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Arduino Controlled Washer


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8 replies to this topic

#1 jermitts

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 06:16 PM

In this post from long ago, I described my ambition to have a cheap washer with a cheap microcontroller that would, most importantly, enable me to wash a load with a single button press and second-most-importantly email me when the load was complete. Or turn on a light. Or something.

I've finally started the actual building and installation of the hardware to the machine, and I have pics too!! Is anyone still interested in seeing the progress? Is there a forum I should post updates with pics? Does anyone care at all?

Well, let me know. And as always, I am forever grateful for your assistance and ever-enduring patience with the silliest of questions.


Jeremy

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#2 KurtiusInterupptus

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 06:36 PM

Hell yeah buddy, post away...id luv to see your handywork
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#3 jermitts

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 07:17 PM

Okay. Firstly an introduction.

Originally, I was going to use an Arduino with an LCD Touch Screen and some sensors and relays to replace the timer control on the washer.

Since that time, a client of mine asked me to build a touch screen application for his business (I've built quite a few of these kiosk-type systems now) and I was amazed to find HP's L2105tm 21.5" LCD touch screen monitor for around $300. I can't tell you how many of these I've installed because I've lost count, but I have two on my desk right now! :)

I also wanted some way to reliably figure out how much water was in the tub- more than half vs. full, I wanted to be able to more precisely control the drain function. As you probably know, on a full drain it's a time-based cycle and it errs on the side of over-draining the tub, which results in a longer-than-needed total wash time. If I can monitor the rate of the drain, I postulate that I can make a pretty good guess as to when the drain is completely complete. Closer than the stock hardware, in any case. And even if I miss it by a half-inch, the spin also drains, so no big deal!!

I'll throw in that eventually, I'd like the micro-controller to manage soap as well. I hate measuring soap.

The first part of the build consisted of putting together four relays. The first two are hefty DPDT models with sockets to handle the power needed for the motor. One could have been DPST but I wanted consistency. The first one just controls ON vs OFF, the second one is wired to swap the hot and neutral (grounded and ungrounded, technically speaking) so the motor will spin 'bakkards.

"What?!" you say? "Reverse polarity for AC? That's nonsense! It does that itself 60 times per second!" Well, then you're an electrician (like I was at one time) and not an appliance guy, because appliance guys understand how to start a reversing AC motor by switching the starter winding leads. Once I understood single-phase AC motors, the schematic made a lot more sense. My background, electrically, was with three-phase AC motors and DC motors. Reversing those is a breeze, and makes perfect sense without any understanding of how a motor actually starts!

The other two relays are to control the hot and cold water solenoids. Easy-shmeasy!

Now the thing that has been holding me up all this time (besides an utter lack of time) was the dilemma of how to measure water fill. Without knowing the water level, I can't even start a cycle because I don't know when to shut off the water. Enter eTape by Milone Technologies. This great little strip of plastic will let me know where the water is at. They don't currently market a 20" tape (but if you have about $5,000 they'll make 100 for ya!) so I installed two 8.6" tapes, one on top of the other. These are very thin, and I'm hoping the spin basket doesn't rip them off.

Now, ideally, you would have these in the fill-measuring tube on the outside of the tub, but I can't take the washer out of service for more than a day or so due to restrictions imposed by the wife, so I need to leave that tube intact for the time being. But if they won't stay put inside the tub then I plan on adapting the small hose to a much larger one and installing the tape inside that.

Finally, pics. All the tiny holes in the outer tub were made with a candle-heated-needle and sealed with a good sealant. You're not supposed to attach the tape below the "max" line, because the water needs to get all the way around the tape, so the bottom of the tape is held tight against the wall with another bit of copper wire and two more holes. Sealed up tight.


I also sealed up that crack in the bottom of the tub, but I don't expect it to stop leaking. A pan under the machine does a fine job of catching and evaporating the drips!


More to follow. (I hope sooner than a year from now!)

http://yfrog.com/h4in1qj

http://yfrog.com/gy8ga0j

Tried to paste them, but I'm not allowed to use that image extension on this board. And my "global upload quota" is 200k, these pictures would look terrible at ~100k each!





Jeremy

#4 jermitts

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 03:07 AM

Here's a bit of an update, in case anyone wanted to know... :)

eTape for water level measurement on the inside didn't work, so I've added a 1" pipe on the outside of the outer tub. It works just like the air tube up to the fill-switch, except it's going to have the water-level tape inside it. The pipe is in the right-front corner, where there's a ton of extra room in the box.

I somehow forgot to get pics of the pipe from the *outside* of the tub, but you can tell what's going on from the inside shot. I'll get good outside shots next time I open her up.

There's also descriptions now of how not to do this.

And I fixed that crack as instructed by nickfixit and greased the brakes. Humm. Weird that when brakes break we spell it different than if breaks brake.





Jeremy

Edited by jermitts, 26 February 2011 - 03:07 AM.


#5 jermitts

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 09:27 PM

Here are the pictures of the outside of the tub, where you can actually see the pipe that has the etape water level sensor inside.





There are descriptive comments attached to each picture, but I don't know how to make those show up. I guess you have to click on the pics...


Jeremy

Edited by jermitts, 03 March 2011 - 09:31 PM.


#6 Toranaga

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 01:48 AM

Hey, Jeremy, have you read "4 Hour Work Week"? I believe you have created a suitable muse. Make it out of polymer like a Glock. Sure its heavy, but also indestructible. I love your concept. You looking to prototype it?

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#7 jermitts

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 02:23 AM

Toranaga-

First, let me say that I can't seem to help but see "Topanga" and think of Boy Meets World. But alas, I digress.

I have "4-hour Work Week" on its way to the Kindle now. I do work a few more hours than that, but I get paid to play so I try to avoid "work" as most people define it. :)

"a suitable muse" -- the washing machine? Maybe that will make more sense when I read the book. I think life is my muse...

As for the rest, I have no idea what you mean, but I do like a good Glock. I have a Ruger, because they work fine and cost half of a comparable S&W. I've put about 1000 rounds through it. I'm not a good shot, but it's a .45 auto so I only got to get close. ;)

Prototype-- I don't think the finished product is marketable, due to the power/flexibility/complexity of the thing as a whole---

I hope to put the ideas into the wild and see if anyone latches on to them. I think it'd be great to have a kind of plugable system for home-automation hobbiests to develop and share, and personally I think the $300 HP touch screen and $25 arduino with a cheap old p4 computer is a great way to dive in without a lot of upfront investment. I'm really a "framework" kind of guy.

Once I get to the actual Arduino programming, the project will get posted on a few sites where that kind of thing is popular. For now, it's mostly about the machine and its innards, so this seems a more proper place. That, and Senpai said "Hell Yeah" so I guess there must be at least some interest. :D


Jeremy

Edited by jermitts, 05 March 2011 - 02:29 AM.


#8 Toranaga

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 05:53 PM

What's "Boy Meets World"?

Toranaga is a handle I chose to go along with the Samurai theme of this forum. He's a character in the novel "Shogun" and the only samurai I could bring to mind when registering.

4-hour- Work Week will give you an great new definition of "muse".

I'm saying make a washer, built on a WP DD frame, with a polymer skin and your control system.

i don't think finished product is marketable either UNLESS its modular and sold in kit form. Manufactured and drop shipped from anywhere. You could use lower end components in the market version - or sell a how-to- booklet. However small, there is a market. Example. A good quality traditional wooden recurve bow runs about $350-$600. But there are at least twenty companies out there that cater to hobbyests who pay at least that much for plans and materials to build DIY bows of much lower quality. Folks just like to tinker. Not trying to convince you, I was just wondering if you had commercial aspirations. From the outside looking in, I'd just like to point out that that machine you built was built because somebody wanted one. Even better idea, just license the concept.

What's Arduino?

T

Nevermind on the explanation of Arduino. Found the link above and read up on it. That's cool.
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#9 jermitts

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 06:08 PM

I see what you mean. I like the handle by the way, I just have to look at it twice sometimes. Probably because of my younger-years obsession.

Edit-- I think maybe my safesearch filter is not on, because half of the images on the google search link I just posted were topless.

:O

Google search: "imdb boy meets world" - - - Topanga was the female love interest of the male star. But not a samurai. :(


Another Edit: Topanga is apparently the name of some porn star. And she looks really young. That is *not* the Topanga I was talking about! Danielle Fishel played the role of Topanga on the sitcom Boy Meets World, now she hosts "The Dish" on Style Network http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1286959/



Jeremy

Edited by jermitts, 05 March 2011 - 06:23 PM.





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