New to Arduino. Help with project, Arduino capable?

Hi, searching the web I came across Arduino and wondered if it is the right product for what I'm trying to do. I have been reading old posts on the forum and have learned some things but none specific to what I need to do. I'm sorry if this is in the wrong section, I did not really see any place that seemed like a better fit.

I want to fill a 1 gallon jug with 2lbs of sugar and wondered if Arduino can turn the sugar feeder on and then off after 2 lbs has been put in the jug. The feeder will be a homemade item with an auger and an electric motor to turn it. There will be 2000lbs of sugar in the hopper. I thought about a timed run of the auger to deliver the right amount of sugar or a scale that outputs the weight to something (Arduino?) to shut off the auger. After that I need to fill the jug with water. Same idea here for how to stop the water. I did see flow meters mentiond at Seeed Studio. Can they be programmed after a certain amount of water has flowed by, ie: 1 gallon? I've also seen light sensors that shut the flow of water off, but I'm using an opaque white jug and the sensors were used with clear glass.

Currently this is all done with hand measuring devices and I'd really like to get to some level of automation if you can call it that. Also I'd like to think this would make this a much more repeatable and reliable system.

Am I looking in the wrong place thinking Arduino can control this? Is it a good application? Is there another option? I'm not looking to invest tons of cash but willing to spend up to $1000 on the Arduino end of it, if I can get a robust and reliable system. I have a friend who can program C code too. Thanks for any and all advice or suggestions. Again if this is in the wrong place please move it to where it should go. Steve

If you are trying to get the weight or liquid volume (essentially it can be measured by weight), you can use force gauges to do the measurement and control the feeders. There are cheap digital scales of various range so you may be able to get one that will cover the upper limit of your product weight and hack it to supply data to arduino for control purpose. Then you can prepare the container, push a button and wait for arduino to supply 2 lb of sugar and stop. Then you can do the same with liquid by pushing a different button. I'd say it is doable within your budget. Your manual controls will have to be motorized. There is some cost to that so I didn't say it is well within your budget.

If you are happy with a prototype with cheap digital scales, you might be ready to find more expensive and rugged scales for a more reliable solution.

Found this:

As liudr suggested I would also say weighing the sugar and water is the simplest and most accurate idea. The size of the container and it eventual weight will determine what scales to purchase. A quick google for 'weighing scales with rs232' bought up several choices and looking at my first hit seems it's doable with an Arduino. You would need to control the auger motor and water flow. Have a start button, a stop/panic button, user feedback in the form of LED's or LCD and of course the input from the scales. All seem doable for under $1000

Thank you both for the guidance. I think weight is the easiest way to get both the water and sugar metered.

Lidur I have seen that scale in my searches. It would fit within our weight needs which is in the 8 -9 pound range.

What Arduino products would I need to get something started to actually "try" and build a system to begin prototyping some sort of controller? As I said before I have a friend who can and will program but just don't know what hard parts in the electronic side I need to purchase.

Thanks again, Steve


You could buy that scale featured in the adafruit tutorial. You will need an RS232-TTL adapter such as this:

I have not used this adapter but I bought from this seller before. This adapter will allow arduino to receive measurement of the scale.

I am not sure what to recommend for automated control but if you post some pictures and specs, someone may be able to recommend hardware.

unimog1300: What Arduino products would I need to get something started to actually "try" and build a system to begin prototyping some sort of controller? As I said before I have a friend who can and will program but just don't know what hard parts in the electronic side I need to purchase.

You will need to determine what motor controls your auger so you can get a suitable arduino motor controller. You will need something like a solenoid valve to control the water flow and some why of interfacing it to the arduino. Switches to start/stop the sequence and maybe LED's or an LCD display to give operator feedback. RS232 to TTL converter to interface the weighing scales to the arduino. An arduino. There is invariably other items that you don't know you need until the project is started.

Well thanks again for the help.

We have had bigger issues to deal with because our water samples have come back bad. We first tested water at a local store and they were good. Later when we went back for additional samples the testing failed. Inbetween tests we purchased ground to build a building one block from where the water samples were taken. After the second sample failed we were told that the store had taken out their large filtration system for the city water. Now we have to get the water filtered in our own building....guess we thought we were getting city water from the samples taken at the store. The filter system has to be pretty robust to remove several things from the water and one is a sulfer smell. That has a negative impact on our product.

I will keep all the info you guys have provided and come back a little later when we get our filter system figured out and behind us. Until then we can't make any product.

Thanks again.