Automating the Vulcanizer

The first photo is the char that came out of the previouse demo I have. This ons is set up for pellets. The restrictor I think is 2 1/2 and the the diameter of the tips of the jets is 3" Jets have .270 opennings. The char depth for restrictor openning is just 2 1/2". The pellets tend to break up into to a powder so its char is very dense so you can get away with a shallow char bed.

The next pic is of the unit I have now and I this one set to run chips.

Yes one of the ports is the ignition and the other is the intake port. So a pellet stove igniter wont work? That seems like a simple way to automate and auto start up.

Here are some pics of my roller. Its not the pretiest thing but it works. Rolling a cone is an art with this roller. The first ones you will most likely have to finnish them by beeting them into the finnished shape. Large cones are easy but the little tight one are a bugger. I have it down pretty good now. I bet ive rolled a few miles of steel through that thing.

People here is a sample cone forming tool I first put on Victory Gas site. Some of you have built this.
You can make cones or cylinders with it (form the metal don’t brake it)

AS much as I really like that timer, I think DC is the way to go. I can get a small DC motor, speed controll and timer all for around 50 bucks. I will just need to build it. So It will still cost something, but I can offer this for much less than out sourcing it. I built a proto type for the JD and it works almost too well. I can controll how hard it hits by getting a speed controll for it. I have been turning it on manually. I take some pics of it tomarrow and post.

OK this is what I have been working on this week besides answering the phone and emails :slight_smile: But I ordered three different timers and the last one I recieved of coarse was the one that actually worked. This little timer is 12v DC and is very good quality. The other ones I ordered were junk!!

Here is the link to it on Ebay

Also for the shaker to work you need to get a speed control for best results. I found that the lower speeds created a larger amplitude and shook a lot harder. High speeds just created lost of noise and it would cancel it self out.

Here is the link for the PWM on Ebay

I bought an electrical enclosure to house the electronics and wired the blower to switch in the bax as well.

Also this customer wanted a media filter, Im not a big fan of these on the little engines. But this is what he wanted so I designed one a built it. My cryteria for this build was a tool free lid and an easy clean out a recharge system. So the lid has pull latches and after buildign this I may go to this system for all the gasifiers as well. It seals very well and was actually less work than what Im doing all ready.

For the media I found these burlap sacks at Tractor Supply Co. You can get these at any farm supply co I would think as well. I though this would be a slick way to change out the media.

Hey Gary how does your timer work for you?? It looks just like one of the ones I bounce checked against the wall. The stupid thing would only buzz and time intervals were at a min of 1 minute. This last one I got I can dial right down to a couple of seconds.

Edit: took a closer look and yours doesnt have the address jumpers like the one I had. I had two of em and niether one worked as described.

Hi Matt,
The timer I used was made by FutureKit. it has a jumper wire that I needed to cut to get a really long cycle time that I needed for feeding pellets. These are different, but basically do the same thing. I like the ability to set the on time independent of the off time and using knobs to do so. Also its 12v and picks a relay.

Nice filter thingy there. How to you seal the lid for it ? I see the flange on the outside… are you using one of the tank ends as the lid with a band clamp or something ?

Hi Gary,

Yes the lid is a left over cap from the tanks I buy. Those caps make excellent lids and thats pretty much the only reason why I buy em. What I do is create a channel on the lid side and fill it with rope seal and the rope seal seals agianst the flange. I used the tape seal this time as an experiment. I like the idea of making the sylicone seals and I will be experimenting with this soon.

Hi Matt, I purchased a 102 timer that runs on 12 volts. Have only bench tested it so far, but it works. Only a 12 amp relay and my auger can draw 30A so purchased a relay from radio shack. I would like it to have knobs. Right now, the only way to adjust the time on or off is with a phillips screw driver. If interested, take a look.

Gary in PA (the other Gary)

Thanks Gary,

Did you check out the timer I put the link up for. Its only 16 bucks and it works great. It has dual controlls for both the on and off times. Plus it has switches to change the parameters for long or short derations. Plus you can get it with or with out knobs.

But it is the same thing with the 12 amp relay. I drive an automotive 30 amp relay with it and then go through the PWM to the motor. Im still doing test, Im letting it just run. Its been running since friday night and the whole set up is showing no sign of slowing down. No heat or anything. :slight_smile:

The guy that is helping with the more advanced automation is bring some sort of controller over that only cost 120 bucks. But it will be able to handle the motor timing, motor speed, thermo input and outputs and has the ability to handle 8 inputs and outputs. No need to program it with a computor either its all done on the modual.

Matt, I just took a better look at the timer you got and ordered one. This R&D stuff is fun but can add up. Electronics is not my strong suit but see where it is really helpful. My nephew introduced me to the advantages of ardino boards. Wowser, amazing what those little boxes can do.

Your not a lone there. Im no eletrical engineer just been around this sort of stuff in my career field. If its too complicated for me to figure out then I guess its just too complicated lol

I have a net duino but ive been to lazy to do the coarses to figure out how to program it. I made it blink :slight_smile:

Well I finnished up this first unit with my first crack at some simple automation. This machine also has the first media filter that Im offering and a new version of my mixer and engine kit. It has three flach back arrestors, the hopper lid, media filter lid and the condensor has a spring loaded seal. I took loads of pics if this one to update my website.

So now its time to move on to bigger and better stuff. I dont think improving these things will ever stop. There is so much that I believe that can be done to this tech by adding modern technologies. Next I will be working on the Hydroclones and liquid cooled condensor. My automation friend brought over that controller and that thing is pretty cool. It will eliminate the timere board for the shaker system. It runs on ladder logic and Im a bit familar with this. Also later when I get more advanced and if I need to update some ones machine, I can send the updated ladder via Email and the end user can just upload it them selfs. Ive done this in the feild many times and if I can do it…than any body should be able to do

Also I have the M-II coming out and I will need to build bigger filtration for it and then I will be adding two new larger E-Sereis machines to the product line. Then on top of that I have the PMA generator to build yet. Im going to build the advanced filtration sytems first and then tie all this together into one neat little package.

The little controllers have a pretty cool user freindly interface and once programed the intent is it will problem solve system issues by its self. some interevention will be required at first, but hopefully on the later more advanced systems they will have the ability to do it them selfs.

Hi Matt,
Are you seeing any condensation in the fuel bin after a startup-run-shutdown cycle when burning pellets ? How about when burning the wood chips ?
I have some ideas for use of a propane tank for my fuel bin and how to make a gutter to collect some condensation there…

I have a small gutter built in my lids. I dont get too much while in opperation but after shut down I get about a 1/2 cup. This is confusing me because some have expressed that I need a bigger troft. But Ive never over flown the one I have. Am I doing something wrong? am I suposed to have more condensate than the this? So far I have not seen a real difference in condesate between chips or pellets in the condensor resivour tank.

However the last time I ran pellets was last Feb. and it is now July and more humid here in Mi. and have been running chips.

OK our basic automation system is just about complete. This system is just a simple shaker system for both the hopper and the grate. The grate is controlled by an 84 Jeep wind shield wiper motor and the hopper has the same system as above with a dc motor with an off balance wheel. Both are ran of the same timers and motor speed controls as I used earlier. The grate system is working great. Im building my own control box now and mounting it to the hopper. Those electrical boxes are too expensive and I can build my own boxes in a more compact size to fit my application.

Yeah you can see how things are evolving here, this system here is basically the same system as the one a few post above with the exception of the grate system. Things are becoming much more stream line now and our new hinged lid is working out well too and gives us a little more creative freedom.

Now I may start looking into an ignition system that will complete our basic system.

The more advanced PLC system will be used on the CHP system that we are working on.

Hi Matt
I am using a wiper motor on my grate as well instead of vibrating it moves the grate about an inch side to side may need to adjust the stroke more or less depending on how it works but now the seal only has to seal rotory motion
good looking unit you have there

Yeah that is sort of how ours work, but instead of moving the grate side to side it rotates it back and forth. The actuator rotates through a silicone filled nipple welded to the side of the machine. I had to build a guard so no gets there finders pinched that jeep wiper motor is strong.

i was looking into your automation methods, if you want to get a bit more complex (beyond timers) to get it at the point of push button start/stop (for those who insist on the easy button) lol i found some really cool logic software from its called labview and i just completed a class about it, long story short theres tutorials on the website how to use it but its simple as connecting logic gates with a mouse to do any sort of program and works with any sort of sensor input imagineable

for instance the start up state: ignition source, blower motor, once a thermocouple/rtd gets hot enough it goes to run state,

in run it just asks if vacuum is too high so it runs the shaker, also keeps track of hopper temp, maybe even lets more fuel come in…

then shutdown closes valves and could even detect irregularities that alert the user, drains condensate empties ash ect…

and the logic is boolean, very simple just true false and connect the and or xand nor gates, and this software can be run on any sort of small computer, as simple as a smartphone.

i just noticed you want to add the computer control aspect to these machines and the possibilities are endless, thats the only difference between someones welded up in the garage unit vs something like these vulcans, its really a great idea and ill help you if you want, i basically just took an entire class on electromechanical systems. its neat stuff…

I have been a software engineer for 15 years and have coded a great deal with proprietary systems, including OBD I / II.

There are many phases of automation… But it all boils down to:

  1. Reading inputs
  2. Sending outputs
  3. Comparing the results, permitting tweaking.

There are a ton of embedded systems out there with ARM processors, many of them come pre-assembled with IO input/outputs for servo control and reading resistance from things like thermo couplers.

An embedded system needs an operating system much like a laptop needs Windows or something else. There are trimmed down versions of *nix like busybox and others that will boot and run from internal memory or an SD card.

As for languages to run… Obviously a compiled code like C, C++ would be lightening fast… But an uncompiled code like Perl would prob be just fine. Plus, Perl has a HUGE repository of modules at that you can use for free.

The way “I” would design it is… Create 3 modules:

  1. Sending module. Runs as it’s own process. Receives XML/Soap to control servos, etc.
  2. Receiving module. Runs as it’s own process. Sends XML/Soap to main engine.
  3. Main engine… Responsible for starting 2 other processes and handles all XML/SOAP, math, loading config file, permitting changes on the fly, etc.

Best thing is… Once this guy is build, it can be modified by others and put out on sourceforge for download. Just a simple text editor like VI or notepad will allow others to tweak the code and contribute to the cause.


Hey guys thanks for the comments. Yeah the simple timer boards are working very well. However when we get into our 10 kW CHP system I want this to be fully automated and push button operation. I have sourced most of the components for it and will be ready to build as soon as we get funding for it. This machine will feature a Kohler Liquid cooled twin with fuel injection. This one will most likely have an AC gen head but if I can find a DC alternative then I will offer both. I have a guy that will help with the controls for this, he is planning on using ladder logic controllers.

So for now I will be building the first power station. I was planning on starting this a long time ago but we have been so busy my head is spinning. I am now in the process of designing the 2013 models. I think the gasifiers are done and they are much improved. I have redesigned the hoppers and got rid of that stinking cone. Im sure some of the old timers here seen this coming. :slight_smile: and yes Pepe we are working on a heat recirculation system for the E-Series. We are now offering the ES-1 in two versions. We are going to retain the original with the new redesigned hopper and offer this as a pellet and small fuel gasifier. This is where this machine really does shine. However, running the larger engines on chips can add some challenges. So I decided to redesign this machine to have heat recirculation. This required the machine to get a little bigger so it will have almost double the run time as the original on chips. But I dont know how well it will do on the smaller stuff so this is why Im going to retain the original for small fuels.

The M-Series gets some modular design and the hopper can now be removed for servicing. Both series get very large condensate trofts as well.

But any ways we are getting closer to the more advanced machines. I have just about finished the CAD model for our 2 and 5 kW Power systems. We may possibly have a few of these sold all ready. They are just using self regulating alternators with engines sized right to achieve the out put. The machines are set up to feed into a battery bank and will use a power inverter for AC. The batteries should act like a dampener and with the engine over sized this should make the load transition to the engine much smoother. Im going to experiment with putting my blower inline and use it to push the gas to the engine as well. Our blowers are pretty bullet proof now and can handle long term runs. We will offer these power stations with more advanced filtration systems. I designed a massive liquid cooled condenser just for this unit. Still working on the hydroclone yet so it will not be offered on this system for now. That very expensive Jegs pump moved a lot of volume but it has no pressure capability, so back to sourcing a new pump. I have a new 40 psi pump on order and the dang thing is about 75% cheaper than that Jegs pump.

Parts for this build are on the way!!!

See attachment to see the power station.