DIY Conveyor Gets You From Here To There

[gwfong] was in a bind. He had to make a unique Halloween prop that dispensed candy to young trick-or-treaters at a Haunted House. He decided on a conveyor belt system and besides being functional, it also had to be inexpensive to make. After poking around the hardware store [gwfong] had an idea: make it out of items he can re-use after Halloween!

As you can see, the main roller system is made of paint rollers. These are cheap and certainly re-useable after the conveyor is disassembled. Luckily for the project, the handle of the paint roller just happens to fit very snugly into a 3/4″ PVC pipe fitting. Four T-fittings and some short lengths of PVC pipe were purchased and are used to mount the paint rollers to a wooden base. A piece of canvas cut to length and sewed into a continuous loop makes up the conveyor belt. A loose belt certainly won’t deliver any candy so two turnbuckles, one at each end, keep the belt tight on the rollers.

There is a DC motor that spins a pulley which is coupled, via a standard rubber band, to one of the end paint rollers. A full-speed conveyor haphazardly flinging candy around wouldn’t work out to well so an Arduino and motor shield are used to control the conveyor’s speed and duration. A 7.4 5000mAh Li-Po battery provides the necessary electricity for a nights-worth of un-tethered candy dispensing.

Continue reading “DIY Conveyor Gets You From Here To There”

Automatic beer pourer was hacked together from a bit of everything


This thing is really remarkable. It’s a beer draft system that automatically fills and distributes to your party guests. The approach is something of an industrial revolution for parties. A hopper feeds cups to the tap; once filled they are whisked off to thirsty guests using a conveyor belt system.

Many of the parts come from a washing machine that the team scrapped for the build — most notably the motor which drives the belt. But pretty much every part of it is salvaged. For instance, the conveyor belt that transports the full glasses was made from gluing sections of bicycle inner tubes together. To help ease the transfer of a cup from the filling station onto that belt a series of very long cable ties were attached to a pole. The tails from those ties act as a brush to stabilize the cup as an arm pushes it onto the conveyor. The best way to see all of this is to watch the entire clip embedded after the jump.

Continue reading “Automatic beer pourer was hacked together from a bit of everything”

NXT machine sorts LEGO blocks automatically

Smart people don’t put their toys away, they build machines to do it for them. Case and point: this NXT project which can sort LEGO pieces. Just dump a bucket of random blocks in a hopper on one end of the machine. One slice at a time, these plastic pieces will be lifted onto a conveyor system made up of several different belts, which allows for separation of the parts. One block at a time, each piece enters a specially lighted chamber where they are visually identified by the NXT brick. Once it identifies the block, a carousel of plastic containers rotates to place the correct home for the block below the output shoot seen above.

So do we now have a completed LEGO circle of life? Not quite. You can build structures automatically using a 3D LEGO printer and this sorter will have no problem organizing the parts for that purpose. But we still need a LEGO machine that can tear assembled bricks apart.

Continue reading “NXT machine sorts LEGO blocks automatically”