Now You’re Washing with Gas

[Michiel] likes to wash his clothes in warm water. Like a lot of machines, his draws from the cold water line and  heats it electrically. Gas is much cheaper than electricity in the Netherlands, so he wanted to be able to heat the water with gas instead. Hot-fill machines already exist, but few models are available and they’re all too expensive.  [Michiel] rolled up his sleeves and hacked his brand new washer into a hot-fill machine.

He started out thinking that he’d just connect the hot water line instead, but that proved to be too hot. He found out it needs to be about 35°C (95°F), so he decided to mix input from the hot and cold lines. Since it’s a shiny new machine, [Michiel] wanted an externally mounted system to keep from voiding  the warranty. He got two solenoid valves from the electronic bay and used a PIC16F to make them dance. He wired up a light switch on a two-panel face and used the blank plate for power and status LEDs.

[Michiel]‘s design works like a charm. The machine used to draw 2000W to heat the water, and peak usage now is as low as 200W. He noticed that the washer drew a lot of power in standby mode so he added a solid state relay and a bit more code. Now the electricity to the machine is cut after two hours and [Michiel] saves about €97 per year.

Stretch your circuit’s battery life by putting your PIC to sleep

pic_power_savings

[Rajendra Bhatt] wrote in to share the latest in a series of PIC tutorials, which covers the microcontroller’s Sleep mode – a very useful tool for limiting current consumption in battery-powered applications.

He discusses how to put the PIC in sleep mode, as well as some common mistakes to watch out for, such as accidentally allowing I/O pins to sink or source current while sleeping. [Rajendra] also walks through the various ways a PIC can be brought out of sleep mode, focusing the majority of his tutorial to the mcu’s watchdog timer.

Using a PIC16F628A, he constructs a test circuit which allows him to demonstrate the power savings gained by using sleep mode rather than the microcontroller’s built-in delay function. The circuit simply blinks an LED every 4.3 seconds, using the watchdog timer for the first 2.3 seconds, and a delay() call for the rest of the time.

The power savings are quite substantial, similar to the results we saw using AVR microcontrollers a few weeks ago. [Rajendra] found that using the sleep function limited current consumption to about 4.5% of the current used when calling the mcu’s delay function – a huge savings.

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