The Laundruino

My washing machine is located in the basement. Unfortunately, the time data displayed on the front panel is always inaccurate. So instead of constantly running down the stairs and checking if the laundry is done, I decided to connect the washing machine to my LAN and extend it’s features by a simple http server. This is what I needed for it:

In my case, getting the right signal from the washing machine was simple: It has a “Finished” LED on the front panel, so all I needed to do, was to solder it out and replace it with a two-core wire.

To connect my washing machine with the arduino, I built a minimal shield with a prefboard and a CNY17. Here’s how everything is put together:

Now I have a LOW signal on pin A2 (digital mode) when the laundry is done and a HIGH signal if the machine is running or turned off. In my case, a loop of 100ms duration is needed every time to watch the signal because I don’t get a steady voltage here (I guess the front panel LEDs might be multiplexed). If  the signal becomes LOW once in this time window, the washing machine has finished and the LED would have turned on.

Screenshots:

You can download the code on github: https://github.com/exitnode/laundruino


 

68 thoughts on “The Laundruino

  1. Pingback: LAN-connected washing machine lets you know when your clothes are done - Hack a Day

  2. So why put in an optocoupler, when there was already half of an optocoupler there (the LED) which was removed?
    Seems like it would have been easier to just use a phototransistor or photoresistor to sense the state of the LED. This would provide optical isolation, and wouldn’t have to open up the washer to do it. (Easier to apply to other uses, no questions on voiding warranties, not a problem if need somebody else to repair, etc.)

  3. Simple is better. However, for the hobbyist, simple starts at what you know and what you can do.
    I have a washing machine with a electro-mechanical timer. It is basically a rotary switch that consists of contacts connected to each component of the washer. The switch is automatically rotated by a small stepper motor. The stepper motor is driven by AC current and the speed is controlled by the frequency of the household power. The cycle is started by pulling the knob in the center (I will not explain how the cycle is selected). This action controls a separate switch which supplies power to the stepper motor. Through mechanical action the switch is turned off at the end of the cycle. (I think this turns off anything that is on also if you manually push the knob while the washer is running but I am not sure) Monitoring power to that motor or the position of the switch would be the easiest way to determine the end of the wash cycle. I think all washers that have such a control system (electro-mechanical switch) could be monitored this way but there are certain to be exceptions.
    I have the same problem that Mike has, a washer in the basement that I have to check frequently. Unfortunately, I have neither the resources to build such a device nor the permission to run an ethernet cable down to the basement (apartment, live above landlord who is on the first floor). I think it is a great project (and relatively simple) and I thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. You should build another one for all the other LEDs so you can see the actual state the machine is in.

  5. >use a phototransistor or photoresistor

    That won’t work accurate enough. Believe me, i tried.
    If in the course of the day the sun is shine in through a window and shines on the washine machine then you will get a false reading due light leakage through the surrounding plastics. It’s really annoying. At the moment i am working on a light level independed light switch. I know it sounds cryptic but that’s just what it is.

  6. Nice. I’ve been thinking to do exact this as well. Then my washing machine broke, and I’m not voiding the warranty of my new machine :-)

    Just wondering why washing machines don’t have this by default nowadays.

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  25. Kevin, you could opt for the GSM shield, which coult let the arduino send you an SMS when your washer is done.

    As for light leacage, padding around the LED with clay or something similar should help on that, without voiding any warranty. :-)

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  27. Nice little project.

    I’ve always wanted to do sth like this myself, and not only to my washing machine but also to the dishwasher, stove and oven.

    I wonder if these machines have a common communication bus (e.g. for internal communication of the various sensers and actuators). Something like I2C on mainboards.

    If someone would develop a generic Arduino hardware for those devices and the protocol hacking would be crowdsourced, I think this could gather a big community.

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  36. One could build a version which is not machine dependent by using a vibration sensor. Most machines have spin cycles at the end. By starting a counter after the level of vibration fell under a certain treshold and stopping that timer after it reaches the treshold again, one could figure out which minimum time it needs to safely state that it has finished.
    One could even send the vibration intensity as a graph.

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  44. Doesn’t the laundry cycle take the same amount of time every time if you always use the same setting. Just figure out how long that is (20min?) and use a kitchen timer upstairs. the bell goes off, laundry is done. No?

  45. this is brilliant, now somebody just needs to write code that would let the arduino connect to google voice and send an SMS when the cycle finishes.

  46. ziemlich coole sache.ich wundere mich nur das du ethernet in der waschküche hast xD.
    ich habs leider nicht, insofern wäre ne wireless variante interessanter. hab vergeblich nach nem contact button gesucht aber nichts gefunden. wie kann man dich denn mal erreichen?
    vg,
    flo

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