You Can Keep Your Mints Safe; We Have The Technology

After having his mints disappear for quite some time [Quinn Dunki] came up with an idea to get back a the fresh-breath thieves. A bit of circuit design, parts scavenging, and free-form construction led to the creation of his mint-tin burglar system.

Here’s how it works. Flip the on/off switch in the base of the mint tin before you head off for lunch or a coffee break. When the foul-mouthed pilferer hits up your stash they’ll get what they were looking for at first. But by opening the tin they tripped a timer circuit that will send the mints vibrating across the table soon after having been opened.

The breadboard above holds the prototype timer circuit, built around or friend the 555 timer. The vibration motor from a cellphone is a perfect choice for this hack as it’s very small and is just waiting to run from a low-voltage source. We especially liked the use of the cells from inside a 9V battery as a power source and the compact assembly that manages to fit inside the mint container.

14 thoughts on “You Can Keep Your Mints Safe; We Have The Technology

  1. I don’t see the point if it doesn’t activate quite soon after opening the box. If someone is stealing the mints they are likely to do it quick as to avoid being seen. What purpose does a lonely vibrating tin of mints on your desk serve?

  2. “But by opening the tin they tripped a timer circuit that will send the mints vibrating across the table soon after having been opened”

    if you watch the vid it doesn’t vibrate across the table it just stays in one spot

    if it did, you could paint that mint box like a roomba and have a mini roomba bot

  3. Call me sexist id you have to, but I’d figured that mintzilla would be female. However going by the video mintzila is male”biding his time”. Was this one of the 555 contest entries? I never have seen a comprehensive list if the entries, just the winners:(

    @Peter the cattle prod idea would need a remote control power switch so the owner of the mints, so they could get to their own property.

  4. Yea, capsaicin would do the job. Sort of like how Exlax was once used only different and time delayed results. Even some sort of sour/bitter candy might do the trick as well.

    Don’t entertain them … punish them ;-)

  5. Thanks HaD, for posting Mintzilla! The commenters have correctly deduced that I am female, but Mintzilla is male. I don’t know why, he just is. :)

    The idea is to startle people at the dinner table. That’s why the delay. People will take a mint, and the tin will then sit quietly for enough time that people are no longer thinking about it. That way they’ll be extra startled when it vibrates.

    It will jiggle on the table a fair bit if the surface is right. The surface in the video is soft and high-traction, so not the best example.


  6. Fill one with pieces of urinal cake. Problem solved- as long as you make a tiny mark so YOU can tell the difference. The person that is out sick in the hospital is the one stealing your mints.

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