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Perler Beads Sorter

Sorts perler beads by color

Hi guys (and girls) I need some help here.

I’m trying to make a beads sorter for my kids, but my funnel approach is not working. The beads are getting stuck so I’m open for suggestions on another approach for getting the beads dropping on top of each other into the sensor / sorter board.

I got a TCS230 RGB sensor from my brother and was wondering what I could use it for until my kids broke my line of thoughts with “daddy,  -can you find some pink beads for me…”
That was it! As the lazy father I am, I decided to make an automatic sorter for them

As you can see from the video, the sorting functions reasonably well. The sensor output is read by a PICAXE and if the bead is the right color it activates the sorting servo and the bead is dropped in the correct container. I also have a hacked servo as an agitator to release any jammed beads.
The beads are led up by two white LED’s and there is a photo transistor in the back sensing that there is a bead in the ‘tube’.

Has anybody another idea on how to get the beads lined up and drop in a steady stream down the tube? The beads are 5mm in diameter and cut in 5mm lengths.

The 'Sorting plate'


Breadbording and testing


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What if you poured the beads into a tray that was slanted, and it shook the beads into long tubes that allowed them to line up and fall into place?

I hope this will bring you inspiration: hopper agitiator mechanism.

I've seen some on TV. A funnel like yours with an agitator sticking up from below through the shute. The agitator closes off the shute, moves up, thus agitating the beads, and sinks back into the shute again. Allowing zero or more beads to pass.

It's basically a ball on stick. (Is it still twss weekend in your timezone? ;-)

nice, i got some of those sensors myself, haven't been able to try them out though.

i would have done this is in another approach , a  dam with a servo for stopping each bead for color verification and a servo for  positioning the hopper this will give you range to sort all colors not only limiting you to only two sorting bins , once you finish prototyping you can make a design for your kids to use always ! :D 





I liked your approach and I could probably build something similar. But I still think the system would jam if the beads don’t align properly. Based on your design I might go the other way and make a cylindrical device with a slot that fist one bead. Then lift it up for the sensor to check it. If no bead has fallen into the slot, no problem, just turn it back and try again. That might also function as an agitator.


Thank you for your input.

try building something like this , this will insure no "stuckness"  you can build something like this out of plywood , where only one bead can fit sideways , but many fit on top of each other with a small oppening toward the end to allow only one to fall at a time . you can make something like a cartridge system or the like .loasADK.jpg
The problem is that the beads have a diameter of 5mm and a length of 5mm so some of the beads are bound to flip sideways. I need to measure the color of the side of the bead to get an consistent reading.

You know, I used to watch that "how's it made" show on discovery... It seemed to me that every machine that needed to line things up i.e. beads going single file down a tube, invovled a vibration. Most also had some kinda horizontal trough that the items had to travel through as well.

Oh, I got another one: 

How about 2 wheels, side-by-side (like a pitching machine but with the wheels vertical), with a space between that is just a bit more than the diameter of the bead. The wheels would actually be spinning upward (into the bin of beads). This way, if more than one bead tried to travel through at the same time, the wheels would spit the pair of beads back into the hopper. Only if a single beads comes by will it fall through.

Just some thoughts.

The very thought did accrue to me, but I felt it was a bit complex to build. My plan was to have the wheels there just to align the beads, then feed them through some sort of tube into the sensor.

Thank you for your input

Here is my suggestion: