Introduction: Accessible Bird Feeder

During my A-level study of resistant materials , I have produced this accessible bird feeder. the steps here are mostly a thinned out version of my coursework.

full CAD files (produced in AutoDesk) are available on request.

Step 1: The Design Context, Issue and Specification

Design problem:

My aunt jane can’t easily access her current bird table to clean and refill it owing to developing arthritis across her shoulders.

The solution to this design problem may also lend itself to wider user groups:

· Many care homes for the elderly use gardens to provide a calming environment for residents, as well as allowing the residents to maintain a gardening hobby within the home.

· Many primary schools are also now starting their own gardening clubs to encourage a greater understanding and appreciation of nature and wildlife, and so this design could be utilised by them to make accessing bird tables easier for younger children.

Design specification

Purpose: The purpose of this product is twofold

· Firstly, it must be a functional bird table/feeder, used to attract garden birds and hold a week’s worth of food [discussed on page 7]

· Secondly, it must make the maintenance of the table and feeder appropriately accessible for users with limited reach (people of a short stature, wheelchair users, those who's reach is restricted by arthritis or other degenerative conditions and small children) and users with reduced dexterity and grip strength (e.g.. Small children, people with arthritis in the upper body, and people with degenerative conditions)

Form: · The bird table itself could make use of rustic, or antique aesthetics (as suggested by product research of existing bird feeders), and could include elements of art deco design (suggested by my client)

· Any accessibility design elements should not affect the outward aesthetic of the product, and should be simple in appearance.

Function: · This bird table will feature a mechanism to change the height from a ‘viewing height’ and a ‘maintenance height’- the feeding table should be kept level during this time

· The table should be capable of supporting a weight of 4kg of birds and feed

· The bird table should use height or a cage to prevent pest animals from getting at the birdfeed

· It could feature some sort of bug-box to encourage garden insects

Materials/components: · Materials will be chosen for the product depending on the physical and aesthetic qualities required. This decision will be finalised as design work progresses.

· The product could make use of levers, and large grips to ensure that any lowering mechanism used is appropriate for users with reduced motor skills, and/or strength

· The product should use enclosed mechanisms to help ensure safety of users; in particular, young children.

· To ensure smooth operation, and counterbalance any lowering mechanism, the bird table could use a pneumatic cylinder, or an electric motor.

Sustainability · Materials should be chosen to reduce environmental impact. They could contain a proportion of recycled material, and must be easily recycled at the end of the products working life

· Examples of possible materials for this purpose are discussed on page 17

· Improving the durability of the product will extend the products life span, and reduce environmental impact . In addition, making parts easily repaired/ replaced by the user will extend the working life of the product.

Accessibility considerations for users:· The product should be accessible to a range of users including those with reduced dexterity and grip strength, those with a reduced reach and wheelchair users.

· This can be achieved by reducing user required effort

Performance requirements: To be suitable for my primary client, it must fit into the area of the garden already identified

· The product must be stable, to prevent it being knocked over in high winds

· The feeding table should remain level when at the different required heights and when moving between them

· The product should be weather resistant, ensuring that the components will not degrade in wet conditions, become damaged in hot, dry conditions, or degrade in sunlight

Size:· The client has stated that any moveable design should weigh no more than her current bird table [10.6kg]

· The feeder should require a reach of no lower than 450mm and no higher than 1200mm to operate.

· The feeding table itself should be able to be brought down to a height of no less than 71 cm , to allow it to be used by seated or wheelchair users.

Safety: · The product should use enclosed mechanisms to help ensure safety of users; in particular, young children

· The product should avoid featuring sharp edges , and rough surfaces, to prevent users getting splinters, or being scratched.

· Any lowering mechanism used should be counterbalanced to prevent the user from being injured by it’s falling.

Quality: · The product should be finished to a high standard.

Scale of production: · The product is to be made as a one off for the client, but batch production should be considered for commercial scale

Cost:· The product should cost £75-120 to produce this price range is suitable for my client, and is also similarly scaled to market price for comparable products. In larger scale production, this cost could remain constant to the consumer, but given the economies of scale on materials and production costs, a profit could easily be made through commercial scale.

Step 2: Some Details of Construction

Following extensive research of accessibility issues and a LOT of design development, i came up with How i wanted my final design to work and look.Below are pictures of initial sketches and cad work.

In order to make this feeder design work, i needed some kind of ratchet to stop the feeder from moving unexpectedly.

This design used dome nuts fitted into the back of the crank box to engage indents on a sprung spool .( cad drawings below)

The crank box was lasercut from plywood, and uses a hardwood profile produced on the router table to both reinforce the cornes, but also allw he sides to be screwed into place using the face rather than the end grain. the corner reinforcements were inspired by a project by Matthias Wandel (pictured, along with link)

The uprights needed to be hollow to allow for string to be passed through. i opted to use compression fit chrome pipe for this.

The feeder itself was Lasercut in several prts and ghlued and screwed together.

All wooden parts were painted with (4 coats?, certainly 3-5) sadolin oil based outdoor stain. this made the feeder wipe clean.

Finally, the backboard.

I had originally planned to attach the pipe clips to the fence independently, but i realised that the 14 screws required would be a pain to install, so i have attached it to a reclaimed teak backboard that i shaped using a jig on the disc sander.

I 3d printed some 'nozzles' for the string, and an end cop to the handle.

Step 3: Conclusion, Modifications and Review

The client was very happy with the product, and a specification review found it to hit most of the criteria. (I'll not expand here).

The product cost £94 to produce.

one major modification that i would have liked to add is motorisation. to this end, i tested a drill driver and adapter- it worked. if i used a donor drill driver, one could be added for around £30 if i used a basic, NiCd model (removing the need for mains power etc.).

Many thanks for reading, this is just a brief snapshot of the project, and I'd be happy to help with any required clarification.

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