Mission Accomplished! Huge thanks to everyone who supported us during the Kegbot Kickstarter campaign! You beer-chugging, tech-loving pioneers helped us blow past our goal in a matter of days. Thank you.
Whether you’re new to Kegbot or an old pro, it’s an exciting time for the project! As it’s a bit of a transition point for us, we wanted to update you on our immediate future.
When Can I Order Stuff? Kegbot Store Update
Several folks have asked us when they can buy a new Kegboard Pro Mini in the Kegbot Store. You might have also noticed our store shelves are a little bare even if you’re just looking for a flow meter.
It’s a bit of a perfect storm right now for the store. Here’s what’s going on:
Lastly, remember if you have any pre- or post-sale questions, you can shoot us a line at email@example.com.
If you’re a Kickstarter Backer, sit back, relax, and wait for updates! We’re still on track with our original shipping estimates, and we’ll be mailing you shortly with a survey.
When we host a party here at Kegbot HQ, we love to serve beer from our Kegbot-powered kegerator. But when it’s someone else’s turn to host, it’s usually too much work to lug the kegerator over. I mean, we’re good friends, but not that good.
Then one day, we had an epiphany: What if we could make a portable version of our favorite pour-tracking, photo-snapping beer dispenser? One week and numerous “test pints” later, we found our answer: Introducing the JockeyBot.
The JockeyBot combines a standard Kegbot build with a portable jockey box. With it, you can pour, serve, and most importantly track your beer, anywhere you can fit a cooler and ice.
The First Test
After building the first prototype, we just had to invite a few unsuspecting friends for a BBQ and see how it worked.
Kegbot/JockeyBot — and especially its automatic camera mode — remembers the rest:
Folks were a little confused at first..
…but were relieved after realizing the machine rewarded them beer.
An angelic Eric declares the operation a success!
Bliss? Frustration? The bot doesn’t care!
Unfortunately, we can’t show you the rest of the photo stream as they become a little.. wild. But what we can show you is how to build your own — read on for a little background, then the details!
Background: What’s a Jockey Box?
Little do many people know, for chilling your beer when grilling, tailgating, throwing a wake, or just plain old keg partying, there’s an invention you can use that’s far more convenient than a messy tub of ice: the jockey box.
A jockey box works like an air conditioner for your kegs: Instead of chilling the whole keg, you chill the beer lines — 100ft of them, tightly coiled inside a cooler full of ice. No electricity is required, so you can pour anywhere!
What’s a Kegbot?
If you haven’t used a Kegbot before, we’ve now got a corny video up on Kickstarter that should explain things.
In short, the Kegbot sensors track pours and keg volume, reporting them to a database and providing keg status online. It can also support user accounts, low keg notifications, and can take photos of you automatically.
Best of all, Kegbot works totally passively: if you don’t care for all the technology, just ignore the screen and pour your beer as usual.
Building the JockeyBot
Putting this bad boy together was actually pretty simple, and much like an ordinary Kegbot build. The key steps are:
Let’s round up the equipment and get started!
For the Jockey Box, we selected a two-tap system from Micromatic, though single tap systems work just fine too.
For the Kegbot hardware, ordinarily you’d buy this through our store, but right now you’ll want to do it through our Kickstarter project. You’ll need one controller and flow meter per tap.
Splicing the Flow Meters
There are two ways to do this, depending on what type of jockey box you have.
All jockey boxes typically have a length of nylon tubing coming out of the back of the box (“ahead” of the coils and closest to the keg, in terms of the beer flow), which is an acceptable place to do it.
Another option, typically only found on plate cooler jockey boxes (which have more tubing inside), is to make the splice inside the box, just before the tap. That’s the route we chose.
Once you’ve identified the location, the rest is simple: just give the tubing a nice straight snip and push the meter in!
Now it’s time to mount the meters, so they stay out of the way (and away from the ice that will soon fill the cooler). Some cable ties and adhesive hooks did the trick:
Mounting the Tablet
Next it’s time to mount the tablet. We really like mounts from RAM Mounts because they are modular; the X-Grip Universal Tablet Holder works well with a Nexus 7, although for a larger tablet you’ll want to substitute this part.
So how do we attach this thing to the cooler? Like many difficult questions in life, we answered by saying, “Screw it!”
As long as you don’t over-tighten the screws, the plastic and insulation hold standard 1” wood screws very well. (We considered sealing this with some caulk, but it hasn’t seemed necessary).
Socket mounted, adding the grip and arm is trivial.
Don’t forget to throw a Kegbot sticker on that bad boy when you’re done!
Sneak the flow meter cables out the back of the cooler (or drill a hole if you want to be fancy), connect to a Kegboard, launch the app and you’re ready to hit the road!
Here’s JockeyBot making an appearance at a friend’s bachelor party: disheveled, but still going strong:
So there you have it! JockeyBot, the perfect on-the-go party monitoring system.
Although it’s a bit chilly in most parts of the US right now, spring break is only 35 days away! What are you waiting for? Head on over to the Kegbot Build Guide and you’ll be on your way. Happy building!
PS: Don’t want to wait? We actually built two JockeyBots, just in case. If you’re interested in taking one off our hands (and supporting our chronically-underfunded R&D department), drop us a line!
We’re beyond stoked to launch our very first custom-designed, professionally assembled hardware: Introducing the Kegboard Pro Mini 1.0.
The product of years of hard-earned research, testing, and (of course) responsible beer consumption, the Kegboard Pro Mini is the smallest, fastest, and easiest way to build a Kegbot.
Like our legacy Arduino shield, the Kegboard Pro Mini is packed with features. It supports:
Best of all, the code is all open source, so you can hack on it to do more.
See that RJ-45 outlet on the end? No, it’s not ethernet, it’s just the same connector. The “keg jack” is what connects to your flow sensor.
Packing an Atmel atmega32u4 microcontroller at its core, the Pro Mini is in the same class of device as an Arduino Leonardo. In fact, the board is Arduino compatible: just set the board type in your favorite development environment to “leonardo” and you can reprogram and reflash the board to your heart’s content.
To celebrate this exciting launch, we’re doing something a little different: We’re using Kickstarter! Check out our launch video:
We’ll offer the board for sale on the Kegbot store later this year, but we’re not certain about price and exact dates. So for now, the only way to get a Kegboard is to back us on Kickstarter. Enjoy!
In honor of the shield’s birthday, we’ve slashed prices on the board up to 30%. It’s a great time to build a Kegbot; now you can put a few more bucks towards beer.
Special note: For those of you who ordered a board within the past 30 days, we’ll be happy to refund the difference in price, just mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your order number. Or you can let us keep it and spend it on beer. Err.. we mean, research and development.
DEFCON 21 is underway in Las Vegas!
Kegbot and DEFCON have a bit of history together, and since we heard there’s at least one Kegbot making an appearance this year, we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to.. 2005!
It’s July 2005, and we’re in Las Vegas for DEFCON 13. The air is still, hot, and, well, sweaty.
We’re setting up a brand new system, and since it’s eight years ago, things are a bit.. unstable.. to say the least.
That’s our host John managing the cardboard, then of his “From The Shadows” video mag, now running the show over at Lookout. John invited us down to do a segment for his magazine, but we all knew the real reason: party!
As any experience Kegbotter will tell you, the first rule of building a Kegbot is: do not try to do it while thirsty folks are waiting for beer. Here’s Mikey getting stressed trying to get the damn thing online.
It’s easy to forget the “bad old days” of being a “maker”. Back in 2005, that meant PIC16 microcontrollers, special (and awkward) parallel port programmers, expensive usb-to-serial modules, and crappy toolchain support. Arduinos have truly spoiled us. Above: the first ever Kegboard.
Several hours, quite a bit of foam, and a whole lot of troubleshooting later, and our beer was finally online! We don’t really remember what happened next, but any experienced Vegas traveller should give you the same answer anyway.
We didn’t know it at the time, but DEFCON 13 was Kegbot’s coming out party.
Brian Krebs wrote about us in his Washington Post blog, we hit Slashdot (remember when that was a thing?), and a few months later we had fact checkers from Popular Science calling us to verify just how crazy we were.
What had been a goofy little open source project suddenly became.. an ever so slightly better-known goofy little open source project.
Suffice it to say, Kegbot has come a long, long way since then: a touchscreen tablet interface, a much better backend, integration with Twitter, Foursquare, Untappd, and most importantly, many more users building their own awesome rigs.
Although we couldn’t make it to DEFCON this year, we’ve got a soft spot for the conference, and can’t wait to bring you more Kegbot goodies this year. Stay tuned!