Deja Vu (it got really cold again), Test PlanPosted: January 3, 2013 Filed under: Testing | Tags: Arduino, Arduino boiler control, auger feed, Data collection, Software, Testing 2 Comments
After writing a similar post on 1/15/2012 I find myself saying basically the same thing, after a -10F night the boiler has kept up. Additionally except for a 12 hour period when I made some boiler modifications the boiler has run continuously for 14 days. There are several differences however. The software is 100% better and controlling the temperature to within a few degrees. The burner is now a waterfall type burner that is much safer and runs more consistently. The hopper and auger setup is much more consistent and dependable as a worm and worm gear than the chain and sprocket setup from last year. Most significantly the burner has proved it can run on chips as well as pellets. During these colder nights it is more difficult for the burner to keep up with chips because of the density differences. The chips are much less dense and because of this the auger must feed significantly more of them. The auger motor may need to be changed to accommodate this burning however during weather that does not require so much energy the chips will burn just fine. I could have easily burned chips for most of December with no issues if they had been dry enough. Which brings me to my second topic.
A test plan. I have taken the Holidays off but it is now the new year and time to make some constant progress. To facilitate the test plan I want to make some incremental improvements in the software. The first change in the software is to gather more data to make better decisions. To do this I am going to first add the date and outside temperature readings to both the LCD display and the data collected. By knowing these I can correlate the feed times to temperature and see how close a relationship between them exists. Next I would like to total the run time of the auger per minute and correlate that to both outside temperature and fuel usage. Armed with this additional data I can then make various burner modifications and see the differences if any graphically. The data is good now but could be better. As you can see from the data below the software is not working properly now. The derivative portion of the formula is not contributing at all. This needs to be fixed in the software.
>>>I could have easily burned chips for most of December with no issues if they had been dry enough
when i read this i immediately thought of a hopper heater, like used in plastic injection molding, where some exhaust gas (or clean air heated by the exhaust) is pumped into the bottom of the hopper, exiting the top. That would dry the chips nicely.
I was thinking about a heat and dry as you go plan anyway because of the low humidity of winter, so that would be a great idea.