Make a laundry machine run continuously/repeat wash cycle

Hi,

I am researching if this is doable. I am very grateful for some feedback that can help me take another step.

We are making an art installation and would like to have a laundry machine run continuously, washing.

EDIT:

CLARIFICATION 1: run a program/wash cycle over and over, with real water inside.
CLARIFICATION 2: We are postponing buying the machine until we know the best approach.

This guide shows a way to get a alert when the laundry machine stops vibrating. It's great since you do not have to open the machine. Maybe one could use the alert to start the program again?

We would need to bypass the control panel anyway, to make sure nobody mess with it, so maybe there is a chance that one could find some wires to make it start over.

Then we would like it to run with water. I am not sure how to achieve this. Maybe with a little tank that is connected to both water inlet and outlet. I fear that any moderately modern laundry machine will stop and start to beep if it detect any oddness with the water flow.

Sorry about the random thoughts, but as I said, I am really thankful for some feedback.

Cheers!

Tell and/or show what the possibilities are to control the machine.

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If you bypass the controls & relays and apply power directly to the motor it should run as long as power is applied.

There is a transmission (probably controlled by a relay) that switches between agitate and spin.

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Do you have a machine in mind? Make and model number would help.

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Do you want the machine to just wash continuously, or go through the wash cycle (fill, wash, drain, rinse, etc)? Top load or front load washing machine?

Difficult on a standard washer, the water inlet expects pressure on the water line. They are hard to find, but there were washing machines made with a "suds return" feature that pumped the wash water into an external tank then pumped it back in for the next load of clothes, running a regular rinse cycle between loads.

I would probably look for an older machine with all electromechanical controls instead of the modern all-electronic.

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Your best bet would be to just control the motor direct and disconnect everything else - there may be issues in running the machine without water ( overheating parts ??) and the need to bypass sensors , water heater etc . The machine is probably not rated to run continually and there could be safety issues to address

You could probably drive the drum with a low powered motor.

Funny stuff art …I have a similar installation in my kitchen ( £5 to come and see it )

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If it is an older type machine(no idea as nothing shown) simply disconnect the advance motor in the timer unit.
Sequence would be, power up machine, turn timer to any wash cycle, engage knob and machine will fill with water and then wash forever.
Could add an external switch to the advance motor disconnected cabling (mains rated) to re-instate normal operation.

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you need to define the need with more details.

there is no reason you could not add relays and isolate the motor connections.

connect all the normally closed [NC] lines to the standard controller.

then add in your control loop to control the relays.

but, at the same time, it sounds like you want to buy a new washer and modify it. I would recommend you get the wire connections that plug in, and make a very careful and detailed schematic and make your relay boar accept those same plugs. that way, if you ever sell it, you can remove your board.

if you want to replace the controls with your own, you will also need to monitor water level by connecting to the water level sensor.
control water fill and water empty.
water fill is a solenoid
water empty is also a solenoid, but on a valve that is part of the pump.

you could also add a detergent pump, for liquid detergent, you a peristaltic pump is usually used.

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for the motor, isolate every motor wire
you would need to make sure that your control and the OEM control never send power at the same time. so, using relays, you take all control from the OEM control

What I would suggest, is to create your relay board, then monitor the voltages of each wire for every action of the washer. That way, you would know which ones and what pattern you need to re-produce.

if there is a transmission, that will have solenoids to control as well, but I think these days, the motors are direct connect and do it all by switching. you need to know what your washer is doing.

the bottom line,
it can be done.
but, the simple fact that you are asking means that you have many more questions than experience. and all the wires will be mains voltage so this is clearly NOT a beginner or intermediate project. this is an advance project and should have a qualified electrician involved at the beginning to select the parts for the interface to the motor.

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A lot the newer machines have more complex polyphase motors with variable speed drives

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Thank you for the input, I appreciate it a lot.

I lean towards direct control of the motor bypassing the original circuits combined with plugging the water outlet would be a way to go. This way the water level will be constant and one could make up a sequence to simulate a wash cycle.

However, we are discussing with a manufacturer to see if they could help us with a custom solution.

I definitely see the risk of doing this with limited experience and knowledge. Previous I have used washing machine motors but powered them with 50v DC.

Did you want a full wash cycle? Fill, Agitate, Drain... Or did you just want to fill once and agitate forever?

For repeated full cycles, I'd get an older machine with a timer knob and bypass the contacts that turn off the timer motor when the cycle is over.

For agitate forever, I'd get an older machine with a timer knob and disconnect the timer motor. The machine will forever do whatever the knob points to.

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That was my idea also in # 7.
As Op refuses to supply any detail on the machine in question, I can see no further assistance possible.

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Which is to say that

is not a useful/ viable answer!

What is lacking is the actual application.

It sounds like the OP wants to run continually.

Assume drain and fill every now and again.
And just pull the clothes out after some time.

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There is no machine in question, I though that was obvious in how I was talking about older or newer machines. I did update the first post with a clarification. Also, English is not my native language.

The purpose was to research the project before buying a machine. I apologize if that caused confusion.

Anyway, I have left this project and given them the recommendation that an electrician should do this. It is to far away from my field.

This conversation was interesting and educational for me, thank you!

Feel free to discuss further if you like. I will read it.

Best regards,

Sorry, but I did write that it is for an Art Installation, the purpose was not to wash any clothes.

If clothes wasing is not important
And use of regular controls is not important the the project is much simpler.
Having an electrician do it makes sense.
If he [ does his part ] sends it back to you we can help with the logic and controls.

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So there will not be any clothes in it?

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It will wash a flag. Hard to explain. Even more tricky than it was to explain the above. :slight_smile:

Thank you, I appreciate it.