We have been testing hardware and developing new software for our prototype of seed counter. It’s been a while but after all, we have come across of what we think its a much better solution.
The old seed counter prototype had a major problem and was that the counter itself was not reliable enough. Most of the time would work good but some times would pick 2 seeds instead of one. That was because all the seeds where piled in the deposit where the rotating wheel would pick the seed. When the wheel of the seed counter rotated to pick a seed sometimes would pick more than one or even throw all the seeds right above the one that got picked.
The solution we found to that problem is to add a short path from the deposit to the hole where the seeds are picked. On top of that, each time the wheel turns, it produces a little vibration generated by the same movement of the wheel. This little vibrations keep all seeds moving toward the hole.
Now all seeds arrive nicely separated one from the other and we can pick one at a time. Still some adjustments can be done to the seed counter but it’s been working well till now.
In the new model we have also introduced a new way of handling the blisters and also a label printer to seal the blisters and print a barcode. The blisters are now stack one in top of the other so we save much more space instead of having a large surface filled whit all the blisters. Two hooks driven by motors release the blisters one by one, and a conveyor drive them trough the process of filling and printing.
Thanks to great improvement on the code itself, we saved a lot of time reusing the code from the first prototype. Code won’t be relase into the public domain due to legal reasons, but I will release a library for stepper motors where anyone can use it for they own projects. It is still an ongoing process and it wont be released until the project is completed.
The printing process in which I will comment on a future post uses a second Arduino with an Ethernet shield to generate a label and have it printed by a web server connected to the printer. This second Arduino is completely driven by the main Arduino. Thanks to a protocol we created, we can give to the Ethernet gate all information we need from the main program to have it working with any physical interaction with it.
We are already working on what will be the 3rd seed counter prototype. With a much more professional look and feel, being faster and taking less space.
And here a demo video of one of the early tests while we were tuning speeds that goes through all the process of counting filling and packaging: