 Red Port, 1 Cognac) Dry Vermouth, Gin, Vodka - Gibson (20 Dry Vermouth, 35 Gin) - Vodkatini (20 Dry Vermouth, 35 Vodka) Dry White Wine, Apricot Brandy, Lemon Juice - Fantaisie (16 Dry White Wine, 3 Apricot Brandy) - Bullfrog (1 Apricot Brandy, 1 Lemon Juice) - Glass of White wine Gold Tequila, Orange Juice, Grenadine -Tequila Sunrise (4 Gold Tequila, 8 Orange Juice, 1 Grenadine) - Tequila Screwdriver (2 Gold Tequila, 4 Orange Juice) Peach Schnapps, Orange Juice, Vodka - Fuzzy Navel (2 Peach Schnapps, 4 Orange Juice) - Screwdriver (2 Vodka, 4 Orange Juice) - Hairy Navel (3 Vodka, 3 Peach Schnapps, 20 Orange Juice) Sour Mix, Amaretto, Midori - Amaretto Sour (8 Amaretto, 1 Sour Mix) - Midori Sour (8 Midori, 1 Sour Mix) Dry Sherry, Gin, Tequila - Straight Law (2 Dry Sherry, 1 Gin) - Parkeroo (2 Dry Sherry, 1 Tequila) - Glass of Sherry Milk, Butterscotch Schnapps, Baileys - Buttermilk (1 Butterscotch, 1 Milk) - Buttery Nipple (1 Butterscotch, 1 Baileys) White Rum, Orange Juice, Sweet Vermouth - Poker (24 White Rum, 12 Sweet Vermouth, 1 Orange Juice) - Rum Screwdriver (2 White Rum, 4 Orange Juice) Drink Recipes  Beach Bum (1 Dark Rum, 2 Pineapple Juice) Big Red (1 Cinnamon Schnapps, 1 Baileys) Black Unicorn (1 Kahlua, 1 Butterscotch Schnapps, 1 Baileys) Brown Cow (1 Milk, 1 Kahlua) Butter Kahlua Bliss (1 Butterscotch Schnapps, 2 Milk, 1 Kahlua) Calypso Baby (8 Pineapple Juice, 4 White Rum, 1 Grenadine) Caramel Apple (4 Sour Apple Pucker, 3 Butterscotch Schnapps) Carrot Cake (1 Cinnamon Schnapps, 4 Kahlua, 4 Baileys) Dirty Martini (20 Vodka, 2 Dry Vermouth, 2 Olive Juice) Emerald Martini (8 Midori, 4 Vodka, 1 Triple Sec) Firecracker (1 Tequila, 1 Cinnamon Schnapps) Gin Gimlet (8 Gin, 2 Lime Juice, 2 Simple Syrup) Hot Scott (1 Cinnamon Schnapps, 1 Kahlua) Iguana (1 Vodka, 1 Tequila, 1 Kahlua) Golden Apple (8 Sour Apple Pucker, 1 Cinnamon Schnapps) Kamikaze (7 Triple Sec, 8 Vodka, 5 Lime Juice) Lemon Drop (3 Lemon Juice, 7 Simple Syrup, 6 Vodka) Low Carb Vodka Lemon (2 Vodka, 1 Lemon Juice) Piña Colada (2 Coconut Milk, 3 Pineapple Juice, 1 White Rum) Pure Ecstasy (1 Vodka, 1 Baileys, 1 Kahlua) Adam & Eve (1 Vodka, 1 Sour Apple Pucker, 1 Cranberry Juice) Amaretto Sour (15 Amaretto, 4 Lemon, 2 Simple Syrup) Baileys & Amaretto (1 Baileys, 1 Amaretto) 2nd Period (1 Kahlua, 1 Baileys, 1 Milk) Saoco (3 White Rum, 7 Coconut Milk) Snakebite (3 Whiskey, 1 Lemon Juice) Whiskey Lemonade (6 Whiskey, 4 Simple Syrup, 6 Lemon Juice) Whiskey Sour (3 Whiskey, 2 Sour Mix) Werther’s Original (3 Butterscotch Schnapps, 1 Baileys) Washington Apple (5 Sour Apple Pucker, 4 Whiskey, 4 Cranberry Juice) Vodka Lemon (4 Vodka, 2 Lemon Juice, 1 Triple Sec) Vodka Gimlet (8 Vodka, 2 Lime Juice, 2 Simple Syrup) Toasted Almond (1 Amaretto, 1 Kahlua, 1 Milk) Sour Apple Martini (1 Vodka, 1 Sour Apple Pucker) Sour Apple Jolly Rancher (3 Sour Apple Pucker, 1 Vodka, 1 Margarita Mix) Screaming Orgasm (2 Vodka, 3 Baileys, 1 Kahlua) Gipsy (64 Vodka, 32 Benedictine, 1 Angostura Bitters) Harvey Wallbanger (8 Vodka, 3 Galliano, 20 Orange Juice) Barbara (2 Vodka, 2 Creme de Cacao, 1 Cream) Katinka (3 Vodka, 2 Apricot Brandy, 2 Lime Juice) Cooch Behar (2 Pepper Vodka, 4 Tomato Juice) Balalaika (6 Vodka, 3 Cointreau, 3 Lemon Juice) French Horn (4 Vodka, 3 Chambord, 2 Lemon Juice) Woo Woo (2 Vodka, 3 Peach Schnapps, 8 Cranberry Juice) Blackhawk (3 Vodka, 1 Creme de Mure, 1 Lime Juice) Green Dragon (2 Vodka, 1 Green Chartreuse) Blue Shark (2 Vodka, 2 Tequila, 1 Blue Curacao) Genoa (6 Vodka, 8 Orange Juice, 3 Campari) Borodino (1 Vodka, 1 Gin, 1 Cointreau) Boyar (8 Vodka, 2 Dry Vermouth, 1 Kümmel) Soviet Cocktail (3 Vodka, .1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Medium-Dry Sherry) Golden Russian (6 Vodka, 4 Galliano, 1 Lime Juice) White Russian (1 Vodka, 1 Kahlua, 1 Cream) Black Russian (1 Vodka, 1 Kahlua) Screwdriver (2 Vodka, 4 Orange Juice) Blenheim (6 Vodka, 3 Kahlua, 3 Orange Juice) Baileys Comet (1 Vodka, 1 Baileys) Ti Punch (7 Lime Juice, 8 White Rum, 1 Simple Syrup) Saoco (2 White Rum, 4 coconut Milk) Columbus (6 White Rum, 3 Apricot Brandy, 4 Lime Juice) Mulata (7 White Rum, 1 Brown Creme de Cacao, 2 Lime Juice) Petite Fleur (1 White Rum, 1 Cointreau, 1 Grapefruit Juice) Poker (24 White Rum, 12 Sweet Vermouth, 1 Orange Juice) Continental (3 White Rum, 1 Green Creme de Menthe, 1 Lime Juice) Rob Roy (1 Scotch, 1 Sweet Red Vermouth) Manhattan (8 Rye Whiskey, 1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Sweet Vermouth) Bobby Burns (6 Scotch, 3 Sweet Vermouth, 1 Benedictine) Rusty Nail (1 Scotch, 1 Drambuie) Loch Lomond (6 Scotch, 1 Simple Syrup, 2 dashes Angostura bitters) Loch Ness (3 Scotch, 2 Pernod, 2 Sweet Vermouth) Tequila Sunrise (4 Gold Tequila, 8 Orange, 1 Grenadine) Pinata ( 3 Gold Tequila, 2 Creme de Banane, 2 Lime) Mockingbird (6 silver Tequila, 3 White Creme de menthe, 2 Lime) Bonnie Prince Charlie (2 Cognac, 1 Drambuie, 2 Lemon Juice) Brandy Alexander (1 Cognac, 1 Brown Creme de Cacao, 1 Cream) Corpse Reviver (1 Cognac, 1 Fernet Branca, 1 White Creme de Menthe) Corpse Reviver 2 (6 Cognac, 3 Calvados, 3 Sweet Vermouth) Connoisseur’s Treat (3 Cognac, 1 Grand Marnier, 1 Galliano) Hard Case (6 Cognac, 2 Creme de Cassis, 1 Lemon Juice) Brandy Fino (6 Cognac, 2 Pale Dry Sherry, 1Glayva) Arago (3 Cognac, 2 Creme de Banane, 2 Cream) Incredible (2 Cognac, 1 Green Chartreuse, 1 Cherry Brandy) Port Side (3 Cognac, 1 Ruby Port, 1 Creme de Mure) Captain Kidd (3 Cognac, 2 Dark Rum, 2 Brown Creme de Cacao) Sidecar (6 Cognac, 3 Cointreau, 3 Lemon Juice) Rum Sidecar (6 Light Rum, 3 Cointreau, 3 Lemon Juice) Stinger (2 Cognac, 1 White Creme de Menthe) Grasshopper (1 Green Creme de Menthe, 1 White Creme de Menthe, 1 Cream) Hooded Claw (5 Prune Juice, 2 Amaretto, 1 Cointreau) Las Hadas (1 Sambuca, 1 Kahlua) Alaska (3 Gin, 1 Yellow Chartreuse) Fuzzy Navel (2 Peach Schnapps, 4 Orange Juice) Godfather (1 Amaretto, 1 Scotch) Godmother (1 Amaretto, 1 Vodka) Bunny Hug (1 Gin, 1 scotch, 1 Pernod) Silver Jubilee (1 Gin, 1 Creme de Banane, 1 Cream) Olympic (1 Cognac, 1 Orange Curacao, 1 Orange Juice) Wally (1 Calvados, 1 Peach Brandy, 1 Lime Juice) Angel face (1 Gin, 1 Apricot Brandy, 1 Calvados) Yellow Parrot (1 Absinthe, 1 Yellow Chartreuse, 1 Apricot Brandy) Duchess (1 Absinthe, 1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Sweet Vermouth) Amsterdammer (1 Advocaat, 1 Cherry Brandy) Cafe Kahlua (6 Kahlua, 3 light Rum, 4 Cream) Tuaca Cocktail (2 Vodka, 2 Tuaca, 1 Lime) Chrysanthemum (4 Benedictine, 8 Dry Vermouth, 1 Absinthe) Cara Sposa (2 Kahlua, 2 Cointreau, 1 Cream) Peugeot (6 Cointreau, 3 Calvados, 8 Orange Juice) Kowloon (1 Grand Marnier, 1 Kahlua, 3 Orange Juice) Blue Lady (3 curacao, 1 White Creme de Cacao, 1 Cream) Il Paradiso (1 Tuaca, 1 Orange Curacao, 1 Cream) Bordeaux Cocktail (8 Red Bordeaux, 4 Cognac, 3 Creme de  cassis) Gin and It (2 Gin, 1 Sweet Vermouth) Midsummer Night (2 Gin, 2 Punt e Mes, 1 Creme de cassis) Perfect Cocktail (1 Gin, 1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Sweet Vermouth) Sherry Cocktail (8 Pale Dry Sherry, 1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Orange Bitters or Curacao) Dubonnet Cocktail (1 Gin, 1 Dubonnet) Adonis (2 Pale Dry Sherry, 1 Sweet Vermouth, 1 Orange Bitters or curacao) Straight Law (2 Pale Dry Sherry, 1 Gin) Parkeroo (2 Pale Dry Sherry, 1 Tequila) Port  in a storm (4 red wine, 3 red Port, 1 Cognac) Tinton (2 Calvados, 1 Red Port) Devon Gin (12 cider, 3 Gin, 1 Cointreau) Highland Morning (4 Scotch, 3 Cointreau, 12 Grapefruit Juice) Orange Blossom (1 Gin, 1 Orange Juice) White Lady (1 Gin, 1 Cointreau, 1 Lemon Juice) Space (3 Gin, 2 Frangelico, 1 Lemon Juice) Caruso (1 Gin, 1 Dry Vermouth, 1 Green Creme de Menthe) Derby (8 Gin, 1 Peach Bitters) Maiden’s Blush (8 Gin, 4 Absinthe, 1 Grenadine) Princeton (6 Gin, 3 Ruby Port, 1 Orange Bitters) Whiteout (3 Gin, 2 White Creme de Cacao, 2 Cream)

Quality control, the fun way February 15 2013, 0 Comments

Last night we had some fun after a long day of getting new software running on our bot. Using a pile of parts, I cobbled together a 4 pump bot, but I found myself short of a case to mount it into. I clearly watched too much MacGuyver when I was a child, because in the space of 10 minutes and using 2 paperclips, 2 screws and some string I made StringTendro: StringTendro Then towards the end of the evening we started joking about about "bot-stands" or taking taster shots directly from our bot. One thing led to another and soon we were having way too much fun: We're going to need to find a way to make this fun more sanitary. But hey, what's a few cooties shared between bot builders?? Amazingly we walked away from that experience without any hangovers!

The Wonderful World of Drink Bots February 08 2013, 3 Comments

Ever since the first cocktail was poured people have been searching out ways to do it faster and with better accuracy. Millions of dollars are spent every year on the newest bartending gadget or gizmo. Then, when robot technology started to become more accessible people began tinkering with the idea of creating a robotic bartender. We’ve seen them in movies, but how close are we to actually having one at home to make us that perfect drink? Well, probably a lot closer than you think. Party Robotics has been working hard for the last five years to bring a simple, fun robot that dispenses delicious cocktails into the mainstream marketplace. However, we’re not the only ones out there creating bartending robots. Let’s take a look at what else is available in the world of drink bots.
RoboBar
In the commercial world you really only have few options. One is the RoboBar, manufactured by MotoMan. With a pricetag of $160,000 this behemoth of a bot is not exactly feasible for home bar enthusiasts. RoboBar is serious about giving people the robot bartender experience and comes equipped with a lifesize robot; dressed in a tux and featuring a male or female personality. This bot is not designed to assist bartenders, but replace them, touting that it can “work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without breaks, vacations, holidays, or sick time (or hangovers).”
The Virtual Bartender
Another bot that is available to purchase right now is the Virtual Bartender from Digital Beverages. This is a bot for those with money to spend and the space to set it up. The Virtual Bartender weighs in at 350 pounds, is about the size of a large dishwasher and requires a drain, and hot/cold water line connections. Much like the RoboBar, The Virtual Bartender has a LCD touch screen and can deliver a wide range of drinks, boasting it can hold up to 32 different ingredients. Adding one of these bots to your home will set you back between $5,800 - 7,500. The InebriatorNext we get into the world of diy bots which are not available for purchase at this time. The first is The Inebriator. You may have heard of this guy as he gathered up a bit of publicity on the interwebz back in September of last year. The Inebriator is an Arduino powered cocktail machine created in the UK by Ian Cooper and Jake Osborne. The bot holds nine liquor bottles upside down on the upper level and stashes its mixers in a custom cooler down below. Any mixers need to be moved from their original bottles into plastic containers which have been plumbed with two pipes, one leading to a gas tank and the other to a valve. Drinks are ordered from a special controller box and a glass then moves under the bottles along a conveyer belt. The bot can dispense a drink in about 30 seconds, depending on how many ingredients it contains.
Another bot which is quite similar to The Inebriator is MELMACC. This cocktail dispensing machine was built by Oliver Höftberger, Robert Neuner, and Michael Mueller. The bot also utilizes the conveyer belt design, though does not have a gas tank or separate cooler box for mixers. Instead the mixers sit in their own special containers next to the alcohol. Drinks are also a bit slow to come from MELMACC, clocking in at about 40 seconds. There are several other fun little speciality bots out there which make appearances at events such as Roboexotica and BarBot. There is Layerbot which uses peristaltic pumps to create layered shots, Robomoji that crafts mojitos, and SoBEaR, the breathalyzer/booze dispensing teddy bear. As you can see there are lots of projects and attempts at delivering an amazing robot bartender to the masses. Our own creation, Bartendro, is going to be making its debut on Kickstarter soon and we’re hoping that it will meet all of your home bar needs. The newest models are lightweight and can easily be carried by one person, uses peristaltic pumps to give the most accurate drinks possible, delivers those drinks in less than 10 seconds, has an interactive user interface which can be run off your smartphone or tablet, is easy to clean, and most importantly makes delicious precision cocktails (or crazy custom juice creations). If you want to check it out in person we’re going to be at Robogames’ annual BarBot event in San Francisco on March 1st and 2nd. Come on down and let our bot get you drunk!!

The Open Hardware Proposition December 16 2012, 1 Comment

The Maker movement has truly been amazing to watch unfold over the last decade. Democratized information and tools have enabled widespread innovation and collaboration, creating dozens of hackerspaces and businesses in the wake. We love this and we want to be a part of it.
The issue of intellectual property is a tricky one. The patent was originally intended to protect inventors from large companies. After an individual would spend large amounts of capital for the required initial research and manufacturing, a large company with more capital could came along and create the same thing cheaper or faster, bringing the original inventor to ruins. The patent gave the original inventor a buffer period to create their products and provided a sufficient incentive for the populous to continue to innovate. At least that was the humble goal. Today, patent struggles between giant corporations have crippling effects with injunctions and overall costs reaching into the billions. Patents now rarely belong to individuals, but to companies with ever increasing portfolios that they arm to wage war with. Is this really how we want to proceed? I've heard rumors of patent reform always being just around the bend, but that will be a slow and laborious process most likely. So what do we do until then? Well, it turns out that the ingredients of ubiquitous information on the internet, thriving online social networks and a slumping job market provide the right mix of time and resources to allow people to collaborate and contribute to projects they like, like never before. Open source software has been around for decades and is the foundation of a lot of everyday objects...i.e. anything running Linux. It's only recently that we've started seeing open source hardware companies too like Sparkfun and Adafruit. Making software open source is a no-brainer, the costs of creating and shuffling bits is negligible, and the potential for people to add meaningful contributions or the code to provide educational benefit is a net positive for everyone. Hardware on the other hand still requires the moving of atoms: welding, machining, pcb fabrication, assembly, inventory all consume considerable energy and capital. By putting the files "out there" a company risks having their products knocked-off and made cheaper and to lower quality standards. How does a company protect their investment in their IP then? The models are becoming more clear. A transparent business, with a growing community are fundamental to operating successfully. Also, trademarks and copyrights become much more important. The notion of someone making the same thing but better, or cheaper should be encouraged; this is why we do open source in the first place. Others must just follow the guidelines set forth by the copyright owner. Attribution and share-alike are common ones, meaning the person building on your work needs to also share it and give you credit. The person copying can't use the same trademarked name, and therefore can't steal the brand you've worked to build up too. The brand and community go hand in hand, and this is what people come back for. The support of the community, and to support the original creators. Is an open source company, more or less lucrative as a business decision? Hard to say for sure, and it depends on the products and industry, but they can definitely both be run successfully. An open source company is likely more fun to run, and engages others to be a part of the process. Customer feedback flows quickly and more directly and qualified contributors don't need to be co-located but could live on the other side of the planet. The pros certainly seem to outweigh the risks, but there are examples of it not always working out like with MakerBot Industries and their recent pulling out of open-source. Is it the right decision for you? Is it the right decision for Party Robotics? Leave your thoughts in the comments. Some more reading: http://www.oshwa.org/definition/ http://blog.makezine.com/2012/02/14/soapbox-the-unspoken-rules-of-open-source-hardware/ A good book on the topic, covering crowdfunding as well: Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

Water to Wine: Sacrilegious fun for all. January 15 2012, 0 Comments

Yesterday, Lauren Blomberg and Brian Matis came over to drink wine and help me with a photo shoot for Make magazine. Brian had taken dozens of shots in August '11 of the broken down components and assembly procedure from start to finish. The shots were well lit and well composed. Fancy white photo umbrellas go a long way apparently, when it comes to taking good shots.
The editor at Make recently started working on the article so it can go into their next issue, I believe volume 30. He found that he was missing some action shots though, with wine actually coming out of the machine. When we disassembled the machine for the August shoot, connectors, tubing and wires were cut and it sat that way for a while. Needing to take the action shots was good motivation to put it all back together. I used some new food grade tubing from the local beer brewing supply and put it all back together.
We took dozens of shots in the kitchen while spilling water and wine now and again as we tried to work air out of the lines. After about half an hour of fussing, everything was primed and ready. That's when the silliness began. As we drank more and more wine, we began to become more intimate with the machine. Finally, Lauren thought it would be a good idea to put her mouth up directly to the outlet and consume that miraculous goodness. It was priceless.