Trading card games remain very popular, as they represent the interests of both collectors and players. For millennials like me, Pokémon is the most obvious example. But there are many other fan favorites, including: Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and World of Warcraft. For each of those games, the cards can be categorized in many ways according to monetary value, usefulness in gameplay, and the set they belong to. But if you have a massive card collection, it can be very difficult to sort them. That’s why theguymasamato built this machine to scan and sort trading cards, and he explains exactly how he did it.
The Trading Card Machine is broken down into three separate units: the Card Feeder, the Card Scanner, and the Card Sorter. A large stack of cards — preferably from the same game — can be loaded into the feeder. The feeder will then drop a card into the scanner unit. That uses a camera attached to a Raspberry Pi to snap a photo of the current card. That card is then analyzed with the Google Cloud Platform API to determine which card it is. Information on the card is then passed to the Cardmarket API to determine its value and other data. Finally, the scanner pushes the card to the sorter, where it’s deposited into one of 22 receptacles.
Constructing the Trading Card Machine was no small feat, but theguymasamato goes into great detail about how he did it. Each unit was made almost completely from cardboard that was cut by hand. The Card Feeder uses a mechanism from a printer to grab a single card and then place it the scanner. The Card Scanner is just an inclined chute with a retractable bolt to stop the card, which captures an image of the card as it slides by. As it does, the Card Sorter spins on gears made from cardboard and turned by a stepper motor controlled by an Arduino. It simply turns until the correct receptacle is situated underneath the Card Scanner, so that the card lands in the proper place. The result is a machine that can quickly and efficiently sort a large collection of trading cards.