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Gadgets

3D-printed machine sorts Skittles by colour

An Arduino-powered DIY project uses a colour sensor to automatically sort and separate Skittles.

Sorting Skittles the newfangled way. MrPrezident/Hackaday

What sort of Skittles eater are you? Do you like to carefully select according to the colour of the moment? Do you like to eat all the Skittles of each colour, in order of enjoyment? Or do you only eat one flavour, and give the rest away?

Whichever of these floats your boat, a recent project by Hackaday user MrPrezident (Nathan Peterson) will take out all the hard work of Skittle-sorting. The maker and engineer has designed and built a 3D-printed machine that is capable of sorting the candy by colour.

"I started working on this project because I thought it would be a fun project as it has some unique challenges, and it gave me the chance to make heavy use of my newly acquired 3D printer," MrPrezident said on the Hackaday 3D-Printed Skittles Sorting Machine project page. "I wanted to build a compact machine that would sort skittles accurately and quickly."

The machine runs on an Arduino Uno board, and uses a TCS3200 programmable colour sensor to detect the colours of the Skittles. A small LED attached to the colour sorting module, fitted with a polarising filter to reduce glare, ensures that the sensor is obtaining an accurate colour reading.

Once the colour of a Skittle has been identified, it gets dropped into the rotating sorter, which spins around and releases the Skittle into the appropriate dish. This is powered by three DC motors with gearboxes, with additional sensors to detect the positions of the discs and when a Skittle has been dropped so that the machine can continue sorting.

As you watch the machine at work, you'll notice a few Skittles in the sorter that don't get dropped into the dishes. These are the calibration Skittles, which allows the machine to recalibrate every time it starts. It also allows any type of Skittle to be sorted.

It's probably not the best idea to try it on M&M's, though.

"Technically this machine will sort of work with M&Ms, but not as well because M&Ms are a bit smaller and get jammed easier," MrPrezident noted. "Also M&Ms have six colours, and this Machine is only designed to sort five."

The full schematics, including the source code and 3D files, are available via the project page on Hackaday.

That's going to free up a lot of Skittle-eatin' time.