Electric Seed Hopper for Remote Gardening




Of all forms of subversion/protest guerilla gardening has got to be my favourites (do a google search), It's non violent, environmentally friendly, and has a healthy dose of humour about it, (and I'd love to give it a go.)

This instructable will show you how to build an electric seed hopper, and give suggestions on ways to use it.

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Step 1: Materials

Here's what you'll be needing:

Small geared down electric motor
Piece of plastic (about 4mm thick)
Small jam pot
About 2.5cm diameter pulley
Some nuts and bolts of various sizes
A couple of washers

For the motor i used a nice small motor with an included gear box that was liberated from the auto focus mechanism of an old video camera.
The pulley was taken from part of the mechanism of a flat bed plotter (i REALLY wish I'd held onto the rest of it, it would of made an excellent x/y table for a simple CNC machine)
And the jam pot was "liberated" from a hotel (i guess they technically where free, but I like to think of myself as a bit of a badass sometimes.)

Step 2: Cutting the Plastic

First you'll be wanting to cut the plastic into a rectangle with the same width as the diameter of the jam pot and enough length to mount the motor horizontally.
I recommend using a sharp point to score a line on the plastic rather than trying to mark it with a pen or pencil.
If your feeling neat and tidy you can file the edges straight and make it look all pretty. (I didn't, but I might clean it up a bit when I get around to using it)

Step 3: Mounting the Motor

This step really depends on what kind of motor you where able to acquire, I was fortunate enough that the one I had, had a mounting bracket pre attached to it and all I had to do was drill the holes in it a little bigger.

You'll want to mount the motor towards one edge of the piece of plastic, leaving enough room to mount the jam pot at the other side.

Drill all the holes and mount it on with a couple of nuts and bolts (the mounting bracket on mine wasn't quite flush so I had to use some washers to make it stand out from the plastic a bit).

Step 4: Mounting the Jam Pot

Place the jam pot on the same side as the motor and move it about till it dosen't interfere with the motor or anything, then place a mark on the other side of the plastic where the centre of the jam pot is, un-mount the motor and drill a hole through the plastic and the lid of the jam pot, making sure the jam pot doesn't move around to much.

Then put a bolt through the jam pot lid, the plastic, a washer, the pulley, another washer and finally put the bolt on top. (if you don't use the kind of pulley I used that has a built in bearing you may have trouble with this because the pulley needs to be able spin freely, use whatever method works to make the pulley able to spin, but you need to make sure that the pulley is as flush with the plastic as possible otherwise seeds will get lodged between the two and the pulley wont be able to spin.)

If all goes well you should end up with something like the second picture bellow, and the pulley should be able to spin freely.

Step 5: Making the Seed Shutes

Now we'll need to make a way to release the seeds.
Firstly, with the pulley and jam pot lid bolted to the plastic, drill a hole down through the pulley, the plastic, and the lid of the jam pot. Now as the pulley rotates all the holes should line up periodically allowing anything placed into the jam pot to fall through.
(you'll need to adjust the size of the hole depending on how large your seeds are, I recommend starting off small and slowly enlarging the hole until it's large enough to allow the seed to fall through)

If your motor does not turn very fast you can spin the pulley round to a different position and drill more holes through the plastic and lid using the hole already drilled in the pulley as a guide, (see the second picture)

Step 6: Attach a Belt, and Finish!

Now you'll need to attach some kind of belt from the motor spindle and around the pulley (I used a bit of rubber from the strap of a face mask).
If all goes well when you put seeds into the jam pot and turn on the motor seed's should fall out the hole in the pulley whenever it lines up with the hole in the jam pot.
And that's pretty much it!

Step 7: Ideas for Use

My home away from Manchester is in the peak district in Derbyshire, it's an area of pretty breathtaking beauty. The one problem is the quarry's, they are all over the place, and if people aren't busy digging more ones they are busy abandoning them, leaving vast empty holes of waste land dotted around the place.
So my idea was to attach this hopper onto an R/C car (soon as i pick mine up from home I will be) fill it up with seeds from a plant that's really hardy and grows quickly (Suggestions anybody?) and go for a drive around the empty quarry beds (.....i would of course be obtaining permission from the relevant party's before hand and taking correct safety measures...), this means you wouldn't have to wander around on foot in damned dangerous places (seriously, you hear quite allot about kids/adults dying/hurting themselves in quarries) , and could stay at a safe distance (off the premises).
You could also attach this to an R/C helicopter and go for a fly over your "favourite" building site (I might make a smaller/lighter one for putting on one of those little cheap helicopters that are around nowadays.)

If that doesn't take your fancy you could always wander around your garden with the hopper and a pack of batteries in your hand planting seed wherever you go :)

Happy gardening!



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    29 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    a few suggestions on plants you could use that could be quite successful (some would say prolific) Paulownia tomentosa (empress tree) Aegopodium podagraria (Ground-elder) Fallopia japonica (japanese knotweed) none of these are particularly pretty, but hey, something is better than nuthin.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Step 7

    Raspberries grow well in poor soil, and are delicious.  The seeds are small too.  Fill 'er up!

    Lupine seeds are miniscule (almost like dust).  They spread readily, and are beautiful.

    Some plants pull nitrogen down into the soil and actually enrich it (clover, for example)  The flowers can be quite pretty too, and bees love 'em.

    I could see this easily mounted on a kite, which can be flown out over the quarry.  The natural updraft from the quarry would easily keep it aloft.  You could also just mount another string on the kite, which you pull and dump the seeds out wherever you like.

    Great idea!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I know this isn't a new instructable, but I would really like to point something out.

    PLEASE use plant species native to your area for this sort of thing, even in undisturbed areas spreading non-native seeds around can be a bad idea, and this is exactly the sort of disturbed area that can cause non-native species to escape and "naturalize" (start reproducing wild) and potentially do a lot of harm to whatever native species.

    (eg. entire Vancouver island squirrel population is from ONE breeding pair that escaped captivity, and their pushing the native squirrel out, and very likely doing damage to the Gary Oak meadows (threatened habitat) by this exclusion and predation of acorns. You know, for an example. I'm more of an animal than a plant person, but I know that plants can also be very successful invaders.)

    1 reply
    el greenosilverrowan

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    We have the squirrel thing in the UK too, the American Grey was introduced around 100 years ago as a possible food source, but it fell out of fashion.

    The native Red Squirrels are smaller and only eat certain foods, but the Grey has taken over entire woodland areas and virtually made the Red extinct.

    They now only survive in isolated woodland areas and islands where the Grey has never been introduced, for example the Isle of Wight.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Wow very good just notice you live near me im also in manchester !! woo manchester Lol i like the idea of Helicopter u could do it to annoy people lol


    10 years ago on Step 7

    I love it man totaly, I have been building a robot for gardening thinking it could handel seeding,watering,harvest,scarecrow in just the same way I kept imagining a bublegum machine style hopper for it, I dont know if your interested in any of that. But my robot has a mandable for cutting and carying and I want to add a 10 dollar plastic drill press holding a servo motor&small auger bit atached and a 5v mini waterpump and bladder im still working on a solar dynomo charging system,water detection and hopeing to add gps so it can go deep woods self charge do its job and return to a pickup point on a schedual- haha! anywho heres a photo I took befor the drillpress and pump&bladder is added you can message me if you like. p.s. this is all prototype and the plywood will be anodized aluminum soon, Im now working on a robotic arm and cargo basket too that will lag behind like a scorpion tail what you see installed is infrared motion detector microcontroler, tamper switch and soon self destruct aswell...still working on knees butsofar it is silent running.kinda cool to find the same proj in diff flavor too.I wonder what slick would think of this lol..

    bugbot 002.jpg
    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    wow! that looks incredible,would love to see a photo of the final version! does it handle rough terrain well?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    The robot pictured here doesn't handel rough terain well, but the new design can even climb trees. I am just now getting setup to be able to cast my own aluminum parts from recycled cans. I was apprenticed as a jeweler and watchmaker/machineist, so I can do the work but got to setup my own shop and tools as you can imagine having a machinist bill for each experiment is costly but by the end of this month I should get to post a new instructable..would it be cool to include a hopper close to your design?


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Just as a warning, be very careful about the plants you use if you decide to do this. There are large tracts of land that have pretty much been taken over in England because of invasive foreign plants getting loose. You can probably get in a lot of trouble if you do this kind of thing with the wrong one.

    Black Eyed Susans are an invasive perrenial, that is drought tolerant, native to North America, easy to grow from seed, and looks nice

    1 reply

    Common birdseed grade sunflower seeds are inexpensive and fix nitrogen into the soil, improving it. I don't think they'll fit in thing thing, however.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Hey }{itch - I've been adding the "guerrilla gardening" keyword to a few other instructables - check it out! Know of any more?

    By the way, I've seen seed balls which work on a similar principle: a bunch of native seeds, embedded in a marble-sized ball of clay and compost. Much easier to make, and they have the advantage that you can toss them (or even shoot with a slingshot) at otherwise inaccessible spots: at a freeway median from the window of a moving car, up a rocky cliff, at your neighbor's over-run garden, in an abandoned lot, etc...

    Anyone care to make a seed ball instructable? I think that would make for a great addition to the Green Science Fair contest running right now...


    11 years ago on Introduction

    AWESOME! The first few pictures, and some near the end are great, and the others are okayish, but still, nice job, and that last picture, how did you find out where I live?

    Just kidding.

    1 reply

    11 years ago on Introduction

    Just don't go nuts with invasive species. Stick to indiginous stuff or the Law of Unintended Consequences will catch up to you. Just ask anyone in the southern United States how they feel about kudzu.