I am a softie, with little understanding of hardware.
I want to develop a vending machine controller, as cheaply as possible, while still being functional. I don’t expect heavy CPU or RAM usage.
To be compatible with standard peripherals, such as coin & note changers, it must have a URT. I guess that I just use a USB to UATR converter? Is that best/cheapest/are there any alternatives?
It will also need to drive some motors to expel the vended goods, and will have a keypad for ordering and a display (which display probably depends on price), and possibly a sensor to determine that items actually drop. Does this mean GPIO pins?
I would like to add wifi, for diagnostics, retrieval of sales data, upload of new firmware to the machine, and, in future, I might like to add RJ45.
Can anyone advise me what is the best way to go? Do I just take a Pi Zero and start adding shields, or is there a better suited model/peripheral combination? Sorry to be so dense.
[Update] a mere five years later, all that you have to do is DuckDuckGo for raspberry pi mdb.