Monday, January 24, 2011

Progress report

Howdy folks.

Today, after some wallpapering, house cleaning etc. I continued my little pet project...

The frame I made out of aluminium square pipe was not good. The frame itself uses too much space. So I designed a new one. Google sketchup is just wonderful piece of software. I measured all components, created simple placeholders for them and then put them together with some 2mm plate holding them in place. Measurements show the dimensions of aluminium plate to be cut.

Now when we had a drawn plans, started cutting:

Required holes were easy to make with a mini mill (to be converted to CNC mill later, I hope):

Then some bending with "el cheapo" bench brake. (Why it is called a brake?)

After a while this was the result:

Mechanical components and heating element in place, some minor adjustments still needed to make the sled to move properly.

After long and productive day, hot sauna and cold beer...
This is a new find, Liberty Ale. Smooth taste, but kinda bitter aftertaste. Not the best selection for after sauna beer.

Oh, and I just had to post this picture...
"Texas size parking spot" spotted in Texas.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Smoke generator frame done (and some electronics)

Howdy y'all.

Smoke generator has achieved a significant milestone. Electronics module is ready for initial test runs.
Also the mechanics have advanced nicely, more about that later.

Here are the brains of my cold smoke generator. I let the picture tell more:

I finished the frame for my smoke generator and before going to bed I just had to tape all the parts to it just to see if they fit.

Of course the heatshields will be metal and so on but here is the all-telling picture:

How it works? Well... The "sled" retracts (to right) and smoke puck in magazine falls down to feeder rail.
Then the "sled" advances to left until the puck is pushed all the way to heat element.
If there is old charred puck on the heat element, the new puck pushes it away through some kind of waste hatch (need to figure that out).
While on the heat element, the wooden smoke puck heats up so much it starts smoking and the smoke moves through smoke outlet to the actual smoker.

"Magazine" holds now 8 pucks (+1 on the heater) so that should give plenty of smoke for 3-4 hours. I need to figure out some kind of external extended magazine for long overnight cold smoking sessions.

Must be external because the case of choice does not have too much room in it...

I don't think I will get this ready for this weekend but next weekend will be the first test for sure but before the first test I need to find out how unhealthy that army green paint is.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Field test. (Sort of)

Success! (Sort of...)
This morning I drove to work wearing the heater liner under my leather jacket.
It was wired to prototype controller...
And everything worked just fine!

I think I need to cut about 5cm off from heater wires because it took about 6 minutes for the liner to heat up.
If I shorten the wire, it will heat up more quickly but it will also generate more heat. And that is a problem if the controller decides to give it full power.
Currently MOSFETs in controller do have a pull-down resistor just in case if MCU leaves gate control pin floating but what if MCU dies and pulls pin up? Hmmm....
Do I need to add another MCU to circuit to keep the "main" MCU an eye and shut system down if needed?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jacket and smoker...

Jacket liner is connectors short of being ready for field test.

Labtest was a success! Plenty of heat distributed evenly.

Now I just need to install potentiometers and close the box to get controller prototype ready for road test.

And here is the mechanics module for the cold smoker:

Scrap parts from who knows what and some machined aluminium. Next I need to fabricate guides and pusher parts out of aluminium (actually they are ready, see that L-shaped piece underneath and C-shaped piece in back...).
One big question remains until the first test:does that puny stepper motor have enough oomph to move wooden discs to burner?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New project emerging...

No details revealed yet, just this concept picture: