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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Design a Gingerbread House in CAD, then cut pieces with a laser

This is one of those ideas that’s so simple we can’t believe we haven’t heard of it before now. [Johan von Konow] is upping his holiday decorating game this year by designing his Gingerbread House in CAD and cutting it out on a laser cutter. If designed well this will easily allow you to increase the complexity of your design by orders of magnitude.

We remember making Gingerbread Houses with mom when we were little. She would bake a sheet of gingerbread, then pull out stencils she had made from file folders to carefully cut the walls and roof of the houses. But these were the homesteading equivalent of candy construction — one room consisting of four walls and two roof pieces. [Johan’s] design uses roofs with multiple pitches, dormers, and an entryway off the front of the main building. Quite impressive!

He mentions a few things to keep in mind. The gingerbread should be an even thickness for best results. You’re also going to want to plan for ventilation during cutting and give up the idea that you might eat the house when the holidays are over. The cutting process creates quite a stink and leaves a horribly burnt taste in the baked goods. Of course you could always cut out templates and use a knife when working with food.

Twitter-enabled candy machine dispenses treats on command

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[Michael Nilsson] and [Markus Olsson] were contemplating how to motivate members of their dev team when they came up with the idea of a candy machine that automatically dispenses treats when someone has earned it.

They picked up a candy machine, a continuous rotation servo and a controller, then got busy automating the dispenser. The mechanism behind the operation is actually pretty simple as you can see in [Michael’s] writeup. They disassembled the machine, removing the gear from the manual crank, attaching it to the servo. Once the servo was mounted place, they installed the servo controller and connected it up to a spare laptop.

The heavy lifting is done by a Ruby script that uses the Twitter API to scrape any mentions of @_macke_ or @sidpiraya. Incoming messages are checked for the words “give” and “candy”, triggering the machine to fork out some sweets.

If you think that their hard work deserves a bit of recognition, feel free to send them some candy by tweeting “give @_macke_candy” or “give @Sidpiraya candy”. Just remember to be considerate – nobody likes spam, not even candy machines!

If you’re interested in seeing the machine in action, be sure to check out the candy dispenser’s live stream at giveawaycandy.com.

Candy chucker – weapon, or advanced Halloween delivery system?

Now we know why kids in this neighborhood wear plastic Halloween masks instead of just painting their faces. They’re trying to protect themselves from the onslaught of hard candy spewing out the front of this candy chucking pumpkin.

The mechanism operates very much like a baseball or football throwing device. Now that we think of it, it’s also the same concept as the chicken launcher. There is a feed shoot that drops the projectile into the grips of two spinning chuckers. Those chuckers are built out of a couple of fans, with layers of fabric to account for different sizes and shapes of candy.

The video after the break shows some test firing. We love the sickening ‘whap!’ that the Werther’s Original (or whatever crappy Halloween offering they’re using) makes when it slams into the wall of the room.

This thing’s just begging to be mounted on a parade float, don’t you think?

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