BioPod Tips and Tweaks

 

I don’t take any responsibility for damage you may cause to your BioPod or to yourself in trying the modifications illustrated on this page. I have not tested all of these modifications in operation, so I cannot promise that they will not adversely effect the performance of the unit. (the legal department made me say that) (as if we have a legal department :))

Main lid modification

As shipped, the BioPod Plus main lid will not open far enough to stay up, in the open position. You may access the inside of the unit via the convenience lid, but some people, including myself, enjoy observing the colony with the main lid open. This can be accomplished by removing some material from the rear edge of the lid which normally contacts the body of the unit and prevents the lid from opening further. In the photos below I removed a little less than ½ inch/13mm which resulted in the lid stopping at about 35º past vertical. This seems to be working well, but I wouldn’t recommend removing more material, and removing a little less might be more desirable.

The procedure is fairly simple but please use caution when using sharp tools. I simply drew a line on the lid a consistent distance from the body as pictured below, and carefully cut it away. It’s very easy to slip when cutting plastics like this. To avoid that, always use light pressure and make several passes to get all of the way through the material. Don’t rush it. The best result will come from using very little force.

BioPod Plus lid mod 1

BioPod Plus lid mod 2

BioPod Plus lid mod 3

 

Securing the harvest bucket

 

This modification might be useful if your BioPod is in an area accessible by dogs or wild animals like raccoons. All you need to do is to mount a bolt to the body of the BioPod and drill two more holes in the harvest bucket so that the bolt passes though. A wing nut holds the bucket in place. The bolt needs to be high on the wall of the main body, about 1 inch (2.5cm) below where the wall curves toward the harvest slot, because that’s were the gap between the body and harvest bucket is narrowest. You can see in the photos where I first tried mounting it lower but had to patch it. Neoprene washers were used to mount the bolt because I think the pressure might help keep it tight over time. You could also do that with metal washers and a drop of Loctite on the nut. I used a 1/4 inch X 5 inch galvanized hex bolt, but 4 inches would have been long enough. I used a long 1/4″ drill bit and held the bucket in place while drilling all three holes, the one in the body and the two in the bucket. The holes in the bucket were widened a little to make replacing the bucket after emptying it a little easier. Holding the harvest bucket in position while drilling through it and the BioPod body is tricky so it’s best to have someone help you.

BioPod Plus mod- securing harvest bucket 1

BioPod Plus mod-securing harvest bucket 2

BioPod Plus mod-securing harvest bucket 3

 

The tips below are for the original BioPod

  1. Assembling the BioPod
  2. Lid tab modification
  3. Optional straight drain modification
  4. Coconut fiber pre-filter

1) ASSEMBLING THE BIOPOD

DRAIN ASSEMBLY - At one point in the assembly process you need to insert the drain body through the BioPod body, the metal stand, and the lid of the liquid collection jar before threading the drain nut on to it. It can be tricky to hold all of these bulky parts while threading the nut. The problem comes in trying to hold the drain from inside the BioPod body, and it may be easier for some if the unit is upside down while threading the nut. My alternative method takes advantage of the bar that crosses the diameter of the drain opening. After lining up the parts as described you can grab the drain crossbar with a pair of pliers and turn the assembly upside-down.* While holding the drain with pliers (with one hand) you can set the inverted BioPod firmly on the ground and use the other hand to tighten the drain nut. By gently pulling up on the pliers you can make securing the drain nut easier.**

*You have to pass the pliers through the nut so that it’s in position before grabbing the drain crossbar with the pliers.

**The threads on the outside of the drain body are reversed (so that they match up with the inside threads which receive the filter body). Keep this in mind while threading the drain nut onto the drain body.

The fit of the nut on the outer threads of the drain is somewhat loose and if you try to tighten it snugly it may jump the threads. I’ve gotten feedback that assembling the drain has been tricky, but no one has reported any malfunctions once they’ve put their BioPods into use.

BioPod drain body BioPod drain from above BioPod drain from below with jar lid 2a

BioPod drain from below with o-ring BioPod drain from below with pliers BioPod drain-threading the nu

BioPod drain completed-bottom view Flop Ear Dog the BioPod assembly supervisor

2) LID TAB MODIFICATION

I DRILLED HOLES IN THE UPPER TABS TO MAKE THIS MODIFICATION. IF YOU DO THIS YOU RUN THE RISK OF DOING PERMANENT DAMAGE TO YOUR BIOPOD, WHICH WILL BE ENTIRELY YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY.

The BioPod is manufactured with two tabs on the top of the lid that line up with two tabs on the BioPod body. The o-rings that are included with a BioPod slip over the top and bottom tabs to keep the lid in place. While this works fine I chose to modify my upper tabs so that I could attach rings directly to the top tab. With this modification I’m less likely to lose the rings.

After making this change I needed larger rings and I couldn’t easily find o-rings that were large enough. I ended up buying a package of hair holding stretchy things at a drugstore. They were cheap and they seem to work fine.

For this tweek you only drill one hole in each of the two upper tabs which are molded into the lid. I used a 1/4 inch (6-7mm) drill bit. I held a piece of metal behind the tab to protect the BioPod lid. The hole didn’t seem to significantly weaken the tab, but as a precautionary measure you could first fill the hollow space inside the tabs with a two part epoxy and let it harden.

drilling the upper tab hair tie on upper tab

3) OPTIONAL STRAIGHT DRAIN – D.I.Y. MODIFICATION

UPDATE: I recently removed the compost from my half full BioPod because it was draining slowly which I thought was due to clogging. With the BioPod empty I added a few quarts/liters of water to it and it drained in 15-20 seconds so the problem wasn’t the drain itself. Robert from ProtaCulture suggested that I try adding a layer of coconut fiber, also known as coir, to the bottom of the BioPod as a pre-filter. I’ve done this and give more details in the next section of this page.

I decided not to use the liquid or “tea” that results from bio-composting with BSF so I installed a drain that runs directly into the ground.

Care should be taken to prevent the tea from leaking out anywhere near the BioPod. That’s because this liquid is a very strong attractant to the female BSF adults who are looking for an egg laying site. If any tea is present outside of the BioPod some of the females will lay their eggs near it and the resulting grubs won’t be contained in the unit. This usually wouldn’t be an issue with an existing colony because you’ll still get plenty of eggs in the BioPod, but it could slow the process of establishing a colony.

Sometimes manufacturers modify their design, but If your drain is exactly like mine this is a very simple project. Fortunately the inner threads on my BioPod’s filter matched the threads on a 1.5 inch pvc male adapter. You may want to confirm that your drain also matches the adapter’s threads before beginning the project.

Supplies

  • 1.5 inch pvc pipe – about 2 feet long
  • (1) 1.5 inch pvc adapter with male threads
  • Pvc glue
  • Plastic scrubbers or any similar material – I used two types, one course and one fine
  • An old cotton tee shirt or towel
  • 5 gallons of large rocks

Procedure

This will be much easier with a new or empty BioPod. Of course you must remove the liquid collection jar and the filter body and original filter material. Removing the jar lid requires disassembling the unit and is optional.

CAUTION: You could really hurt yourself doing stuff like this. You’ve been warned!

  1. Glue the pvc male adapter to the pipe.
  2. Invert the BioPod.
  3. Screw the pipe into the threads originally designed for the filter body (metal screen), but do not tighten it securely.
  4. Mark the pipe at the point where it will enter the ground, roughly even with the feet of the stand.
  5. Remove the pipe and carefully cut or drill drainage holes beginning a few inches below where the drain enters the ground. No holes should be made in the section of pipe that will be above the ground.
  6. Tighten the pipe firmly into the filter threads – I used “real-tuff” paste thread sealant to make tightening easier and to better seal it.
  7. Stuff whatever you’re using as filter medium into the pipe. I pulled my plastic scrubbers apart first so they would fit more uniformly in the pipe. I put the looser scrubbers at the top because I think it will be less likely to clog up than the finer material. You could probably use just the looser type, but I didn’t have enough. :)
  8. Dig the drain hole deep enough to accept the drain pipe, but don’t make it as wide as the BioPod legs.
  9. Line the hole with some fabric that will biodegrade easily so you can leave it in the ground. This will prevent fine dirt from filling the spaces between the rocks.
  10. Set the BioPod with attached drain in place
  11. Fill the lined hole with rocks
  12. Cover the top of the rock with fabric.
  13. Fill in with soil as needed.

My directions above are a little different than the order I used so these photos don’t match them exactly. I suggest using the written directions primarily and using the photos as a general reference.

drain project - adapter threaded drain project - pipe and filter media drain project - drainage slits

drain project - drain pipe installed drain project - filter media - course scrubbers drain project - inside view with helper

drain project - fine scrubber installed drain project - BioPod over hole drain project - fabric and rocks 1

drain project - fabric and rocks drain project - ready to backfill drain project - completed

4) COCONUT FIBER (coir) PRE-FILTER

EDIT: When I installed this pre-filter layer my BioPod was half full of compost which I returned to the unit after placing the coconut fiber. The pre-filter is working very well for me a few months after installing it, but I’ve noticed a possible problem with the coir I used to line my new Do-it-yourself composter. Because I didn’t have anything to place on top of the fiber except a small amount of new food scraps the larvae began digging into the coir causing it to expand. This expansion probably reduces the effectiveness of the coir as a pre-filter. For that reason I’ll suggest adding a layer of soil, rocks, or perhaps a layer of ¼ inch (6mm) wire mesh on top of the coir to prevent the BSF grubs from shredding it. There are cut-to-fit air conditioner filters that may also work. If anyone has a suggestion for an alternate pre-filter material or for a better way to use coir please contact us or leave a comment below. Thanks.

Coconut fiber from the outer husk is called “coir” and is the stuff used to make the lining for wire planters, hanging baskets, and floor mats. It’s very durable and biodegradable. It also may be a good pre-filter material for the drainage system on a BioPod. I only installed coir in my unit yesterday, but I did so on the advice of ProtaCulture staff who designed and distribute the BioPod.

Liquid waste results from processing the food scraps placed into the BioPod and the quantity can be heavy when composting high moister items like melons, etc. As liquid is released it first perks down through the compost to the floor of the BioPod and from there it must flow sideways to reach the drain opening. The lateral flow of liquids is inherently slower because it doesn’t benefit nearly as much from gravity, and in addition this lower level of compost is the most dense layer due to the weight of the material above it. By lining the entire bottom the BioPod with coir you create a much easier path for the liquids to travel to the drain opening.

Coir comes in different forms including bricks of compressed fiber that can be expanded and spread. It’s also available as preformed shapes to fit planters as well as flat discs for the same purpose. For my BioPod I choose to use a preformed “bowl” shaped piece, mostly because it was on sale for $1. The diameter of my coir was 14 inches which is about right for the bottom of the BioPod, but the shape wasn’t right. To flatten it I soaked it in water for several hours and squished under some plywood and heavy weights. The resulting “disc’ was very lumpy, something that might actually help make it more effective. The flat discs of coir that I found were almost one inch thick and my “bowl” shaped piece is only a little more than .25 inches. I’m guessing the even my thin piece will be sufficient, especially with the wrinkles that were formed from squeezing it into place. In the end I think coir in any form up to about an inch will increase the flow of liquids through the system. In short, just get some coir onto the bottom of your BioPod and you should have better drainage.

My BioPod is half full so I had to remove the compost to install the coir. All that takes is a holding container for the compost and some sturdy gloves. If your compost is very wet you may want to reduce the liquid by first by mixing in some shredded office paper (not glossy or newspaper) or non-pressure treated sawdust and withholding wet food items for a few days before installing the coir.

coconut coir liner coconut coir liner-compost removed coconut coir liner-installed

Update: Since we now have a discussion forum we will be disabling comments here on the blog. Anyone can read the forum, but to join in on the conversation you will need to register. This is an easy and painless process, and it’s necessary to keep spammers from, well, spamming up the place. :)

The forum can be accessed here (forum) and you will see a link for registration in the upper left corner of the forum. The legal language on the registration form is very basic and is what came with the forum software. In short, we won’t share your information, and please don’t be vulgar or break the law. ;)

  •  Posted by at 9:53 am

  One Response to “BioPod Tips and Tweaks”

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