Ammo Press Automation
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  1. #1
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    Question Ammo Press Automation

    I am a hobbyist craftsman and ammunition reloader and hoping this is the right place to ask questions and get some help. I am interested in building an automated ammunition press capable of loading multiple calibers and am seeking some advice. I have a background in woodworking and computer programming, but am a novice with metal work and machine automation. No, I don't need to mass produce ammunition, but am attempting this to both satisfy my desire to build and to learn. I realize that this is a very ambitious project and am ok with failing but not ok with not trying. If you're still with me on this and have some tips, below is the design I have in mind. Ideally, I am looking for suggestions on how to build, design, and common machines and parts that I could repurposed for this build.

    Here is an example commercial grade product that does what I am ultimately trying to do, but I have a few differences I would like to build YouTube. Side note, this product even used sells for way outside of what I can afford.

    Step one of my build is to create a press that simply goes up and down with the capability of setting stroke length (which may not be possible as mentioned in the "third part" below) and speed. It needs to be able to apply pressure similar to a human pressing down on a lever of a single stage hand loader press. The press would be attached to a "tool head" which essentially just has threaded holes at each station to receive the various reloading dies and sensor checks. Not a requirement, but it'd be nice if the tool head could be disconnected from the press so that different tool heads with different calibers could be swapped in. Any advice on design of this system or possibly a common existing machine I could recycle and repurposed for this?

    The next step would be the base ratchet station system. In the video, the press stations are in a straight line. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that a circular sled on a saw tooth ratchet would be an easier design to build. It would ratchet one station per stroke. Plates with attached shellholders would fit inside the ratcheting sled. This way, plates could be dropped in and swapped out from the sled to load different calibers. Any tips on building this and linking it up to the above mentioned press mechanism?

    The third part of the build would be a camshaft or something similar under the above mentioned sled. Some of the stations require a tool to be push up from the bottom of the brass while the tool in the press above holds the brass in place. Again this camshaft would have to be linked into the above mechanism so it runs in sync. I think the best way would be to link the above press in a crank and camshaft configuration. Possibly this camshaft could also link to and drive the station ratcheting system. One problem I see with this design would be that the press would have to always operate at the same stroke length as variable stroke lengths would require the crank to be adjusted and timed. I would appreciate help designing this mechanism as well.

    The tools that fit into the various stations such as the dies and powder drop, are all standard reloading tools that can be purchased online so I don't have to build those. Finally, I would like to incorporate some sensors and computerize it. The programming side of this I am familiar with, but the whole machine would need to be able to take input from a computer. For example, the speed at which it runs or the ability to stop if a sensor finds a problem.

    There is much more, but these are just the basic main movements of the machine. Looking forward to your advice. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Where's the budget?

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    The very first mistake would be to tie a computer to it. That's what breaks down the most, causes more damage to the equipment, and would piss off the Pope with constant updates.

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    Ahhh.
    I remember the days before I bought a Dillon 650. Thinking up all these goofy ideas about fixing this or that junk press problem.

    All the while the guys I shoot USPSA with saying "you dont have a Dillon, yet?"

    For all the time and money I wasted. I could have bought two 650s

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipSplitter View Post
    Where's the budget?
    I don't have a set figure nor do I have a set timeline. This is a hobby project and am not interested in building a production quality machine. With that said, I'd like to try to use repurposed existing machines that I can find to recycle. I realize that this is a big ask and difficult to give advice on. It is probably going to be something I'll need to tinker with on my own. But would appreciate tips such as possible machines, motor types, tools, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pathogen View Post
    The very first mistake would be to tie a computer to it. That's what breaks down the most, causes more damage to the equipment, and would piss off the Pope with constant updates.
    The computer would be very basic, something like a raspberry pi. It would monitor more than control the machine. This is my wheelhouse, so making it "smart" is a primary feature I would like to integrate.

    Quote Originally Posted by GENERALDISARRAY View Post
    Ahhh.
    I remember the days before I bought a Dillon 650. Thinking up all these goofy ideas about fixing this or that junk press problem.

    All the while the guys I shoot USPSA with saying "you dont have a Dillon, yet?"

    For all the time and money I wasted. I could have bought two 650s
    Exactly. I am not trying to build a commercial product or replace my hand press. This is a hobby project that I'd like to take on purely for fun and education. I'm just hoping to get some pointers and suggestions if possible.

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pathogen View Post
    The very first mistake would be to tie a computer to it. That's what breaks down the most, causes more damage to the equipment, and would piss off the Pope with constant updates.
    No joke. You can get a decent PLC from automation direct cheap enough that it's the clear winner.

    Hell, even an arduino would probably fit this application.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole2534 View Post
    No joke. You can get a decent PLC from automation direct cheap enough that it's the clear winner.

    Hell, even an arduino would probably fit this application.
    Arduino would be a great candidate too. I have are parts and sensors for Arduino boards already for the monitoring that would be required. The only exception would be to manipulate the press speed as I have never linked into a motor powerful enough to run a press like this. I could easily handle shut off and power on situations. I feel confident in this area, but not in the actual machine side of things which is the reason for my original post seeking suggestions.

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    I have automated 3 Dillon 1050s (sub guns are an expensive hobby). Unless you are trying to go full retard there is no point in reinventing the wheel. For the 2ish grand one costs you will be hard pressed to build anything better or even equal to it for that amount of money. The coding isn't to bad as I am terrible at coding and was able to do it all myself. I would suggest setting it up to check for primers, powder and tips. You loose you powder checking station when you install a bullet feeder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doloho7907 View Post
    Ideally, I am looking for suggestions on how to build, design, and common machines and parts that I could repurposed for this build.
    I suggest the traditional American way: copy the guys who have already done it. Linky link.

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    when I was a teen I used to move lead for a guy that made one of these, he had it in a concrete block building with a power switch on the outside. I don't know what would cause it but once in a while something would cause it to start popping like a popcorn popper and he would have to shut off the power, go in and fix it, then start it again.

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    Dillon already makes what you are after

    couldn't build one from scratch for what they sell for.

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    Agree with Hardplates for the press mechanism. Just buy a progressive press to mount motors and sensors to. I also really like the Click PLC's from Automation Direct. I have also toyed with the idea of automating a progressive myself, but never got past the thinking about it stage. I would think a high torgue stepper, several sensors to prove the brass, primers, bullets, and powder are flowing properly, etc. I would make DANG sure there was some kind of final quality check, like a final weight that must fall within a certain range. Still though, bullets are tiny explosives, I wouldn't put a single one of them in a gun without putting eyballs on them. A press will still seat a primer upside down . . . and I'm not sure how you could check that one with a PLC.

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    I can appreciate wanting to make a new product from the ground up, but there are good economic reasons for making upgrades to existing equipment. Do what you do best, make kits available for other owners to upgrade their equipment. We make parts for a retailer to upgrade kit-built aircraft. If you can make an upgrade product for an existing item you already have a market, you're not competing with an existing manufacturer. Build up some expertise, look at the good and bad features of the product you are upgrading, and then think about making something from the ground up.

    I admire ambitious people with bold ideas, not trying to be discouraging, just offering some thoughts.

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    I have built collators for the Hornady lnl, cheapest way to go about this

    YouTube


    A lnl is a cheap press.compared to the Dillon's and a good starting point. Make a case and bullet collator and you are set

    Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk


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