Anti-Entropy Machine Satiates M&M OCD

College engineering projects are great, because they afford budding engineers the opportunity to build interesting things without the need for financial motivation. Usually, some basic requirements are established, but students are free to get creative and build something that appeals to them personally. For our readers, mechatronics courses are ripe for these kinds of projects, as the field combines electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and programming.

[Ethan Crane] is in just such a course, and had a final project due with only one real requirement: it had to use a PICAXE. Obviously, this gave [Ethan] quite a bit of freedom to build something unique, and what he came up with is an “Anti-Entropy Machine” designed to sort M&M candies by color. The electronics are as simple as [Ethan] could make them (a good philosophy for an engineering student to adhere to). There is an IR sensor to determine if a candy is in the hopper, an RGB sensor to determine its color, and servos to position the delivery chute based on color and operate the hopper.

What really makes the Anti-Entropy Machine stand out is the build quality and craftsmanship. It’s definitely not just cobbled together, and the construction is aesthetically pleasing while also clearly displaying the electronics and sorting mechanism. As you’d expect, this isn’t the first sorting machine we’ve seen around here. So, if Skittles are your candy of choice, you’re in luck!

[via r/electronics]

37 thoughts on “Anti-Entropy Machine Satiates M&M OCD

  1. Hmm, is there a world shortage of orange M&Ms. I suspect the M&M mining company of stock piling in order to create an artificial price through restricted supply. :) We need a bigger sample. I am prepared to make the sacrifice of disposal of all presorted M&Ms.

    Nice build though.

  2. What you can’t see here is that the M&Ms sorting machinery on top is powered by M&M shuffling below. For every pair of M&Ms which are sorted on top it requires three M&Ms to be randomly shuffled below.

  3. This is why I love students from mechatronics programs. They understand that there’s something beyond getting their algorithm to work in a 30 second taped-up proof of concept, and it has to run dependably for a very long time, often under less than ideal conditions.

  4. Whenever I get a package of plain M&Ms, I make it my duty to continue the strength and robustness of the candy as a species. To this end, I hold M&M duels.

    Taking two candies between my thumb and forefinger, I apply pressure, squeezing them together until one of them cracks and splinters. That is the “loser,” and I eat the inferior one immediately. The winner gets to go another round.

    I have found that, in general, the brown and red M&Ms are tougher, and the newer blue ones are genetically inferior. I have hypothesized that the blue M&Ms as a race cannot survive long in the intense theater of competition that is the modern candy and snack-food world.

    Occasionally I will get a mutation, a candy that is misshapen, or pointier, or flatter than the rest. Almost invariably this proves to be a weakness, but on very rare occasions it gives the candy extra strength. In this way, the species continues to adapt to its environment.

    When I reach the end of the pack, I am left with one M&M, the strongest of the herd. Since it would make no sense to eat this one as well, I pack it neatly in an envelope and send it to M&M Mars, A Division of Mars, Inc., Hackettstown, NJ 17840-1503 U.S.A., along with a 3×5 card reading, “Please use this M&M for breeding purposes.”

    This week they wrote back to thank me, and sent me a coupon for a free 1/2 pound bag of plain M&Ms. I consider this “grant money.” I have set aside the weekend for a grand tournament. From a field of hundreds, we will discover the True Champion.

    There can be only one.

      1. I found a reference two years earlier than that, as far back as 2007. Might even be earlier than that, honestly don’t care to spend the time to research that further.

        How is 2007 as old as the Internet?

    1. Perhaps a minor improvement would be to tune the bowls. Then the machine would create anti-entropy music, which could help cover the “dying Tauntaun” sound. What makes that sound? Is there a vibrator in there somewhere?

  5. Nice. I’ve been pondering making a machine to sort small seeds by color, to assist in some potential breeding projects. Conceptually much like this, but maybe using puffs of air to divert the seeds into different bins.

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