My and a friend are hacking together a Nespresso Coffee pod dispenser. We have our heart set on a particular design after thinking up countless ways of dispensing a single pod.
The design has a single flavour of pods in a vertical tube so they tend to fall down. One or more latches around the base of the tube stop any pods from falling out. Releasing the latch for 45ms will allow the pod through (10mm fall, well past the lip of the pod) while catching the next one.
The latch is the problem component. I haven't yet found a suitable product off the shelf. Ideally, the solution would be compact and cheap (< $5).
Here are some of the latch ideas to date (most of which are considered linear in motion):
- Solenoid - Seems over-kill and tend to be > 5 dollars each
- Ultrasonic Motor - Can't find any
- Linear Actuator - Usually around 50 dollars and quite bulky
- Piezoelectric Actuator - Mostly tuned for nM scale precision, and are hard to come by.
- Rotating disk with release notch, driven by stepper motor - still > $5 and moderately bulky.
- Rotating latch with string attached to rack and pinion powered by electric motor - Don't think it's a simple enough solution.
- Rotating cam - how a gumball machine works (I suspect). (This was also suggested in an answer, but would involve both a mechanical and electronic motor component, not as simple as option )
I have a 3D printer, so I am open to mechanical solutions - a custom latch with crude electromagnet for example.
Note the desired size of the latch (Yellow), holding pods (Orange) in a tube (Black). Yes, motors can work, but they would be quite bulky. I'm not after the obvious solution, but a clever one, or one which finds the suitable product.
(I understand that with only one latch on one side, the pods will not sit perfectly vertical, and the latch would need to be higher up.)