Solar Water Heating Pump Controller with Timer Override

solar water heating pump controller with maximum temperature and timer override

Pictured above is a solar water heating pump controller we recently made for a customer. This device is based around our popular 2016 solar water heating pump controller with display and datalogger, but has some added features.

The first added feature is a maximum temperature override. As this device will be used for solar heating of a swimming pool, we added user programmable maximum pool temperature override. If the pool starts to get too hot, the pump bringing hot water from the solar panel will not be run again until the pool temperature has fallen by at least two degrees Celcius.

The second added feature which we have not been asked for before is a timer override. The user of this device only wants the pump to be allowed to run between 10am and 4pm, so we have added a 12V programmable digital timer so that the user can set the times of operation of the heating system.

If you need any kind of pump controller or timer, please email with details of your requirements.

Raspberry Pi Home Automation with Machinon

Pictured below is Machinon, hopefully soon to be released industrial-grade hardware originating from a community project, and designed to manage home and small business automation with a Raspberry Pi.

machinon home automation iot raspberry piThis smart home solution adds smart IO to a Raspberry Pi – 16 digital inputs, 16 digital outputs, and 8 analogue inputs.

The digital inputs can be used as pulse counters (for kWh meters etc) or to detect status changes (doors opening and closing, buttons being pressed, motion sensors triggered etc).
The analogue inputs (0 to 20mA, 4 to 20mA, and 0 to 10V input with 14bit resolution) can be used to measure currents and voltages, light levels, temperatures, and more.
The digital outputs each supply up to 500mA which can be used to switch high voltage and high current appliances via a relay, or directly power low current low voltage devices.

Machinon utilises two ATxmega microprocessors which take care of all the complex pulse counting, timing, analogue measuring, and data collection. The Raspberry Pi then simply communicates with Machinon via UART (serial port) to grab data and control and configure the smart IO.

machinon smart home prototype internals

Machinon is designed to interface with many open source home automation software packages including Domoticz, openHAB, and HomeGenie so the overall user experience should be relatively simple.

The price of this device is likely to be around £200 plus the cost of a Raspberry Pi and microSD card to go in it. Therefore, probably under £250 all in including delivery.

machinon smart home with raspberry pi

For more information, click here to visit the Machinon website.

2x12V 24V Battery Bank Low Voltage Disconnect

24V battery bank low voltage disconnect LVD with dual battery measurementPictured above is a low voltage disconnect (LVD) we recently made for use with a 24V battery bank comprising two 12V batteries. These two batteries do not equalise well (i.e. they do not hold the exact same charge or show the same voltage), and so this low voltage disconnect has to look at both batteries independently and take actions based upon the measurements of the weakest battery.

This device is based around our OLED display 12V LVD with some major modifications. The batteries are connected in series to make a 24V bank. The device measures the voltage of the whole battery bank and also measures the voltage of the first 12V battery. The second 12V battery voltage is then calculated by subtracting the first 12V battery voltage from the 24V battery bank voltage.

OLED display on 24V battery bank LVDThe OLED display on the low voltage disconnect shows the two battery voltages which make up the bank, the status of the LVD, and the voltage threshold (user programmable) at which the status of the LVD will next change (turn off the output if it is on, turn it on if it is off) depending on the charge level of the two batteries in the bank.

If the voltage of either battery in the battery bank falls below the low voltage threshold set by the user, the output will be turned off cutting the power to any devices being powered by the battery bank. When both of the batteries in the bank then reach a voltage in excess of the high voltage threshold set by the user, the output is restored reconnecting power to the devices powered by the battery bank.

If you need any kind of low voltage disconnect, please take a look at our range of LVD products, and email if you have any special requirements.

Dual Pulse Spot Welder Timer Controller

Pictured below is a 12VDC dual pulse spot welder timer controller which we were recently commissioned to build.dual pulse spot welder controller

Spot welding (resistance spot welding – RSW) is used to join metal surfaces by passing a large electric current through them. Because of the heat generated by the resistance to the electric current, the contacting metals melt together forming a weld at the spot through which the current is passing.

In order to get good clean reliable welds and not to burn holes through the metal, it is essential that the pulse of electric current is of a suitable duration which depends on the types and thicknesses of the metals to be welded as well as many other factors. Therefore an accurate timer controller is required for consistent welds.

For the best spot welds, a dual pulse controller is used in which the electric current flows for a time, then there is a brief pause, and then electric current flows again. The first pulse clears away any plating or surface oxidation, and then the second pulse welds the now clean base materials together. Using a dual pulse welder also reduces spitting.

REUK Dual Pulse Spot Welder Controller

Our controller offers two modes of operation: single pulse mode and dual/double pulse mode. Pictured below is a view of the built in OLED display when in dual pulse mode.

dual pulse spot welder display

The user can set the durations of Pulse 1, the pause time, and Pulse 2 in 0.01 second steps between 0.01 and 1.99 seconds (0.99 seconds for units supplied before 10th July 2018).

single pulse operation of spot welder

In single pulse mode, the duration of just one pulse has to be set by the user. (A future update of this device will include up to 10 user-programmable presets for increased convenience.)

setting spot welder pulse duration

On board buttons are provided for toggling between the single and double pulse modes, entering programming mode to set the timings, and making a spot weld with the displayed settings. Screw in terminals are provided so that external buttons can be connected – for example a foot pedal to make a weld with your hands free.

This version of the welder controller is fitted with a 10A relay which is used to power a 5A rated solenoid which in turn controls the welder. We can also make these controllers with a 12V 1A output for connection to an external relay solid state or otherwise, or a small relay for connection in parallel with the on/off button of the welder.

Buy a Welder Timer Controller

If you need any type of welder timer controller, please email with details of any special requirements. The controller as described above is available at £21.95 plus postage.

Dual Pulse Spot Welder Timer Instructions

There are two buttons on the controller. If you press the ‘down’ button, you can toggle between single pulse and dual/double pulse operation. The display will change to show which mode you are in: SINGLE or DBL (double) as well as showing the durations currently programmed into the device.

If you press and hold the down button for more than one second, the display will show SET TIMERS. If you are in single pulse mode, you can now set the single pulse duration. If you are in double pulse mode you can now set the durations of pulse 1, the pause time, and pulse 2. The top line of the display will show what is currently being programmed (Time 1, Pause Time, or Time 2), and the bottom line will show the current value. Use the up and down buttons to increase or decrease the displayed value (within the range 0.01s to 0.99s). Five seconds after you last touched a button, the top line of the display will show -SAVED- and the value will be saved in long term memory (still available the next time you power on the controller). If you are in double pulse mode, you will now be asked to set the pause time and the duration of the second pulse in exactly the same way that Time 1 was set. (When using the up and down buttons to increase or decrease a time value, you can press and hold the button to move faster through the numbers.)

If you press the up button, the controller will run. The relay will close for the duration of Time 1 and then open again. If you are in double pulse mode, it will then remain open for the duration of Pause Time and then close for the duration of Time 2.

In addition to the buttons on the controller board itself, screw in terminals are provided to which you can connect external buttons of your choosing – e.g. a foot pedal operated button, or a larger hand operated button etc for your own convenience.

enviro:bit sensor for micro:bit

enviro:bit from pimoroni for micro:bitPictured above is the new enviro:bit for micro:bit from Pimoroni – available for £20. This device has a collection of sensors which can add be read easily from  Microsoft MakeCode Editor or directly via MicroPython for more advanced projects and programmers.

There are three sensors in total. A BME280 atmospheric sensor which provides temperature, humidity, and air pressure measurements, a TCS3472 colour and light sensor, and a MEMS microphone for sound.

micro:bit plugged into enviro:bit to use sensors

The micro:bit simply plugs into the enviro:bit, and once you have added the required code library or libraries (for MakeCode Editor and/or Mu Code Editor) the sensors can be read, data collected, and displayed on the LED matrix etc.

Click here for more information: buy enviro:bit from Pimoroni.

Mini Temperature Data Logger Design Plans

mini temperature data logger

Pictured above is a high accuracy (within 0.1°C) low power temperature data logger designed originally for scientific research in sea turtle egg incubation, but which could be put to use in a great many other applications.

This logger measures and logs the temperature once every 10 minutes exactly with sufficient memory space to hold 180 days of data (26,000 records). The logger is powered by a CR2032 coin cell battery which can keep it running unattended for the full 180 days.

When the measurement period is over, the logger can be extracted from its waterproof case and the logged data transmitted over a UART connection via a cable to a PC for subsequent analysis.

The goal of this project was to achieve all of the above at a cost per unit (of a batch of 50 units) of under €5, including the case.

mini temperature logger pcbThe temperature sensor used is a 16-bit resolution digital MAX30205MTA+. This gives a temperature resolution of 0.00390625°C and 0.1°C accuracy in the range 0-50°C. The microcontroller chosen is the ATMEGA328PB – a slightly more feature rich version of the MCU found on many Arduino boards. The serial flash memory chip used is a 512kbit AT25DN512C from Adesto which has sufficient space to hold the 410-420kbit of data to be logged in six months.

For full details, plans, and discussion of this project, click here: Low Power Cost and Size Temperature Data Logger.

Multi-sensor datalogger and timer relay

Pictured below is a device we were recently commissioned to design and build.

multi-sensor 3 channel datalogger with relay timerThis device, built around an Arduino Pro Mini, is one of the most complex projects we have completed recently. It is primarily a timer (utilising a ds3231 real time clock (RTC)) to energise a relay for a user programmed number of minutes once every day, week, fortnight, or month. However it must also monitor and process data from three sensors and log these readings to a micro SD card for later analysis at intervals which depend on the status of the system at any one time.

display for three channel datalogger

This device has a display to show the user the status of the system with readings from a pressure and a flow rate sensor as well as a valve and a relay which the device controls.

Detailed datalogging is only required when the valve is open (with logs appended at a rate of once per second), but the pressure sensor status must be logged every hour and changes to the status of the valve and other significant system changes must also be logged as and when they occur.

When logging data every second, it does not take long to generate a file which is unwieldy to process in Excel or other programmes. Therefore, our device creates a new file each time the valve opens, and logs to it until the valve closes again. In this way, there is one reasonably sized datalog file for each valve opening event together with one master log file which is appended hourly and also when there is a significant change detected in the system.

setting the time and date for a real time clock datalogger

Having mulitple datalog files not always recording data at regular intervals, it was essential that the timestamp for each line record in the logs showed the actual time and date rather than just an index value.

datalogger file from 3 channel arduino dataloggerThis will make future analysis of the collected data much easier.

The user is able to set the number of minutes that the relay is ‘on’ and also the precise time of day at which they would like the relay to turn ‘on’. The interval between relay ‘on’ events for this particular device was set to daily, weekly (7 days), fortnightly (14 days), or monthly (28 days).

setting up the arduino 3 channel dataloggerAn added feature is that the user can manually change the number of days until the relay will next turn ‘on’ which is particularly useful for testing the system or forcing the relay to turn ‘on’ at a previously unscheduled time and date if required.

The last piece of complexity was the flow rate sensor. This sensor outputs high pulses at a per second rate which when multiplied by 0.2 gives the litres per minute rate of flow through the sensor. The results generated then had to be converted into the desired cubic metres of flow per hour to be displayed and logged. As we did not have access to this flow rate sensor, we had to use a second Arduino to simulate the square wave the sensor generates to fully test the device we built. With a maximum of 1000 pulses per second to detect (for the maximum expected 12m3 per hour flow rate), the 16MHz clock of the Arduino Pro Mini was more than up to the job of simulating the sensor.

If you need any kind of timer or multi-channel datalogger, please email with details of your requirements.

Poultry Egg Incubator with On Board Display and Humidity Maintenance

We have made many poultry egg incubators and timers over the last few years – devices which monitor and maintain temperature and humidity and also turn the eggs at regular intervals. Below is an image of one such incubator controller which we were recently commissioned to build which is a bit different from those.

poultry egg incubator controller

The motor is set to turn for three seconds five times per day to rotate the eggs. This is standard.

The heating element used for this incubator is a bit oversized, so we have to be careful not to overheat the eggs when it is used. When the temperature is measured to be 0.5C or more below a user set target temperature, the heater is turned on. Then, when the target temperature is reached, the heater is turned off. Because the element remains hot after being turned off, the incubator will continue to heat up to a little above target temperature while the element cools down. Therefore, there is also a fan which turns on just in case the temperature exceeds the target by 1.5C or more to cool things down long before the eggs overheat.

display for poultry egg incubation controller

Humidity management is also achieved rather differently than usual. In all previous incubators we have made which have included humidity sensing, a commercial humidifier has been switched on/off to maintain appropriate humidity levels. For this controller, when humidity is measured to be below a user set target minimum level, a pump is turned on for five second which adds water to a container in the incubator. The rapid evaporation of this water in the warmth of the incubator increases the humidity level back above the minimum rapidly. In order to prevent flooding or raising the humidity level excessively, the controller will run the pump at most once every ten minutes.

This entire system is powered by a solar charged 12V battery bank.

If you need any type of incubator (or humidor), please email with details of your requirements.

FRM01 Multifunction PLC Relay Timer Module

Pictured below is an FRM01 multi-function relay cycle timer PLC (programmable logic controller) module. FRM01 12V multifunction PLC relay timer

This small (65 x 40 mm) module offers 18 different timer functions programmable from 0.1 seconds to approximately 275 hours and used to control the on-board 10A rated relay. Some functions start automatically with power-on, others can be triggered to start (and/or repeat) with a high level pulse signal; there are delay functions, limited cycles (1-9999 repeats), and unlimited cycles.

One of the functions effectively turns this module into a latching relay board too – high pulse signal to close the relay, then another high pulse signal to open the relay.

Overall these modules are very powerful and useful in a vast range of applications requiring timer control.

Click here to buy FRM01 Timer for approximately £5 including delivery.

eBay sellers tend to offer no documentation and minimal information about these timer modules, but we have the comprehensive 8 page FRM01 User Manual (PDF 225Kb) available for download here.

Here is a video systematically demonstrating all 18 of the functions of this cycle timer