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Anyone else experience Auto Feeder not dropping all pellets straight down into water? (and my solution)


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I have two of the coop auto feeders and overall I am very pleased with them.  Both are mounted on rimmed glass tanks with glass lids so I mounted the feeders of the sides of the tank toward the back.  The open portion of the tank is wider than the feeder so I didn't anticipate any problems. 

What I found was that while the majority of food would go into the tanks, I would randomly end up with pellets on top of the lids, on the rim, or even some that had bounced out the back of the tank.  It seems to happen more towards the end of the rotation.  So if the feeder is mounted on the right side of tank the wayward food winds up on lid, and if its mounted on the left it ends up on the rim of bouncing out the back.  I haven't been able to observe it happening when manually triggering the feeding cycle (thanks observer effect!).  My best guess is that some of the small 1.5mm pellets are getting caught in the opening and working their way loose as the drum rotates back to top. Or if the pellet makes it back to top while stuck in the opening it falls out early when the cycle starts. 

As a low tech solution I cut up a pop bottle and stuck it on the back of the tanks to rebound the food into the water.  This caught most of strays going out the back, but made a mess on the lids.  I decided to print up a shroud for a more permanent solution.  


If anyone else is having this issue and would like to print one for themselves I published the design https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5180069

Its a fairly noninvasive modification, but the instructions state "Do not attempt to disassemble. Disassembling will void the 1-year warranty." so take that into consideration. Like all other modifications to things, best to err on the side of "This probably voids your warranty. Don't try this at home. Not responsible if you break your stuff, hurt/maim/kill yourself or others, etc, etc, etc". 

I wanted a tight fit without screws or glue and unfortunately the food container side's diameter is slightly larger than the motor unit.  I solved this by pulling the two sides apart to mount the shroud.  The two halves are held together by a plastic clip, visible when if you open the food container.  If you press that the two sides will come apart (I've also pulled them apart accidentally trying to get the food door open).   


Then you can slip the shroud onto the motor half and then put the food container half back on the motor half. 


Slap the two halves back together and voila, less food pellets found in random places!  I've only been using it for a couple days, but seems to be working ok. 

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I find that my feeder drops the pellets on its upward rotation so the main drop zone is offset to the left side if you were to look at the feeder from its screen side. Slightly rotating the feeder so that that area of the feeder is centered over the feeding hole may fix your issue altogether, but I commend you for your 3D printed solution! I 3D printed a mount for my feeder that allows it to be mounted onto my Nicrew light that works great. I'm always looking for a problem to solve with my 3D printer and always glad to see what others come up with using theirs. Sweet design!

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The uncovered area at the back of the tank is pretty narrow so I hadn't had luck with centering/rotating.  Mounting it to the light bar is a good idea as it would've allowed me much more space on either side.

The good news is that the shroud is doing the trick and I haven't found anyways escape pellets in the last week. 

Also, 3d printing may not help keep away the raccoons, but I found https://www.amazon.com/Orbit-62100-Activated-Sprinkler-Detection/dp/B009F1R0GC?th=1 to be pretty effective....

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Well based on this weeks video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F27ASpJ3u0w&t=1254s where he just yanks the feed drum off, I wouldn't be worried about separating the two half to install the shroud anymore...


@Levi_Aquatics I would assume (and hope) that off would shut the unit off and stop it functioning. Otherwise there would be no way to stop it without clearing all schedules or draining the battery entirely.   

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