Vacuum Gauge/Low Voltage sensor with LED lights??

Hello, today I discovered a whole new world "Arduino" :) I'd never heard of it before but am now determined to get to grips with it and incorporate it into my level 3 end of year engineering project. I'm not electronically minded but I need to understand the basics in order to complete my project. ANY help will be greatly appreciated.

The project: Vacuum pump capable of lifting around 300kg sheet metal, mainly aluminium. The Arduino is my best option in terms of creating the brain that will link the LED lights between a 12v battery and pressure gauge.

I need the:

Red light to come on when its not safe to lift Green light to come on when it is safe to lift (at a certain pressure) Amber light to come on when the battery is below a certain voltage, indicating a recharge

I understand that i'll need sensors but other than being able to source pretty much everything else I haven't a clue about coding or what parts/pieces I even need.

I can imagine this is a laughable project to those experienced users but please help me, with a serious IDIOTS guide. From the research ive managed to do today i havent found much about vacuum gauges or low voltage. Any links or previous forum post that you think will help, please advise me. Any response is a bonus right now :)

Thanks

662 pounds! Dang! And with a 12V battery? How far does it get lifted?

It gets transported from the bed of a CNC milling machine roughly 2/3 metres onto a pallet. These off-cuts are to heavy and dangerous to lift on your own/with someone and our 9MTR boom with 8 suction pads on it is too big :) therefore my solution is to create a one pad vacuum pump...just the electronic is stopping me at the moment

Do you already have the vacuum pump, pump controller and suction pad hooked up? If so, can it lift the workpiece safely?

No i dont, i havent got anything. We started the project today, it has to be completed by the end of May. which sounds like ages but it really isnt when you work full time and havent a clue about Arduino :) im currently in contact with a vacuum company thats able to supply my rubber pad. i can manufacture the plate on the CNC machine, I need to source a pump but those issues arent my biggest worry.

The Arduino would be my least worry.

Lol well are you willing to help me then? :)

Lol well are you willing to help me then?

Sure! First get the vacuum pump and suction cup system working, then post data sheets for the pump controller and pressure gauge you've chosen. Many forum members, including myself, have experience with microprocessor controlled, high power AC systems.

Warning: Arduinos are intended for learning and experimentation and are not recommended for use in any situation where human safety is at risk. For an industrial system, you will require a reliable, enclosed circuit board controller design that meets all relevant safety regulations.

Hello, thanks for your reply. One of my other major issue, which I was always aware of was the safety side and if it was deemed safe to use in a working environment. I had discussed insure purposes with my manager and doing some more research I’ve come to realise I won’t be able to manufacture it/send it off for the right certifications to class it as ‘safe’ due to the limited time and money.

Your comment about the Arduino board being for experimental use has also made me have my doubts – I don’t want to hurt anyone. With the few replies I have had back the companies are trying to offer me the suction pad at around £250-375 which is way over my budget, especially for just a college project that theoretically won’t even be used now.

However, I’m not going to let it put me off I’ve decided to continue with the idea but create it on a much smaller scale, this way it can be classed as a prototype and by-pass all the important safety stuff  (kind of).

I’ve found a small 12v vacuum pump that I need to buy – I need to do a little more research into some small suction pads as I’ve only been trying to acquire larger ones. Hose lines are easy enough and so is the pressure gauge.

It comes back to the Arduino side of things again, if you wouldn’t mind helping me create a parts list that I can purchase ready to start constructing it all together?

I know I need:

• Arduino Uno board • Red, green and yellow LED (any recommendations?) • Sensors – low voltage/pressure gauge (haven’t a clue!)

Thanks for reading my stupidly long comment and I look forward to some assistance…

For pressure gauges I recommend the Omega PX-309 series (5V output). These are accurate, robust, industrial quality sensors and therefore relatively expensive, but they will give many years of reliable service. If you are just experimenting, there are much cheaper pressure gauges, but I'm only familiar with those used for barometric pressure measurements.

The Arduino has a built in ADC for voltage measurements. All that is required to measure low voltages is (possibly) a resistive voltage divider.

LEDs can be bought just about anywhere, even Radio Shack (before it goes completely out of business).

There are plenty of tutorials on line for how to start with all of these things. Google Arduino and topic for lots of ideas.