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Dspdrew's Liquid Feeder 01 Research and Design (Updated 5-30-2016)


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#1 Offline dspdrew - Posted September 30 2015 - 1:36 PM

dspdrew
  • LocationSanta Ana, CA
A few people have been posting ideas about a liquid feeder that uses capillary action lately. I too have been designing one like that mainly because I need something that dispenses from the top to avoid having the ants bury it, which leads to all of the liquid draining out and making a mess.
 
About three weeks ago, I quickly thew something together just to test out the concept. I used kevlar for the wick since it's very strong and also fairly hydrophilic, unlike some of the other popular kevlar-like materials that are intentionally designed to be hydrophobic, and therefor useless in capillary action. I only had kevlar belt at the time, so I just had to pull off some strands.
 
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Even though I never actually saw any of the ants drinking from it, their gasters have been bulging with bright red liquid, so it's obvious they have been.
 
Yesterday I got my kevlar string so I made another prototype. I took a large sewing needle and poked the string through the soft PP test tube caps. It loops over so there's no way it will fall out.
 
med_gallery_2_494_443864.jpg
 
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It was nice how the PP actually closed tightly around the string after pushing a slightly larger needle through, but that actually causes a problem. After filling them up and pushing the caps on, the liquid kept bubbling out slowly due to the pressure. I just poked two very tiny holes on each side of the string to solve that problem.
 
med_gallery_2_494_107265.jpg
 
 
So far they're working great.
 
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I put barely any liquid in one of them, and it soaked right up the string no problem.
 
One of the things I'm trying to achieve is less evaporation, so I'll be testing that out also. I also need to make sure they continue to soak up liquid as well as they do in the beginning.
 
I'm planning to 3D print these to the exact shape I want. No way am I going to be gluing a hundred tubes to plastic bases.
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#2 Offline Foogoo - Posted September 30 2015 - 7:47 PM

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If wonder if this type of design would discourage ants from piling debris on it, since there no (or very, very little) free flowing liquid.


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Camponotus vicinus, Crematogaster 1, Crematogaster 2, Formica francoeuri, *, *, Myrmecocystus testaceus, Novomessor cockerelli, Pheidole hyatti, Pogonomyrmex californicus, Pogonomyrmex rugosus, Solenopsis invicta


#3 Offline Subverted - Posted September 30 2015 - 9:29 PM

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I like this design a lot more than mine!


My ants | My free feeder design | PM or email me if you need and 3d printing, cnc machining, or manufacturing done: http://www.lrmachining.com

Make your own mold/fungus/bacteria resistant test tube water! Don't get ripped off! Read my simple guide: http://www.formicult...-simple-how-to/

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#4 Offline drtrmiller - Posted October 1 2015 - 12:07 AM

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If wonder if this type of design would discourage ants from piling debris on it, since there no (or very, very little) free flowing liquid.


The biggest contributing factor in ants putting debris on liquid is whether they are actively feeding on it. Otherwise, freestanding liquid is deemed a hazard, and debris is used as a tool to eliminate the hazard, or hide the resource from competitors.

In my fire ant colony, for example, if I dispense droplets of liquid food, the ants will continue to drink from the droplets until every colony member has had their fill, and will only place debris on the droplets if the ants are completely full. In nature, liquid sugars are so rare, we almost never observe this behavior. It is only in captivity, and only where there is an unlimited supply of sugary liquid and a limited supply of hungry ants, that this phenomena occurs.

The number one way to eliminate the behavior is to limit the amount of liquid food, and to only feed as much as the ants can consume to satisfy the needs of the colony at any particular moment. Any method that limits the rate at which the colony may consume the liquid, to the extent that the colony would require constant access in order to meet demand, would be likely to eliminate the behavior.
 
byFormica® is the manufacturer of the iconic nectar feeders and Sunburst Ant Nectar.
byFormica ant products always deliver consistent performance, convenience,
and reliability, making them among the most beloved ant foods and kit enjoyed by
ant keeping enthusiasts worldwide. For more information, visit www.byFormica.com.

#5 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 1 2015 - 6:14 AM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

I like this design a lot more than mine!

 

Thanks. :D

 

 

 

If wonder if this type of design would discourage ants from piling debris on it, since there no (or very, very little) free flowing liquid.


The biggest contributing factor in ants putting debris on liquid is whether they are actively feeding on it. Otherwise, freestanding liquid is deemed a hazard, and debris is used as a tool to eliminate the hazard, or hide the resource from competitors.

In my fire ant colony, for example, if I dispense droplets of liquid food, the ants will continue to drink from the droplets until every colony member has had their fill, and will only place debris on the droplets if the ants are completely full. In nature, liquid sugars are so rare, we almost never observe this behavior. It is only in captivity, and only where there is an unlimited supply of sugary liquid and a limited supply of hungry ants, that this phenomena occurs.

The number one way to eliminate the behavior is to limit the amount of liquid food, and to only feed as much as the ants can consume to satisfy the needs of the colony at any particular moment. Any method that limits the rate at which the colony may consume the liquid, to the extent that the colony would require constant access in order to meet demand, would be likely to eliminate the behavior.

 

 

I think you're exactly right. I've been noticing that since these things let such a tiny amount of liquid out at such a slow rate, the ants are drinking from them for hours and hours, and I have yet to see any of them place any debris on them. I was thinking that this might be a lot more similar to aphids, or other natural sources of sweet liquids where you don't see the ants trying to bury them. It will be interesting to see some longer term results.


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#6 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 1 2015 - 6:32 AM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

I set up one of these, and one of the older byFormica feeders which are very good feeders, just not designed for long term use, but more of a short term feast that can supply a large amount of ants at once. I wanted to see how much less evaporation occurs in these compared to the feeders with far more exposed liquid. I set them up and marked them last night around 8:00 pm in my server room where it's very hot. I checked them this morning around 5:00 am, and the byFormica feeder had dropped about 8 mm, while mine has not moved any amount that I can see. This is perfect!....for my needs anyway.

 

I can't wait to check them again when I get home. These things might last for months. :D

 

Keep in mind, these feeders are only going to work with liquid that contains very tiny particles, like hummingbird nectar, sugar water, byFormica SUNBURST Ant Nectar, or other solutions.

 

The final design I am planning to make in the shape of a cone, since that would best utilize the space they take up, while keeping a low center of gravity. A cone would also be very difficult to pile debris onto, and would also act as a decent ramp and place for the ants to stand while drinking.


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#7 Offline Huch - Posted October 1 2015 - 3:12 PM

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Well, that makes feeding easier and safer. Good work.
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#8 Offline NightsWebs - Posted October 1 2015 - 8:54 PM

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looks good drew now if it would work for Pogonomyrmex


Current Colonies;

Acromyrmex Versicolor

Dorymyrmex Bicolor

Pogonomyrmex Californicus
Pogonomyrmex Rugosus

Pogonomyrmex Tenuispinus
Novomessor Cockerelli
Myrmecocystus Mexicanus

 

Last Update: 08 Jul 2016

 

 


#9 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 2 2015 - 5:16 AM

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looks good drew now if it would work for pogos

 

That would definitely be the ultimate test, although Pogonomyrmex don't really need sweet liquids, as it's not something they eat in the wild.



#10 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 2 2015 - 5:26 AM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA

Good and Bad news:

 

After 24 hours of sitting in 110 degree air, the liquid level in this feeder didn't drop at all, while the typical gravity fed feeder dropped about 3/4 of an inch. That's great and all, but what happened is the string dried out, and seemed to stop wicking up any liquid. I messed with it a bit, and even washed it out, but it still seemed as though capillary action just completely stopped. I got a little suspicious of the tight polypropylene holes around the string, and poked them out a little bigger loosening it up a bit. Once I did this the liquid started flowing again. I don't know why, but it seems the holes continued to close up, and maybe the extreme heat even had something to do with it too. Since the strings will probably be going through harder plastic (PLA) once these are 3D printed, I was planning on having slightly larger holes because the needle will need to fit through, and that plastic is not stretchy like PP. So if it was just a matter of the string being choked off, then this won't be too big of a deal. I reset the test after enlarging the holes, and set these up in room temperature this time. This will not only be a test of evaporation, but a test to see if they continue working as well.



#11 Offline Foogoo - Posted October 2 2015 - 7:44 AM

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I just made something similar, except I went the lazy route and got small bottles with an orifice reducer. The hole is just about right for silica wick and so far it's working well, but time will tell.


Camponotus vicinus, Crematogaster 1, Crematogaster 2, Formica francoeuri, *, *, Myrmecocystus testaceus, Novomessor cockerelli, Pheidole hyatti, Pogonomyrmex californicus, Pogonomyrmex rugosus, Solenopsis invicta


#12 Offline Foogoo - Posted October 3 2015 - 5:40 PM

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Update, the silica wick has been working great. The hole in the orifice bottle is also just right which may also be a factor. Anyone making this should give the wick a try, it's available really cheap on amazon/ebay or locally. There's also no loose fibers for the ants to rip up.

 

In fact, I've got more wick than I'll likely ever use so I can probably toss a length in the mail if anyone wants to give it a try.


Camponotus vicinus, Crematogaster 1, Crematogaster 2, Formica francoeuri, *, *, Myrmecocystus testaceus, Novomessor cockerelli, Pheidole hyatti, Pogonomyrmex californicus, Pogonomyrmex rugosus, Solenopsis invicta


#13 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 3 2015 - 6:12 PM

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Pictures?



#14 Offline Crystals - Posted October 3 2015 - 7:22 PM

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I gave this a shot, with a small plastic container, same type I used in my original feeder tutorial.  I used a piece of chamois for a wick.  It is working very well, a bit more evaporation than I usually see.  I could probably reduce it by making the piece exposed to the air smaller.


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#15 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 3 2015 - 8:14 PM

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I could probably reduce it by making the piece exposed to the air smaller.

 

Yes, of course. It's all about the amount of surface area. Your feeders have a pretty small amount.



#16 Offline NightsWebs - Posted October 4 2015 - 6:15 PM

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ok Drew now that you have done the testing phase for your wicking feeders when are you going to make the 3D printer type and when can I expect you to start selling them? Hahahahaha


Current Colonies;

Acromyrmex Versicolor

Dorymyrmex Bicolor

Pogonomyrmex Californicus
Pogonomyrmex Rugosus

Pogonomyrmex Tenuispinus
Novomessor Cockerelli
Myrmecocystus Mexicanus

 

Last Update: 08 Jul 2016

 

 


#17 Offline Trailandstreet - Posted October 7 2015 - 12:36 AM

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one simple feeder is this, it works well, but I turned it around and made the hole in the lid, so you can refill without making a mess

http://ameisenportal...2&hilit=spender


:hi: Franz

if you find any mistakes, it's my autocorrection. it doesn't speak english.


#18 Offline Crystals - Posted October 7 2015 - 6:45 AM

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That is neat.  Looks like a piece wire holding it up, nice and simple. 

Hopefully that will discourage any ant trying to carry dirt to the feeder.


"Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astound the rest." -- Samuel Clemens

 

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#19 Offline dspdrew - Posted October 11 2015 - 4:40 PM

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  • LocationSanta Ana, CA
Well it's been nine days, and the feeder is still working fine. You can see the difference in the amount of evaporation between this feeder, and the ByFormica feeder. This one only experienced about 25 percent the evaporation.
 
med_gallery_2_494_517074.jpg
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#20 Offline Foogoo - Posted October 11 2015 - 5:37 PM

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Here's mine. I'm pretty lazy busy so this worked great, simply shove a piece of wick through the orifice bottle and it's set. The Formica have trouble climbing up the glass sides so I placed it next to the branch. Crematogaster and Pheidole have no trouble getting up to the good stuff.

 

IMG 20151011 183147

Camponotus vicinus, Crematogaster 1, Crematogaster 2, Formica francoeuri, *, *, Myrmecocystus testaceus, Novomessor cockerelli, Pheidole hyatti, Pogonomyrmex californicus, Pogonomyrmex rugosus, Solenopsis invicta





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