Automatic Coal Consumption Tracking

A Coal stoker furnace or stove controls most operations including automatically feeding the coal. They are quite similar to any conventional oil and gas units and easily operated for extended periods of time. They commonly use rice coal but may use larger sizes like buckwheat. They can be used as primary heat, supplementary heat or have a dual set up with your existing oil/gas furnace.
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mdrelyea
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Posts: 115
Joined: Thu. Mar. 08, 2012 12:36 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Alaska 140 Auger
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Russo #2
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Rice/Nut
Location: Victor, NY

Post Fri. Jan. 11, 2013 10:42 pm

So I gotta share this bit of awesomeness... With the rotation counting, I just predicted how much coal it would take to fill my hopper to within 0.3 pounds... I predicted 187.3 pounds required to fill the hopper based on the number of revolutions since it was last filled up. It actually took 187.0 Seeing as how the scale I weigh it on can only resolve to the nearest 0.5 pounds I'd call that a resounding success!

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KLook
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Posts: 3636
Joined: Sun. Feb. 17, 2008 1:08 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF 3000
Coal Size/Type: rice, bagged, Blaschak
Other Heating: Gas boiler backup/main
Stove/Furnace Model: VF 3000
Location: Chattanooga, Tenn

Post Fri. Jan. 11, 2013 11:53 pm

Really dude, you gotta get out more. :shock: :P

Kevin

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dcrane
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Posts: 3115
Joined: Sun. Apr. 22, 2012 9:28 am
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404
Location: Duxbury, MA./Hanson MA./Brockton, MA

Post Sat. Jan. 12, 2013 4:54 am

mdrelyea wrote:So I hooked up a pedometer to the shaft of the feed auger on my Alaska 140. It worked great to track the number of revolutions. I kept good records to determine that 1 revolution feeds about 0.1017 lbs of my oiled Reading coal. Sure would be nice, I thought, to not have to write down the number of revolutions. Since I have a computer that is always on, I wanted to record a date/time on the computer each time a revolution was recorded. That would give me the best possible resolution on my consumption data.

The normal solution there is to hook a switch up to a serial port and write your own program to do it. Since a lot of computers now don't even come with a serial port I wanted to do it via USB. After a lot of searching I found this little board. To the computer it looks like a keyboard (or a mouse, or a gamepad).

Using the technique I had learned when hooking up the pedometer, I put a magnet on the shaft of the auger and a reed switch mounted off to the side of the auger. I hooked up the reed switch to the board that I bought and plugged that in to a USB port. I configured the board so that every time the switch was triggered it looked like I had pressed Ctrl-Shift-Alt-E on the keyboard. I then set up a very small batch file with one command:
echo 1,%date:~4% %time:~0,8% >> "%userprofile%\My Documents\Revolutions %date:~4,2%-%date:~-4%.csv"
which just adds a new line containing the number of revolutions (just 1) and the date/time to a file in the My Documents folder. It will create a new file each month. Finally, created a desktop shortcut to my batch file and then assigned a shortcut key to the desktop shortcut. My shortcut key is Ctrl-Shift-Alt-E.

So, whenever the feed auger makes a full revolution, the reed switch is triggered, my computer sees a Ctrl-Shift-Alt-E, runs my batch file, and records a date/time in a file on my computer. I've had it running for a few days now and it is working great.

I no longer need to weigh my coal or write anything down to keep track of my consumption - and I can track it much more closely than I ever did before!
I call innovation of the month :D (i don't think we have such a title yet... cough cough...Rich! LOL)
Time to send this idea down to the patent office :P hehehe


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lsayre
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Posts: 12244
Joined: Wed. Nov. 23, 2005 9:17 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)
Location: N/E Ohio, between Medina and Wadsworth

Post Sat. Jan. 12, 2013 7:46 am

I thought I was doing pretty good with hitting my advanced usage predictions within typically about 8-10 lbs. over a 3 day period, but this level of precision is awesome. :clap:

That said, counting revolutions after they have occurred is not predictive of coal consumption in advance based upon the weather conditions. It is only precision achieved after the fact. Prediction should be your next step. Predicting revolutions per HDD (in advance of them happening) will turn this into a powerful coal consumption forecasting tool.
-Larry

Democracy rests upon the principle that collective wisdom arises from a pool of individual ignorance. A Republic rests squarely upon objective law, and fundamentally upon those laws which restrict the scope and actions of government.

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dcrane
Verified Business Rep.
Posts: 3115
Joined: Sun. Apr. 22, 2012 9:28 am
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Crane 404
Location: Duxbury, MA./Hanson MA./Brockton, MA

Post Sat. Jan. 12, 2013 7:55 am

lsayre wrote:I thought I was doing pretty good with hitting my advanced usage predictions within typically about 8-10 lbs. over a 3 day period, but this level of precision is awesome. :clap:

That said, counting revolutions after they have occurred is not predictive of coal consumption in advance based upon the weather conditions. It is only precision achieved after the fact. Prediction should be your next step. Predicting revolutions per HDD (in advance of them happening) will turn this into a powerful coal consumption forecasting tool.
Mehhhh, details details LOL.... its a cool gogo gadget either way :up:

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mdrelyea
Member
Posts: 115
Joined: Thu. Mar. 08, 2012 12:36 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Alaska 140 Auger
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Russo #2
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Rice/Nut
Location: Victor, NY

Post Sat. Jan. 12, 2013 11:11 am

lsayre wrote:That said, counting revolutions after they have occurred is not predictive of coal consumption in advance based upon the weather conditions. It is only precision achieved after the fact. Prediction should be your next step. Predicting revolutions per HDD (in advance of them happening) will turn this into a powerful coal consumption forecasting tool.
RIght. Step one though is to make sure that I have a good measurement system. Wouldn't do me any good to base my predictions on a crappy measurement system.


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mdrelyea
Member
Posts: 115
Joined: Thu. Mar. 08, 2012 12:36 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Alaska 140 Auger
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Russo #2
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Rice/Nut
Location: Victor, NY

Post Sun. Jan. 13, 2013 9:54 pm

I looked back through my data this evening and not all of the data is as close as it was this last time. It varied from predicting 3.5 lbs to much to 4.1 pounds to little.
Lbs Data.png
Lbs data.xls
(34.5 KiB) Downloaded 2 times

User avatar
lsayre
Member
Posts: 12244
Joined: Wed. Nov. 23, 2005 9:17 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Anthracite Pea
Other Heating: Resistance Boiler (13.5 KW)
Location: N/E Ohio, between Medina and Wadsworth

Post Mon. Jan. 14, 2013 1:16 pm

Pretty close overall though. Still good info.
-Larry

Democracy rests upon the principle that collective wisdom arises from a pool of individual ignorance. A Republic rests squarely upon objective law, and fundamentally upon those laws which restrict the scope and actions of government.

User avatar
mdrelyea
Member
Posts: 115
Joined: Thu. Mar. 08, 2012 12:36 pm
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Alaska 140 Auger
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Russo #2
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Rice/Nut
Location: Victor, NY

Post Tue. Feb. 12, 2013 8:55 pm

For anyone thinking of giving this a shot, I highly recommend it. I'm seeing very good results. If I were to do it over again I might try something other than a reed switch as a sensor. I occasionally get a double hit on it - meaning that one rotation is counted as two. Seems to happen on average once a day or so. At that frequency it's within the noise of my weight measurement system so I am not going to change it now. Maybe while I'm shut down during the summer I'll change it if I'm not busy mowing or gardening! :lol:

I'm seeing an excellent correlation between number of rotations and pounds of coal used.
RotationsVSlbs.png
Scatter Plot of rotations and pounds

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