Making an Arduino-Driven, Automated Dust Collection System

Making an Arduino-Driven, Automated Dust Collection System

Bob, from I Like to Make Stuff, has been setting up shop in his new location. In this project video, he runs through his building of a fully automated dust collection system controlled by an Arduino Uno and the Adafruit Servo Shield.

There are a number of cool details here. To save some money, Bob used PVC sewer pipe instead of regular PVC. It’s thinner, cheaper, and because it won’t be under pressure, the thinner walls are just fine. Also, check out how Bob made the power and control signal boxes for each machine station by using conventional junction boxes which are also outfitted by Arduino-compatible current sensing modules. The shop tool plugs into this box and it plugs into a wall. When the shop machine is turned on, this box sends a control signal to the Arduino to open the blast door on the dust system. Nifty. Also note how he created the servo motor brackets and blast door control arms using a laser cutter and wood and acrylic materials. To deal with the potential hazard of a dust explosion created by static charge in the PVC pipe, Bob makes sure to ground the system with copper wire tapped into the piping.

It took Bob a few weeks to work out all of the hardware and software bugs, but he’s pretty thrilled by the results (which you can hear in the video when he first gets one of the doors to close itself properly). There is one lingering issue to resolve:

The system works great except for one component that kept giving us trouble. The 15 amp relay that was controlling the dust collector would fail after a few days. After some research, I discovered that they were a bit underpowered for the 2 horsepower DC. I have ordered a beefier relay and when we get it hooked up and working, it’ll be listed here. If you want the Arduino code for I made for this project, you can find it here.

You can get a parts and tools list, and download his Arduino control code, on the I Like to Make Stuff website.


Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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