An installed vending machine at a government hospital complete with requested decoration.

An installed vending machine at a government hospital complete with requested decoration.

Americans might be familiar with the bathroom vending machine: a sturdy, wall-mounted device that contains a variety of small goods available for purchase. Payment is made by putting the correct amount of coins in the machine and giving a knob a short twist. That work powers the machine without electricity and deposits the payment in a secure container. Condoms are easy to sell in a vending machine because they are cheap, relatively uniform in size and shape, and always in demand.

Coin-operated vending machines are a great way to sell things in places that have unreliable or non-existent electrical grids, inconsistent supply routes, and a need for new avenues to economic self-sufficiency. This project seeks to get as many machines out as quickly as possible while still maintaining consistent machine reliability and avoiding monopolies by corporations. That is why our research and design group isn't looking to manufacture and sell machines. Instead we hope to distribute blueprints, instructions, prototypes and schematics for building machines under a creative commons license. We want to make the world's first open source condom vending machine.

More photos of the project here.

This project has received an $18,000 NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant. The project description submitted to the NSF and blueprints, can be found below:

NSF Proposal

 

Blueprints


More Information 

We have had several student engineers working on this project. You can check out their works in progress here: