The search for self-sufficiency is, as often as not, a "have to" rather than a "want to" proposition. Consider, if you will, the sequence of events that led to the creation of my homemade solar lumber kiln. I have a good life, doing what I want to do where I want to do it. I like the feel, shape, and texture of natural things. In fact, in the past 30 years, there's been only one real problem that's consistently gummed up my otherwise idyllic situation.

You see, building anything that's supposed to hold its shape—whether it be a log cabin or a piece of fine furniture—requires dry, well-seasoned lumber. And if, like me, you live a considerable distance from the nearest large town, finding that ready-to-use wood can be a real chore. You usually can't buy it at the local lumberyard here in southeastern Ohio, at least, most such outfits stock only western softwoods, in pre-cut standard sizes.

However, I've been a self-sufficient country boy for the better part of my life, and I vowed to find a way to properly dry all that walnut, cherry, and native white pine that was available on my own land, even if I had to build a fire under it! What I'd have to do, I realized, was construct a kiln. But, I wondered, what could I use for heat?

DIY Kiln Controller

Oil is too danged expensive, natural gas isn't available out here in the sticks, and I shuddered to think of the cords I'd have to cut to keep a woodburning kiln operating. In short, I knew there had to be a better way. And it wasn't long before one of my customers provided the answer.

That fellow and I were talking about my desire to build a lumber kiln, and about the problems I'd had trying to figure a way to provide the structure with heat, when he remembered reading about a sun-powered kiln that the U.

Forest Service was experimenting with. Forest Service in Madison, Wisconsin, requesting any information they might have on sun-heated lumber-drying kilns. The material arrived in record time.

I opened the envelope and-lo and behold! At that time about two years agothe Forest Service experiments were still in their infancy, so the amount of information contained in the charts was fairly scanty, but it was enough to turn my "have to" concern into a "want to" determination.

According to the Forest Service data, inch-thick boards could be dried in as little as 30 days in the kiln. Now that may sound like a long spell to sit around waiting for lumber to dry.

And even after all that time, air-dried planks frequently aren't dry enough for my purposes.

kiln controller diy

The pictures accompanying the Forest Service plans showed a small building, similar to a chicken shed, with solar panels on its south-facing side. A materials list for the entire assembly and specific directions for building the solar panels were included with the package. In short, the whole project looked so marvelously simple that I wondered why I hadn't thought of it myself. I realized that I'd have to make a few minor changes in the plans to suit my particular needs, but the basic concept certainly appeared to be workable.

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My son and I launched the kiln project by felling a few trees and sawing out enough boards and beams to do the framing-in. I'm fortunate enough to have a acre woodlot, a chain-saw lumber mill, and a year-old son who's strong as a bull. I decided to use 4 by 8's for the beams, 2 by 8's for floor joists, and 2 by 4's for wall studs and rafters.

When it came time to close in the building, I topped it off with corrugated metal and two sheets of corrugated fiberglass that I happened to have on hand. By the way, I soon discovered that there's no heat-gain advantage to using the translucent fiberglass. In fact, after I'd painted the metal roofing flat black, it actually seemed to transmit more heat to the inside of the kiln than did the fiberglass.New customer? Create your account. Lost password? Recover password. Remembered your password?

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For those of you who already have kilns with electronic digital controllers, you know how nice they are to use. With a few presses of the keypad, you can execute pre-programmed cone firings or elaborate ramp-hold firing sequences.

Electronic controllers help you bring consistency and repeatability to your firings. Once you use one, you begin to wonder how you got along without it. As I like to say, "There's no going back. The answer is ,"Yes, you can" and it's easy to do too. These are the easiest to install on your existing kiln. They give you full programmability and control, just as though the controller were installed at the factory. You simply mount the controller on the wall near your kiln and insert the tip of the controller's thermocouple temperature sensor into the interior of the kiln.

You will have to identify a good location to do this, and will have to drill a small hole through your kiln brick. Next, plug your kiln into the controller, and plug the controller into the electrical receptacle. That's it. It's installed! The idea here is that the cone will never bend and trip the KilnSitter, and subsequently turn off the kiln. You just want the KilnSitter to be active, so electrical power can flow through it, so the elements will heat.

Now just program the electronic controller and press Start. When the kiln has reached the appropriate temperature, the controller will turn off the electrical power and the elements will quit heating. This process will continue, with the kiln cycling on and off continuously until the end of the firing. What make this such a nice solution is that you leave your KilnSitter in place. No disassembly needed. You can easily move the controller to another kiln, if you wish, so potentially you can run several KilnSitter kilns with a single electronic controller although not at the same time.

If this is part of your plan, Orton even has an optional hand held controller, which can be more easily moved from kiln to kiln.

Your KilnSitter is still in place, so if you ever want to fire again with just your KilnSitter, no problem, you can. The KilnSitter acts as a "fail safe" for the electronic controller. Just set the switches to the maximum setting, and let the controller run.

You don't even have to set a cone in a KilnSitter, but you do lose some of the bonus features listed above. The Multi-Zone version of the Orton controller differs from the single zone controller in two significant ways. It measures the temperature in 2 or 3 areas zones of the kiln, and controls the heating elements in those locations independently. With the information from additional thermocouples, the controller can provide more uniform temperature top-to-bottom in the kiln.

That can be a very good thing, and a number of new kilns offer this feature.Add the following snippet to your HTML:. Upgrade old manual kiln to a digital controller with firing schedules ramp, target, hold and data logging. Project showcase by MrRoboto Wanted to get into glass fusing and decided to build my own digital controller based on a Arduino UNO. The program has these features:. Removed the manual "Kiln Sitter" controller and one of the sections. Wound new heating elements and added them to the sides and the lid glass does better with heat from the top.

Please log in or sign up to comment. Take the work and guesswork out of smoking meat to perfection. Project tutorial by Philippe Libioulle. When drawing on web, the drawing will be sent to XY plotter to re-draw it on bigger screen. When at least one person enters the room, the light and fan turn ON.

When everyone exits the room, the light turns OFF. Project showcase by Team Amrendra Sahni. Project tutorial by Samira Peiris. Sign In. My dashboard Add project. Project showcase. The program has these features: Unlimited firing schedules stored on a MicroSD card Each schedule can have up to 20 segments. Each segment has its own ramp rate, target temperature, and hold time. Control up to 3 zones Fahrenheit or Celsius temperature scales PID loop control of heating elements Temperature logging to file on MicroSD card for analysis Started by purchasing an old Knight model 82 kiln on Craigslist.

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Electric Kiln Controller. Electric Kiln Controller Arduino. Wiring Download. Schematic Download. Author MrRoboto19 1 project 20 followers Follow.

Respect project. Similar projects you might like. Powered by. Keep me signed in on this device. Or connect with your social account: Login with Arduino.In equipmenthowtoUncategorized Posted December 30, I learned how to fuse glass in a John C. It was a great experience, during which Beverly emphasized the importance of understanding the firing schedule, and how to work with both built-in kiln controllers and the stand-alone digital controllers that some of the older studio kilns were plugged into.

For those not familiar with glass fusing, it differs from ceramics firing in that glass requires a multi-step firing schedule, with controlled heating often at several different rates for different steps in the process and carefully controlled cooling to relieve the stress introduced in the fusing. When I got home from the course I was faced with a choice: buy a glass fusing kiln with a digital controller, or build a digital controller to use with the manual kiln I had inherited from my Grandmother.

The kiln sitter was a mechanical device that you armed by lifting a trigger, placing a pyrometric cone of the proper rating in between two contacts, and then releasing the trigger. The cone held the trigger open, allowing current to flow to the kiln. When the target temperature was reached the cone slumped, allowing the trigger to close and killing power to the kiln.

I opened the switch box, disconnected the wiring, removed the kiln sitter mechanism, and reconnected the wires to bypass the unit.

I could then set the kiln on high and let the controller turn the power on and off. I found several tips on the web, and a clear set of instructions written by John Tobler. After quite a bit of study and planning I bought some components locally, and ordered the rest. I struggled a bit with the wiring diagram, but finally came up with a plan that worked. Using the relay allows the switching of the heavy current load the kiln with the low amperage circuitry of the controller.

After about an hour of drilling and fiddling around I finally got everything mounted in the box and ran all the wiring. I used 14GA wire for the circuit that would carry the load of the kiln, and 18GA stranded wire for all the other connections.

Once everything was hooked up I crossed my fingers, plugged it in, and flipped the power switch. Oh well.

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I programmed the controller to ramp from room temp 70F to F over 30 min. No sparks, no smoke, good. It kept cycling on and off, with the temperature reading rising, and after 30 min it was within a degree or two of I built this controller to automate a couple of old kilns I use for melting and fusing glass to make my own telescope mirrors.

The kilns are old, and they were designed for firing ceramics. Clay isn't as demanding as glass. The built-in controllers on the old kilns are rudimentary.

They couldn't handle keeping glass within a degree or two of a target temperature for long periods for annealing purposes, or doing a very slow ramp-down in temperature over several days needed to cool thick glass castings safely. I also wanted to automate as much as possible of the firing, and not have to baby-sit the kilns any more than necessary. This project came together rather quickly and easily, and it didn't cost a whole lot, because I already had a most of the parts in my well stocked workshop.

The parts I didn't have were purchased cheap at a laboratory equipment auction. Briefly, this controller allows the kiln temperature to be ramped up or down at a programmable rate.

That is the ramp part. The soak part means that I can program the kiln to hold a certain temperature very precisely, and soak the material in the kiln at that temperature for a programmable period of time.

kiln controller diy

So basically this controller allows me to program up a firing schedule consisting of multiple ramps and soaks. This is just what is needed for working with glass. Glass is finicky. Heat it up or cool it down too quickly and it will shatter. If glass is heated above a certain temperature, it must go through an anneal soak and very slow cool-down or massive amounts of strain will be incorporated into the glass.

This controller allows me to program a firing schedule with up to eight ramp and soak segments. I rarely need that many. Here is the brain of the controller. Here is a link to the unit on Omega's web site where you can find a full description of its functions and capabilities.

I love this controller. I just wish it was the model with RS serial communication. That would allow me to program and control it remotely from my computer.

As it is, I have to enter all the program steps and send commands to it from the four button interface on the front panel. Oh well. I got it really cheap, and now that I am quite familiar with how to do it, entering the programs isn't too much of a chore.

Here is a schematic of the controller unit. Click the photo for a larger view. The Omega unit may be the brains of the controller, but it needs other parts to act as muscles and do the heavy lifting of controlling the massive current the kilns draw.

DIY Kiln Controller Part 1

A 24V power supply provides power to switch the relays on, and power an indicator lamp that lights when the power to the kiln is on. The solid state relays produce a lot of heat, so they are mounted to a large aluminum heatsink, and a fan blows air on the fins of the heatsink.I was frustrated with the price of electric burnout kilns for ceramics, metal annealing, glass enameling, and melting precious metals etc.

This little electric kiln can get up to degrees F and is easy to make without any special tools besides a handheld router. I also wanted one that I could take apart and replace the element, since these are inexpensive. Materials: 1. One sheet of thin aluminum for the door.

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At least a 9" by 9" square 5. I had this wound for me at the local ceramics store. I recommend you wind your own or as a ceramic supplier in your area to wind one for you.

One small hinge with screws 7. Fire proof pins should come with element or you can make these out of the Kanthal wire. Short outdoor extension cord rated to at least 10 amps cut down to about 6 feet 9.

Stand alone ICS kiln controller. Wrench 3. Needlenose pliers 4. Hacksaw 5. Drill 7. Tin snips. Did you use this instructable in your classroom?

Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson. I left about an inch, to an inch and a half from the edge and the top of the "U" so the elements are not too close to the opening of the kiln. This will be the back wall.This is my attempt of capturing some of the projects i've been "lucky" to undertake in the past. Nice stuff. Bongodrummer, I'm not sure. The propane burner is really fast and I'm not sure if the kiln could keep up with it.

Maybe If i had a really big cast that would require more than the 15lbs capacity of my crucible I loved seeing this project blog. My wife does glass work. I'm having trouble understanding how to program the PID controller I believe it is the same controller you used.

Could you offer some help to me? If so would you email me at bigandtall yahoo. Thanks and great job on your project. Thank you for a great posting of your kiln control conversion project. I am in the process of converting a similar model, the Gareto PID control. Nice job on the wiring, too; that is my next task, cleaning out and checking connections on the four elements, wiring SSR and the mains supply.

I may keep the Sitter in operation as a failsafe - maybe!

kiln controller diy

Thanks again. Best regards, Bob. Just so's everyone looking is aware - the ebay SSR's are nearly all counterfeit, the internals will not take the rated current! Also, the black tape over your mains wires on the SSR's is not a good thing. Big heat shrink tube possibly. What a blast! I'm just sourcing parts for nearly exactly this project!


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