Dispensing Unshelled Peanuts

A project log for Vending Machine for Birds

Simple, inexpensive bird feeder that dispenses peanuts in exchange for dropping stuff in a hole. A vending machine for clever birds.

stephen-chaseyStephen Chasey 04/17/2024 at 13:220 Comments

I've made many adjustments to the dispenser assembly in the past two weeks of testing. Unshelled peanuts are more dificult to reliably dispense than shelled peanuts - they vary more in size and shape, they are less dense with a rougher surface. They jam very easily, and the size/shape variance makes it difficult to dispense just one. I usually get 2 or 3 peanuts at a time with this dispenser.

First I had occasional jams in the hopper itself, leading me to

Here is the underside of the vibration plate showing where the motor and sensors are mounted.

These changes solved the hopper jams. Then I had jamming in the dispense chute. To solve this I removed the red cup that caught peanuts on their way out. This helped reduce the frequency of jams, but the real issue was using several segments of pipe in the chute. Each joint was an opportunity for a jam. Replacing this with a single piece of pipe seems to have solved this for now. If there is a jam, it is at the opening at the bottom and the birds can pick it out and remove the jam themselves.

I'm getting a pretty steady stream of magpies and jackdaws now. Along with some pigeons that remember when this dispensed shelled peanuts :)