My Arduino Air Compressor Controller Project – Assembly of Control Board

Well, I’ve made some progress on our Arduino project!

I have my control board 100% assembled and functionally tested (without the Arduino). All that is left for the hardware is attaching the push button switches, the pressure sensor, mounting my project box to the compressor, and wiring up the power line to my terminal strip. Then we will begin working on the programming for the Arduino!

Compressor Project Box - 1

The following is a rough sketch of the circuitry so you can visualize it a little better. Note: I created this with fritzing, which has a limited amount of pre-built components – so, the components shown are just for illustration, not all of them are identical to the components I am using.

Compressor Controller - Breadboard Sketch

At the top left, you will see my connector for the 12 volt power supply, which will ultimately supply power for the entire device. The controller fan, and the air compressor relay will be powered from the 12V bus through the transistors.

Right next to the 12V power supply is a voltage regulator – it takes an input from 5-60 volts and regulates it to a stable 5 volts. The regulator’s 5 volt output will supply power to everything else – I chose to power the devices (pressure switch and LCD) directly from the regulator output instead of from the Arduino because of the Arduino’s limited max output of 500 ma – The Arduino is fully capable of powering all these devices from its power source. I just chose to avoid it as a fault in one of the devices could exceed the power output of the Arduino, potentially damaging the Arduino.

Just below the voltage regulator are two transistors. I am using these transistors as switches – to turn them on all you have to do is supply a small voltage/current to the base of the transistor. This will allow current to flow through the transistor, completing the circuit path for the device (the relay and fan). To turn it off, you apply 0 volts, or ground to the base of these transistors and it will shut them off. This can be easily performed by the Arduino’s digital outputs, which can turn off and on (0 volts and 5 volts).

Below the transistors are my three push button switches. These switches will be used as a menu, up, and down buttons to allow me to change my setpoints, and look at different things; temperature & humidity inside the box, status of the fan & relay, current tank pressure, the amount of time the compressor has ran, and the current setpoints. They are connected to the 5 volt bus, so when they are pressed they send a 5 volt signal to the digital pins on the Arduino, which we will program it to monitor and respond accordingly. There is a resistor on the output of the switch to drive it to 0 volts – sometimes these switches float, and have non-zero values when not pressed. I can provide more information about transistors later – they are really cool, and are capable of doing many different things for us.

Underneath the three pushbuttons, is our temperature and humidity sensor. This sensor is powered by the 5 volt bus, and uses a single buss data communication to relay the information. Luckily there is a program library for this, and we don’t have to create any special codes for this communication – one of the great things about Arduinos. Since it is a digital communication, it is hooked up to one of the digital pins.

At the bottom right of the breadboard, you will see a pressure sensor (this is not the same as my 3 wire sensor, but it was all fritzing had in its parts list). The pressure sensor is powered by 5 volts (mine has a +5 volt wire, a ground, and a sensor output). The pressure sensor sends a linear output from 0.5 volts at 0 psi, to 4.5 volts at its max rating (200 psi in our case). The reason it is 0.5 – 4.5 instead of 0-5 is to allow us to detect shorts and opens, which could either give a 0 or 5 volt out. Since this sensor gives a differing voltage output, analog, it is attached to one of the Arduino’s analog input pins.

Now, to the right of the breadboard, at the top, I have the fan and relay. Both of which are being controlled by their own transistors, which will be controlled through the Arduino.

Below the relay is the Arduino, our microcontroller.

To the far right is our 16 X 2 LCD (16 characters by 2 line liquid crystal display). This will be powered from the output of the voltage regulator. Its backlight is the largest load on our 5 volt bus. The LCD will be used to display the information I mentioned earlier about the buttons.

Thanks for joining me again! Next week I will have it completely assembled, and we will begin playing with some code!!! Please follow me and join me next week for more!

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