Upstate Networks Debuts 3 Raspberry Pi-Based Vending Peripherals

Posted On: 10/3/2017

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UTICA, NY -- New from Upstate Networks are three adapters designed to equip conventional vending machines and payment systems for new uses. All three are based on the popular Raspberry Pi single-board computer (model 2 shown at right). Called PLUM, they're  designed to provide hardware integration of the Raspberry Pi with any multi-drop bus compliant vending product.

The new system has three configurations. PLUM-Out makes use of an expansion board using the simplified Raspberry Pi "hat" (Hardware Attached on Top) construction, to adapt the little computer for use with an MDB device. The PLUM-Out may be installed as a satellite to an existing vending machine controller, allowing the Raspberry Pi to handle tasks normally performed by the VMC: beginning and ending, accepting or rejecting a session. With the Raspberry Pi connected to the Internet, a remote client then can be used to replace the original vending machine controller and perform all its functions. It's primarily designed to enable a system integrator to adapt legacy vending machines for today's wide range of payment options.

The second assembly, PLUM-In, also incorporates a "hat" expansion board that allows the Raspberry Pi to interface with the MDB circuitry used by most contemporary coin, banknote, card and other payment systems. When installed, the PLUM-In ensemble can accept and tally incoming funds inserted into an MDB-compliant payment device. PLUM-In also can store the payment electronically in the cloud, if connected to the Internet, or on a local client. Its principal use is expected to be the design of kiosks as unattended points of sale.

The third style, PLUM Picker, employs the Raspberry Pi and an expansion "hat" for use as a selector. A vending machine's hardware keypad can be replaced with a touchscreen to serve as the interface by which users choose their selections. Again, with the Raspberry Pi connected to the Internet, the PLUM Picker can serve as an interface between the vending machine and the cloud, enabling the use of a cellphone working through a remote client to make the selection.

Upstate Networks, long known for its adapter boards that permit interfacing conventional vending machines and payment systems with industry standard architecture computers, explained that it chose the Raspberry Pi as the basis for the new products because it is cost-effective and well-supported, with a very large and enthusiastic user base. It also is designed for use in projects that involve wireless networking and video graphics, unlike other single-board prototyping computers.

Raspberry Pi runs under the Debian operating system, and primarily is programmed in Python.