2023 Halloween Hackfest: Candy Basket Sees You Coming

On Halloween, some people can’t or don’t want to open the door for various reasons. Maybe they have a cat that likes to escape every chance it gets, or maybe their favorite TV show is on during prime trick-or-treating time. Whatever the case, we think it’s perfectly acceptable to leave a bowl of candy outside the door, especially if there are electronics involved.

In this case, the bowl detects trick-or-treaters and candy eaters using an LD2410 60 GHz radar sensor and an RP2040. A light pipe shows orange when a person is detected, and switches over to green as they come closer, as if to say you may have candy now.

Nothing happens after that, but now that we think about it, it would be cool to add an MP3 decoder and a speaker to play a little witch cackle or something once they’ve had a chance to stick their hand in the bucket.

[Mike Kushnerik] actually designed the PCB a few months ago for non-Halloween purposes: some home automation projects. But then they were trying to think of something for Halloween, and this delightful light-up bucket came to mind. In addition to the RP2040 chip, there’s a 128 MB flash chip, a WS2812 LED, and a header for communicating with the radar sensor over UART. Be sure to check out the brief demo video after the break.

If you’d like to stand outside and give out candy, at least send it down a light-up slide or something.

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Gumball Coaster Is 3D-Printed Candy Fun

Marble runs are fun enough on their own, but what if you could eat the marbles? Gumballs are the satisfying answer to that question. To that end, [Adrian Seeley] whipped up a system for producing gumball runs programmatically for entertainment and candy dispensing purposes.

Track descriptions can be coded via basic instructions outlining a marble run, by typing out the order of straights, turns, and ramps that make up the course. Once created as a JSON file, the track description is processed via Javascript to create a tiled physical representation of the track via OpenSCAD, including all necessary support structures. The pieces can then be 3D printed to create an actual physical gumball run that can be easily assembled.

[Adrian] created a small tabletop “gumcoaster” as a prototype. Even at that size, it took 11 hours to assemble. It served as a trial run ahead of a larger version he hopes to build for a candy store display. We’ve seen some great marble runs before too, including those created via procedural generation. Video after the break.

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Candy Blaster Lets You Shoot PEZ At Your Friends

Nerf Blasters are great fun to play with, but you really shouldn’t eat the foam darts. Conversely, Pez dispensers are fussy and kind of boring, but the candy is a tasty treat. [Soloprototype] has presented us the best of both worlds, in the form of a 3D-printed Pez blaster, with a firm note that this toy is for grown-ups only.

Overall, the design is very similar to the Pez Shooter, a long-discontinued Pez dispenser design. It uses a basic pistol form factor, and accepts a magazine of Pez pellets loaded into the grip. The magazine itself is cut out of a regular Pez dispenser, to avoid reinventing the wheel. Pulling the trigger fires the Pez pellets with spring power, launching candy into the air.

We all love candy propelled at speed, though [Soloprototype] notes that some safety precautions should be observed. To avoid choking risks, it’s not recommended to allow children to play with the toy. Nor should it be fired at the face or mouth. The full list of safety measures is available on the project’s Cults3D page.

The Pez blaster is cool, but we’d love to see more work in this space. The world needs a Twinkie Trebuchet, or a Cadbury Catapult, to say nothing of the Butterfingers Balista. If you can think of other Age of Empires siege weapons that would be ideal for candy delivery, drop them in the comments below. Alternatively, consider the M&M launcher we’ve shared previously!

“Hey, You Left The Peanut Out Of My Peanut M&Ms!”

Candy-sorting robots are in plentiful supplies on these pages, and with good reason — they’re a great test of the complete suite of hacker tools, from electronics to machine vision to mechatronics. So we see lots of sorters for Skittles, jelly beans, and occasionally even Reese’s Pieces, but it always seems that the M&M sorters are the most popular.

This M&M sorter has a twist, though — it finds the elusive and coveted peanutless candies lurking in most bags of Peanut M&Ms. To be honest, we’d never run into this manufacturing defect before; being chiefly devoted to the plain old original M&Ms, perhaps our sample size has just been too small. Regardless, [Harrison McIntyre] knows they’re there and wants them all to himself, hence his impressive build.

To detect the squib confections, he built a tiny 3D-scanner from a line laser, a turntable, and a Raspberry Pi camera. After scanning the surface to yields its volume, a servo sweeps the candy onto a scale, allowing the density to be calculated. Peanut-free candies will be somewhat denser than their leguminous counterparts, allowing another servo to move the candy to the proper exit chute. The video below shows you all the details, and more than you ever wanted to know about the population statistics of Peanut M&Ms.

We think this is pretty slick, and a nice departure from the sorters that primarily rely on color to sort candies. Of course, we still love those too — take your pick of quick and easy, compact and sleek, or a model of industrial design.

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Paint The Rainbow With This Skittle-Dropping Pixel Art Robot

We hackers just can’t get enough of sorters for confections like Skittles and M&Ms, the latter clearly being the superior candy in terms of both sorting and snackability. Sorting isn’t just about taking a hopper of every color and making neat monochromatic piles, though. [JohnO3] noticed that all those colorful candies would make dandy pixel art, so he built a bot to build up images a Skittle at a time.

Dubbed the “Pixel8R” after the eight colors in a regulation bag of Skittles, the machine is a largish affair with hoppers for each color up top and a “canvas” below with Skittle-sized channels and a clear acrylic cover. The hoppers each have a rotating disc with a hole to meter a single Skittle at a time into a funnel which is connected to a tube that moves along the top of the canvas one column at a time. [JohnO3] has developed a software toolchain to go from image files to Skittles using GIMP and a Python script, and the image builds up a row at a time until 2,760 Skittle-pixels have been placed.

The downside: sorting the Skittles into the hoppers. [JohnO3] does this manually now, but we’d love to see a sorter like this one sitting up above the hoppers. Or, he could switch to M&Ms and order single color bags. But where’s the fun in that?

[via r/arduino]

Arcade Inspired Halloween Candy Dispenser

The days are getting shorter and the nights are a little cooler, which can only mean one thing: it’s officially time to start devising the trials you’ll put the neighborhood children through this Halloween. For [Randall Hendricks], that means building a new candy dispensing machine to make sure the kids have to work for their sugary reward. After all, where’s the challenge in just walking up and taking some candy from a bowl? These kids need to build character.

[Randall] writes in to share his early work on this year’s candy contraption¬†which he’s based on a popular arcade game called “Goal Line Rush”. In this skill based game a disc with various prizes spins slowly inside the machine, and the player has a button that will extend an arm from the rear of the disc. The trick is getting the timing right to push the prize off the disc and into the chute. Replace the prizes with some empty calorie balls of high fructose corn syrup, and you get the idea.

There’s still plenty of time before¬†All Hallows’ Eve, so the machine is understandably still a bit rough. He hasn’t started the enclosure yet, and at this point is still finalizing the mechanics. But this early peek looks very promising, and in the video after the break you can see how the machine doles out the goodies.

The disc is rotated by a high torque motor, and the aluminum extrusion arm is actuated with a gear motor and custom chain drive. Some 3D printed hardware, a couple limit switches, and a pair of relays make for a fairly straightforward way of pushing the rod out when the player presses the button on the front of the cabinet.

Considering how his previous Mario-themed candy dispenser came out, we doubt this new machine will fail to impress come October. The neighborhood kids should just count themselves lucky he’s not using his creativity to terrorize them instead.

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Delicious Optics, A Chocolate Diffraction Grating

Diffraction gratings are curious things. Score a series of equally spaced tiny lines in a surface, and it will cause reflected or transmitted light to bend and separate into its component wavelengths. This ability gives them all manner of important applications in the field of optics, but they’re also fun to play with. [Tech Ingredients] has done the hard work to find out how to make them out of candy!

The video starts with a basic discussion on the principles of diffraction gratings. The basis of the work is a commonly available diffraction grating, readily available online. It’s a plastic sheet with thousands of microscopic ridges scored into the surface. The overarching method to create a candy version of this is simple — coat the ridged surface in liquid chocolate or sugar syrup, to transfer the impression on to the candy surface when it solidifies. However, the video goes further, explaining every step required to produce a successful end result. The attention to detail is on the level of an industrial process, and shows a mastery of both science and candy processing techniques. If you’ve ever wondered how to properly crystallize chocolate, this video has the knowledge you need.

It’s not often we see candy optics, but we like it — and if you fail, you can always eat your mistakes and try again. If you’re wondering what you can do with a diffraction grating, check out this DIY USB spectrometer.