[Tutorials] [How-To] Measure Salt Level in Your Water Softener (OLD SCHOOL METHOD)

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
[How-To] Measure Salt Level in Your Water Softener (BSR Goes Old School)
 
Many years ago, I created THIS How-To on using an ultrasonic sensor for measuring the salt level in a water softener.  Since then I decided to go 'old school' and wanted a basic analog/voltage detection method that I would incorporate into my existing analog to digital converter for this measurement (basically I was not happy with the serial interface of the MaxBotix unit).
 

Click here to view the article
 

fcwilt

Active Member
No, no, no. That's all wrong. You want to use a PTZ camera and a small computer to video the salt and determine the level by the apparent size of the lumps of salt. 
 
I thought everybody knew this.
 
Why make things simple when you can make them complicated?
 
;)
 

pete_c

Guru
For a bit I was thinking of installing a coal chute for the salt use.
 
Yeah; my old school analog (?) regulator clock never quits as its using a very old design with a pendulum; and it stopped a couple of days ago. 
 
Tempus fugit
 
Nobody touched it.
 

fcwilt

Active Member
Two things come to mind: the clock needs a cleaning/lubrication and/or the bearing surfaces need refurbishment.
 
Weight driven clocks (usually) have very little in the way of "spare" power and it doesn't take too much added friction to bring them to a halt.
 
I rebuilt one of my clocks and used a lubricant that was too viscous and just that was enough to prevent the clock from running - lesson learned.
 
Good luck.
 

pete_c

Guru
Yeah here into old clocks; never touch them though.
 
This one is only 5-6 years old; well new but very old design; gift.  Must be dust? 
 

NeverDie

Senior Member
BraveSirRobbin said:
[How-To] Measure Salt Level in Your Water Softener (BSR Goes Old School)
 
Many years ago, I created THIS How-To on using an ultrasonic sensor for measuring the salt level in a water softener.  Since then I decided to go 'old school' and wanted a basic analog/voltage detection method that I would incorporate into my existing analog to digital converter for this measurement (basically I was not happy with the serial interface of the MaxBotix unit).
 

Click here to view the article
I wonder if salt level could be measured indirectly by counting the number of regeneration cycles after a known salt level?.Isn't that how the mcu in the softener does it when it shows the salt level on the softener display?  Or is it actually doing a physical measurement?  If counting cycles, then maybe all you would need is a current sensor to detect when the recharge cycle happens (if it's on demand) or just a calendar (if it's by clock)? 
 
Regardless, yours is a clever implementation.
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
You certainly could just calculate the percentage, based on use or (in my case) daily regeneration.
 
The 'expert' level of home automation is when you always know the exact percentage anytime!
 
This is the same explanation I give when people question why one would need to know the exact position of their garage door rather than just monitor if it is opened or closed! ;)
 

NeverDie

Senior Member
You regenerate every day?  I trust you know what you're doing, but that's rather unusual.  Either you have extremely hard water, or something isn't right.
 

roussell

Active Member
BSR, why didn't you just use the 0-5vdc analog-out on the MaxBotix instead of the serial output?
 
BraveSirRobbin said:
[How-To] Measure Salt Level in Your Water Softener (BSR Goes Old School)
 
Many years ago, I created THIS How-To on using an ultrasonic sensor for measuring the salt level in a water softener.  Since then I decided to go 'old school' and wanted a basic analog/voltage detection method that I would incorporate into my existing analog to digital converter for this measurement (basically I was not happy with the serial interface of the MaxBotix unit).
 

Click here to view the article
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
Good question as the MaxBotix sensor I chose does indeed have an analog voltage output.  The problem is looking at the specs it was something like a 0-0.5 volt full scale and in the case of my desired distance, I believe (going off of memory) I would never have achieved the 0.5 volt as I was not using the full capable linearity of the device.
 
I decided that even with a ten bit A-D converter that this would not give me the resolution I wanted.  Also, my A-D converter seems to have a noise level of 0.2 volts (which is odd but I never really spent time troubleshooting this).
 
I also wanted to deploy the methodology described in this How-To to see its feasibility so it could possibly be incorporated for other projects. ;)
 

roussell

Active Member
If I remember correctly, the analog on the Maxbotix is Vcc/512 per inch. so for a +5 vdc supply you'd see a little less than 10mV per inch so yeah over the short distance of your water softener container you'd need to amplify it the output to get any meaningful resolution. Good call.
 
It's a good how-to, I miss this type of home-brew stuff on CT (of course I'm to blame as much as anyone else as I haven't done anything in a while). It reminds me of your ultimate garage door sensor from a long time ago. Equally awesome how-to!
 
Terry
 
 
BraveSirRobbin said:
Good question as the MaxBotix sensor I chose does indeed have an analog voltage output.  The problem is looking at the specs it was something like a 0-0.5 volt full scale and in the case of my desired distance, I believe (going off of memory) I would never have achieved the 0.5 volt as I was not using the full capable linearity of the device.
 
I decided that even with a ten bit A-D converter that this would not give me the resolution I wanted.  Also, my A-D converter seems to have a noise level of 0.2 volts (which is odd but I never really spent time troubleshooting this).
 
I also wanted to deploy the methodology described in this How-To to see its feasibility so it could possibly be incorporated for other projects. ;)
 
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