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Updated: Apr 16, 2023

This started, as most projects do, with a casual conversation. My brother-in-law owns Greene's Pour House in Neenah WI, and now in Oshkosh WI. I like doing projects for Bobby and Dave, the owners. I've create both websites (with design help from my brother) and I created sound panels and outdoor rolling planters for the Neenah location. So when Bobby asked me if there was a way to know when a beer keg would run out before the tap started to spit foam, I turned to technology to solve the problem.

I wanted the system to be simple and not require special flow meters that would need to be calibrated and reset each time a new keg as tapped. I settled quickly on the idea of just weighing the kegs continuously. I hacked a digital bathroom scale to use their simple strain gauges to get a measurement. They were more than sensitive enough to detect the change is weight from a single 8 oz pour.

I built an 8 channel sensing unit with a Particle Photon wireless arduino compatible board that I could monitor from anywhere. The display on the module allowed for troubleshooting and picking the type of beer so the bar owner would know how much of each brand was being dispensed and eventually could use that data to track and anticipate what need to be ordered and when.

About the time I had the prototype up and running (note the sticky beer splatter on the box) I found a company that was already selling a similar system. Such is life... rarely does a good idea go by without someone else also having it.

Regardless, the project was fun and taught me how to use strain gauges and a multiplexer. Skills I can hopefully use an another project.


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