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?
If you have OCD, then the worst thing someone could do is give you a bowl of multi-coloured M&M’s or Skittles — or Gems if you’re in the part of the world where this was written. The candies just won’t taste good until you’ve managed to sort them in to separate coloured heaps. And if you’re a hacker, you’ll obviously build a sorting machine to do the job for you.
Use our search box and you’ll find a long list of coverage describing all manner and kinds of sorting machines. And while all of them do their designated job, 19 year old [Willem Pennings]’s m&m and Skittle Sorting Machine is the bees knees. It’s one of the best builds we’ve seen to date, looking more like a Scandinavian Appliance than a DIY hack. He’s ratcheted up a 100k views on Youtube, 900k views on imgur and almost 2.5k comments on reddit, all within a day of posting the build details on his blog.
As quite often happens, his work is based on an earlier design, but he ends up adding lots of improvements to his version. It’s got a hopper at the top for loading either m&m’s or Skittles and six bowls at the bottom to receive the color sorted candies. The user interface is just two buttons — one to select between the two candy types and another to start the sorting. The hardware is all 3D printed and laser cut. But he’s put in extra effort to clean the laser cut pieces and paint them white to give it that neat, appliance look. The white, 3D printed parts add to the appeal.
Rotating the input funnel to prevent the candies from clogging the feed pipes is an ace idea. A WS2812 LED is placed above each bowl, lighting up the bowl where the next candy will be ejected and at the same time, a WS2812 strip around the periphery of the main body lights up with the color of the detected candy, making it a treat, literally, to watch this thing in action. His blog post has more details about the build, and the video after the break shows the awesome machine in action.
It’s the end of another fall semester of Bruce Land’s ECE4760 class at Cornell, and that means a fresh crop of microcontroller-based student projects. For their project, [Alice, Jesse, and Mikhail] built a Skittle-sorting miniature factory that bags and seals same-colored candies into little pouches of flavor.
Their design is split into three stages, which are visually delineated within the all-cardboard housing. Skittles are loaded into a funnel at the top that leads to the color detection module. The color is determined here with an RGB LED and OPT101 photodiode driven by an ATMega1284. Because the reflected RGB values of red and orange Skittles are so similar, the detector uses white light to make the final determination.
Once the matchmaking is over, a servo in the second stage rotates to the angle that corresponds with the color outcome. The Skittle then slides down a cardboard chute, passes through a hole in a cardboard disk, and drops into a hanging bag. Once the bags have reached the predetermined capacity, another servo moves the carousel of bags to a nichrome wire sealing rig. Lead factory worker [Jesse] must intervene at this point to pull the bags off the line. You can see the full walk-through and demonstration of this Skittle flavor separator after the break.
When we started looking into this we figured that a few robots were covered with over-sized cases that looked like Skittles. But that’s not it at all. What you see above is actually upside down. The top side of the white surface has one tiny wheeled robot for each candy. A magnet was embedded in each Skittle which holds it to the underside of the surface. The user interface was rolled out on a Facebook page. It uses a common webcam for eye tracking. When you move your eyes, the robot controlling your assigned candy moves in that direction. See for yourself in the cllip after the break.
So we say bravo Mars Inc. We love it that you decided to show off what’s behind to curtain. As with the Hyundai pixel wall, there’s a whole subset of people who might ignore the ad, but will spend a lot of time to find out how it was done.
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.
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.
Using a webcam, some cardboard, and a bag of Skittles, [Kyle McDonald] created this tangible interface for a beat sequencer. The Skittles are dropped onto the rows which correspond to a drum channel and each Skittle represents an 1/8th note. For such cheap components, the system seems to recognize the sequences pretty quick. This is probably due to some clever programming with the processing back-end. He claims his inspiration was the BallBearing sequencer, which uses the ball bearings as contact switches to determine the sequence rather than having a webcam analyze the surface.
It would be really nice to see this project expanded into a full blown instrument. the webcam could allow for dynamic surfaces and he could certainly add more control to the system with some knobs and/or sliders. He claims these features, and the source, will soon arrive.