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Old January 19th, 2016, 10:16 AM
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Default My Homebuilt PLC Controlled RO

After last season I decided to build an RO. I wanted a unit that had some automation so I wouldn't have to watch it constantly. That's when I stumbled on programmable logic controllers and decided to give it shot because they are fairly inexpensive. Learning the ladder logic programming language was a little challenging at first, but fun. There's so much you can do with a PLC, and if you ever want to change something it's a lot easier than rewiring all of your relays.

I primarily based this design on what Dennis H. did last year and what some others here have posted on their builds. I tried to make this so I can add 1 or 2 membranes in the future if I expand. Thanks everybody for sharing your work in the forum and through email on here. I could not have put this together without the all the extra help.

I only wish I had welding skills and equipment. Otherwise I would have done a metal frame.

Features:

- Low and High pressure shutoff
- 1 hp. shallow well pump feed (120 VAC)
- 1.5 hp motor driving Procon Series 5 (240 VAC)
- Single XLE-4040 membrane
- Temperature display with auto-shutoff for high temp
- Recirculation loop for concentrate (not quite finished)
- Click PLC from automation direct (120 VAC input/output)
- Circuit breakers, motor overload relays, contactors w/ surge suppression
- HP pump starts automatically after the feed pump once all the logic is true
- Manual modes can run the feed pump intermittently with a button push, or continuously without starting the HP pump

I now just have to leak/pressure test it and set up a wash tank. This is sitting in my basement and I have tanks set up for concentrate and permeate. I also have it plumbed so that I can recirculate from the concentrate reservoir. The control portion is a bit over the top, but it's a very expandable system.
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My Homebuilt PLC Controlled RO-img_2024.jpg   My Homebuilt PLC Controlled RO-img_2025.jpg  
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Old January 19th, 2016, 10:41 AM
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Dang Urban I wish I could do what you did. I weld all the time and play with remedial electronics but that's sweet. Now if you have a chop saw all you need is this. I have run across all sorts of medical equipment that is built out of this product. From medical equipment to computer towers.

Im sure someone has asked what type of stain your going to use.



Catalogue: Framing & Clamping Systems - In-Position Technologies

Last edited by Haynes Forest Products; January 20th, 2016 at 09:45 AM.
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Old January 20th, 2016, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haynes Forest Products View Post
Dang Urban I wish I could do what you did. I weld all the time and play with remedial electronics but that's sweet. Now of you have a chop saw all you need is this. I have run across all sorts of medical equipment that is built out of this product. From medical equipment to computer towers.

Im sure someone has asked what type of stain your going to use.



Catalogue: Framing & Clamping Systems - In-Position Technologies
Thanks Haynes. I'll have to look into that system. I thought about just hiring a guy to build me a frame this summer. Unfortunately I procrastinated too long this past year and I had to get this done before this year's season. As for stain...I thought maybe just paint, but if I build a frame I won't do anything to the wood. Again, if I had not procrastinated I would have had time to disassemble/detach everything from the frame and paint it. That's a time consuming task and of course I can't paint it outside in the winter.
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Old January 20th, 2016, 09:59 AM
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Urban you will be changing the unit after the season anyway so your not locked in at this point. There are a few of these company's out there that make the commercial Erector sets. They are fun to work with and when dune right are very strong. The list of adapters, bracket hinges and just plain simple ways to intergrade equipment into a simple easy design is fantastic.

I have the same problem you have I have built a piece of equipment that is about done and because I have been changing. rearranging and overbuilding on it I will have a full day breaking it down to paint it and then reassembly will take days.

In your case you have to remember that if that pump or fitting fails you will need easy access and that will be a PINA to incorporate that into the final design so don't leave it to some clown like me with a welder to accomplish.
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Old February 9th, 2016, 08:55 AM
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I ran the RO for the first time last night. So far I am very pleased. I started out with sap at about 2.2% at 43F and was getting 1.6 GPM or so running 50/50 flows at 200-210PSI. When the sugar approached 8% I had tried running it at 1 GPM conc. and 0.5 GPM perm with pressures anywhere from 210-240 PSI.

I'm getting the bottom line result...concentrate. But, I have no idea what I'm doing...

1) Are these flows normal?

2) How high can you concentrate with the XLE-4040. I haven't seen any documentation, but I have seen some ROs that say to not exceed 8%. I don't know which membrane they use though.

3) My concentrate made nice syrup, but I have to admit it looked a little discolored. Odorless, but not looking too fresh in my opinion. Anyone else experience this? Some of the sap was from Saturday, and I concentrated Monday. Maybe I should not have waited.

4) Once my pan was sweetened, I had to set my auto draw a full degree below where I normally have in the past. Setting it normally, I was getting syrup way over-dense. I diluted it by drawing off more, but why is this happening? All I can think of is that there must have been a lot of over-dense syrup beyond the probe where the draw-off is. I'm just not understanding why this would happen, since it never worked that way before. The only obvious change here is boiling concentrate.

A whole new learning curve just began.
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Old February 9th, 2016, 09:15 AM
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you just parked your horse and buggy and stepped into a rocket ship. Things happen quicker and by the time you realize you have a problem its way past adjustment. You are now making syrup in the start of your syrup pan and you need to draw off before its Past density plus you need longer draw offs. Read up on proper defoamer use it can make a huge difference in how your draw off will act.

OH YEA don't cook spoiled sap let alone run it thru the RO. fresh ingredients makes the best food. Just cook some burgers using tainted meat and let me know how that go's over.
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Old February 9th, 2016, 09:22 AM
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Thanks Haynes. I will definitely read up on defoamer. I try to use it sparingly because of the risk for off-flavors. But I better do something because at several points during the boil the 2 channels nearest the drawoff were overflowing with bubbles. It was pretty impressive to watch, and once it starting drawing off, it was a long one. I have to say I really like boiling concentrate. So little wood used, so much syrup.
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Home-built auto draw off
Home-built single XLE-4040 RO w/ PLC control
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120 taps for 2016
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Old February 9th, 2016, 10:17 AM
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Urban from what I have read higher sugar content spoil at a faster rate than the lower. Perhaps your better off with not running it through your R.O until your ready to boil. Keep your sap as cold as possible when storing it. And that should help as well. Somewhere they even stated that 8% would spoil in the matter of 6 hours and that 2% would spoil at 48 hours. I hope that I am remembering this correctly. Hope this helps.
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Old February 9th, 2016, 10:22 AM
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For next time I will run both the evaporator and RO at the same time. I didn't this time because it's new equipment and I wanted to be there to intervene for leaks and whatever else could wrong.

I'm no microbiology expert but I do know microbes love sugar and warm water.
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WF Mason 2x4 XL w/ AUF/AOF
Home-built auto draw off
Home-built single XLE-4040 RO w/ PLC control
20'x20' Garage converted to sugar house
120 taps for 2016
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Ask me how I am paying off my mortgage in less than 7 years and how you can too. PM me.
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Old February 9th, 2016, 11:12 AM
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sounds to me like you are not drawing fast enough. I have made very good syrup from concentrate that did not look good. I go to 18-20% in 2 passes with xle's. I have boiled down my turkey pot full of permeate so it just fit in the hydrometer cup and the hydrometer just sat on the bottom. This was with an older Memtek running 450 psi. I don't think you will have a problem.
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