Skittles sorting machine, version 3

Here's Brian Egenriether's new-and-improved Skittles sorting machine. It's interesting to note that he used machinable epoxy for the parts instead of using a 3D printer. I know 3D printing is the future, but the current crop of home 3D printers make ugly parts. Subtractive fabrication technology makes better looking stuff, at least for now.

This machine sorts Skittles, m&m's and similar candies by color. It is the 3rd revision of the original machine. The inside is now complete and features user-selectable inputs to choose which type of candy to sort. Types not shown include Reese's Pieces and other types of Skittles.

The microcontroller is a BASIC Stamp 2 and the color sensor is made by TAOS. I made most of the parts by hand from a machinable epoxy including the outer case, inner housing, hopper mechanism, 5 way chute, and the the rotating disk inside. The other parts include a piece of PVC, ceramic bowls, telescope parts, wood for the base, and the funnel which was cut from a hummingbird feeder.

Automatic Sorting of Skittles or M&Ms by Colour (Thanks, D.S. Deboer!)


      1. I’m sure that it could be marketed to little kids to perform dinner table separations…  
        Don’t like carrots mixed with your peas?  Get the Ronco sort-o-matic! 

  1. I made one of those recently with some friends of mine for an arduino contest. It isn’t nearly as polished, but we designed and built it in about three days:

  2. Wait, it can tell the difference between Skittle colors but it can’t tell the difference between an M&M and a Skittle? And presumably those two other buttons are the only way that it would, say, be able to tell the difference between Skittle and a Reese’s Piece (is that the singular form?) or even a Friend of Lemonhead (the sugar equivalent of a Friend of Bill)? What’s the point of that? 

    Wake me up when we have flying cars and candy sorters that can really sort candies.

    1. The article says that it’s very difficult to tell a face-up orange skittle from a face-down yellow skittle, due to the white S changing the average color. Can you imagine how hard it would be to tell a brown M&M from a brown Skittle? He’d have to put a real video computer system in there.

      1. Brown M&M? There are at least two different browns. Those M&Ms are complex and difficult. To save on processor cycles, I eat all the colors together.

  3. Wonder if it’d be easier to make a machine that just paints it the different colors of your preference. 

  4. It’s a very pretty machine. I like the use of curvy white bits for all the inner workings. It looks like it was made in a factory in the previous century.

  5. as others have said… seems overly complex
    that swinging arm sorter that sends candies to different tubes seems to be the most inefficient… how about one central tube with gates that either lets the candy pass or get sent to the side..
    the S problem…  analyze both sides of the candy.  use the darker side (side without the S or m)..    now we don’t need to pre-program for original fruits, tropical, riddles, m&ms…  halloween m&ms, easter m&ms.   etc.     :  color we’ve seen before?   send there…   new color?  start a new bin.
    if it fit’s it gets sorted…

  6. A much faster method would be letting the objects fall down a tube one by one, reading their colors as they fly by (possibly from several sides, to account for the effect of the white markings), and deflecting them to the appropriate receptacles with puffs of compressed air.

    Cool thing, though. :)

  7. Back in 1971 I worked on a coin sorter that this reminded me of. To sort silver-bearing quarters from newer ones they were put in a rotary table and passed over a radioactive X-ray source. An X-ray fluorescence analyzer was used to determine silver content, and the quarters were dropped in appropriate bins. This from the days when you would melt down quarters that were worth more than 25 cents.

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