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FEC100 Control

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Joined: 29 Sep 2017
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 29 17 9:43 pm    Post subject: FEC100 Control Reply with quote

I’m starting another project, s--t the wife is going to kill me, the FEC100 control is almost done and the replacement is over $1000 so I think I’ll build my own. The used fec I got I could tell had a fire in it. Cleaned it up, replaced anything that was need. The smoker never did run correct. I could not trust to run overnight. The fire would go out 50% of the time. Other times the fire pot would fill up with semi burnt pellets. F-ed with it for over a year. I did some mods to the fan speed and got the unit running pretty good. Over the years the unit broke this and burnt out that, power supplies, T/C, SSR etc. So instead of buying a new one I think I will build one myself. By doing this myself I have full control to tweek all the settings, add alarms etc.

For control I am going to use a PLC, specifically an Automation Direct Click w/ Ethernet ($130). I wanted Ethernet to try and link to the wifi network so as to check temps alarms with phone. The Click does not have PID built in. I have written a simple PID for the click to control electric heaters and if needed I can include it. To read temps I have a few choices. The T/C Click module is $149 with 4 inputs is the easiest. I also have an ADAM-4018 ($120 used) that has 8 t/c inputs but I have to talk to this with rs485 which I have done already. I don’t think I need more than 4 inputs. One for chamber temp, two for meat probes and one for???

Auger control is easy with a DO on the Click to a SSR. Simple time base control for % output.

Fan speed control was a little harder. I tried to PWM (very slow,50hz) with the PLC DO but I could not get a fan to run smooth. I also tried to find a 0-10 v in speed control board but seems cost is high and I would also need a analog out board or something like this. I then looked into the PWM computer fans. The intel spec is a PWM between 18k-28k will run the computer fans. Hummmm. Two problems, I don’t have a fast PWM with the Click and a computer fan does not seem very durable. So looking at fans I found Noctua makes an industrial PWM fan. IP67, higher pressure and 24v. I like the 24v because the plc needs this voltage, saves a Power supply. IP67 is splash proof so it is sealed well and the higher pressure is about twice of a regular box fan. $25. So now how do I feed it a PWM, Well with an Adurnio. Very easy to get a 20k pwm. Hooks directly to fan and works great. I’m thinking of using the digital outs of the PLC, maybe four of them to tell the fan how fast to go. Four digital out would give me 16 speeds. Well more speeds then I think I need and no serial com to get screwed up.

Last up is some type of display for input. Here I am not so sure. If I can get the phone wifi working good enough is this enough or I might get a touch screen from Automation Direct. I like the C-more Micro 6” color but it is $299.

Now for the question if you read my babble this far. How to control the fire. s--t more babble. I had a Weber bullet and built a fan PID control for the long night runs. Worked great. All the fuel (100%) was in the bullet started with 5 lit brickets and the fan controlled the burn rate. With the Tragers fan runs at 100% and the control controls the temp by adding fuel. So 100% fuel and very the air flow OR 100% air flow and very the fuel. Both seem to work. The FEC seems to do both, very the air flow and fuel. I’m thinking using the fuel as the temp control and set up a lookup table or curve for the fan using the fuel % as the input. So the fan speed is linked to the amount of fuel being delivered. More fuel more air.

Does this control scheme sound good? Or if you think I am crazy taking this on. Please let me know. Shocked
Smoker FEC100
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Joined: 01 Apr 2014
Posts: 503
Location: Pinson, Tn.

PostPosted: Sat Sep 30 17 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the Smoke Ring. It seems like you have a lot of possible scenarios here. If you enjoy tinkering and building electrical components you can go as extreme as you like. I always think about a more simple option when it comes to functionality. If you use the fuel as a temp control and curve the fan as you suggested, it creates 2 variables. If you can build a system that can be properly tuned then its great. The only other potential problem would be maintenance issues. The more components that are integrated will eventually mean that you have more components that can fail. I personally would go for a fixed fuel source and a PID controller for the fan. I would think it would be easier to control. Once again I am not tech savvy and try to keep things simple (although I am thinking about building a UDS with a PID and fan to control the temp). Let us know what you decide and how it works out.
Weber Kettle
Heartland Cookers 36 x 48 Rotisserie

"If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got"- Henry Ford
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