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Old May 28, 2018, 02:17 PM   #1
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.224 Diameter DIY Bullet Feeder

A recent break-in left me short on equipment since the vandals/thieves broke more than they stole.

Anyone that builds bullet feeders knows .224 diameter bullets are the hardest to feed, maybe with the exception of .17

There are several 3D printing programs out there, and the printed feeders do work pretty darn well!
I don't have a 3D printer, and I'm not going to learn all the ins-outs of 3D printing, from what type of plastic to use, to getting the printer to actually make something since there a bunch of external vairables besides just the machine, plastic & programming.
You also have to think about spare/replacement parts, motor, electronics, mounts, etc.
Also consider the time, some of these 3D prints take between 14 & 24 hours...

If you have a machine shop, working in small scale isn't an issue.
If you have hand tools, you know it can be a challenge to find 1/4" (0.250") tooling for routers, soft material files, etc.

So, this time I'm shooting for a bullet feeder that uses common or easy to access parts.
Easy to assemble, as many common parts as possible, no complicated electronics.
If it costs more than about $20 I don't intend to use it (less some common power tools).

An example is an AC gear motor in the correct speed in the first place.
eBay has them for $20 (or less). Common household current, rotates either direction, cheap enough to have a replacement handy.
This will reduce complications considerably...

DC takes a converter power supply, and usually it's in the wrong speed, so it needs a speed controller.
The number of bullets dropped is usually a function of how many bullet slots are on the rotor, not exclusively motor/rotor speed...

The bowl will be a common PVC pipe cap.
These are dirt cheap, available anywhere plumbing supplies are sold, and common PVC pipe, fittings & glue will make for a sold, easy build.
Common wood working tools do a pretty good job shaping it too...
It could be metal or something exotic, or even a cook pot, but this gives a standard size/starting point to work from so dimensions can be given.

SO! Off to the races!
If you have any ideas, feel free to add them, but I'm not interested in arguments for this or that.
If you want to argue for 3D printing, start a thread for that.
If you want to argue for MBF or some other, start a thread for that.
If you want to argue for pistol bullets, .30 cal or whatever, start a thread for that.

This is for .223/.224 diameter bullets, how to get ballistic tips, hollow points, soft points & FMJ to flip/feed, problems with boat tails, etc.
JeepHammer is offline  
Old May 28, 2018, 02:42 PM   #2
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Now, having delt with some of the available commercial bullet feeders, there is one thing that irritated me pretty often was the OUTPUT on the collator!
If it isn't the same color as your press, it's often a pain in the butt to use!

Since most of the simple ones (and most forgiving) drop the bullet past 'Center', there is a Left & Right discharge to consider.
I have had to turn a $500 machine BACKWARDS to get it feeding to the die which annoys me to no end!
Nothing like running out of bullets because you can't see how many are left, backwards sucks.

Take your PVC pipe cap and decide HOW/WHERE it's going to mount & fit before all other things,
Decide Right or Left discharge once you figure out mount location with most direct path to the feed die.

Discharge will determine clockwise or counter clockwise rotation of the MOTOR & ROTOR.

Motor consideration is WORM DRIVE, Spur gear drive or Planetary Drive gear reduction.
While a worm drive will usually reverse rotation, running a worm drive 'Backwards' is often very hard on the $10 cheapies.

Planetary & Spur Gear drives don't care which way they run, equally as effective and long lived either way.

Spur Gear reduction drives are most common.
This is what I normally use, run about $20.

Pipe Caps, Spur Gear Motor, Test Rotor.
Test rotor is to see what grooves get the most bullets into the flipper slots on the rotor, how much you need to funnel or groove the rotor. I use wood to get things feeding well, then usually build the rotor out of HDPE or similar synthetic materials.


Nothing more, just enough to fit the .224 bullet into.
If you take a close look at the grooves, I try a few different types & angles.
Notice the rotor is marked for direction, and the grooves feeding slots 'Lean Into' the rotation. (Yup! Screwed that up the first try!)
A file or Dremel rotary shaping 'Burr' smooths out the rounded 'Ramp' into the slot so the bullet falls easily.

The grooves/slots you will need for long/thin bullets will be determined by your rotation.
Slots/Grooves in the rotor need to 'Lean Into' the direction of rotation, slots leading away from the bullet pockets do you no good at all.
This makes the rotor proprietary.

You need to decide location of feeder machine and discharge location before you build the rotor or cut the PVC cap for flipping the bullets.

I call this 'Step Zero', this is your base line...

Last edited by JeepHammer; May 29, 2018 at 11:16 AM.
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Old May 28, 2018, 03:19 PM   #3
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A drill press, milling machine, ect is nice, but you actually don't need them.
I'm going to do this with vairable speed hand drill motor, drills, counter sink, etc.,
A 'Dremel' tool and misc. bits,
A way to cut circles. I'm using a 1/4" router but you can cut circles on a band saw, with a fly cutter in a hand drill, etc.
When working with 3/4" thick material (rotor), I don't recommend trying to use a 'Dremel' tool.

I build my first rotor out of wood board (not plywood).
This is so I can get slots, feed grooves, angles, etc. all right. Your 'Test Rotor' can have several slots, different slot sizes, different feed grooves, different rounded over edges or tapers, etc.
When I figure out what works best/most consistantly, I do the next rotor in that design.

Since not all slots need to be the same, this is a cheap/quick way to try things out.
I make rotors specific to the bullet I'm loading, soft points & hollow points often take a different rotor than ballistic tips & FMJ, super long/heavy bullets often need a different rotor than short light weight 'Varmint' bullets.

Boat tails can be a REAL pain to deal with, but that usually has to do more with the groove that turns the point down bullets, there is a way to change that cheap & easy also...
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Old May 28, 2018, 03:37 PM   #4
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Now, everyone SAYS it's all about super tight tolerances...
Not so much in real life.

The motor shaft DOES NOT have to be perfectly perpendicular to the floor of the bowl *IF* there isn't a sold link between rotor & motor.
A roll pin through the motor shaft (or shaft coupler) is sufficient to drive the rotor, a slip joint slot in the rotor is sufficient to drive the rotor without needing perfect alignment.

Most of the DIY units are built this way, without a clutch, and work very well.
This allows you to use common machine screws and thin washers as spacers to mount the motor on the slightly domed PVC cap.
You will get VERY close, and it will be plenty good for hundreds of thousands of bullet feeds with little to no trouble.

The rotor DOES NOT have to attached to the rotor to keep it in the bottom of the bowl.
Gravity does the job very well, particularly when there are bullets on it!

Depending on the motor you use, the housing of the motor is often a VERY strong mount point with nothing more than a band clamp, or a couple 'Hose' clamps.
The motor I most commonly use has a sturdy housing, 4 screws spaced about 2" apart, and securely holds the bowl, so using the motor for the mount is a no-brainer...

With a PVC bowl, and threaded PVC fittings/glue, it's easy to use common water pipe as mounts also.
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Old May 30, 2018, 08:46 AM   #5
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I find the hardest bullets to collate are short and fat bullets. A “square” bullet is more likely to be inverted from how you want it.

The sharp tip on the longer skinny rifle bullets is easier to get caught in a slot, to be dragged out, laying the bullet out to be flipped back up, base down.

As far as concentric and perpendicular that’s the easy part, just start with a hole in the center and everything is done off the center.
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