Automated De-Icing Machine

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About: The BCAMRL is a Mechatronics Research Lab, founded in 2014 on the campus of Bergen County Academies, a magnet high school within the Bergen County Technical School District. Students create innovations base...

Winters have been known to be terrible seasons because of the severity and consequences of falling on ice. We have sought out to create an innovation to increase the efficiency of spreading salt on pavement to prevent this problem. Initially, the Salt Blaster was a machine supposed to be installed on the side of a road in order to prevent car accidents and keep drivers safe. Through our idea development process, we eventually reached a decision that this was simply not a feasible invention, as it would be costly and practically useless for the rest of the year. Eventually, we came up with the idea of making an attachment to a leaf blower motor to make it easier residentially and commercially to spread salt on a driveway, sidewalk, or parking lot. This innovation is able to perform the required task with minimal effort and high efficiency.

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Step 1: Gather Your Parts

  • 3x PVC Pipe(Small to fit Funnel, Large to fit the blower, Medium long that fits inside of large)
  • Lid(Fits Larger PVC Pipe)
  • Arduino Duemilanove
  • Wires
  • Servo
  • Metal Rods
  • 3D Printed Parts(discs that go in the funnel)
  • Funnel (needs to fit small PVC pipe)
  • Water Jug
  • Screws
  • Rubber Cement
  • Primer
  • Black and Decker LSW221 20V MAX Lithium Cordless Sweeper

Step 2: Make the Dispenser

Create two discs in Autodesk Inventor, both being funnel-shaped. The diameter of the top face of the smaller disc is equal to the diameter of the bottom face of the larger disc. Both discs must have a consistent taper angle, which is the same as the taper angle of the funnel(Both discs must sit equally on top of each other). Both discs must have the same sized hole, slightly offset from the center, shaped like a quarter-circle. The small disc should be hot glued to the inside of the funnel. The larger disc was attached to a servo, allowing the disc to turn at the servo's command. The servo will be programmed using an Arduino in a later step.

The servo should be fixed onto the funnel using a metal rod, which has a length slightly larger than the funnel itself. First, the Servo should be attached to the metal rod. After this, the rod should be aligned with the funnel to make sure the servo is in the center. Then the metal rod should be bent into place, locking the servo in that position.

The small PVC pipe must be attached to the bottom of the funnel, being roughly the same size as the exit portion of the funnel itself. It should not be too long.

Step 3: Constructing the Main Blower

The main tube of the automated deicing machine is divided into two sub tubes. There is a large tube, which can fit snugly over the leaf blower motor, and a slightly smaller tube, and a lid that fits perfectly over the larger tube is needed. A hole of a diameter of the smaller tube should be cut so that this tube can slide in and out. Once this is finished, a hole has to be drilled into both the small and the large tube that is relative to the size of the pipe connected to the funnel from last step. This small pipe will go through both pipes so that it will release salt into the smaller tube. Using glue and primer, all of the parts were glued together. Because the pipe connected to the funnel goes through both tubes, it is relatively stable, and the smaller tube connected to the larger tube (connected to the motor) is small in order for the salt to leave faster.

The main tube of the automated deicing machine is divided into two sub tubes. There is a large PVC pipe, which can fit snugly over the leaf blower motor, and a slightly smaller PVC pipe. A lid that fits perfectly over the larger PVC is required, as a hole of the diameter of the smaller PVC should be cut in the lid for the smaller PVC to slide in and out of the large PVC. Slide the small PVC into the large PVC far enough so a hole in both the small and large PVC can be made. This hole should be the same diameter of the small PVC pipe(attached to funnel). Once the hole is cut, put the small PVC from the funnel into the two aligning holes. Now that everything is locked in place, each part should be primed and then glued with cement grade glue.

The reason the smaller PVC was installed instead of having the one large PVC is to have better direction and air flow in the mechanism. This helps the salt leave the blower faster as well.

Step 4: Coding

The code for this is relatively simple, although it required tons of troubleshooting. It turns the servo 90 degrees into an open position from one button press. The next button press will turn back to 0 degrees into a closed position.

The code is uploaded as the attached file. (Using an Arduino Duemilanove)

The button should be attached to GND and pin 13.

The servo should be attached as follows:

Red Wire: 5V

Black Wire: GND

Yellow Wire: pin 11

The Arduino could easily be mounted onto the blower, making a small plate for it to sit on using cardboard, and hot gluing that to the large PVC pipe.

The button should have relatively long wires used, for ease of use it should be attached near the switch to turn the leaf blower on and off.

The Arduino requires a power source, using a simple battery pack should do just fine.

The Arduino program is needed to download the code written below.

Step 5: Making the Salt Tank

Now that everything is joined/configured, the last thing to do is make the tank to hold the salt. Cut the bottom of the water jug out. Make a mark where the diameter of the water jug(on the top opening side) is equal to the size of the funnel opening. Cut around that mark, completely removing the top side of the jug(depending on how much needed to be cut). Once the two pieces are flush, cut out slits for where the metal rod is resting on the funnel(also make it so the wires can fit through the rectangular hole). Now that the jug is prepared, it can be glued on to the top of the funnel.

That's it! Every part is now attached, and the Arduino mechanism was configured. The machine should now be fully functioning!

Step 6: Supporting Documentation

Supporting Documentation: Poster, Video

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