The dot-matrix printer may seem like a relic from the past, but just about every TV set, mobile device or laser printer still relies on creating images from a matrix of dots. They’re just smaller, and perhaps more colorful than the old Okidata Microline 320 from your youth. And speaking about colorful printers, how about one that prints with Skittles?
What you’re looking at is the Skittle Pixel8r, a contraption that works much like a dot-matrix printer, depositing row by row of pixels. But in the case of JohnO3’s entertaining build, it uses Skittles candies to create its images. The system can output any image up to 31″ wide x 24″ high using Skittles as pixels.
John built the system using an Arduino controller and a motorized dispensing axis, which is attached to eight bins of Skittles, each in a different color of the rainbow. The Python application he wrote takes a PNG file that’s already been converted to the Skittles color palette, then commands the moving print head to move back and forth over a grid where the candies will be dropped. As it moves, a series of eight containers trigger servos to release individual Skittles through a funnel and down to the print head.
It’s a pretty awesome build, though when you’re all done, you have to eat your creation before you can start another one. Also, you have to painstakingly sort all of the Skittles into their individual colors, which I’m sure takes quite some time. If you’d like to create your own Skittle Pixel8r, you can check out the full build details, including schematics, template files, and code over on Instructables.
I imagine you could also use M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces, though your designs would be a bit more limited in color palette.