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I am an electrical engineer, making a hobby project on an automated unwanted-material-removal system in grains and pulses (rice, wheat, etc). I am well versed with programming and electrical stuff, but I am stuck at one point with the mechanical design.

My system uses a camera located on top of a conveyor belt. The camera scans the belt and identifies various impurities on the belt (using an intelligent machine learning algorithm). A brush is positioned further down the belt that pushes the impurities off the belt.

My idea for the system is to simply make the device sit in any container, with the belt part projecting out of the container. A tumbler below the belt will collected the purified grains. Sort of the things that you see in rock crushing plants.

So, for this, I need to design a mechanical system that lifts the rice and puts / pours onto the conveyor belt. I am unable to come up with any solid design, given that I am from an electrical engineering background. And the system should be low powered, dust resistant and should work with one slowly rotating motor (or maybe a fast motor with a set of step-down gear system)

Can anyone suggest me a good starting point for such systems or what design I can use to achieve the same?

Note: The quantity of rice or grains moved in a unit time is very small, say a handful.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Raghavendra Kumar, welcome to Engineering SE. If you need a mechanical system designed to particular specifications, I suggest hiring a mechanical engineer. Otherwise, please edit your question to focus on one specific engineering problem. $\endgroup$ – Air May 2 '16 at 16:51
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There are several ways to lift grains:

  • auger/screw conveyor
  • cup elevator - like a vertical conveyor belt with cups mounted to it, cups tilt near top
    • There are also systems with little plates on a string, beeing pulled through a pipe (i forgot the name)

All of the above are used in large scale grain handling.

However, given that the quantitiy is 'a handful', I would consider another approach: Consider a hopper above a rotary feeder - a bunch of chambers on a wheel. Bulk goods fall into the chamber when it's on top, the wheel turns slowly and the bulk goods fall from the chamber when it's in the bottom position. This allows the dosing of bulk goods. You can use a rotary feeder with a large hopper and forgoe the conveyor.

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  • $\begingroup$ My system is hardly 40 cm x 40 cm x 10 cm. I am looking for a plastic, light weight system. The tinier, the better. Can I get any more details about the screw conveyor, how to design and implement it. Especially considering rice is a slippery material. Will a screw be able to lift it? $\endgroup$ – Raghavendra Kumar May 2 '16 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ @RaghavendraKumar en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screw_conveyor $\endgroup$ – Air May 2 '16 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ @air Is it possible to build a plastic screw conveyor that works with rice or small grains? Will they be lifted up without breaking / being crushed? What if rice get stuck between the moving part and the stationary part? $\endgroup$ – Raghavendra Kumar May 2 '16 at 16:50
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    $\begingroup$ @RaghavendraKumar This technology is perfect for grains. This is a very accessible project for a novice, I suggest doing some searching - you will find youtube videos and do-it-yourself guides, not at the exact scale you need, but close enough that the same principles will apply. $\endgroup$ – Air May 2 '16 at 17:09

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