Skittles Sorting Machine Sorts Skittles, Keeps The Band Happy

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.

It’s not M&Ms this time (they wouldn’t fit in the machine), but [egenriether] came up with a seriously clever solution for sorting Skittles by color. Why? We have no idea, other than, ‘just because.’

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.



25 thoughts on “Skittles Sorting Machine Sorts Skittles, Keeps The Band Happy

  1. What I like with this machine is not the fact that it can do its job slower and more noisely than a human being and still required LOT of work for conception, no, what I really like like is that it’s just cancelling the work from a certainly big and expensive machine at Skittles factory which just spent its life mixing the skittles with appropriate color ratio :)

    1. There are no useless builds, just idiotic applications :P

      This kind of thing is really fun and original when you make one for yourself, it only becomes a complete waste when someone makes 100k of them, wasting materials and money in large quantities.

  2. Very cool indeed. Years ago, one programmer of our six used to buy a bag of M&Ms every day from the honor system breakroom stash and separate them by color before eating each color at a different time of day. Naturally, the rest of us carefully opened several packages, sorted by color, then resealed each package with only one color inside and put them back in the breakroom. He had trouble programming for the rest of the week.

    This machine would make it easy to deliver the red and blue batches only to each campaign headquarters for tomorrow night. The rest of us could eat the yellow, green, etc. leftovers.

    This machine would also be a dream for whoever here has to count the Skittles for the “guess the number in the jar” contest, adding a color dimension to the contest.

  3. That is an AWESOME build quality. Everything is neat, looks to be well thought out.

    An idea to speed up the system would be to double the number of holes in the wheel and use a relay to open a trap door for each color. So for a 4 color sort you would need at least a 6 station wheel [Load, Read, Red, Green, Yellow, Blue].

    For a even faster sort (probably at the expense of a larger build footprint), read the color, and use a series of counters and a rail system to divert the candies. This would have the advantage of being able to handle a wide range or sizes simply by changing the separation wheels (thickness and hole size.

      1. I love seeing things built just fun the sheer fun of it. But honestly, if I needed sorted M&M’s I’d just buy them at the M&M store.

        Your sorter is awesome! I wish there was a “How It’s Made” series on Discovery that focused on Makers. I think it would be a spectacular show. Well, I say that with the caveat that they don’t turn it into some drama/competition POS as they seem to be doing with so many other shows.

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