Non-Electronic Projects From
The Compact Shop



      As you can tell from the photograph above, my compact shop is used mainly for electronic projects. The shop itself and some of its electronic projects are covered elsewhere. From time to time I use it to build or repair something non-electronic, and those are the projects that I will write about here.


A Hummingbird Feeder Ant Moat

      I needed an ant moat for my hummingbird feeder, and rather than buy one I decided to build my own so that I could maintain and repair it. For those of you who don't feed hummingbirds, their feeders hold a sweet "nectar" which feeds artificial flowers where the hummingbirds sup. Ants also love the nectar, so keeping them out is a necessary task. Ants don't swim well, so placing a water-filled moat in their path is effective. A trip to the hardware store provided the needed parts except for the moat tub.

      I decided that all metal parts would be stainless steel so they would not rust outdoors. The stainless turnbuckle was the smallest I could buy that I could easily modify to hang on the feeder pole, but I had to use a hand sledge and a large cold chisel to make the loop large enough. The threads are 5/16", so I also needed a 5/16" stainless nut, as well as two stainless fender washers and two 1/8" thick rubber washers, all with 5/16" holes. The moat tub is a yogurt tub - I always have plenty on hand because I like yogurt. I keep empty tubs on hand to hold parts from electronic projects underway in the shop.

      After enlarging the loop I screwed it all the way in using low stength (purple) threadlocker. That keeps parts from loosening up. Because they are not subject to much stress or vibration, and because I wanted easy disassembly for repairs, I used purple threadlocker. I drilled a 5/16" hole through the bottom of the tub, unscrewed the hook from the turnbuckle, and started assembly. The nut was threaded all the way down the hook threads and secured with threadlocker. Above it are stacked a fender washer, a rubber washer, the tub, the second rubber washer and the second fender washer. The turnbuckle body was threaded onto the hook, secured with threadlocker, and tightened to clamp the tub securely between the rubber washers. The rubber washers and the threads sealed with threadlocker keep things water-tight.

      I put the moat in place and put water in the tub. Now if an ant climbs down the turnbuckle and encounters the water she (workers are sterile, wingless females) backs off and climbs back up.

      In the past I had tried deterrents such as bearing grease, but that did not stop the largest ants who crossed it with ease. I have read of people using double faced tape around their feeder poles. Grease and tape, however, are not suitable solutions because if a hummingbird wing encounters either the bird's ability to fly can be hampered. This was a simple project and took less than two hours to build and install.

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