build a hopper empty/ash pan full indicator

build a hopper empty/ash pan full indicator

PostBy: syncmaster On: Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:40 pm

I ran my VF3000 thu the summer for DHW and it worked very well, it never did over temp dumping and stayed a very stable 160-180 range. I also have a solar hot water system that makes about 90% of my hot water needs so the VF3000 was idling all the time except during rainy days.
I got tired of constantly going down to the basement to see if I needed to add coal so I rigged up someting to keep track of the strokes , figuring if I could count the strokes I could see what the count is when the hopper is 2/3 empty in my case 14000 strokes = hopper 2/3 empty and the ash pan is 2/3 full .
here is the pedometer I bought for this project: ... B000EGALRW

It is easy to open the back of the pedometer by pulling the side caps off.
inside you will see the arm that bounces up and down as you walk, just connect a wire to the arm and a wire to the arm contact, then route the two wires out of the case.
now close it up and you should have 2 wires sticking out of the pedometer, every time you connect the two wires together the counter should count up one. you clear the count by pressing the reset .

at the boiler end I took a piece of angle iron and mounted a micro switch on it, then installed the micro switch in a position so when the forks were in the up position it would close the contacts on the micro switch.
I have 50 ft of door bell wire between the micro switch and the pedometer up stairs by my computer.

I used this all summer and it works very well. you have to remember after you fill the hopper and empty the ash pan you have to press the reset on the pedometer to 0 it out.

I'll post pictures below:
(382.24 KiB) Viewed 34 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
(412.19 KiB) Viewed 64 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
(382.26 KiB) Viewed 100 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
(380.11 KiB) Viewed 88 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
Last edited by syncmaster on Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Stoker Coal Boiler: harmanVF3000 Coal/oil option
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Stove/Furnace Make: VF3000
Stove/Furnace Model: Harman VF3000

Visit Leisure Line

Re: build a hopper empty/ash pan full indicator

PostBy: Sting On: Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:54 pm

What a great fabrication


Other Heating: OBSO Lennox Pulse "Air Scorcher" burning NG

Re: build a hopper empty/ash pan full indicator

PostBy: Horace On: Mon Jan 10, 2011 6:52 pm

Brilliant idea.

For anyone looking to do it cheaper (like me), Dollar Store pedometers work, too. Can't replace the batteries. I figure I'll just replace the whole thing.
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman ST8-VF8 / Frankenstove

Re: build a hopper empty/ash pan full indicator

PostBy: mdrelyea On: Sat Nov 24, 2012 11:05 pm

I know this is an old thread, but I thought this was an appropriate place to put this info. User Horace got me turned on to this idea here

I'm not necessarily looking to predict when my hopper is empty, but instead keep very close tabs on my coal consumption and correlate that to outdoor conditions. Right now I'm weighing all of the coal I put in my hopper. I'm hoping that by counting auger revolutions I won't have to weigh it anymore. That's for a different thread though. :D

Since I have an auger fed unit instead of a paddle fed unit, I had to modify the OP syncmaster's installation slightly. The biggest difference was in the type of switch I used to trigger my dollar store pedometer. I put a magnet on the shaft of my auger and mounted a reed switch from an alarm system window sensor (available at Home Depot among other places). My father-in-law had the reed switch and magnet laying around and I had the materials to mount it on hand. The only thing I had to buy was a pedometer from the dollar store.

Hooking up the reed switch to the pedometer was easy. It was actually more challenging to come up with a way to mount the reed switch than it was to modify the pedometer.

Here are the pics:

First is the big picture. I have the pedometer on a long wire so I can keep it up near the clipboard. I have a monthly calendar on there and I record my information on it. Having the pedometer located somewhere other than down near the floor is convenient!
Front View.JPG
(107.37 KiB) Viewed 23 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
Hopper side of the furnace

Here's how I attached the reed switch and magnet.
Right Side.JPG
(97.78 KiB) Viewed 28 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
Right side

Left Side.JPG
(121.73 KiB) Viewed 30 times
View: New PagePopup • Select:BBCode
Left side

So far it's working like a charm! :dancing:
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Alaska 140 Auger
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Russo #2
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite Rice/Nut

Visit Leisure Line