Why don't we have a Wallet Vac?

Recently some of us went to visit Kzoo Makers, the makerspace in Kalamazoo. It was a fun trip, and we got some ideas. They have something I have seen previously at I3, the makerspace in Ferndale: The Wallet Vac. We should have one, too.

A Wallet Vac is a fun donation collection machine. It’s a vacuum motor that pulls cash donations through a clear hose and into a 5-gallon water jug. You just fold up a bill in your hand, and let the nozzle take it away. Usually the jug is up high and visible, so you can see all the bills swirling around.

It’s pretty simple, I think: a vacuum motor, a water bottle, some clear hose, a nozzle with a switch/button/sensor to turn it on, and an Arduino with a relay to control it. Possibly there are colored LEDs that blink. (Wait, along the hose? Maybe!) Will there be a cash register ch-ching! sound effect when the money makes it all the way to the jug? We can dream.

I’m thinking the jug could be mounted up front high on the wall behind the desk, with the hose near the front door. Of course the jug will be securely anchored somehow. But we have a big space, so maybe there are multiple hoses that go to different rooms, passing through holes in the walls and ceiling. Surely there’s a limit on how far you can pull money through a hose, but I don’t know what that limit is. And I want to find out.

Who wants to help with this? I can contribute the electronics. We need a vacuum motor, a jug, and some clear hose. The hose might be the hard part. Anybody have a good hose guy? Anybody have experience in the field of securely anchored water bottles? Any thoughts or opinions?

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I could look into the five gallon water bottle. We should be able to find one free.
How ‘Rube Goldberg’ can we get?

As long as it’s reliable, we can Goldberg it up. But we don’t want to have to invent the Wallet Vac Hose Snake to clean it out. “A hose path without sharp bends keeps the snake away,” they’ll say.

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OK, on doing a little research into clear pvc hose prices, I think we should start with a short run of clear hose.

I see some 1" ID flexible vinyl tubing on the Lowes website for $165 for 100’. I doubt we need quite that much, unless you want the Rube Orlando Arthur Jefferson Octavius Goldberg version, and have a Mr. Fusion to power the vac motor. But I bet they sell shorter lengths.

I’d be happy to help, depending on when this goes down. I have three different projects going at the space right now, and at least that many at home.

And don’t drive like my brother.

Do you recall the diameter at Kzoo? I think it was bigger, maybe 1.5" or 2". We don’t want clogs.

But I’ve been looking on AliExpress, and long lengths only seem to go up to 1" diameter. Past that, you get 20"-24" lengths.

We may need to experiment with different sizes (clear or otherwise) to see what works.

Happy to design and print any tube fittings, adapters, clamps etc. if required. I have done than on 1.5in corrugated pool hose for shop vac dust collection at home. I also have 15-20ft of that hose, but it’s opaque white. I think clear is almost a necessity for this application.

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I’d say the KZoo folks used something like those sizes - 1.5, 1.75, 2.0. I don’t recall any joints or connectors in their setup, but I didn’t look all that closely for that sort of detail.

I did a few searches as well. How does this look?


1.5in id, the bypass hole is ~.7in

Pictures of fittings

I think this is the kind we want: clear PVC over a helical wire. It’s much more reasonably priced.


That store only has sizes up to 1", but I have only just begun to click “Next”.

And on the jug front, I got a jug. A 5 gallon Culligan beauty.

Have you sourced a vacuum cleaner yet? I have a mostly-working one I’m getting rid of

The vacuum would be the workhorse of the system, but any additional bells and whistles might be considered about the same time.

As luck would have it, someone just offered to donate a Dirt Devil Power Max Pet vacuum to us! I’m working out delivery details for it and I’ll share when it’s in our possession. :slight_smile: