Skittles Sorting Machine

Posted: November 05, 2012

Electrical engineer Brian Egenriether designed a machine to sort Skittles so that I can have all the red ones, and no one ever has to eat the disgusting green ones again. While Skittles umbrella corporation, Mars, Inc., has yet to make an official move, it is likely their legal team will issue a Cease and Desist order in the next few days. Because although Egenriether fabricated only one sorting machine, and has no plans to produce them for profit, Skittles feels the viral growth his division of their historically mixed colors is experiencing on YouTube could severely compromises their "Taste the Rainbow" campaign. In other words, Egenriether is destroying Skittles' motherfucking rainbow! Also, the ACLU doesn't like the sorter's segregational implications.

All joking aside, Egenriether conceived of his Skittles Sorting Machine about 4 years ago, but only took the time--and, he estimates, about $300--to build it over the course of 5 or so weekends in the last year. The device uses a BASIC Stamp 2 and 3 servos for actuation and an IR LED and phototransistor to stop the turnstile in position. When faced with a Skittle to sort, the color sensor sends a value between 0 and 255 in each of three color values (red, blue, green). Then, based on Egenriether's programmed statistical analysis of the Skittles spectrum, the sorter decides what color it is. Most of the machine's parts, including the body, turnstile, and chute header are epoxy fabrications, while the base is wood, the funnel from a hummingbird feeder, and the remainder a combination of telescope parts and PVC.

Even though Skittles are inarguably the best candy on the planet, for some reason everyone who watches the video wants to know if the machine could also sort M&Ms, or another bite-sized burst of sugar that has more colors. Egenriether responds that, in terms of color quantity, the sorter is capable of divvying up hundreds, but his design has the bowls arranged in a pentagonal shape based on Skittles' team of 5 hues, so that aspect would need reworking.

He also notes that he initially installed felt pads in the machine so that it ran silently, but subsequently took them out because he missed its clink sounds, which remind him of the opening to Pink Floyd's "Money."

Again, Egenriether has no plans to mass produce Skittles Sorting Machines, or sell the one he already has (though we're willing to bet that's negotiable per the right number of Benjamins), but mentioned in his YouTube comments that if anyone wants to make his/her own, he will assist in any way he can.

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