Auto-Trickler Gently Doles Out Powder To Assist Reloading

Do you even trickle?

[Eric] does, and like everything else about reloading, trickling is serious business. Getting an exact charge of powder to add to a cartridge is not a simple task, and very tedious when done manually. This smartphone-controlled auto-trickler is intended to make the job easier, safer, and more precise.

Reloading ammunition is a great way for shooters to save money and recycle the brass casings that pile up at the end of a long day at the range. It can be a fairly simple process of cleaning the casings, replacing the spent primers, adding the correct powder charge, and seating a new bullet. It’s all pretty straightforward, but the devil is in the details, especially with the powder charge. A little too much can be a big problem, so tricklers were invented to allow the reloader to sneak up on the proper charge. [Eric]’s auto-trickler interfaces to a digital powder scale and uses a standard cell phone vibration motor to gently coax single kernels of powder from a hopper until the proper charge has accumulated. It’s easier to understand by watching the video below.

The hardware behind the trickler is pretty standard — just a Raspberry Pi Zero to talk to the smartphone UI via Bluetooth, and to monitor and control the scale via USB. [Eric] has made all the code open source so that anyone can build their own auto-trickler, which we applaud; he did the same thing with his rifle-mounted accelerometer. This project might have applications far beyond reloading where precision dispensing is required.

41 thoughts on “Auto-Trickler Gently Doles Out Powder To Assist Reloading

        1. In some more civilized countries, firearms aren’t common. So without the context, it is not obvious.

          I am pointing out bad writing style which is VERY obvious. Do not assume the readers know what you are talking about.

          1. I live in the UK. An uncivilized country that banned guns.
            I happen to enjoy shooting them and I travel to europe to do so (thanks to cheap flights it’s quite possible to have day at the range for a few hundred quid shooting firearms that are highly illegal in the UK)

            I didn’t twig this was about firearms till 3rd paragrpah (second had me doubting) reloading isn’t something I’ve ever done. but sure I’m aware of it.
            TBH I thought it was about printer cartridges at first.

          2. Bwa, firearms are banned here (although a lot of illegal guns exist) but I am sure most people would understand reloading “something” with “some” powder means recycling bullets…

          3. the slight dig at the united states is way too obvious. That being said, I think firearms are more common than you would think, and while some countries have banned handguns this article refers to distance sport shooting which is usually done with a long gun. Long guns are legal in almost every “civilized” country.

            Another thing, this is the internet, on the internet it is all about the views for ad revenue. Thus almost everywhere you will see a writing style that lures the reader in and keeps them on the page for as long as possible. I do not see anywhere in this short article that assumes what the reader knows or does not know as by the end of the article everything is explained to the reader. So your ideas of bad writing style are entirely subjective, If the title or the first paragraph explained everything then what motivation would the reader have to continue reading. That being said, there is nothing stopping you from applying to write for hackaday so that we may judge your writing style.

          4. Shotguns are still legal in the UK, and it’s easier to get a license for one there than in New York City. Despite what you may have heard, handgun licenses are even still a thing in Australia.

          5. Maybe not to you, but, it seems blatantly obvious to others. Oh, and your underhanded dig against the US was adorable. For your information, junior, the private ownership of firearms does not make a country uncivilized. If anything it’s the opposite. But if being an unarmed serf depending on your government for your personal protection works for you and yours, then I’m happy for ya. Must be nice living in a utopia.

          6. Oh, and moderators… I clicked accidentilly clicked “Report” when I meant “Reply”. There’s nothing wrong with this post, I’m just an idiot. :-D

  1. I will take this as a ‘proof of concept’ rather than a useful solution. Most serious shooters use progressive reloading systems. Hence the useful solution would be a (safe) attachment for a Dillon press that has a pre-dispenser chamber for precise measuring. To be useful, would have to more accurate and just as rapid as the existing Dillon powder bars.

    1. It depends if you are going for quantity or quality. If you’re pumping out 9mm rounds you use a progressive press. If you’re loading for a 338 lapua and trying for tight groups at 500 yards you’re doing your reloading on a single stage press carefully measuring your powder using a trickler.

    2. I do not believe you have any understanding of what a serious shooter is. Especially mentioning a progressive press. Like saying only serious coffee drinkers drink Maxwell House

        1. I would think someone trying to “put five rounds into one hole at a 1000 yards” would avoid drinking coffee, altogether. Caffeine shakes and all that…

    3. I have a Dillon and an RCBS attached to their companion presses and while they are good enough to get me 1 MOA at 100, like GYRE said, if you are poking rounds through the same hole at 1K, you better be trickling.

        1. Plus the professional snipers have reloading labs where they measure every dimension of each case and make sure each round is as much like the others as possible. At thousands of yards even the tiniest difference at the gun can make a huge difference at the target.

  2. Very cool. I’d be initially concerned about emi/rfi causing issues with the scale, but if they didn’t occur in the beginning, they aren’t an issue. For the folks in the cheap seats, .1 grain or 6.5 mg weight variations are about the upper limit of what most will tolerate.

    1. This is the same thing I’ve been reading about automated volumetric powder dispensers for over 10 years. I’ve owned ones made by PACT, RCBS and Hornady and I’ve never seen one affected by rfi although I keep hearing the same things, “keep them away from fluorescent lights” even though I’ve operated them all beneath a fluorescent light without an issue.

  3. A Dillon press measures a physical mass based off an attribute other than mass and infers the mass from it. Thus there is no way it could be as accurate as a device which measures directly off mass. It doesn’t even measure by volume of the granular material – it measures the total volume occupied by that material.

    If the gunpowder has a different flake size or shape, or humidity is different, or there’s more powder in a hopper forcing the gunpowder into the compartment. There’s a reason bakers measure by weight. Flour and many other ingredients, just like almost any granular substance, even something made of stone, ie sand – can be compacted.

    If you think that something is more accurate than a scale which weighs down to individual particles of gunpowder, you’re crazy. The gunpowder would have to be completely uniform and that is basically impossible with a granular substance.

      1. The balance used (A&D FX-120i) weighs to the milligram.
        The current US penny composition weighs 2500 mg.
        Older US pennies (1982 back to 1864) weigh 3110 mg, except the 1943 steel ones at 2720 mg.
        So, yes, but you could get it done with a much less expensive balance.
        [will.sweatman] hacked a serial out onto a cheap scale:
        The cheap solution with all off-the-shelf hardware is to point a webcam at the scale’s display and OpenCV.

      2. Wonder if you could sort pennies using magnets? Roll them down a ramp flanked with powerful magnets and time how long it takes to move a fixed distance. Pure copper coins should be slowed down more by the eddy currents – ok, the Lorenz forces exerted by the eddy currents – than the copper-clad pennies. Use a servo to deflect the slower coins into a bin. Profit.

        1. Interesting idea. As for profit, you have to balance the $0.008 per copper penny found against the cost of obtaining loads of unsorted pennies and returning the zinc ones.

        2. many years ago I worked with a “mars” mech that allowed you to determine which coins were entered by timing how long it took a coin to travel between two points. I’m pretty sure it was a straight drop (no ramps) and that magnets were involved.

    1. you clearly have no concept of what is going on in the UK. The UK imports much MUCH more from the EU than it exports to the EU. It is far easier to find a new supplier in the word market than it is to find a new buyer. To put it in terms even a red neck can understand: the EU has a gun at the UK’s head but the end the bullets come out of is pointing squarely at the EU.

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