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Discussion Starter #1
I’m working on a haunted candy factory for next Halloween and want to build a machine with a moving conveyor belt. I would like to have regular looking candy on one side, then it goes into a machine and comes out as distorted candy on the other side.

What ideas do you have to achieve this? Any help would be appreciated.
 

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Two conveyor belts. The joint being in the machine. So one going in is the “good” side, the other is the “bad” side. Just make sure they are timed correctly so it looks like a continuous belt.


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I would just glue the candy to the belt and have it rotate under itself. Hide the upside down candy with cloth so nobody sees it. You can do two belts but cover the middle so it looks continuous. Run them with the same exact motor. You may need to adjust the speed on one. In a real situation you can never get two motors exactly the same with all the variables (drag, power, belt tension etc).
 

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Two belts - one motor. Use a single shaft in the middle with both belts on it. It's easier than trying to sync two motors.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone. So if I go with two rotating belts and use a wiper blade motor to power it, how can I connect the motor to the belt?

727102
 

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I would not use a wiper motor for this. You will need to connect the motor shaft to some kind of roller and that is going to be difficult with a wiper motor.

This video may help you visualize:

It appears in the video that he is using a stepper motor but that seems like the wrong choice for this application - I would look for a DC gear motor like these:

You can get mounts and shaft couplers for these motors that will make it easy to deal with once you get/make the rollers.

Here is another video - this one is using a DC gear motor. And its for candy!

 

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You could use a wiper motor. Remove the arm and nut and use a threaded coupler to extend the length. You could then use it as an axle. You could then put a roller between the extension and use T nuts if you go with a large wooden spool or similar.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
thanks! I looked at the instructable article for the video above. Very interesting.
 

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Note that the driving wheel for a belt often has a "crown", which is a slight widening of the drive wheel. This causes the belt to stay centered on the drive wheel.

When you attach the candy, the attachment points should fall on a line perpendicular to the belt path. This is necessary because as the belt goes around the pulleys, it will be forced into a curved shape if you were to put two attachments at the front and rear.

Also, in regards to the illusion, I suggest trying to keep the middle "converter" as small as possible. Only wide enough to hide the fact that there are two belts, and allow the candy enough room to go around the pulley part without hitting each other. Too much extra will make it look more suspicious. Another visual help to hide the fact that there are two belts; at the two sides of the conveyor belt, keep some structural element continuous across the entire length. Since most belts have a flat surface they ride on, that flat surface should be continuous from start to finish, and have a hidden hole under the "converter" for the belts to turn under.

Try to keep the two belts in sync, so that the audience's eyes will be able to track a good piece of candy going in, and then the warped version comes out the other side at the proper time. So, it might be best to have a single drive motor.

Finally, I would suggest adding an apparent feed mechanism. To avoid making a true feed mechanism, I would just suggest using a funnel made from a large plastic bag, and have it half full of the good candy. Then, at the outlet, have some sort of collection bin. I think that as long as the collection bin has a pile of candy, that is sloped with its peak at the apparent place where the warped cndy is being dumped, then that would be sufficient to show it as the outlet. I don't think showing candy drop onto the belt, or drop out of the other end is necessary. But, the presence of those fake mechanisms is important to convey the illusion.

-Joe
 

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"So if I go with two rotating belts and use a wiper blade motor to power it, how can I connect the motor to the belt?"
Pulleys, three pulleys one on the motor & one for each conveyor. Placed in a triangle the conveyor rollers/pulleys on the top & the motor below.
 

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I would also put some guides along the length of the belt to prevent it from tracking to one side or the other. Make sure the head and tail rolls are parallel and square. Also you might be able to get by with putting some electrical tape in the center of the head pulleys to act as a crown to help with tracking.
 

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"So if I go with two rotating belts and use a wiper blade motor to power it, how can I connect the motor to the belt?"
Pulleys, three pulleys one on the motor & one for each conveyor. Placed in a triangle the conveyor rollers/pulleys on the top & the motor below.
In general, yes that arrangement will work. However, Cyberhaunt's illustration shows the drive pulley (really a powered roller) has the belt connected at the end of each belt, so that they pull the load. That is normally how you want to do it. But, your load is almost nothing, so I would just drive the two pulleys that are closest together, to keep the belt shorter.

If the belt slips on the pulley, you may need to add a type of pulley called an idler, that will cause the belt to wrap more around the pulley, to provide more grip.

Unless you are using industrial products designed for making conveyor belts, you are in uncharted territory. So, you are likely to need to do some experimentation. Don't expect everything to work the 1st attempt. So, make your first attempts knowing they are prototypes. That may save you some effort, since the prototypes can take less effort than making a finished product.

I think there are a few main issues you are likely to run into.

1) Keeping the conveyor belt centered. An edge guide is not normally enough, and would tend to damage the edges of the conveyor belt. That is why I mentioned a crown. It might be as simple as a few wraps of tape around the middle of the drive roller. You may also need to adjust the angle of the rollers. You have probably seen these on belt sanders.

2) Keeping tension on the belt (both the power drive belt, and the conveyor belt. Even if you use a material that you don't expect to stretch... it will stretch. You need to somehow make a spring tensioner on either the drive roller, or the one on the opposite side. Or you might have an idler roller ( i.e. a 3rd roller) that keeps tension.

3) Making a belt and drive roller that has good friction. An elastic belt would eliminate the need for any sort of tensioner. Spandex may be a good choice, that is pretty durable, and easy to sew. Again, normaly a conveyor belt is not elastic. But, since your loads are so light weight, it may work. Otherwise, use a woven fabric. You need something that will slide easily over the surface, so something like vinyl would not be a good choice. The conveyor bed probably cannot be bare plywood, unless it is covered with something that is easy to slide over. To get a good grip on the conveyor belt, you might purchase an actual drive roller. Or perhaps coat your improvised one (PVC pipe?) with something to give it some bite. Sand in paint?

-Joe
 

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This might help as far as the belt material goes. They also have other supplies such as lacing which will be needed to connect the ends of the belt together unless you get an endless belt.
 

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I have absolutely nothing to contribute here in the way of helping you out, except to say that this sounds freaking awesome!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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