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Thread: Float Cut off Switch for Glass Beaker

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    Default Float Cut off Switch for Glass Beaker

    Hi all,
    Merry Xmas!!!
    I'm going to have a go at 'Stilling', is that right? - for make Spirit.

    Have not bought anything yet!

    I'm about to purchase a Dry/Air Still (240v), and it will hold 4ltrs of 'wash' and works like a kettle, with a fan on top and a little spout that the Spirit comes out of.

    I want to collect 700ml into a beaker (this type as in photo), and when the spirit reaches a predetermined level - in my case I want 700ml - the Air Still will turn off.
    I've looked a some float switches but they just have the two wires (signal wires I assume), and I was wondering how I can connect it to the Air Still via what interface?

    And Jeeze, some of the Essences aren't cheap are they?



    Cheers,
    GT250.

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    you would want something like this



    wire it to a solid state relay that the still is connected to and once it reaches the desired height will shut power down to the still

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    Not seen that type, but excellent find
    I've seen a few float devices, but can't seem to find one that would attach, hang on the side.

    I was looking for something that could attach to the beaker as in the photo.

    Plus, it's the "wire it to a solid state relay" that I would need help with. I was hoping for a pre wired set up in 240v.

    I've been looking for about a week now and can't find anything. Hence the post.

    Didn't want to hassle you guys - too much on a simple thing...

    I've ordered two of those beakers - SO - If I went for that float level in the link, I could attach it to a piece of wood and lay it across the top. Guess I'd need to know the height of the bowl as they sell those floats in different lengths...

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    I would also reccomend those float switches.
    All you need to do to mount them is put something like a Piece of perspex or even stainless over the top with a hole for your spirit to enter into. Covering the beaker would help stop evaporation and loss of the spirit which may lower the level and allow some of the tailings to come through and spoil your spirit.

    I do a bit with electrics and electronics and I have never seen a pre wired setup. What I do is use one of those cheap little 240 to 12V .5 amp transformers to power the SSR. The other side goes to the 240,. Put it in a cheap jiffy box and off you go. You could also use an old Plug pack from some old devise. The SSR's will work from 3-32V so just about anything will do.
    I prefer the little boards as I can tap them off the 240V I'll be switching anyway. They also work just as well off DC so I can tap off the 300V DC of my solar panels and power SSR's which I have a few devices I do that with. I built something very similar only used a temp switch to power an SSR to turn a cooling fan on and off for my solar inverter. Exact same thing, just temp instead of liquid level

    This is the sort of little board you want:



    Look around, I bought a dozen of them earlier this year and they were a buck each. Might have got them off alliexpress or bangood. They are handy things for powering different things like switching circuits, LEDs and other things that need low power, low voltage. I usually get the 12V version then I can just use a couple of resistors to drop the voltage to whatever I want.

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    those floats can handle 240V so a 240v ssr would be ok

    so you would

    run +v to relay input
    run -v to one wire on float
    run second wire on float to relay input

    run 240v +v to relay out
    run 240v neutral to still
    run relay out to +v on still

    Last edited by fandtm666; 07-12-19 at 10:45 PM.

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    You diagram may be a little confusing as you didn't show the float switch in circuit with the power supply..... or anywhere else in the diagram. :0)

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    Quote Originally Posted by george65 View Post
    You diagram may be a little confusing as you didn't show the float switch in circuit with the power supply..... or anywhere else in the diagram. :0)
    quick sketch

    red line = +V

    black line = -V

    [IMG][/IMG]
    Last edited by fandtm666; 07-12-19 at 11:22 PM.

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    Ok.
    G65, great idea and I'll get a Perspex lid. Just have to find the correct length of those floats that F666 found. The beaker is 145mm high, but I'm wanting to turn off the Still at 700mm - any guess as to what length I'd need - 75mm or 100mm?
    Can get the floats from NZ - Banggood was 7-25 business days!
    Hope to have it up and running before xmas...

    F666, that SSR looks great - a bit better quality than G65's lol!!
    Have just ordered three so I can have a play with the others.

    And thanks G65 for pointing out the missing float wiring

    And thanks F666 for the complete diagram

    GT250

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    glue a bit of polystyrene to a neo magnet and float it in the liquid and stick a reed switch on the outside of the glass with a thin steel wire on the glass top to bottom the magnet will follow the wire and trip the switch when it gets to the level you set it at ! cheap and easy very reliable use a relay to switch the 230vac cheers don
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    I was wondering if gluing a MOSFET to the inside of the beaker and wiring it up would work? Those things can be ultra sensitive when shorting between the drain and the gate. If You put some say brass rod ( with non lead solder) on the legs so they were at the 700Ml mark, once the liquid contacted the MOSFET, should switch.
    Not sure if Alcohol is conductive though. Being distilled it' s going to be very pure so can't see much in it to conduct any current.... not that you'd need much.
    Spose one could bend the conductors over the side of the beaker so it hung there and put the FET on the outside so it was removable. Would work very similar to a touch lamp circuit.

    Other complicated way would be to do the switching by weight. Probably need a load cell and an arduino board in this case to calibrate the reference voltage which would have to be done with booze as that has a very different specific gravity to water.

    I wonder if there are any little kitchen scales that can be set to beep when a certain weight is reached? If you could get something like that you could just tap off the Buzzer output and send that to an SSR or whatever you wanted. Might still be useful if you could re calibrate it for when you upgrade to 5 Litres of output! :0)

    I was going to have a go at making booze once. I'm not a big drinker, I was more interested in it for Making Fuel. Heard a lot of stories from my grandparents about how they made it in the war for powering things. I have played with it as racing fuel, I think more practical for that than everyday use. E-10 is bad enough.
    Goes a long way further for drinking than putting in an engine but I don't think you need to be as careful with it as fuel.
    Certainly have plenty of solar power in summer for cooking it.
    One of those things i'd be more interested in doing to learn from and get an insight of rather than practical use. Already done Biodiesel, Hydrogen and Methane.

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    I understand what you are tyring to achive but distilling is not allways an exact science, you will not always get the same amout or quality of spirit from the wash. It is best to monitor your still output and stop collecting when the quality drops.
    As you have not purchased anything as yet I would suggest you look at a still more like the still spirits turbo 500 if the budget permits. You will get a lot better results.
    Don't worry, it only seems kinky the first time.

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    Hi all,
    Well some great ideas and the one from Hinekadon, is brilliant in its simplicity - and it'd probably work! But I'd like to go for a bit of class and not have a piece of polystyrene glued to a magnet. Knowing my luck something would go amiss and I'd come home to a real old mess?

    G65: Clever again, however, it's the trial and tinkering I don't have time to be testing. I think a simple float connected to the SSR is the best way to go.

    Rocket: Please do not look at my comments as I am a 'know it all' without doing it. I have a lot of respect for all the people here who give their advice. I just try and do a lot of research and I'm happy to pass on my findings to benefit others

    I have had a look at the Turbo 500. Cost wise it is a bit more and claims of 80-90% alcohol is excellent and it is a pretty good system.
    However, it requires the water and pipes for the setup (yes of course it's not to much of a hassle to do a 25ltr wash for that 'one time'), but I want to set up this still in the rear shed and portable.

    I also found out (not sure if true), that the first 80-150mm produced is 'Poison' and should be discarded (Ethanol?)
    In the news a few years go three men died from not discarding this 'top layer' and they were using a T500.
    Hang on a mo....

    They (apparently), were well pissed when all this was happening...! So obvious care should be taken (sober), when doing all this stuff.

    The Dry still I will be using produces 700mm @ 60% from a 4ltr wash. Add 300mm water to make 1ltr @ 40% ABV.

    I have tried a Gin and Whiskey from a person who has the exact same system as I am looking at. And whilst the 'resulting taste' is mainly down to the essences, they tasted fairly good to me. The Gin was excellent!
    I was informed that a lot of the 'quality' of the final spirit is also down to the filtering.

    I can't recall the filter I am looking at but it is about 4ft tall, food grade stainless and has a drip lever at the bottom.
    Hoping to do a double filter with each filter load.
    Was told to do two drips per second, or I can do one drip (for better results), per sec I'll have a play...

    The Air or Dry still takes 4ltrs at a time and I was told that at about 700mm to stop it. There will be wash left, but just discard it. So from a 25ltr wash I hope to get (according to the place I am buying from), 4-5ltrs @ 40% ABV.

    I can run the Dry still off the solar inverter and when it outputs the 700mm, I hope to be able to turn it off on it's own. I don't want to be watching it for 2.5hours... Whereas the T500 you have to be around to watch it?

    Power wise: T500 1800w for about 4-5 hours. Dry Still 320W * 5-6 runs...
    Water wise a 25ltr wash in the T500 will use about 400ltrs of water. If one has the ability to cycle back the water then I guess that's ok, but I was told that the return water should be as cold as the fresh intake, which should require a tank of water (fish tank sort of thing).

    My 25ltr wash is going to be done for me at a micro brewery - friend of a friend - in a climate controlled environment - I just pay the guy for the ingredients and $10cash for every wash.
    Hopefully, I'll get a clean 25ltr wash, take it home, Still it and filter it

    For me, I get the wash done professionally. Dry still it (with auto turn off), 4ltrs of wash at a time. Pour 4ltrs in and goto work. Come back all done. At home another 4ltrs, through the night another 4 and the next morning and repeat LOL!
    A container to hold the 4-5ltrs of 40% ABV, then pour into bottles, then add the essences...

    Well all this is in my ideas...!

    I'll let everybody know how I go on. I'll order a couple of different lengths of those floats that fandtm666 recommended and work out the 700mm cut off..

    Cheers,
    GT250.

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    I'm probably a bit late to this conversation, but for what it's worth... Think about using one of these contact-less liquid sensors. They are still basically a low-current switch that operates a contactor/relay that that does all the heavy lifting. Same as the float switches. The advantage is, the sensor is mounted outside the liquid vessel. The disadvantage is, they need 5V-24VDC to operate. I use five of these epoxied to the outside of my main rainwater tank, connected to an Arduino, to give me a web-page display of my approximate tank level. The sensor closest to the bottom of the tank (empty) stops or allows my pressure pump from operating depending on state.


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    we seemed to forget that booze is extremely explosive after coming out of a still so relay contacts in that environment is not a good idea thats why i suggested the magnet reed switch as they have no switching in the "air" . Rather than a lump of polystyrene a small test tube with the neosidium magnet sealed inside so it floats is the best I can come up with you dont want electric and alcohol mixing , or bangs happen
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onefella View Post
    Think about using one of these contact-less liquid sensors.

    Hadn't seen those before, Thanks for the heads up!
    I see there are a few different kinds and even optical ones. I was thinking of a LED and a resicver broken by the Meniscus of the booze but figured this would probably a bit complex for the OP's needs.

    I think the optical sensors would definitely be the way to go for this project.

    Thinking about it, a float level may have to be calibrated in booze instead of water to allow for the specific gravity of alcohol being lighter.



    we seemed to forget that booze is extremely explosive after coming out of a still
    Ummm, no it's not. It's a liquid. Throw a match in it and it will burn, nothing more, nothing less nothing near as dramatic as " Extremely Explosive".


    so relay contacts in that environment is not a good idea thats why i suggested the magnet reed switch as they have no switching in the "air" .
    I think all the mention was for an SSR which is as the name says, solid state and therefore hermetical sealed. Not possible for the contacts to cause a spark, there are none.

    The only way an explosion could occur is if the right amount of the alcohol was mixed with the air as a gas ( evaporated) to around 6-36%. You'd be smelling it by then and your beaker would also be pretty empty. The area would have to be pretty well sealed and the booze would have to be pretty warm to evaporate fast enough.

    I used to read of a lot of similar alarmism with making Bio diesel. People heard of a potential danger with the methanol and went stupid with the precautions on it. I remember one clown spent thousands having all the wiring and switched in his shed made to mining ( explosion proof) standards.

    I made 10's of thousands of litres of Bio with a mate and we never had a problem. We left the shed door open. That alone meant there was no possible way for the vapour concentration to real the LEL let alone anything else. On warm days we turned on a fan at the front of the shed to blow fresh air in. Wasn't because we were worried about Meth fuel explosions, was because it got hot in there! :0) We were dropping 200L of Methanol into a 1500L open top mixing tank with an electric motor right over the top driving the mixer paddles and the soloution was about 5o below the Boiling point of the meth. If it had lit there Might have been a puff but certainly no explosion. We didn't do this out of hope and good luck, Mate is a scientist who works in the chemical field so it was something he took into account and deemed it a non risk... as did I. We used to laugh about the safety sissys and when we would go to make bio the standard joke was " Saftey first, open the shed door so we can get in there. "

    Really, you don't need to get over the top with this, leave a window or a door open and that's it . As long as the vapours can't get to the LEL , there is NO danger. If one was making 700Ml of hooch and got enough vapor to be a worry in a decent size shed, they wouldn't have any booze left if there was anything to worry about. I suggested covering the beaker to stop the loss as much as a support for a float switch.


    you don't want electric and alcohol mixing , or bangs happen
    I'm not even sure Alcohol is electrically Conductive. Yes, a spark might cause a vessel of booze to catch fire but if you have ever used Methanol for racing fuel, you'd know it's FAR harder to light off than petrol. Most ignition systems for alky engines are a lot stronger than needed for petrol and that's getting the stuff to light after being vaporised through a carb or injector into a hot combustion chamber.

    Ethanol is perfectly safe to work with if one takes common sense precautions and doesn't go throwing the stuff around everywhere in a closed space or boiling it.
    Provide some ventilation with a window or door open or provide some air circulation and there is NOTHING to worry about and no over the top safety concerns required either.
    Last edited by george65; 09-12-19 at 09:25 PM.

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    Hi all,
    Onefella: Great find... I think that solution would work great!
    I have a 24v supply (Solar Battery Bank), in the shed I hope to keep all this stuff in.

    So Three questions people:
    1) I use this non contact level with the SSR?
    1a)If so I'd like a hint on the wiring set up as the I'd have to provide 24v on the Red and Black, but where would the Yellow go?

    2) The battery bank charges up to a 28v float everyday, would this be a problem for this device?

    3) This sensor won't have any issues with a crystal clear liquid through the beaker glass?



    Hinekadon: Jeeze, you had me worried all night with that you know
    The shed (where the battery bank is), is well ventilated across the battery's, but the corner where i was going to put the Still stuff is a quiet corner... I was thinking through the night of extending the cabling as far as possible away, but that Stainless Steel float was worrying me as it would be sat on top of the beaker which would have a cover to slow the evaporation down.


    George65: Yes, I had similar thoughts of there not being enough of a gas mixture ratio, but H had me worried as I had dreaded the thought of coming home with fire engines outside and a small crater where my shed used to be

    I have a 'wash' being made, will just be ready for xmas. So I'll need to get 'a float' system working in the next week. I can get that float sensor in Aus, delivered by18th Dec.

    Once again Onefella, great find...

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    Quote Originally Posted by GT250 View Post
    Hi all,
    Onefella: Great find... I think that solution would work great!
    I have a 24v supply (Solar Battery Bank), in the shed I hope to keep all this stuff in.

    So Three questions people:
    1) I use this non contact level with the SSR?
    Yes. The Sensor is capable of 30ma switching. The SSR will need 5-30 Ma to drive the low side. Myself I'd put a resistor on the the SSR to keep the Current Limited. I'm not sure what the SSR will Potentially Pull, never had need to work it out but current limiting may be wise.


    1a)If so I'd like a hint on the wiring set up as the I'd have to provide 24v on the Red and Black, but where would the Yellow go?
    From what I can see, the Black is Neg, the red is upper limit and the yellow is lower limit. These are made for driving controllers so you would connect the red to the SSR . Here is a couple of non diagrams. Think of them as circuits that start and Finish at the Power supply.

    EDIT: Seems that these sensors are in fact wired Red Pos, Black neg and Yellow is the output which would go to the low side of the SSR.

    Low Side: Power supply - NEG, Black Sensor wire- Pos, red sensor, Yellow- Pos SSR, Neg SSR power supply.
    High Side: Neutral AC to Neutral Cutoff/ heater on still. Active heater/ cutoff to SSR . Active SSR to Active AC

    Basicaly, Instead of wiring the Heater to the Power direct, you put the SSR in the middle to interrupt one side of the circuit. You do that for the Low DC and the High AC side. Think of each side of the SSR like a light switch. It's exactly the same thing only with 2 sides.

    2) The battery bank charges up to a 28v float everyday, would this be a problem for this device?
    YES! Most certainly!
    The sensor runs at 5V. You will either have to build a voltage Divider with a couple of resistors to drop the voltage ( and Current) or you will have to buy one of the little voltage controller Boards as well and use that to tap off the 24/28V and power the circuit with that. Both the SSR and the level sensor will be happy on 5V.
    Alternately, use one of those little transformers mentioned earlier or a plug in power pack. I'd still be putting a current limiting resistor on the sensor however.

    Do You have a Multimeter? If not, you can get them cheap off fleabay and they are surprisingly good for what they do. I have a Multimeter Fetish, they are so cheap I can't stop buying the things. Mind you, I blow a few of the poor things up as well forgetting to change settings and sticking them across 450C DC @ 8A quite often. :0(

    Sorry if this sounds Complicated, I know this can be frustrating when you are learning but it's not although does require the understanding of several things at once. Maybe others can put it better than I can but there is only so simple the process can be explained. It sound more complicated when explained than when it's in front of you. Least I find it that way. When you are looking at it it seems far more logical and straight forward so don't be too freaked out at least till after you are sitting down with the bits there.

    3) This sensor won't have any issues with a crystal clear liquid through the beaker glass?
    Seems what they are made for. I'd guess they work by some sort of induction change, Maybe pick up on an IR LED signal, not sure but the clear liquid should not be a worry.


    The shed (where the battery bank is), is well ventilated across the battery's,
    Hydrogen gas IS VERY explosive so if your shed hasn't gone Boom yet, your still sure as ship isn't going to set it off.
    Hydrogen is Mongeral stuff. Has an explosive ratio in air of about 1% to 70%. I was making it last Summer. Filled a 200L drum which was invertered in another 240L drum and bled it several times to get all the air out. When It was full again, I got a plastic sandwich bag and Filled that with gas and lit it.
    The bang had my ears ringing for a few Hours and neighbours coming out to see what happened. I was surprised the nearby Shed window wasn't broken. And this was from the gas in a plastic sandwich bag of 100-150Ml volume.

    Like the brainac I am, I came in for some headache tablets and a couple of tranquillisers and Looked up the LEL/ UEL.... and then really shit my pants! Somehow I thought it would be similar to methane or LPG. WRONG!
    Next thing I did was go back and switch off the system, bleed all the hydrogen out and pull it all apart deeming that Hydrogen requires a level of precision, care and Probably Intelligence I don't have. Converted the setup back to methane which is a complete Pussycat compared to Hydrogen. Not going down that road again!

    For ventilation of My shed where I have animals, I have a couple of old/ Cracked solar panels sitting on the shed roof wired to a pair of car radiator fans. They sit in a window and blow an enormous Volume of air in there. They are great for temp control because the brighter and hotter the sun the harder they blow and at night, they don't blow at all. Had that setup for years and it's totally stand-alone except when I disconnect it in winter. I put a similar setup in the man hole of the house to blow air into the roof cavity. Mate in AC and Everything I read says keeping the roof cavity cool greatly helps in keeping the house cooler. Can't measure it but when my pedantic mate approves of one of my hacked DIY endeavours, there must be something in it.

    In Winter I use the same setup to run LED Lightbars in an old fridge for raising seedlings. What I do though is connect a battery charger to the light. Because they will run from 9-38V, when the sun is out the panels over power the battery charger so it's input is zero. As the sun falls, the battery charger picks up the load and carrys it through the night till the sun comes up again. There are no controllers, just the very convenient properties of the components that work together.
    Something like this in your shed window would be an easy over kill method of ventilating your shed and keeping it cool as well.
    Last edited by george65; 10-12-19 at 02:17 PM.

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    Those sensors are not optical, they are inductive. As has been mentioned, the unit is powered with the black and red wires. The yellow (sometimes white, or another colour) wire switches the relay/contactor/IGBT etc.

    The sensors I have used (and the one shown above) have a voltage range of 5V-24VDC. 28V is too high. You would need a DC-DC converter like , if all you have is 28V.

    The switch voltage is the same as the supply voltage. So if you power the sensor with 12VDC, your relay/SSR needs to be 12VDC actuated.

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    GT250 (10-12-19)

  • #19
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    Whew!
    Well today I had some good news - or maybe bad - which everyway one looks at it... lol
    They have given me a completed 25ltr wash. I was expecting my wash in about 10-12 days!
    So that means I can 'have a go' over the weekend - doing it manually - before the electrical gizmos arrive.

    G65: Not sure if you are aware that this float sensor operates from 5vdc to 24vdc. Hence my question if it might be ok at 28vdc, that old 10% variance thing

    ""2) The battery bank charges up to a 28v float everyday, would this be a problem for this device?
    YES! Most certainly!
    The sensor runs at 5V. You will either have to build a voltage Divider with a couple of resistors to drop the voltage ( and Current) or you will have to buy one of the little voltage controller Boards as well and use that to tap off the 24/28V and power the circuit with that. Both the SSR and the level sensor will be happy on 5V.
    Alternately, use one of those little transformers mentioned earlier or a plug in power pack. I'd still be putting a current limiting resistor on the sensor however.""

    So I think I will run a bog standard 12vdc power pack, the old heavy copper transformer type.

    Would it be possible for you or F666 to diagram the connections? the F666 img no longer comes up as a full pic.

    I'll order two of these non contactless level things now.

    G65, If I use a 12vdc PS, do I still need this 'current limiting sensor' ?

    Gulp! I'm scared now... Didn't expect a finished wash this week. Collect it on Friday afternoon, with the Still and Filter.

    All good fun!

    Cheers,
    GT250.


    Sorry Onefella, missed your post. But I will absorb it tomorrow. I had a Tank Water pump failure (Jubilee clip had come undone), as I was in the middle of typing all this up.
    Appreciate your input.
    Last edited by GT250; 10-12-19 at 06:49 PM.

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    just google 7805 for a regulator at 1 amp this will give you 5v dc from your 28v as thet are rated in put of 32v easy to do don
    . Please treat people as you would like to be treated yourself.

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    GT250 (11-12-19)

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