Skittles sorting machine sorts Skittles, keeps the band happy

In 1982, Van Halen had the biggest stage show around. Their rider – a document going over the requirements for the show – reflects this. In the middle of the requirements for the lighting and sound rigs, Van Halen placed a rather odd request; one (1) bowl of M&M, (ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES). The theory being if the request for no brown M&Ms wasn’t followed, the lighting and sound rigs probably weren’t up to spec either.

It’s not M&Ms this time (they wouldn’t fit in the machine), but [egenriether] came up with a seriously clever solution for sorting Skittles by color. Why? We have no idea, other than, ‘just because.’

The build details are a little scant, but we know [egenriether] used a BASIC Stamp 2 for the electronics portion of the build. To sort the Skittles by color, a TAOS RGB color sensor reads the red, green, and blue values for each Skittle and actuates a servo that guides each piece of candy into its respective bowl.

It’s a very, very cool, if completely useless build. Still, we’re thinking it could be put to use if [egenriether] is ever backstage setting up before the band arrives.

Videos after the break. Thanks [Andrew] for sending this one in.


  1. word clock says:

    Thank God, it really disturbs me when I buy Skittles and find them all mixed up :)

    Kidding aside, this is a GREAT GREAT build, looks factory made!

  2. Hack Man says:

    Figured this would appear here today. THIS is an appropriate use of PVC.

  3. Tony says:

    Nearly 10 years ago Parallex used to sell a sorter kit using the TAOS sensor, video here:

    Details here:

    The mechanism is quite neat, and deceptively simple. Compare that to most sorting machines and you get the origin of the phrase “An engineer is someone who can build for 10 cents what any fool can build for a dollar.”

  4. Daniel says:

    Perfect for making Skittles Vodka

  5. Netaro says:

    Hey, this could be useful for Skittles Vodka!

  6. Fabien T says:

    What I like with this machine is not the fact that it can do its job slower and more noisely than a human being and still required LOT of work for conception, no, what I really like like is that it’s just cancelling the work from a certainly big and expensive machine at Skittles factory which just spent its life mixing the skittles with appropriate color ratio :)

  7. jobgg says:

    This would be AWESOME to make skittles flavored vodka. Normally when you make skittles vodka, you sort them by hand, which takes ages, but this changes the whole game.

  8. parkerlreed says:

    Finally something to go along with my Skittles addiction! Great work.

  9. flink says:

    There are no useless builds, only builds whose full potential is held in abeyance awaiting the precise moment when their existence will save the world.

  10. David says:

    Very cool indeed. Years ago, one programmer of our six used to buy a bag of M&Ms every day from the honor system breakroom stash and separate them by color before eating each color at a different time of day. Naturally, the rest of us carefully opened several packages, sorted by color, then resealed each package with only one color inside and put them back in the breakroom. He had trouble programming for the rest of the week.

    This machine would make it easy to deliver the red and blue batches only to each campaign headquarters for tomorrow night. The rest of us could eat the yellow, green, etc. leftovers.

    This machine would also be a dream for whoever here has to count the Skittles for the “guess the number in the jar” contest, adding a color dimension to the contest.

  11. Oh man, I have to make one of these. I like eating specific flavors or combinations of flavors, instead of just throwing a bunch in my mouth. :3

  12. Tech Joker says:

    That is an AWESOME build quality. Everything is neat, looks to be well thought out.

    An idea to speed up the system would be to double the number of holes in the wheel and use a relay to open a trap door for each color. So for a 4 color sort you would need at least a 6 station wheel [Load, Read, Red, Green, Yellow, Blue].

    For a even faster sort (probably at the expense of a larger build footprint), read the color, and use a series of counters and a rail system to divert the candies. This would have the advantage of being able to handle a wide range or sizes simply by changing the separation wheels (thickness and hole size.

  13. Bob Fleming says:

    Great. Now we need something a little more environmentally and animal friendly than mace for the Bengal Tiger and we’re all set for Ozzie to play:

  14. Jarrod says:

    So am I the only wacko that sorts his skittles before eating them (seriously I do)? this would save me so much time!

    Very cool build.

  15. Jehu says:

    Also the Lead guitarist from The Bloodhound Gang has his Skittles sorted by colour and ordered in a row when he’s on tour. Just like most of us, he has OCD

  16. dmo says:

    So who can provide a formula for the change in entropy of the unsorted vs. sorted skittles?

  17. me says:

    Color sorting foods like that is a cool hack, actually a legal one. Bands use it to see if people read the contract. If for instance there are red skittles they know the stage may have issues… Cool way to quick check if things may be dangerous…

  18. Carlos says:

    Congrats, I did build one with a little bit more budget but also more spectacular. Was for M&Ms though.

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