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Thread: DIY RDF "2.0", The Beast

  1. #221
    JGS107 is offline
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    I built my main structure out of pvc sheet and pvc trim from Home Depot. I only have $500 in mine with the mistakes and new controller. It is very accomplishable if you take your time and read all the issues we have all gone through.

  2. #222
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    Funny cause I'm almost finished with my new shower made out of pvc trim.

  3. #223
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    That's the easy part... being an EE...
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  4. #224
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    Direct-drive conversion:

    As noted, I'm fed up with trying to make the chain-drive work. I think what bothers me the most is knowing that it can work, but I'm apparently not smart enough to make it happen. That said, most of the "real" RDFs use direct-drive, so that's a bit of vindication. Back at the start of this project I had planned to use a direct-drive setup, but the price of integrated motor/gearboxes was just too high. This caused me to go with a chain-drive solution, thinking it would be cheaper. It was, but only when looking at each part individually. When taken as a whole, though:
    • Motor, $70-400, depending upon size
    • Sprocket, $50
    • Large custom sprocket on drum, cut via water jet, $200
    • Chain, $40-100, depending upon material

    Had I listed the parts cost upfront I'd have never gone down this path, never mind the issues with the chain jumping off. Speaking of that, having the chain come off was just part of the problem. The previous gear motor was a beast, likely capable of ripping the entire filter apart if it wanted. The concern was that someday, the chain would eventually drop off the sprocket in such a way that it would hook onto something, effectively "reeling in" whatever it grabbed onto. With as much torque as it had, it simply wouldn't stop. The concern was that it could have literally torn the end off the drum, never mind the comparatively minor consequences of no longer having a functioning particulate filter. Anyway, onward and upward.

    Having finally had enough regarding the chain-drive setup - never knowing whether it was still working when I was away from home, the decision was made to go to a direct-drive setup. The advantages are many since it:
    • Eliminates the chain, increasing reliability and the possible dire consequences of a loose chain catching on things
    • Eliminates the off-axis torque on the drum
    • No longer requires tensioners and additional rollers to prevent the drum from riding up off its rollers
    • Results in fewer parts

    Conversion:
    The center of the drum was carefully marked on the filter housing and a hole drilled through the end housing. There was already a stainless drum sprocket in-place, so it was left and a new sprocket welded to it. The sprocket was used because it was the most efficient way to connect the drum to a keyed axle shaft. The larger hole above the shaft is to provide access for the two sprocket set screws, necessary for installing or removing the axle. The rotisserie motor assembly was installed in an outdoor electrical junction box, then mounted so that it can move around somewhat to handle small variations in axle alignment (it's not rigidly mounted).

    This set up does not use a waterproof seal where the axle extends through the housing because the water level is kept below that point. This is one advantage of running a large drum, that it doesn't require as much immersion to provide good flow.

    The old gear motor, sprocket, and chain will be sold on Ebay - hopefully to someone who can use it in a more successful application!

    The new setup's only been running for about a day now but so far so good; I'll continue with periodic updates.
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    Last edited by kimini; 07-10-2017 at 08:09 PM.
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  5. #225
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    As an aside, spending a lot of time in the yard means means spotting various yard guests. This little guy stuck around long enough get a good shot of him.
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    Last edited by kimini; 07-05-2017 at 02:22 PM.
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  6. #226
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    i understand that you are planning on having the water level below the seal but i have some questions.

    have you given any thought to wear on the seal being it will be dry and above the water level? it also seems that the shaft from the drum to the motor gear assembly is unsupported and this movement will also add to the wear on the seal.

    why did you install the motor in an electrical waterproof box? are you planing on not covering the unit?

    once you close the box up are you concerned about excess heat building up causing the motors life to be shortened?

    do you have any concerns about the open gear setup corroding due to the moisture?
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  7. #227
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwickcut View Post
    i understand that you are planning on having the water level below the seal but i have some questions. have you given any thought to wear on the seal being it will be dry and above the water level?.
    There is no seal. The shaft is 1" and passes through a 1.25" hole and water level never reaches the center of the drum, even with power off.

    Quote Originally Posted by kwickcut View Post
    it also seems that the shaft from the drum to the motor gear assembly is unsupported and this movement will also add to the wear on the seal.
    The drum rests on four rollers inside the enclosure, so the shaft is supported at the drum end by the drum itself. It is supported at the other end by the gear motor assembly. The gear motor is restrained in five degrees of freedom. There are two "reaction blocks" that take up the torque but also allow the unit to slide about to handle small misalignments. There is a shelf below the assembly that supports its weight.

    Quote Originally Posted by kwickcut View Post
    why did you install the motor in an electrical waterproof box? are you planing on not covering the unit?
    I don't know if you're referring to the motor as a separate thing, or using the term generically to reference the entire gear motor assembly. The entire assembly is mounted in the box so that it doesn't get wet and/or dusty. Eventually the entire filter area will be roofed over but it could be a while before that happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by kwickcut View Post
    once you close the box up are you concerned about excess heat building up causing the motors life to be shortened?.
    No. Since the motor only runs for 11 seconds every ~60 minutes, it has plenty of time to cool down.

    Quote Originally Posted by kwickcut View Post
    do you have any concerns about the open gear setup corroding due to the moisture?
    Yes, hence the waterproof box - the motor and gearbox are all part of the same assembly and it's all in the box*. I made a gasket out of a small donut portion of pond liner and pushed it over the stainless shaft to keep moisture and/or dirt out of the gearbox enclosure. Also, the gears have grease on them.

    *I'm using this one http://www.makermotor.com/12V_variab...ear_motor.html
    Last edited by kimini; 07-07-2017 at 02:58 PM.
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  8. #228
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    I bought a coupler along with the gear motor, figuring it would save time. It did - while getting the setup running initially - but being mild steel meant it would end up jamming the motor shaft and locking pin inside it so badly it couldn't be disassembled. A chunk of 316 stainless was machined to replicate the coupler, along with a new stainless lock pin. Now the entire gear motor and box can be removed simply by "pulling the pin".

    So far the filter's been chugging along. There was one event, though probably unrelated to converting to direct-drive. That is, on Saturday morning I checked on the filter and the output side was really low. That's a dead giveaway that the drum didn't get cleaned. What the failure mode was is a real problem to determine because it can be so many different things. The trouble is that if anything keeps the drum from getting cleaned, even once - the water level on the output side keeps dropping and the controller's one chance to clean the drum is gone because the controller is watching for the float switch to change state - once it has, it no longer pays attention. Unfortunately this could have quite a few possible causes:

    1. Maybe the motor inrush current caused the 12V supply to sag and reset the controller.
    2. Maybe the motor stalled and never turned at all.
    3. Maybe there's an intermittent connection to the motor or spray solenoid.
    4. Maybe debris kept the float switch from sensing the low water level (I checked, it had not).
    5. Maybe it's something I haven't thought of.

    It's only happened once in 5 days, which is annoying because I can't fix something that isn't broken.

    I'm starting to think about upgrading the controller to something like a Raspberry microcontroller, which provides the option of running both a water level sensor and time-dependent cleaning cycle. That is, if the water level hasn't triggered a cleaning cycle within, oh, 2 hours, force it to happen. Or maybe I'm overthinking it; maybe just switching to a time-based cleaning cycle is the simplest and most straightforward approach, and the controller I'm using now can be reprogrammed to do just that...
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    Last edited by kimini; 07-10-2017 at 08:44 PM.
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  9. #229
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    So far, so good, the direct-drive is working fine.

    Reason for the update was that while checking the inside of the drum as preventative maintenance, I noticed a couple strips on the screen that looked like they weren't being cleaned. Gee, I wonder why? Pretty sure the first is a clump of solvent-melted plastic debris. The second clump I couldn't identify.
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    Last edited by kimini; 3 Weeks Ago at 04:09 PM.
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  10. #230
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    when i was at Mary's pond or graybird, norm Walsh noticed one nozzle clogged. she just had landscaper replace the valve and some glue got stuck in the nozzle. I check my rdf every day for it

  11. #231
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    I'm pretty sure the first was debris left by me - though I was real careful to clean out the supply pipes. The second, I haven't a clue. If oddball stuff keeps showing up, I'll add a filter upstream of the spray bar. Something with a screen smaller than 0.050", the diameter of the spray nozzles.
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  12. #232
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    Quote Originally Posted by kimini View Post
    I'm pretty sure the first was debris left by me - though I was real careful to clean out the supply pipes. The second, I haven't a clue. If oddball stuff keeps showing up, I'll add a filter upstream of the spray bar. Something with a screen smaller than 0.050", the diameter of the spray nozzles.
    can you post what filter you choose? i want to get one. thanks

  13. #233
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    Haven't picked one yet but pretty sure Home Depot has them in the drip irrigation section.
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  14. #234
    Grumpy is online now
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    If Teflon tape was used on the threaded pipe connections the Teflon tape could be plugging the fittings. Teflon tape can become thin slivers of plastic when used on plastic pipe (plastic pipe have very sharp threads), and those bits of tape can move in the water flow and can mess with valves and plug small nozzles.

  15. #235
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    When using spray nozzles an inline filter should always be used and the piping should be purged before installing the nozzles. I like the inline mesh filters designed for farm spray equipment better than the lighter ones designed for drip irrigation.
    Last edited by BWG; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:15 PM.

  16. #236
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    The direct-drive conversion keeps chugging along. I checked it over and found that the spray bar had come loose from its mount at one end - I had been wondering what that clunking noise was. Also, the set screws on the gear motor output shaft had come loose, fixed that. Lastly, during conversion to the direct drive, the drum ended up slight further away from its base. I didn't realize it but it was at the limit of the rubber seal and part of it had dropped into the gap. New seal material is on the way. Overall I'm much happier with the newest configuration.
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  17. #237
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    The Blob Within:

    With the summer heat and string algae threatening, I find a large floating mass of algae in the drum about once a day. It's easy enough to remove but curious how it got there, the waste drain was removed and the incoming water observed. As small segments of algae flow in, ones that sink get stuck to the screen, but ones that float tend to "orbit" in the center of the drum. As more arrive, they tend to clump together into a bigger and bigger floating cloud which stays in the middle and because it's floating, it never ends up against the screen.

    Part of the problem might be how I made the drum, using strips of plastic to form the walls. The thinking was that anything not well-affixed to the screen would be helped up to the sprayer by the "paddlewheel" design. What I hadn't though about was what happens when something larger comes in, something big enough that it doesn't fit through the rib spacing. This theory doesn't really work though since the algae clumps are 99% water and could easily flow between the ribs. I think the problem is that they're floating.

    I asked owners of commercial RDFs what they see for the difference in level between the inlet and outlet side and received only one answer: about 3", which isn't that much different than my 2.5". As others have suggested, increasing flow might help by increasing the current flowing toward the screen and making it more likely that the "blob" would get pulled towards it. We'll see; I look at it as a puzzle and a challenge. It could be worse, I could be one of those angry people posting about their lousy commercial RDF!
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  18. #238
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    Someone else here just posted recently about the same issue. I think it was determined that it was due to it floating and the flow rate and possible the drum size. Ill try to find the post when I get a free minute

  19. #239
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    That was me because I was looking for a wider audience than what usually comes to the DIY section - probably should have put it here anyway...

    I went ahead and ordering a larger main pump - doesn't hurt to have a backup. I found it interesting comparing the W. Lim Wave 1 1/4-hp pump against the Flowfriend. At ~6000gph and 9 ft head, W. Lim says the Wave 1 consumes 371 watts. Using the same numbers for flow and head, the Flowfriend consumes 325 watts. It was surprising they were so close because it meant - at least where we live - that the Flowfriend wouldn't pay for itself.
    Last edited by kimini; 21 Hours Ago at 02:04 PM.
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