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Old December 2nd, 2014, 05:40 PM
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Default Building a small releaser for 100-200 taps for under $150... (thinking outloud)

I've thought a bit about this recently - so I figured I'd start a thread to discuss it while I go at it.

The releaser detailed here: Homemade Releaser is pretty interesting.

The main idea is that it is under vacuum, but the large float pushes up a plug that will break the vacuum and allow the atmospheric pressure in to let the sap drain out. The check valve on the input helps keep some vacuum in the system while it is dumping.

I think the same principle can be used - but instead of having a large float, a small piezo actuator could serve the same purpose:




When the liquid hits a certain level in the releaser, have the circuit open and allow air in - then when it gets below a certain level have the circuit close.

A 1/4" hole is not very big, but it should be enough for it to drain....

Getting large diameter PVC in small sections seems like it will be the hardest part. I found that Lowes sells 6" green PVC in pre-cut 2' lengths - one of those will hold around 2.9 gallons (full)

Assuming I have it start to drain when it is 6" from the top and leave 1" at the bottom - it'd be dumping around 2 gallons per dump.

I was thinking of having a 1.5" drain on the bottom and 3/4" sap input at the top (with check valves on both the input and the output)

For the electronics, I was going to wire up the sensors myself to a Raspberry Pi A+ board - it's waaaay overkill for this, but it's only $25 so it's also super cheap. As an added bonus, I can have it keep track of each time that it dumps and have a little web interface to show a graph of the sap collected over time (and for an extra $2 I can throw on a temperature sensor) - The programming of the electronics I have zero doubts about being able to do (I'm a computer programmer)

If I go with a 6" x 24" pvc - I'd be looking at:

$17 for PVC
$20(?) for clear acrylic tops
$20(?) for neoprene gasket under the lid
$6 for latches
$30 for electronic components
$16 for the Piezo actuator
$50 for check valves

for around $160 in parts.

Any thoughts? Is a 6" x 24" too small for 100 taps?

If I get it working, I'll post the source code / config to whatever I end up doing with it so others can copy it and run with it.

Thoughts?
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2015:
100 taps on 3/16 gravity (+vacuum?) - hauling sap to nearby producer

2014:
Steam pans on natural gas grill (no rig this year)
34 taps on 3/16 gravity + 1 roadside on a bucket
Hauling most of the excess sap to a bigger producer up the road
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  #2  
Old December 2nd, 2014, 05:52 PM
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? What would stop the vacuum from being applied to the container while your electric valve opened to let in Atmospheric air to dump the sap from the container? 2 valves would be a possible solution. 1 open to AP and other close of Vac air and when empty they change position.
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 06:47 PM
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I tried this same ideal but used a 3/4 inch valve, it failed miserably. The expense of getting a larger one just didnt make it worth doing so I went fully mechanical. My problem was the pump cfms would maintain enough vac yet to hold the check valve drain closed. And this was with a low cfm pump too. I think maybe, and thats a maybe if you used the valve on the drain as well you may have some better luck but I would still worry the drain time would be pretty long with the size valve your looking at. Other option would be to kill the vac to the releaser somehow but now your talking more valves or turning pump on and off every time its full.
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 06:49 PM
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I thought about that. The guy who built that first one just let his vacuum run (and suck air, basically) while it was dumping.

The piezo valve says it can let in 22cfm, and my pump will do I think 10cfm at open air... But I agree it would be ideal to close off the vacuum while dumping.

Larger valves are more expensive, but maybe I could figure out a way to plug it at least most of the way easily.
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2015:
100 taps on 3/16 gravity (+vacuum?) - hauling sap to nearby producer

2014:
Steam pans on natural gas grill (no rig this year)
34 taps on 3/16 gravity + 1 roadside on a bucket
Hauling most of the excess sap to a bigger producer up the road
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 06:54 PM
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Ah. Good to know. I'll have to think of ways to shut off the vacuum air flow while it is dumping. Shutting off the pump would be easy, but I don't think cycling a vane pump on and off a lot is good for it, is it?
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2015:
100 taps on 3/16 gravity (+vacuum?) - hauling sap to nearby producer

2014:
Steam pans on natural gas grill (no rig this year)
34 taps on 3/16 gravity + 1 roadside on a bucket
Hauling most of the excess sap to a bigger producer up the road
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 07:58 PM
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A best case scenario would be to have the vacuum flow shut off while dumping. However, try to let the pump run and accumulate in a reservoir while the dump happens, so that the releaser chamber can be rapidly recharged after the dump is complete. Perhaps a solenoid valve on the inbound vacuum, right on the top of the releaser or near the top , wherever the vacuum would enter.
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 08:38 PM
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How about a link to the "piezo actuator"?
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lpakiz View Post
How about a link to the "piezo actuator"?
Sorry, that was a typo - I was referring to the solenoid valve.

for the drain, instead of a check valve I think I could use this 1" magnetically latching valve - I'd use it for the vacuum too, but I don't know if it would work because it has a minimum operating pressure.

(Although I suppose I could put it on the vacuum but backwards and then it should have the right operating pressure differential)




Maybe get two and try one on the vacuum and see if I can get it to turn on and off?
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2015:
100 taps on 3/16 gravity (+vacuum?) - hauling sap to nearby producer

2014:
Steam pans on natural gas grill (no rig this year)
34 taps on 3/16 gravity + 1 roadside on a bucket
Hauling most of the excess sap to a bigger producer up the road
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 09:53 PM
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Is your pan to power these valves with a battery?
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Old December 2nd, 2014, 10:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rdgen.maple View Post
Is your pan to power these valves with a battery?
If I could figure out a way to do it using low power, great, but that's not my main objective for this.

I'll have 110V AC nearby to power the vacuum pump, and I can use a DC adapter to power the solenoids, so current shouldn't be an issue.

The reason I'm looking at DC ones is because it's a little simpler to switch them on and off from the Raspberry Pi
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2015:
100 taps on 3/16 gravity (+vacuum?) - hauling sap to nearby producer

2014:
Steam pans on natural gas grill (no rig this year)
34 taps on 3/16 gravity + 1 roadside on a bucket
Hauling most of the excess sap to a bigger producer up the road
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