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 0.99 seconds.

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.

If you need any type of welder timer controller, please email neil@reuk.co.uk with details of your requirements.

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 neil@reuk.co.uk 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 neil@reuk.co.uk 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

Water Tank Thermostat Controller

We were recently commissioned to design and build a thermostatic controller for a large tank of water (5m3) which has to be maintained within a narrow temperature window for the testing of ultra-sonic scanning equipment.

thermostat controller for large water tankPictured above is the device we came up with. The user can set a target temperature threshold of 15 and 30 °C in 0.5°C steps using the UP and DOWN buttons. If the temperature of the water falls to 0.25°C or more below the threshold, then a relay closes which turns on a heater. When the temperature of the water has reached 0.25°C or more above the threshold, the relay opens again and the heater turns off. This keeps the water within +/- 0.25°C of the target temperature.

Since the temperature of such a large volume of water is slow to change, the update time of the thermometer in this device does not need to be very fast. We could therefore set the resolution of the DS18B20 temperature sensor to 12-bit (0.0625°C) by accepting an almost 0.75 seconds temperature reading update time.

thermostatic controller display

The display shows the current measured temperature (top left), heater status (top right), and the temperature threshold which has been set by the user.

If you need any kind of thermostatic controller, please email neil@reuk.co.uk with details of your requirements.

Testing 128×32 OLED IIC Display with Arduino

Many of the products we sell make use of 16×2 character LCD displays. These displays coupled with an Hitachi HD44780 LCD control module enable an Arduino or Raspberry Pi to operate the display very simply with just two data connections and two power connections required.

16x2 LCD display with module for use with Arduino and Raspberry Pi

However, these displays are physically quite large being 80 x 36mm, and while they are well suited to panel mounting, they cannot really be attached to the circuit board that is driving it without creating a device with large dimensions.

We have recently being looking at alternatives to these displays looking for something physically smaller, easily circuit board mountable, lower power consumption, and improved contrast. After much testing, we have chosen the OLED display pictured below.128x32 i2c arduino displayThese displays are far smaller having an active screen area of just 22.38 x 5.58mm. They require no backlight as each of the 128×32 pixels self-illuminates thanks to OLED technology. The maximum power consumption of one of these displays is 0.08W with every pixel illuminated – therefore less when showing text or when nothing is being displayed. In all ways these displays are an improvement on the 16×2 character LCDs.

OLED display used with arduinoThese OLED displays have much better contrast than LCDs, there is more space available to display information since more characters can be displayed, and there are much better graphics capabilities with the OLED displays. The image above shows the new OLED version of the LCD display from our REUK Low Voltage Disconnect with Display pictured below.

LCD display on REUK low voltage disconnect (LVD)

The biggest advantage however is the ease with which these OLED displays can be mounted to the circuit boards of our controllers so that we can produce more convenient small form factor integrated units with no increase in our pricing for customers.

arduino pro mini controlled 128 x 32 oled display

If you are interested in trying out one of these displays for your own projects, click here: buy 128×32 OLED Display for under £3 including delivery. If you intend to use one with an Arduino project, you will need to add the following libraries to your Arduino IDE: SSD1306 Library and Adafruit GFX Library, so that you can communicate with the display.

Controller for Multi-Pump Irrigation System Water Distribution

Pictured below is a diagram of an irrigation system comprising three water tanks located on three terraces. The lowest tank contains a bilge pump which will pump water up to the next terrace, and the tank on that terrace has a pump to send water up to the top tank.
Irrigation system diagram - multi tank, multi pump, multi terrace

The bilge pump has its own float switches and will, when powered, start pumping when its upper float switch detects water (full tank) and will stop when its lower float switch does not detect water (empty tank).

The two higher tanks have float switches so that their water level status can be monitored. Pictured below is the controller we built to manage the two pumps in order to best distribute the stored water across the three tanks while minimising overflow wastage. Ideally no tank should ever be completely empty, and no tank should be full and overflowing if the next higher tank is not full.

irrigation system pump controllerThis controller, built around an Arduino Pro Mini monitors the status of the float switches of the two upper tanks to decide when power should be supplied to a pump or pumps. If for example the middle tank is full, and the top tank is not, the Tank 2 pump will be run until either the middle tank is empty or the top tank is full. If the bottom tank is full, and Tank 2 is not, then the bilge pump will fill up Tank 2.

In order to prevent multi-switching (a pump being turned on and off rapidly and repeatedly) timers are built into this controller so that a pump will always overrun by 10 seconds when it is to be turned off. This will ensure that the state of the float switch which called for the pump to be turned off will be stable and unaffected by turbulence in tank.

If you need any type of pump controller, please email neil@reuk.co.uk with details of your requirements.