GeekDad/Ponoko/Sparkfun Winner

Who Won? What Was The Big Idea?

Who’d have thought that the GeekDad/Ponoko/Sparkfun competition winning entry would involve beer?!?

The call went out, and the votes are in – with Ross Daly (aka tinyenormous) taking out top honours with a convincing 45% of the vote. That’s him cradling his winning entry in the picture above – and his big idea is the Minifridge Beer Dispenser, soon to be produced for free using the combined might of SparkFun and Ponoko.

Thanks to Nathan Barry over at GeekDad for the following interview with the proud winner.

So Ross, tell our readers a bit more about yourself.

I am a visual effects artist during the day, and a geek at night. I blog at about all kinds of photography, microcontroller, and robotics hacks. I live in Boulder, CO and I’m 30.

What was your inspiration for designing the beer dispenser?
I like to think of (relatively) simple solutions to common problems. In this case it really strikes me how many mini fridges are bought and discarded as waves and waves of kids go to college. Hopefully this will either encourage them to keep them for longer, or to give other people a reason to buy them and keep them out of landfills.

How long did it take to build the prototype?
The prototype took a few hours to print and build, but it has taken FOREVER to design. I have been thinking about it for over a year, and trying to keep the electronics part count down while making it reliable has really been a learning process. Along the way I stumbled across 507 mechanical movements, and I have taken a lot of inspiration from that.

What do think will be toughest part of the build?
I have been laying out the design in illustrator, and the toughest part will definitely be getting the tolerances for laser cutting figured out correctly. I have been designing it with captive nut joints but I am certain that there will be a bit of duct tape and grinding involved in the final product!

How do you hope to improve on your prototype?
I hope to get the fit figured out for the prototype, and to do a test to ensure that the pieces that slide well in foamcore still slide well when they are cut out of 3mm acrylic. The programming aspect should be fairly simple. I have done a lot of projects based on the Arduino platform. I’m far from an efficient coder, but I can make it work most of the time. The beer dispensing side of the machine should be easy, while the internet connectivity and stock levels aspect could be more difficult.

Ross has promised to thoroughly document the build and final product at tinyenormous before too long.

Many thanks to all of the tinkerers who submitted entries to this competition, and also to the voting public for making it such a decisive outcome for Ross and his Minifridge Beer Dispenser.

See the original interview at’s GeekDad.

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Congratulations on the win, I’ll interested to see how it turns out.

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