Internet-enabled vending machine

The goal is to develop a robotic application where users place an order on a website. The order info is uploaded to a database. The Stepper Bee Plus is connected to a laptop computer which polls the cloud database, downloads order info, and processes the order.

The Stepper Bee Plus & stepper motors are controlled by a Microsoft Excel VBA application. Excel may not be an industry standard tool for controlling robots, but it has other capabilities that make it a great business tool. The app stores metrics on the number of vending cycles & steps, direction of the motor at any given part of the cycle, etc. The app will be extended to include metrics and charts pertaining to the products and inventory control.

There were issues with the silo. The wood parts were assembled in the less humid winter months. As spring and summer came along, with increased humidity, some sanding was required to ensure that the product boxes would dispense without getting stuck. Wood partitions that separated the products were replaced with Plexiglas.

I experimented with stepper motors of different sizes to find the right torque to dispense the products, which are stacked on each other. There’s certainly room for improved design.

A belt drive moves the dispenser to the product silo. The screw-drive dispenser pushes the selected item out of the silo.

  • Works over the internet.
  • Web page or QR reader posts order information, desktop downloads the info and processes the order.

Product Silo Dispenser

  • Stepper Bee Plus control board, made by https://www.pc-control.co.uk/
  • Hand-made, wood and Plexiglas
  • 2 unipolar stepper motors, one belt drive, 1 screw drive, pulleys
  • X axis and Y axis

Software/technologies

  • Microsoft Excel VBA
  • ASP classic*, HTML SQL Server hosted on GoDaddy
  • QR Reader
  • *ASP classic to be replaced with either PHP or .NET

Robotic chicken fryer


First attempt, worked nicely, looking to replace wood parts with 8020 or OpenBuilds materials. Also have to fabricate a quick release for the moving parts that contact the food.

Cake robot


Banana bread slices using similar technology to the vending machine. A USB relay board controls power to the electric knife .