This control box was built by a friend of mine using the info that Jon Heron presented in his original post.
The box plugs into a 120 wall outlet. The heating element, pump, float switch and condencer pump plug into the side of the box.
[URL= This message has been edited. Last edited by: mauser,
I dont see the pic?
Did you get it all working well?
I have not had time as of late, but soon. I'll post the other info when i get a chance.
Still can't see the pic?
Yep I can see it now!
Here are some questions i asked Jon via PM about setting up my PID. My PID is similar to his and the directions were the same.
The pid is for the still head temp. How do i set the temp. inputs?
" To enter settings on mine you have to press (SET) to enter settings mode then enter 0089 and press (SET) again, from here you can scroll through the different settings.You need to make sure its setup to match the type of TC you have."
How am i to know which parameter settings should be used?
"inty represents your TC type, if it = 'k' then it is setup for a k type TC. What type of TC do you have?
For outy it should be set to '2' this will enable the SSR output and the HL relays.
Make sure rd is set to '0' for heating mode and the rest you likely wont have to worry about...
If you look at the example at the end of your book it is basically setup exactly how you need it, only you will only be using the J1 terminals. setup AL1 to your high limit value."
Under the heading " Parameters setting guide "
The pid is being used for meth recovery, so if i want the still head temp at 150f for best rate of recovery and
say 175f as my high limit, on which line do these numbers go?
"SV is the set point of the PID, this is what the arrow keys adjust on the screen in normal mode to setup your desired reaction/recovery temp.
Because we are using the AL and AH as an actual high limit instead of just an alarm we will be setting it up a little different then what your manual shows;
You need to set the AL1 set point less then the temp of your oil when its cold, say 0, then set the AH1 setpoint where you want the heater to be cut off in the event of an SSR failure etc... say 175.
In other words the AH1 set point is where the contacts open (and kill the heater) and AL1 setpoint is where the contacts close again thus enabling the heater again...
So, to set up the alarms according to your book; hit 'set' then enter '0001' and hit 'set' again to enter the alarm setup mode. from here enter your desired temps as discussed."
Under the heading "SV and Alarm Parameters"
So the next step would be to set the pid to the auto-tune function, yes? And that would be it?
"Don't start the auto tune though, until your sure everything is working properly and you can leave it for a awhile. The auto tune can take along time to complete and if your reactor is insulated well it may take days as it tries to let the temp drop below your set point after it lets it go over your set point(overshoot/undershoot). To start the auto tune just hold the '>' button down until the AT lamp starts blinking, then you just wait until it stops... You may find you dont even need the auto tune."
About the auto-tune, the first thing i plan to do is dewater the oil via condencer, so....Is this the best way to let the A-T learn the temps?
"You can try the auto tune while dewatering, that would probably be the best.
You should calibrate the TC using a thermometer. If the reading on your PID doesn't match the thermometer you can adjust the PID "offset" to match using the 'PSB' setting in the initial parameter setting of your PID. Adjust the PSB up or down until the temp matches your thermometer setting.
I use a GL push/pull style reactor with a vacuum pump so my setup is somewhat different then yours. My Tc is in the oil and not at the head. When I dewater I set the PID to about 210F ~ 220F and apply vacuum. For recovery (from the glycerin and bio at once) I bring the pot temp up to a max of about 175f, while under vacuum. I have only ever calibrated and auto tuned it once When I first built it a few years back and it has always worked great.
After its all setup you just use the 2 arrow keys on the pid to set your desired temperature setpoint, no further tuning or adjustments are needed."
Jon, thanks for all your help, Mauser
No problem mauser, hope it all works out for ya!
Thanks for posting the Q&A here so others may learn from your questions!
I have a few questions if you dont mind. I searched all night on here and couldnt find any answers for my questions.
i want to get a pid and was looking at this one http://www.lightobject.com/JLD...-Controller-P43.aspx i need to decide between ssr or contactors. my other problem im trying to fiq out is that i have 2 5500 watt heating elemens that i want to run on 220. i cant seem to find a ssr to accomadate 220. they all seem to have single pole. am i missing something? it would almost seem like i would need 2 ssr per heating element one for each hot line? also would a seperate ssr be needed for each element or could one be used with a higher amp rating to support both? i hope you can understand what im trying to get at.
You only switch one leg of the 240v with the SSR. You need one rated for the combined amperage of your heaters if you want to control them both at the same time. 5500 * 2 = 11000/240 = 46 amps of heating load. That means you will need at least a 50 amp SSR or contactor, a 50 or 60Amp circuit breaker and minimum #6AWG wire. If you use an SSR you will need to get a heat sink for it at that amperage.
It would likely be easier to install, and cheaper to use 2, 30 amp circuits with 2, 30 amp SSR's or contactors hooked up in parallel to the PID instead. #10AWG(30amp) wire is much easier to deal with then #6(60amp) wire...
Does that make any sense to you?
Dont hesitate to ask if you have any other questions!
I have never understood why folks want to use SSR's to control a biodiesel processor...
It is a misapplication.
Using an SSR to control heating to a biodiesel processor is like using a scalpel in place of a steak knife.
Sure it will work.. but its not really the right tool for the job.
@ jon My understanding that a element would work with only one leg attached so how would hooking up one leg to a ssr control it as wouldnt it still be getting 110 power and running??
@ murphy I am open to any suggestion on mechanical contacts. The only reason i ask about ssr is they are talked about alot on here and not very much on contacts except they they dont last cuz they cycle alot durning the process. i have your plans as a guide for my build. what kind of relays do you sell? i have your plans and they dont go into much detail on the matter.
I believe Murphy meant that a PID was like a scalpel when a steak knife will do. In other words, a simple thermostat will do all that you need.
SSR's are the industry standard for PID controlled electric heat because they are cheap, plain and simple. Mercury filled contactors are also used when a very reliable and robust system is desired, they are about 10 times the price of an SSR though. That being said, for the amount of use one would get on a biodiesel reactor, a standard contactor, properly rated, would likely last forever...
I used an SSR on my last reactor because it was so cheap and came with the PID.
So what is?
And on another point, is an SSR (in conjunction with a PID controller )the right tool to control a methanol still element?
Now that I'm on still v2.0, I am way over capable of boiling off methanol faster than my condenser can keep up. Time for still v2.1 with a heater controller other than me watching it all day and cycling the element on an off manually every 10-15 minutes!
Nope.. I meant that the SSR's are overkill..
While I would agree that a simple thermostat would work fine and do all that is needed, a bit of digital feedback is always nice to have. If they made a digital thermostat that gave you some nice LED digital feedback for a reasonable price, I would probably recommend it over any PID for our applications.
That said, a common mechanical relay (properly rated) with a PID controller configured for simple on/off control is all that is needed. Set your hysteresis at about 3% and you're all set.
Any more than that and we're back to the scalpel analogy.
The reason that SSR's are used in industry is due to the rapid cycling of PID control parameters in applications that have, and require, a fast and/or highly accurate response profile. (none of which applies to a biodiesel processor) The life expectancy of a mechanical relay would be shortened under such conditions.
I'd almost put money on it and make a bet that not a single person in this forum (Ok, maybe one or two) who is using a PID/SSR setup has the PID controller parameters set the way they are intended to be. I might even go one step further and say 90% don't even understand what the P, the I and the D even mean to the system and to each other.
The fact is, they don't need to. I would put forth that no matter what size or type of scalpel you choose to use, they will all cut your steak just fine.
Just my opinion.... everyone's got one eh?
No doubt about it! Here is mine...
I just dont see the point in using a PID if your setting it up for strait on/off operation, thats like taking the said scalpel and grinding the tip into a chisel. I guess some people like flashing lights, me, I am more proud of my nice analog process thermometers then a flashing digital display, they always work, look sharp and dont need any wires to em...
If you just want on/off control and a digital read out, use one of these;
It even has a built in 30A contactor and some heat anticipation where a PID set for strait on off wont....
Ryan, for the price of a combined PID, 40A SSR and TC off of ebay ( http://www.ebay.ca/itm/PID-Tem...&hash=item336b7e995f $50 bucks) you would be hard pressed to come up with anything as cheap or efficient for what your wanting to do. In my opinion of course!
Mind you, on second read of your post, you say you are overloading your condenser, unless your using vacuum you will need a ramping PID, a standard PID will not do what you need. They can also be found cheap on ebay.
Well now you do kinda have a point with that...
I like the dual readout with the PID controller.. I also like the extra alarm contacts it gives you..
oh.. and don't you dare rag on my flashing lights... They look cool man.. LOL..
Have you considered marketing plans for a reactor control panel? It seems thats where most people get hung up. You could probably sell ready made control panels that would meet most peoples needs...
Mind you, it seems most people are not willing to spend any money on their pump and plumbing so the cost of a decent control panel could send people running for cover...
Even if all you sold were a few sets of matched components (PID, SSR, Thermocouple) in, say, a 25A level and a 40A level. One on/off control for processors, one with ramping control for stills. That would be pretty cool.
That was my biggest hang up: knowing the 3 parts would work together without issue, given all the options PID controller is capable of.
Those are great suggestions.. Perhaps I'll do exactly that this winter when I'm stuck in the house with nothing to do.
If I could put in my 2cents, a contactor will spark when making amd breaking the heater current where a ssr will not, giving a level of safety around combustable fumes. A thermostat is limited in positioning due to the length of the capillary and bulb a pid is not. I Pid controllers can be dumbed down to on / off stayus and with the applisation of heating oil this is good enough when comparing rate of temp rise v time. all that said if you mount your control box next to your reactor due to the length of the thermostat you would safer using a ssr to reduce accidential ignition from the arcing of the contacts opening and closing. B using a pid the controls can be mounted futher away. A ssr can be controlled by a thermostat and a contactor can be controlled by a pid controller. When you decide where you want the control box the choice may become easier.
You can not change the winds, but you can reset your sails.
I respectfully disagree with that statement. While SSR's don't spark they do produce allot of heat and can fail with a large arcing short. It's also worth noting that, in my experience, an SSR generally fail's closed which will allow the heater to run away uncontrolled unless its done properly by utilizing a highlimit control. Also the PID/SSR should be inside of an electrical box which will have switches, etc that also produce sparks and could cause an ignition.
I think it would be a false sense of security to rely on the PID/SSR not sparking.
In my opinion its better to keep the fumes away from the control panel altogether.
Regarding different types of controllers, there are also thermopile style thermostats that dont require any power or a capillary tube to operate so distance would not be an issue like it is with capillary tube setups.
I just used a standard aquastat with a capillary tube to control the boiler on my new reactor and it works extremely well.
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