Compact M&M Sorter Goes Anywhere

Let’s face it — eating different colored candy like M&Ms or Skittles is just a little more fun if you sort your pile by color first. The not-fun part is having to do it by hand. [Jackofalltrades_] decided to tackle this time-worn problem for engineering class because it’s awesome and it satisfies the project’s requirement for sensing, actuation, and autonomous sequencing. We’d venture to guess that it satisfies [Jackofalltrades_]’ need for chocolate, too.

Here’s how it works: one by one, M&Ms are selected, pulled into a dark chamber for color inspection, and then dispensed into the proper cubby based on the result. [Jackofalltrades_] lived up to their handle and built a color-detecting setup out of an RGB LED and light-dependent resistor. The RGB LED shines red, then, green, then blue at full brightness, and takes a voltage reading from the photocell to figure out the candy’s color. At the beginning, the machine needs one of each color to read in and store as references. Then it can sort the whole bag, comparing each M&M to the reference values and updating them with each new M&M to create a sort of rolling average.

We love the beautiful and compact design of this machine, which was built to maximize the 3D printer as one of the few available tools. The mechanical design is particularly elegant. It cleverly uses stepper-driven rotation and only needs one part to do most of the entire process of isolating each one, passing it into the darkness chamber for color inspection, and then dispensing it into the right section of the jar below. Be sure to check out the demo after the break.

Need a next-level sorter? Here’s one that locates and separates the holy grail of candy-coated chocolate — peanut M&Ms that didn’t get a peanut.

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M&M Sorting machine

Hate Blue M&M’s? Sort Them Using The Power Of An IPhone!

Some people really like eating specific M&M colors… You could spend hours sorting your packs of M&M’s into color specific piles, or you could build a machine to do it for you.

That’s exactly what [ReviewMyLife] decided to do, and it’s quite impressive! He’s using a rotating hopper to release M&M’s into a chute one-by-one, and then an iPhone to perform color recognition as the M&M falls past it. That information is then communicated over Bluetooth to the Arduino which actuates a high-speed electromagnetic gate to force the M&M down the right chute for sorting.

The machine works surprisingly well for a prototype that was hot glued together out of foam board, but fear not, he plans to upgrade it now that the proof of concept has been confirmed. He’s hoping to get rid of the iPhone and replace it with a Raspberry Pi for starters, 3D print some of the parts, and consolidate┬áits power supply. Currently he’s using three separate supplies to power the Arduino, electromagnets, and the hopper motor — not very efficient!

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