Ice detector

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Post by haklesup » Thu Nov 08, 2007 5:06 pm

A solid solution would be to enclose the power cable in a metal conduit or BX armored cable and hard wire it to a power disconnect box. Cost of materials $30 to $80 depending on distance and choice of junction box and if you bury or run it overhead.

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Post by MrAl » Thu Nov 08, 2007 5:47 pm

Hi again,

hackle, i second that suggestion :smile:
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

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Post by Engineer1138 » Fri Nov 09, 2007 6:02 am

I didn't want to clutter the original post with too many details, but hardwiring the heater would be too dangerous.

Horses are talented at injuring themselves and it's much safer to have them unplug the heater if a hoof drags the cable than to trip over a hardwired cable on the icy ground and break a leg. The ideal solution is a combination of the ice/current detector and making it impossible for them to come in contact with the heater cable.

That, and once it warms up in the spring, the heater is removed until winter. Next year I want to experiment with using geothermal heat (bury some copper tubing about 6' down) to keep the trough ice free, but it's too late for that now :-(

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Post by haklesup » Fri Nov 09, 2007 10:36 am

I wasn't picturing anything like a cable on the ground. More like a rigid pipe buried in the ground emerging at the leg of the trough in a heavy duty weather tight junction box and GFCI outlet fastened to a 4x4 post. But I can't see your trough so that's just a fantasy

In any case, back to an electronics based solution. A floating sensor would work. Something like a rubber ducky with a geophone as a detector and some circuitry to drive it and an alarm (a loud quack :razz: ) In most cases the float would bob around in the wind and as the cows/horses drink causing the geophone to emit a strong output. When the water skims with ice, the float stops moving, the signal from the geophone drops to near zero and the alarm is triggered. It would also alarm if the trough went dry from a leak, malfunction of the filler or tipped over

A very still day with the animals away might give a flase trigger from time to time. If that becomes a problem a few modifications including something to shake the float (cell phone vibrator) intermittantly along with intermittant operation of the detector should solve that.

This could be done all analog but a PIC or uController would make it more reliable with regards to detection parameters and output options (wireless). It also sets the stage to add other sensors like temp or depth sensor and firmware for a more sophisitcated detector. Add wireless and a solar charger and you have a marketable product for large ranches.

Come to think of it, this is the inverse function of a pool alarm, the kind that alarms when your child falls in the pool and thrashes around. Maybe one of those can be hacked to invert the alarm function.

PS. Batteries and cold don't mix well. you will need to check it often at first to verify this does not become a reliability problem. The circuit wouldn't need much current necessarily.

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Post by Gorgon » Thu Nov 15, 2007 9:10 am

I suppose you have a thermostat on the heater. Combining the heater ON power with lack of current should get your alarm going off. If you know the temperature is below 3 C you also know the danger for freezing exist, depending on the pollution in the water, and wind chill.

TOK ;)
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Post by Lenp » Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:48 am

Slightly related ideas...

I have installed several cyclone dust collector controls and they use some simple but unique 'bin full' detector. Because of the dust optical sensors are of little value, paper dust does not bode well with proximity, and many mechanical sensors get clogged. so here's their plans.

A small geared motor is inside of a dust proof enclosure mounted on the collection bin top. The motor is mounted inside using centering springs. The motor shaft extends from the enclosure bottom and and a 'hockey stick' like 'sweeper' is attached The sweeper turns when the collector runs. If it meets an obstruction because the bin is full, the motor torque rotates the motor itself slightly within the enclosure, against the centering springs. When the motor turns a microswitch stops the motor and another switch sends the bin full signal. When the obstruction settles, or the bin is emptied, the motor re-centers itself and the process repeats.

Never seen it to fail, wood, paper or dust!

Another system uses a motor(or air cylinder) driven spring loaded telescoping rod with a flat paddle on the bottom to periodically vertically probe for the top of the refuse. Wnen the bin is full, the paddle reaches resistance and telescopes somewhat. A attached ring magnet passes a reed switch to send a bin full signal.

These may not be practical for ice but it's yet again another method.


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