Push Button, Receive Candy (or Death)

Will you be handing out candy on Halloween? Maybe you have a party to attend or kids to take around the neighborhood and can’t be home to answer the bell. You don’t want to be The Dark House With No Candy, ’cause that’s a good way to get TP’d. We’re not exactly sure what [Ben]’s catalyst was aside from trying to avoid tempting would-be thieves with an unattended bowl on the porch. Whatever the reason, we’re happy to present Candy or Death, his gamified candy (or death)-dispensing machine.

Okay, so it only dispenses candy for now. [Ben] hasn’t quite worked the kinks out of his death ray. He designed it to sit behind a porch-facing window so it can’t be messed with. All trick-or-treaters can do is push the button and take the candy. It’s built around a cereal dispenser that’s modified to be cranked by a piece of round rod driven with a NEMA-17 stepper motor and an Arduino Uno with a motor shield. The candy slides down a length of aluminium rain gutter into a plastic stacking bin, and the whole thing is built into a nice wood frame.

A few adjustments were necessary to keep it from jamming. The dispenser’s hopper uses rubber blades to govern the flow, and he ended up removing a few and trimming the others. [Ben] has an album up of all his build pics and put his code on the gits. Stick around to see videos of the machine from the front and rear.

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Quick Candy Sorting Machine

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OCD. Sometimes things just get to you, like those pesky bags of randomly assorted candies. [Torsten] decided to build a sorting machine capable of sorting Skittles or M&Ms into separate cups by color at around 80 pieces per minute. It’s a great implementation, using an Arduino Duo. He based the code on the principles of a finite-state machine, in order to make it as quick as possible.

It works as you would expect: When a candy piece is loaded, the color is determined using an RGB sensor. A 360-degree servo is used to move the chute to the proper position, and interestingly, the system preemptively releases the candy before the chute is in position in order to maximize the speed. If you watch closely, you can see this behavior in the video (embedded after the break).

[Torsten] includes a complete bill of materials, if you’d like to try it for yourself. He also included a list of possible improvements.

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This week on HANDMADE.hackaday

Snap 2013-06-09 at 09.13.04

This week on HANDMADE.hackaday we’ve seen a pretty good variety of skills.

HANDMADE.hackaday.com is growing quickly. Keep sending in those good tips! We have some videos of our own planned as well, keep an eye out for those!

Sugar Painting: street vendors make works of edible art

Street vendors can sometimes show the best examples of refined skill. These street vendors in China have carved out a niche with a very specific type of candy. They pour heated sugar in various shapes and designs, then put it on a stick for your consumption. It doesn’t sound that impressive, but watch these videos and see the skill they show. As with many street vendors, you can tell these people have done this 10,000 times and the muscle memory could almost carry them on autopilot.

I would be happy to support street vendors like this.

Hackerspace develops ways to get Peeps to spill their secrets

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Whether you call it enhanced interrogation or torture, the subject is a lot less serious when the victim is a sugary confection. The LVL1 Hackerspace in Louisville, Kentucky recently held an event focused on getting Peeps — the bunny-shaped sugar-covered marshmallow treats — to spill their guts. Participants developed a range of tongue-in-cheek torture devices then demonstrated their functionality on the bunnies.

You shouldn’t be surprised that the event posting starts with Peep waterboarding. But from there the rigs do get a lot more creative. For instance, the electric chair above connects the bunny to a stun gun (there’s no mention of what that big set of capacitors has to do with this. There’s also an Iron Maiden which is really more of a Plastic Maiden. It subjects the marshmallow to multiple stab woulds using a plastic egg as an enclosure and a hair brush head as the spikes. You can’t mutilate Peeps without at least one being sent through a microwave. But perhaps our favorite is The Rack. A pair of them were built, one was laser cut and the other was constructed free-hand. Both are a whimsical take on a historically brutal implement.

An amplifier circuit good enough to eat

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[Dino’s] kitchen skills match his hardware hacking prowess. Look really close at the image above and you’ll realize this collection of transistors and passive components is edible. Rather than decorating cookies for the holidays he built this audio amplifier from gingerbread, icing, and candy.

The thing is, [Dino] almost always has that extra touch to his presentations. If you watch the video after the break you’ll notice that the sound is not the crystal clear quality we’re used to hearing in his video. That’s because he used the hardware from which the edible offering was modeled to do the audio for the presentation clip.

After laying out the design using Express PCB he gets down to business. The base, which is gingerbread, looks just like a square of Radio Shack protoboard. To make the diodes he rolled up some tin foil around a screw driver to use as a mold for sugar and water which had been boiled long enough to give a dark color. A similar technique was used to cast the other parts. Everything was tied together using frosting and pieces of red and black licorice.

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Webcam eye-tracking moves robot-powered Skittles candy

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This is a great hack, and it’s an advertisement. We wish this were the norm when it comes to advertising because they’ve really got our number. Skittles enlisted a few engineers to build a web interface that moves robot-powered candies.

When we started looking into this we figured that a few robots were covered with over-sized cases that looked like Skittles. But that’s not it at all. What you see above is actually upside down. The top side of the white surface has one tiny wheeled robot for each candy. A magnet was embedded in each Skittle which holds it to the underside of the surface. The user interface was rolled out on a Facebook page. It uses a common webcam for eye tracking. When you move your eyes, the robot controlling your assigned candy moves in that direction. See for yourself in the cllip after the break.

So we say bravo Mars Inc. We love it that you decided to show off what’s behind to curtain. As with the Hyundai pixel wall, there’s a whole subset of people who might ignore the ad, but will spend a lot of time to find out how it was done.

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