The Transistor recently (just a few days ago in fact!) entered in the 2012 Red Bull Creation Challenge. For this challenge we built a fully automated, pneumatic Can Dispenser, Drink Extractor, Drink Cooler, and Can Crushing machine. This ensures a constant stream of Energy Drinks / Caffeine for those late night projects at the hackerspace. ;)
The cans are loaded into the hopper (which holds roughly 16 cans) where they wait for you to press the dispense button. Once the button is pressed, all kinds of magic (errr science) happen. First a pneumatic ram drives a spear through the front-most can, causing it to drain into an aluminum pipe which is wrapped with 10 copper pipes that ice water is circulating through. This effectively cools the drink from room temperature to roughly 40 degrees or less in about 30 seconds (the time it takes the can to drain). From there your drink runs into another funnel and into your cup. Finally a second, larger pneumatic ram crushes the empty can and ejects it out the side. As the ram retracts, gravity automatically loads the next drink into place. (Thanks gravity!)
This project was completed over the course of 3 days. Video below. Thanks for watching!