Express Your Love With Candy And Engineering

Still don’t have anything for Valentine’s Day? We wholeheartedly suggest that you fire up that printer and get ready to fall in love with engineering all over again, because [JBV Creative] has designed a super-sweet piece of machinery that would turn the gears of anyone’s heart. He calls this the most overly-engineered candy dispenser ever, and we have to agree. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen.

There’s no electronics at all in this elegant design, just purely mechanical, hand-cranked fun. Turning the crank does two things at once — it moves a little access panel back and forth underneath the chute that governs the number of candies given, and at the same time, moves the conveyor belt along to deliver the goods to the receiving area.

This entire design is absolute genius, especially the decoupling mechanism that shuts off the flow of candy but allows the belt to keep moving. Be sure to watch the build video where [JBV Creative] effortlessly snap-fits the machine together without a single tool, and stay for the follow-up video where he discusses the engineering challenges and shows just how much work went into it.

Of course, there’s more than one way to overly-engineer a candy dispenser. Here’s one that finds the holy grail of peanut M&Ms — the ones that didn’t get a peanut.

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Trick Or Yeet Cannon Will Give Them Candy Shell Shock

One of our favorite things about Halloween is the sheer number of hacks that come out of it each year. This year, hacking is almost a requirement to keep things physically distanced, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. You want fun? How about a candy cannon that launches sweet projectiles at trick-or-treaters from fifty feet?

[Paul McCabe]’s cannon uses a sprinkler valve and an air compressor to launch a pair of fun size candy bars, each encased in a film canister shell. Each trick-or-treater stomps a foot switch fifty feet away at the end of the driveway, and as long as someone is there holding down the primary ignition, the cannon will fire with a nice retort that sounds like a large wind instrument playing a D note.

We were sad to learn that the parachute idea didn’t shake out, but the glow sticks are a great addition for night time. Check out the demo after the break, which is followed by a build video and then some more launches for the fun of it.  Don’t have enough time to build a cannon of this caliber? You could put a spooky six-foot slide together pretty quickly.

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Watch The Low-Cost Mechatronics Lab Dispense Candy, Sort Cups

A lot can be done with simple motors and linear motion when they are mated to the right mechanical design and control systems. Teaching these principles is the goal behind the LCMT (Low Cost Mechatronics Trainer) which is intended primarily as an educational tool. The LCMT takes a “learn by doing” approach to teach a variety of principles by creating a system that takes a cup from a hopper, fills it with candy from a dispenser, then sorts the cups based on color, all done by using the proper combinations of relatively simple systems.

The Low Cost Mechatronics Trainer can be built for under $1,000 and is the wonderful work of a team from the Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, USA. The LCMT is clearly no one-off project; there are complete CAD files and build documentation on the site, as well as a complete lab guide for educators.

A demo video of the assembled system is embedded below, with a walkthrough done by [Tim Callinan]. It’s worth a watch to see how cleanly designed the system is, and the visual learners among you may learn a thing or two just by watching the system go through its motions.

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Mario Candy Machine Gamifies Halloween

Picture it: Halloween, 2018. You want to go to a party or take the kids out trick-or-treating, but remember what happened last year when you weren’t there to answer the door? A pack of wild children blew their allowances on 48 rolls of the cheapest toilet paper ever printed, and it took you four full hours to get all the sodden, dew-laden wads out of your rose bushes.

Halloween is a time to fear things like hobgoblins and the possibility of The Purge becoming a thing, not sugar-fueled children who are upset that you left out a bowl of Sixlets, wax lips, and alt-flavored Tootsie Rolls. So how do you take back the night? Do what [Randall Hendrix] did: build a Super Mario-themed candy-dispensing machine.

No customer, not one tiny [Thanos] or [Tony Stark] will be able to resist the giant, blinking, green start button. Pushing it cues the music and the spinning drum, which tumbles the candy around like a clothes dryer. Gravity and chance will drop one or three pieces onto a conveyor belt that runs under Mario’s feet, but it’s up to you to press the jump button at the right time.  Otherwise, he knocks your prize back into the barrel.

There’s no micro here, just woodworking, relays, motors, a sound FX board, and the amp from an old pair of PC speakers. Mario’s candy-securing jump was originally pneumatic, but now it’s powered by a 240:1 gear motor that lifts him up with a cam. Grab a fun size Snickers and slap that break button to see this marvelous machine in action.

Concerned that they’ll play until the candy is gone? Add a sinister element like the Candy-or-Death machine we saw a few years ago.

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Mechanical Marvel Trades Courage For Chocolate

When we see what [Jason Allemann] does with LEGO, we wonder why more one-offs aren’t made this way. This time he’s made a Halloween mechanical marvel that will surely scare more kids than anything else they’ll encounter on their rounds — so much so that many may even decline the chocolate it dispenses. Who wouldn’t when to get it you have to reach over an animatronic skeleton hand that may grab you while a similarly mechanized spider may lunge onto your hand.

The chocolate dispensing, the hand and the spider are all animated using four motors, a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 brick to control them, and a touch sensor. When a kid presses a pumpkin attached to the touch sensor, the next chocolate candy is lowered by gravity onto a conveyor belt and carried forward to the awaiting child. That much is automatic. At the discretion of [Jason] and his partner [Kristal], using an infrared remote control and sensor, they can activate the skeleton hand and the lunging spider at just the right moment. We’re just not sure who they’ll choose to spare. It is Halloween after all, and being scared is part of the fun, so maybe spare no one? Check out the video below and tell us if you’d prefer just the treat, or both the trick and treat.

We do have to wonder if there’s any project that can’t benefit from LEGO products, even if only at the prototype stage or to help visualize an idea. As a small sample, [Jason]’s also made a remote-controlled monowheel and an actual working printer along with a Morse key telegraph machine to send it something to print.

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Candy Dispenser Riddles You This

A while ago, someone brought in a candy machine to AdaCore. Sometime after, [Fabien-Chouteau] was challenged to make it more… fun. So he decided to make it harder to receive candy — you know, to encourage knowledge growth — and discourage overeating of tasty treats.

The dispenser itself is pretty simple. It consists of a hopper containing the candies, a motor with a worm-gear for delivering said candies, and a small IR sensor that detects when you wave your hand underneath (in order to receive those sweet sweet candies).

He decided to leave the system operating as is, and only interrupt the connection to the motor feed. That way when you wave your hand underneath, you have to answer a skill testing question before you proceed…

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