[How-To] Monitor A Washer's Cycle (Finished)


Using a current sensor for monitoring a Washer's full cycle can be difficult because of the various currents the washer draws during its fill, wash, drain, & spin cycles. These currents can range from 0.1 amps to over six amps (see previous Appliance Monitor How-To). Thus using a conventional current sensor will require some additional scripting (as well as possibly creating an initialization trigger event).

This method of monitoring a washer uses a magnetic contact sensor (the same one used to monitor windows and doors for security alarm systems).

The magnetic contact used was purchased here (model 7359, Short Round Magnetic Contacts):


I taped the two parts of this sensor to the dial of the washer as shown in the photo below. Whenever the washer was done with its cycle, the contacts (two wire leads) would close. These wires could then be attached to an X-10 power-flash unit, or monitored by a modified parallel port or SECU16I Digital Input for the Applied Digital Ocelot.

Of course a more elegant mounting system could be used (possibly glue the sensors to the dial) than my yellow tape method, but use the tape to first "dial in" the range and stop point of the washer's knob indicatior. I used a Fluke multimeter to see when the contacts would close as I dialed in the magnetic contacts position on the washer knob.


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Hmm, I wonder why I've never noticed this cool thread before.

That's a pretty novel way pf tracking the washer cycle. I could see a couple of ways of improving it though.
  • 1. Place a wired NO sensor at each of the possible "off" locations. If they are wired in parallel to the same input point, any one of them closing should be sensed by the monitoring device. (I think), BSR's multimeter technique would be an easy way of confirming if this is working.

    2. Next, if you're a little more adventurous (and maybe have a few computer mods under you belt) you could probably "build-in" the sensors into the washer's control face plate. The wired portion of the sensors could be installed into the face plate by drilling the face plate in the appropriate location(s) and placing them in the holes, of course, they would be oriented 90 degrees (facing you rather than facing the dial) so the non-wired end of the sensor would have to rotated appropriately. If I remember correctly, there's not much behind the face plates of most washers, so their should be plenty of room to mount the sensors. In fact, I bet you could pull the dial off, and do all the drilling behind the dial so you couldn't even see the sensors (except maybe the non-wired one).
Just some ideas... I may have to try these when I get to my new home! I guess it would work equally well for a dryer, as long as it has a dial (although the more steady current- draw of a dryer could make current sensing techniques work too.)
That's a great idea. I din't notice it before either but now that I have an ocelot, it might make sense to try it!

BSR, is that how you are hooking it up? Through the Ocelot?
You can also use the nice gameport plugin for the digital inputs to monitor these type of things if you don't have an Ocelot. I did that with my old dryer when I have a relay installed across the buzzer and it worked great. We had to get a new dryer and I then switched to the current monitoring using a Powerflash unit which also works fine.


Actually I'm not doing anything right now, but plan on using magnetic sensors for the washer, and current sensing for the dryer.

I will be using different magnetic sensors than what is shown here. I purchased some magnetic sensors which just have a very small magnet, almost the size of a #8 washer and about four times as thick. I used this type for my window sensors for my alarm project.

The other part (with the wires) is about the same size as shown here.

Yes, I plan on using my SECU16I inputs and monitoring the contact closure for the magnetic contacts. In the case of the current monitoring with the CRMagnetic sensors, you have to set up a "threshold" trip with the SECU16I paramters.

Our good friend JRFuda has already done this (may need his help when I do this).

John, please feel free to reply to that CRMagnetics How to monitor your dryer thread on how you did this set up!!


BSR, actually, I never setup thresholds. I kept the Ocelot monitoring the SECU16's inputs as supervised digital inputs, but fine-tuned my wire wraps to get them to trip at the write spot. I'll write it up in detail in the current-sensor thread.
I would love to do this with an ocelot and an secu16 but I have had some problems programming it. Has anyone set this up yet? Could you tell me how to program it?
Exactly what do you want to do when the washer is finished?

Since I'm not sure where you are at in your project, let me give you some setup steps and you can tell us where you are or are not at so our members can help you out:

Set up your Ocelot with your PC's serial port so you can program it with CMax software.

Set up your SECU16 so it is "Auto Addresed" with your Ocelot and you can read its present values in CMax (in the "Attach to controller" screen) AND you can manually turn on and off the SECU16 outputs. Make sure you do this step WITHOUT Homeseer talking to the Ocelot (again, not sure where you are at).

Place a 1K resistor (included with your SECU16) between Input1 and Ground as well. Note input 1's value in Cmax. Short out the 1K resistor with a clip lead and note the value, it should have changed. This will be the value the Ocelot sees when the washer is finished. Remove the clip lead from the resistor.

Connect your washer monitor's magnetic sensor to Input1 and a Ground.
Move the knob on your washer and see if the value changes.

Now you will have to setup Homeseer so it can monitor the values for the Ocelot/SECU16.

I like the Ocelot plugin created by Michael McSharry. Install that plugin in Homeseer via the updater. Make sure CMax is closed down (so Homeseer and CMax are not both trying to access the Ocelot).

Restart Homeseer and you should see an ADIOcelot menu in Homeseer's menu bar. Click that and then setup.

Go to general and select the proper Com port for your Ocelot. Close down the plugin menu and restart Homseer.

Reselect the Ocelot setup menu. You should see an IO Device Tab. Check the input and output devices for your SECU16 and then click on Create Devices. You should now see the devices for Homeseer for your SECU16. Redo the above test with your washer knob and make sure the value gets updated in the Homeseer device for SECU16 input 1.

Now just create an event for that device change to say announce when the washer is done.

Let us know how this works out.

Has anyone come up with a more elegant way to monitor the washer cycle? I like the magnet idea but was hoping for something that was a bit "neater".
I use the light on my washer, and it's a clean setup, the wife doesn't even mind. It is also non-invasive. If you don't have a light, maybe you can use some sort of vibration or noise sensor?
Hmm. A vibration sensor. That seems to be a good option that could be invisible.

don't mean to bump an old thread but this could also be done with a powerflash module on the buzzer that goes off when the cycle completes--same with the dryer