It’s the end of another fall semester of Bruce Land’s ECE4760 class at Cornell, and that means a fresh crop of microcontroller-based student projects. For their project, [Alice, Jesse, and Mikhail] built a Skittle-sorting miniature factory that bags and seals same-colored candies into little pouches of flavor.
Their design is split into three stages, which are visually delineated within the all-cardboard housing. Skittles are loaded into a funnel at the top that leads to the color detection module. The color is determined here with an RGB LED and OPT101 photodiode driven by an ATMega1284. Because the reflected RGB values of red and orange Skittles are so similar, the detector uses white light to make the final determination.
Once the matchmaking is over, a servo in the second stage rotates to the angle that corresponds with the color outcome. The Skittle then slides down a cardboard chute, passes through a hole in a cardboard disk, and drops into a hanging bag. Once the bags have reached the predetermined capacity, another servo moves the carousel of bags to a nichrome wire sealing rig. Lead factory worker [Jesse] must intervene at this point to pull the bags off the line. You can see the full walk-through and demonstration of this Skittle flavor separator after the break.
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.
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.
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.
Using a webcam, some cardboard, and a bag of Skittles, [Kyle McDonald] created this tangible interface for a beat sequencer. The Skittles are dropped onto the rows which correspond to a drum channel and each Skittle represents an 1/8th note. For such cheap components, the system seems to recognize the sequences pretty quick. This is probably due to some clever programming with the processing back-end. He claims his inspiration was the BallBearing sequencer, which uses the ball bearings as contact switches to determine the sequence rather than having a webcam analyze the surface.
It would be really nice to see this project expanded into a full blown instrument. the webcam could allow for dynamic surfaces and he could certainly add more control to the system with some knobs and/or sliders. He claims these features, and the source, will soon arrive.