New Bean Cracker Prototype, Getting the Motor

wooden bean cracker

I had a sudden meeting in Manila. On my way home, I did a quick stopped over in Raon and looked for a suitable geared motor the new cocoa bean cracker prototype.

Because my current motor often stops, I thought of getting a stronger one. I preferred the same size or a slightly bigger, about the size of evaporated milk can. Too big was sure overkill, and will consume more electricity too.

Roasted cacao can be easily cracked and shells removed by hand. Mostly, but, few are still hard and need more force to accomplish. My current motor could easily crack most efficiently, but, those hard few causes it to stop. Therefore, I need a stronger.

Getting stronger machine with more power than I needed would be wise. However, it may also cut twigs, stones, plastic pieces and metal that were missed during sorting. I don’t want that to happen. In addition, hard contaminants such as stone and metal might damage the equipment for the next step, the grinder. My bean cracker should be able to give a sign if unwanted material is present.

Most bean cracker I saw online have large motors. Other claims that theirs could break beans of any hardness with ease, and even stones.

So I got what I think is enough. It was a mere assumption. Geared motor that could be be stopped by my two hands and with pliers grip.

I know I can minimize mistakes by using the standard unit of force. That is true, if I know how much force is needed to crack every bean and not the others. I use the power of trial and error for as long as I don’t know.

So this is the bean cracker with motor installed. I also got aluminum gears and drive belt from the same store. The belt tensioner was 3d printed. The  roller assembly was replaced with full steel.

wooden bean cracker

I can’t wait to test it and do more revision.

New Bean Cracker Prototype, Initial Testing

new diy bean cracker with hopper

So I got the  bean cracker prototype to a rough working condition. I made a locking mechanism for break size adjustment and a crude crank handle.

I got excited and wanted to test it right away. I felt it cannot wait for real production batch. In addition, its none coated condition makes it not fit for production trials. Wood dust may end with the nibs.

I gathered some reject beans. Those that were broken, partially shelled and sprouted. I am not using them anyway and are ending up as compost. Better make use of them before the decomposition thing happen.

I adjusted oven condition just for one tray of unfit beans. Preheated, maintained desired temperature and other things that are done during normal production batch.

I had the roasted beans for testing. As expected, shelled and partially shelled beans are burnt. I was glad I am rejecting them.

Loaded beans on hopper and crank the handle. It was very slow for unfinished prototype. However, I felt good news already. I was hearing cracking sounds for every quarter turn. Unlike the current one. Equipped with a motor and continuously turning but frequently fails to drop cracked cacao.

Now I will work my way to making the shaft solid steel and have it sit on nice ball bearings.

I set a free time. I did final measurements and went to the nearest machine shop.  I had the roller machine out of full steel.  Hard stainless steel is next in line if things go the way I want.

I got a geared motor and  had it installed. Semi-automated test is next. Hope it goes smoothly.

The cocoa cracker winnower.

I believe I started working on a cocoa winnower last November 2014. Cocoa winnowing outside the house with the use of fan and bamboo tray works just fine but there are two great drawbacks. First is the losses. There is a considerable amount of nib loss that is beyond my control. Those nibs that are accidentally blown away by fan are laid on dirty ground. Why would I pick them back? The second. It is unsanitary. I am throwing mess off my yard and in return the nibs that are suppose to be human food are also catching dirt.

Buying a winnower to save me the trouble was a good idea. However, there is no such in the local scene. All there are, are from foreign land that I need loose a lot plus import charges. There should be a better way so I did some research work.

A combination of vacuum cleaner, PVC pipes, and a pipe gallon bucket could be tuned to become a cocoa winnower. Such contraption is used by many artisan chocolate makers. They are saying less than 50$ worth of materials plus the cost of shop-vac works well. The money they save are thrown to buy more cacao beans.

How many revisions I have done? I think its about five now. I equipped it with another diy project, the cocoa cracker. My current build has a recent nib recovery of 82% with the large fermented and well dried beans.

I’ll post picture later.