Lego Project: Brick Sorter

One of the biggest hassles involved with building with Lego is sorting. Oh sure, I could keep all my bricks in a big tub, but it’s easer to work with them if they’re sorted. Fortunately, there are all kinds of gadgets and gizmos you can use to more easily sort bricks by size. Unfortunately, I mostly sort by color, and there isn’t an easy way to do that.

Until now.

Introducing the Lego Color Sorting Box!

Yes, yes, it’s just a normal Amazon box (with the bottom flaps taped down so pieces don’t slide under them.) But it’s not the box that’s the key, it’s these.

These “filters” are what do the sorting. I used some thin cardboard that is a bit glossy on one side, as I found that worked best. They’re labeled for a color, and then they have markings on one side which are calibrated for that color. You place one in the box.

Then you dump your non-sorted bricks in (it’s helpful, but not essential, to keep them mostly on the “blank” side of the filter.), close the flaps (so no bricks fly out) and give it a good, thorough shake:

(Here’s a link to the video, in case it doesn’t load properly.)

And voila! Sorted by color!

How does it do this? It’s the markings on the filter. They keep only the correct-colored bricks on that side of the border. This is why you want to use a kind of shallow box, so that all the bricks have a better chance of interacting with the filter symbol.

So far I’ve figured out the symbols for these colors: blue, red, yellow, green (but see below), white, black, gray (can’t distinguish between dark and light gray yet, nor the “bley” versions of either), transparent (so far just whether or not a brick is transparent, not the actual color; the red filter only works about half the time on trans-red bricks), purple, and orange. The pastel shades are tricky so far, but I’m hoping that releasing this info will inspire others to help figure these out.

It’s not foolproof. In addition to the problems above, there are other known issues:

  • printed pieces don’t always sort properly
  • pieces with multiple colors on them, such as a minifig torso, don’t work at all
  • rubber pieces such as tires don’t work at all, and I have no idea why
  • my current green filter also grabs yellow, so it’s not completely correct. For now I’m just sorting yellow out first, then green
  • some older pieces don’t work right with the filters. I’m not sure where they’re originally from, so I haven’t determined if there’s a cutoff time or when it would be

So yeah, it’s in the “beta” stage, if not the “alpha” one. But still, what it can do at this point is pretty impressive.

I could probably patent the idea, but that’s not really my thing. Instead I want to put it out there and let other folks contribute to making it better and more complete.

Here’s a PDF file of all the filter symbols I have so far. Please let me know what others you come up with (or if you have any corrections to these). I’ll keep this file updated with whatever new or fixed ones people develop.

Have fun sorting your Legos!

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6 Responses to Lego Project: Brick Sorter

  1. Kyle Miller says:

    Folks, you’ve got to try this, it really works. Dave, your discovery will go down in the hallmarks of Lego history!

  2. Vampaerus says:

    and here I’ve been sorting them by HAND all this time?!? This is ingenious! What a time saver. I can’t wait to download your filter images and go sort my 3,141,592 pieces…

  3. pronoblem says:

    This could make you extremely wealthy… have you applied for a patent or are these symbols / methods natural. I see this being used for all sorts of application. I bet Homeland Security would love to get their hands on this.

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  5. Gabeburke says:

    Second Internet April fools I’ve ever fallen for. Nicely done.

  6. lac says: