Another design has come and gone. I think this one has some potential though! Biggest issue with this one is that I just made it way too small!
I have been trying to minimize size of test components to reduce printer filament usage, but it really bit me this time. The conveyances were so small that food got jammed up even not going anywhere!
Anyway, here's the design.
The concept of operation becomes much clearer when viewed cross-section.
The wheel turns counterclockwise. Food flows from the bottom of the hopper into the wheel. The wheel continues to rotate and is deposited underneath the wheel. Note that it is not necessary to actually have a slot all the way through the wheel - a water wheel design would work perfectly fine as well.
Here's the assembled mechanism.
As you can see, really quite a bit too small. I had to tap the hopper repeatedly to get food to flow like a liquid out of the hopper downshaft and into the "loading zone" for the wheel. But as long as I did so food deployed successfully with no destructive jams.
I am encouraged enough by the performance of this model that I am going to do a second revision of it. Planned tweaks:
- Increase size in all three dimensions
- Fix an issue where at one point in the wheel's rotation, food can slip out in an unintended manner.
- Increase room in the wheel chamber to further buy down risk of destructive jams
- Add a slight angle to the bottom of the food downshaft to prevent a "deadzone" where food could get stuck for long periods of time.