Vote for TinyEnormous! wired/sparkfun/ponoko contest

Sparkfun, Ponoko, and Geek dad from wired have all teamed up to create a contest for us makers. The rules are simple: design something that uses sparkfun’s parts and Ponoko’s cutting services. The top ten coolest designs get picked by a panel and then the best one gets picked by an online vote! I have submitted two ideas and I really hope at least one of them makes it into one of them made it into the the top ten! I was surprised by how few people entered, but I guess the whole line about…

Submit a photo, render, sketch or scribble on a napkin to the GeekDad pool on Flickr (and tag it ‘ponoko’) or leave a description of it in a comment below before the end of the weekend

…was too daunting for some people! Regardless, I put two entries into the contest. One is a laser cut beer vending machine that is designed to retrofit an old dorm mini-fridge into a beer vending machine(!), and the other is a physical progress bar.

Here are pictures of the (very) rough prototypes. The beer vending machine should be pretty self explanatory.

The progress bar is a bit more difficult to explain, but here is a picture to see what it will look like.

This is how it will work: it is an arduino connected progress bar designed to show the progress of whatever you can pipe into it. It can be a countdown clock for your workday, it can mirror your desktop pc’s progress bars, it could receive a signal from your computer indicating lag, server load, processor speed, or amount of unread emails! Lastly it can take sensor input (it is an arduino after all!) and display it. I could see that being useful to quickly show co2 levels in a greenhouse, temperature, or amount of noise.

Only the beer vending machine made it into the finalist round, but I think that they are both really cool ideas, and they are both eminently hackable to enable more functionality. The beer vending machine could even be connected to your laptop via xbee to tweet (why not?) remotely dispense and keep track of beers!

I have had these ideas kicking around for at least a year now. It feels great to actually be able to get them moving on their way to fruition. For this last bit I really need everyone’s help. If I win the contest the prize is they let you build it for free! I really need everyone’s help and everyone’s vote. Please tweet, email, im, facebook or even use your mouths to tell other people to go to the wired page and vote for my projects. I don’t know what the voting rules are yet, but vote early and vote often! (unless that is specifically a bad thing per the rules)

I designed both of these to easily be laser cut and shipped. If anyone out there thinks that they are cool enough to own, then I would love to make them available as a kit once I have all of the bugs worked out. Leave a message (completely non-binding at this point) if you could see yourself as the proud owner of one of these two in the future and I will gauge interest that way.

Thanks, and please please please vote for tinyenormous’ beer dispenser here!