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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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I have som pager motors that might work.
Great idea, thanks.

Here is my suggestion:



You might have misunderstood my problem. For the sorting mechanism function well but my problem is getting the beads aligning into something like your tube.

So the problem is who to get the unsorted beads from a container into your tube.

Thanks for taking an interest


My Son uses these plastic melt beads too.

We have threaded them onto a string before by :----

dipping or scooping a needle into a big container of them - its by luck that a needle picks up a hole...however its aligned....

.... all you would need is a servo or motor with say 4 or more short needles ie 6mm attached to a 4 armed servo horn (needles attached @90° to the servo arm), when driving - the lowest needle dips into the container (picks up bead......or not) then carries on to your detector and the resulting sorting action made...

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

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.