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Using a micro controller and IR sensors to count items on a conveyor belt

Discussion in 'Microcontrollers' started by bwolfgang, Jun 22, 2017.

  1. bwolfgang

    bwolfgang New Member

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    Hi,
    This is a project for a potato farm. We have test plots that we eventually plan on harvesting a collecting data on. We have 10 conveyor belts that we will run these potatoes on. What we would like to do is have IR sensors at each belt counting the number of potatoes from that belt. We would like to then send that data to a PC (to excel preferably, but a tsv file also works). I understand this can be done using an Arduino or something similar, but I have little to no knowledge on micro controllers. Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. cowboybob

    cowboybob Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    Welcome to ETO, bwolfgang.

    First, some conveyor belt design questions come to mind:

    1. Are the conveyor belts one (1) potato wide (if not, an IR sensor system will not produce accurate counts)?

    2. If so, will there be a minimum separation between each and every potato?

    3. What is that minimum separation?

    3. Finally, what will be the preferred conveyor belt's speed?
     
  3. MaxHeadRoom78

    MaxHeadRoom78 Active Member

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    How do the potatoes come off the belt? One at a time? if so you could maybe incorporate a small flap that operates a limit/Micro SW.
    One good method for a system would be a PLC, but there is a bit of a learning curve, but all I/O are conditioned so interfacing is easy.
    Either way there will be a learning curve whether Micro or PLC.
    Max.
     
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. dr pepper

    dr pepper Well-Known Member

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    Detecting multiple tatties might not be so simple, if 2 were one after the other they'd show as one pulse, a bit of an improvement would be to have a pulse generator on one of the conveyor rollers and measure the travel, then if the beam is blocked say for 3 times the average length of a tattie then you know 3 have passed close together, obviously it would be sensible to count to a maximum just in case the sensors get mucked up and continuously pick something up.
    Another way would be to weigh them, if you could rig something up so that they move across a plate or something you could attach a load cell to that and weigh them, maybe several at a time, weight is probably more important to you however you could just divide gross weight by the average per tattie to give you a reasonable approximation, the Hx711 module is cheap and makes it easy to weigh with an arduino, theres also lots of compatible load cells on ebay too.
     
  6. Pommie

    Pommie Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    As the OP hasn't been back to even check for replies, this is probably mute. However, for any future questions along these lines this is how I would solve the touching potato problem. Have the belt feed a shute so the potatoes fall through the beam.

    Mike
     
  7. MrDEB

    MrDEB Active Member

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    Pommi has the best solution for counting spuds. sensing from the belt would be very inaccurate at best. several chutes could be used so multiple spuds at a time could be counted. The issue I see is the spuds touching each other in the chute thus counting as one. Using multiple IR sensors would maybe solve this??
     
  8. Pommie

    Pommie Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    For the spuds to touching in the chute they would have to be side by side on the belt which I assume they can't be as normally a spring loaded gate makes sure they are in line. Think of people getting on a fast walkway. As they speed up they separate same as will happen in a chute.

    Mike.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Little Ghostman

    Little Ghostman Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    Matlab or labview (gone brain dead so cant remember the name) has a visual library, you can set up a web cam and show it a potato, the library can pick out any number of spuds very rapidily, alot like a modern camera that picks out ten different faces in a group pic for focusing.

    Was a while ago but i used the lib on my quad copter project to pick out people, i have also seen it used to count apples on a tree. The apple thing was done with pictures but could have been done live if wanted.
     
  10. Little Ghostman

    Little Ghostman Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    not exactly the same, but this is the basics of what i was on about. the lib is totally configurable and extremely fast..

    Posting it for the google landers BTW

     
  11. dr pepper

    dr pepper Well-Known Member

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    Telemecanique now Schneider sell industrial cameras designed for that purpose, they have a processor built in, one place I was at used them for detecting whether plastic bottles had a top screwed on or not, they have a contact that can be configured to change state on detecting an item.
    But that kinda thing is more in the line of £££'s.
     
  12. Little Ghostman

    Little Ghostman Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    I cant find thr video i wanted, its not you tube so google seems to bury it. The video is one i took of the camera system i built for my quad copter to detect obstacles. the labview software is pretty amazing if you use it right. I dont have the original video file as I didnt take the video. Shape recognition was alot of fun. we tried to teach it to spot women from men, but the school kind of got upset with the way that was headed :D
     

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