The hopper is a useful device for controlling/counting/sorting items.
 Day counter
This is a very simple machine for counting days. Every time it gets day, the dispenser gets activated and shoots an item in the chest.
|Video tutorial Video (view on YouTube)|
 Item counter
A mechanism that outputs short redstone signal for every item that goes through the dropper. The mechanism slows down the items moving through the dropper and the hopper above to make the outputs comfortable to use for counting mechanisms.
The output of this counter can be used in any counting mechanism and can be counted using the scoreboard command in a command block.
It is possible to change the outputs timing by replacing the bottom comparator with repeater (to make it slower) or redstone dust (to make it faster).
Size: 1x4x5 blocks.
This mechanism made by Xbxp.
You can download this mechanism from: Planet Minecraft - Item Counter
 Item sorter
Most item sorters work using hoppers. More specifically, a hopper with all five slots occupied by, for example, redstone, will only be able to collect redstone, because there is nowhere for any other items to go.
Connecting the hopper to a comparator will allow the sorter to measure the contents of the hopper. All five slots MUST remain occupied by the material you are sorting for, otherwise other items will be able to pass through. The easiest way to ensure this is to measure for a 2-strength signal from the comparator, which corresponds to 22 items inside - 18 inside the leftmost slot and 1 each in the other four slots (hoppers lose items in the leftmost slot first).
There are two components to an item sorter: the item channel and the sorting component(s). Here is an analogy to clarify this: the item channel is like a river, and the sorting components can be imagined as nets that only catch certain items. The river ends in a dump (the junk chest).
The item channel is simply a path that items travel through. It can be a horizontal chain of hoppers, or a water channel. Hoppers underneath the hopper chain or water channel act as the "net" and will extract items.
The sorting components are composed of hoppers. To enable deposition and extraction to be independently toggled, two hoppers must be used: one on top of the other, and the top one pointing sideways. The top hopper should be connected to the comparator, which will power the bottom hopper (which takes items out of the top hopper)