We recently announced the launch of a new product: The Barracuda Beer Keg Manager. Many of you took this to be an April Fool's prank, and it was to a certain extent. While Barracuda will not be launching the Barracuda BKM as a new product, we certainly do have a real Beer Keg Manager in our office in Campbell.
The Barracuda BKM was the brainchild of Ben Hildebrand, a Principal Engineer at Barracuda. Ben is in charge of the Barracuda user interface that is shared across products. He has been with us for ten years, since graduating UC Santa Barbara in 2005 with a degree in Computer Engineering.
When the office in Campbell was remodeled to include a bar with beer on tap, Ben decided to supercharge the taps. He started out by researching pre-existing options, like Kegbot and RaspberryPints. Ultimately he decided to build his own solutions using custom hardware and code. Like most custom builds, this was a process of assembling, installing, coding, testing, and repeating. It's still a work in progress, as Ben fixes bugs, adds new features, and calibrates the flow rate code on an ongoing basis. The admin interface is located at www.beerontap.com and is secured with ldap credentials. The taps are secured with a badge reader.
It took Ben about 60 hours to build the Beer Keg Manager. Here's his description of the project:
I modified the tap towers we bought, and installed flow-meters, solenoid valves, and LEDs. We can measure the amount of beer used for each kegs, as well as turn them on and off individually which the LED indicates (red/green). IT installed a badge reader, which I use to control the operation of the taps. The system allows me to turn the taps on for a short amount of time, giving each employee time to pour one beer.
This is all controlled by Raspberry Pi microcontroller, with an Arduino microcontroller daughter board just to measure the beer flow and 6 relays to control the valves. There are also two digital thermometers, for room and keg temperatures.
The Raspberry Pi is running a standard LAMP stack, with a Ruby UI based off of Dashing.io. The dashboard shows the current selection of beers, as well as a real-time progress meter of how much beer is left. The admin interface is php and using the MySQL database for both the tap settings as well as the beer database.”
The beer database includes over 6,000 beers to choose from. The system also includes a list of all of beer on-hand, all of the kegs we've had in the past, and it is able to alert the “beer admins” when a keg is running low or out of product.
Here's what the BKM looks like:
If you'd like to get in touch with Ben, connect with him on LinkedIn here.
Taps in action at the Barracuda holiday party