Building your own kiosk
There are four important
components to any kiosk:
I started with the hardware.
From Best Buy I bought a computer: HP Pavilion 610N with Athlon processor.
512 MB RAM and 160 GB hard drive, DVD and CD burner, built-in 9 in 1 card
reader in the front panel plus boatloads of USB and Firewire ports on the
front. With a 17” monitor and a printer, after rebates, it came to $569.
Networking was easy, it came with a 10/100 card built in. It has 2 USB 2.0
connections and a Firewire/1394 connection on the front panel behind a
sliding door, plus 4 more USB 2.0 connections and another Firewire/1394
connection on the back. We plunked it down on a counter and started using it
to take orders. One of our staff members would copy the customer pictures to
a folder with the customer name and order bag number. We'd "harvest" the
orders over the network and bring them to our Konica QD-21 for printing. It
was an improvement, but we weren't done yet.
There are lots of ready-made
kiosks available, complete with housings and great looking graphics
However I wanted one that
didn't look exactly the same as everybody else! In particular, I didn't want
people saying "You've got the same machine as Wal*Mart."
So I built my own.
I bought one sheet of 3/4 red oak plywood from Home Depot for about $45. Had
them rip one strip 9" and another 16", which left another 22 3/4" wide after
The two sides were cut out of the 16" width and are 45 1/4" high. The angle
cut at the top is 8" and comes back 4" if memory serves.
top, front insert and shelves were cut from the 9" width material. That's
enough wider than the computer case to let some air get to the sides.
Opening for the computer is 17" high, which makes enough of the computer
visible to get to all the drives and the card reader.
The base and the desktop were made from the 22 3/4" wide strip. The desk is
about 28" wide at the front and 24" at the back, base with the same angles
but a little narrower. I wanted a wide base so the darn thing wouldn't tip
over! Click on any photo to see a larger view
Under the computer shelf is plenty of room for an
uninterruptable power supplies and cables. There
is no cover on the back side of the housing. We wanted to be able to hide
stuff in the back and let plenty of air flow past the electronics.
front of most of the plywood was finished with iron-on red oak wood tape.
The edges of the desk and base were rounded over with a router.
About 4 or 5 hours cutting and assembly, and I spent
another couple of hours sanding, filling and varnishing
the casing. Norm Abrams probably could have knocked
out the whole job in 20 minutes.
Click on any photo to see a
All the pieces came from the one 4'x8' sheet of plywood,
with enough left over for some table tops. I had the drawer slides
and the varnish left over from some other
projects, so the out-of-pocket was probably only
about $60 max. Counting the drawer slides and varnish,
probably about $85. And it was fun and satisfying, knowing I have the only one
exactly like it!
sliding drawer for the keyboard lets customers and staff
use it when wanted.
We started out using a trackball
rather than a mouse, but quickly switched back. Today everybody knows how to
use a mouse, so I didn't feel the need to use a touchscreen monitor.
Click on any photo to see a
Caution: Make sure that your
monitor is fastened securely. Make sure that your table top is strong enough
to support a squirming 40-pound child. I haven't seen it happen yet, but I
just know that somebody is likely to plunk her child down on the countertop.
That could lead to disaster! That's one reason I made the base so wide.
For comfortable use, this design
actually puts the monitor a little too high. That was dictated by the fact
that the card reader built into the computer is about eight inches below the
top of the casing.
Software is the key. Software is what makes the
whole system run. After a lot of agonizing I chose software from Silverwire.
As of November 15th, 2004 the system was up and running. In about a week I'll post
a full review of the software and how it's improving our orders, but let me
sum it up in one sentence:
I was an idiot to wait so long to
makes the kiosk