Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Remote Switch for Dust Collector

So now that I have installed a souped up Harbor Freight dust collector installed, I got tired of walking over to turn it on and off each time.  I looked into getting a commercial remote for it, but they are not cheap and also some of the reviews made me question them.  One of the concerns that I had was forking over the better part of $100 and then have it die after a year or so.  If that happened, these solid state unites are trash, as they cannot be fixed. 

The Dust Collector Remote Installed

I work in a lab where we recently removed some old equipment.  That night while falling asleep, it dawned on me that I could use a $10 remote control for Christmas tree lights to turn on and off an old relay from the equipment.  The cheap remote is unable to handle the motor load; however, it can easily turn on an off a relay designed to handle the motor load.

I was going to use a solid-state relay with a heat sink.  To power the DC for a relay, I had planned to use an old transformer used to power a broken wireless (computer) router.  Then in talking to the head building maintenance guy at work, he suggested a contactor relay as it uses an 110V AC input and is better able to handle the power of a motor.  He ordered one for a motor switch; however, it was the wrong size, he could not return it, and he gave it to me. 

I then took an old electrical enclosure box used to run some large tube furnaces.  I used a 12-guage extension cord as the power supply and then as an extra outlet to run to the cord for the dust collector.  Also, I got some appropriately size fuses, an electrical outlet, and finally, the $10 remote control switch. 

I wired it together with the intention of the remote control on the outside, as it would not work inside the metal box.  If you look at the pictures, I took advantage of what was in the box, so I was able to make it much fancier than if I had started from total scratch.  In addition, I figured the remote was the most likely to fail and if on the outside, it is easy and cheap to replace. 

How hard was it to wire?  Well if you can barely wire an outlet, this is NOT the project for you.  If you can easily wire a 3-way switch and can understand my drawing, it is relatively straightforward.   

One thing that is also important to point out is that this system is very flexible if you are electrically minded.  For example, if you ran a 220V (or even a 480V) dust collector, you could then just run the neutral line over (or a separate 110V line) and wire it up in a very similar manor. 

In addition, just as I was getting ready to write this up, I found that Clear Vue offers an electrical box very similar to what I built.  I have not seen the box in person; but it appears to have a remote control turning on and off a contactor using 110V.   Their relay has two legs so that it can run 220V.  In mine, I am using one leg at 110V.  I guess the other difference is that their looks much nicer, where mine is not something I could sell online. 

Enjoy the pictures below,

Schematic of the Dust Collector

The Remote Before Mounting 
Note in the picture above you can see a few things.  One is that outlet that I cut to mount on the top, which powers the remote control switch.  Here, the box is set to power the dust collector as evident by the lit up end of the extension cord, which might not show to well in the picture.  The output of this is a cheap extension cord in white that goes back in to power the contractor.  This way if the remote dies, I don't need to do anything other than plug the new one in, which I think was really a ingenious solution. 

The Inside Wiring

Note in the picture above you can see a few things.  First, I was SUPER lucky to get a box that I could modify and make use of.  I was able to make use of the switch and light (which lets me know if its powered up and ready to hit the remote button.  I also was able to use left over wire and blocks to make some of the connection.  The fuses worked perfect as I have a fuse on the light, contactor, and dust collector.  I should have put one on the outlet, but I did not think of it at the time. 

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