Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 53

Thread: Grit Automation Automatic Blast Gates - Automating my Dust Collection

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    3,547

    Grit Automation Automatic Blast Gates - Automating my Dust Collection

    I'm not a posting a review kind of guy, but this system and especially their level of tech support deserves this. And right off the bat, I have no association with Grit Automation, and paid full price for this system.

    So, after reading a short thread elsewhere about automatic blast gates, and knowing that my previous research into automatic blast gates for my Nordfab ducts was expensive, and really, really didn't want to have to remove all my present gates and replace them with new ones (like if I was using a IVAC Pro system, or Eco-Gates) I was intrigued by the Grit system.

    The way the system works, is by attaching servos with swing arms attached to your blast gates, and these are Wifi controlled by a Grit Hub and triggers on your equipment.

    Now, there are challenges to hooking up to my dust collection system. My SawStop, Felder Jointer, planer, bandsaw are all 3-phase, as well as my Grizzly wide-belt sander. All with 6-inch Nordfab ducting and gates. Add onto that a router table at 110V with 4" ducting, with the gates all near the floor, far apart, and you can see that my work was cut out for me.

    Here's a few pictures of the system:
    This is what all the components look like out of the box:
    Full Grit Automation System Components.jpg

    So, lots of stuff, to say the least. And it was packed beautifully, with a cute little present. Clearly they wanted everything to arrive safely.

    I first powered up the hub and having it find my wifi, etc... Worked pretty well. Saw my router without issues.

    Next I attacked installing the blast gates, one by one. You do this by drilling a hole in the blast gate arm with an included template and drill bit, installing a few screws/bolts and attaching power via some provided wire and DC power supplies. On to the web app, make microadjustments to the gate positions (setting open and closed limits), and awesome - it works great being controlled from my iphone. Getting the machine's power setting to control it comes later.

    Here's a few pictures of a installed blast gates:
    Installed Blast Gates 1.jpg
    Installed Blast Gates 2.jpg
    Open Blast Gate.jpg

    As you can see, the gates light up red when closed, and green when opened. During calibration, they flash to show you they are receiving the micro-adjustment commands.

    I'll break this into a number of posts, to avoid TL;DR
    Last edited by Alan Lightstone; 07-16-2022 at 1:31 PM.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    3,547
    Next up, was to install triggers for the individual machines, so that the appropriate blast gates know when to open and close. Here's where it got more difficult for me. All of my equipment is 3-phase, and the motors are all 4-5 HP. So big 10ga and 12ga wire going into the wall outlets with locking NEMA L15-30 plugs on them. I really didn't want to wire directly into the triggers (which would have been MUCH easier), so we arranged some short 10ga extension cords with plugs and jacks on them to make this happen. Not a terrible amount of fun stripping those huge wires and inserting them into the triggers, but definitely doable.

    3-Phase Triggers on Wall.jpg
    So pretty neat installation, even with the plugs/jacks. You can see the hub installed on the wall above the 3-Phase triggers.

    Next was some software fussing to tell each gate which device it was to be triggered by, as well as the gate closing timer (to delay gate closing for x seconds after the machine powers off, and the associated collector (if you have more than one.) You can chose the # of amps for the activation level (which I thought was really smart), as well as power profiles (if there needs to be delayed on, dealing with motor power spikes, etc....)

    All of this was more difficult for the 3-phase machines. For my 1-phase 110V router, it was literally plug and play for the trigger. Just plug the router (or router switch on my router table) into the 110V trigger, and run a small wire to power the gate off of it. Piece of cake.

    Next comes the hardest part. Connecting up my 5HP Oneida Cyclone.
    Last edited by Alan Lightstone; 07-16-2022 at 1:35 PM.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    3,547
    Connecting up my Oneida cyclone dust collector to the system just wasn't fun. And it really wasn't Grit Automation's fault. My cyclone is in a small closet, with very limited access to the contactor, that the Grit MagSwitch needed to be hooked up to.

    After lots of groaning, and removing the contactor from the wall, and literally balancing it on a taped down wooden dowel, I was able to get access to it. To say that the contactor was a rats nest of wires, was an understatement. I worked through the instructions and pictures in the manual (Oh, and I didn't mention that the system comes with a 142 page color, bound manual. Pretty impressive.) Ground to a halt. I simply couldn't see where to hook up the last one of the wires.

    Here's where Grit Automation tech support was off-the-charts good. All throughout my installation, I checked in with them back and forth, and they went above and beyond the call. They simply are the best technical support personnel I've ever worked with. I won't give away all of the wonderful things they did to help me, but they are World Class.

    I got on a facetime phone call with one of their engineers, and showed him the contactor. He then amazed me by telling me that I had to disconnect a module in the contactor (I think it was likely the RF remote control module), and remove about 4 or 5 wires and this small box. Low and behold, the appropriate screw terminal appeared, and was able to finish installing the Magswitch controller. No question, this was the hardest part of the operation.

    Now onto testing it. Via their iPhone app, I quickly told the dust collector which triggers it was associated with, and set delay off and minimum run timers, and as soon as I turned on any of my machines, the gate opened and the dust collector turned on. Once I turned off the machine, after the appropriate delay off time, the cyclone turned off. Like magic. Amazing.
    Last edited by Alan Lightstone; 07-16-2022 at 1:37 PM.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    3,547
    Lastly, I purchased two Air Quality devices for my Jet 1000B and Jet 2000 air filters. These just plug in, with the air filter cord plugging into them. As these are both IR controlled (heavy sigh), you then install an IR emitter on them. They measure the air quality (not sure which technology they use as I don't hear a fan in them) inside the module.

    These can be set to automatically activate the air filter at a certain particle level, with a minimum run time set, and they report the air quality level on the app. I'm still fussing with these, as you all probably know I'm pretty nuts about keeping high quality air in my shop, and not breathing in all of that awful sawdust.

    Thus far I'm incredibly impressed by the system. Setup definitely takes time, but microadjustments are built into the system, and it is well worth it to make sure that the force required by the servos to open/close the gates, as well as the gate positions are fully open and closed. The system seems incredibly versatile, and I truly love that I didn't have to throw out all those expensive Nordfab blast gates, and could instead use them. Many parts of my installation were likely more difficult than usual, due to the industrial nature of them, but everything went well.

    Lastly, as I said earlier, Grit Automation's tech support is simply superb. They listen, they help, and they truly want everything to work great. They really go above and beyond on every step. Those are qualities that, sadly, you don't see much anymore. This system is certainly not inexpensive by any means, but really seems well worth it. Very, very highly recommended.

    Time to start using the machines to make something.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    NE OH
    Posts
    2,471
    This looks really sweet, and you did a nice neat job installing everything. Can you share a ballpark cost for all the "stuff", aside from your labor?
    --The bad news is: time flies. The good news is: you're the pilot.-- (Michael Altshuler)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    63,535
    That's a truly interesting setup, Alan. I like that it's a retrofit to the existing gates because as you note, there's already a bit of expense already there and that's kinda true for most folks, unless they are building an entirely new ductwork system from scratch. Being able to use standard gates, such as those from Nordfab or Blastgate, is a big plus. Thanks for the great review!!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    MT
    Posts
    640
    Thanks for sharing this Alan.

    When I first installed my system I convinced myself it wouldn't be a big deal to walk over and open or close a gate but I find myself leaving them open, or closed unintentionally sometimes.

    I will be checking it out.
    Regards,

    Kris

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    3,547
    I have most of my blast gates on or very near the floor. The router table one I have to crawl under the SawStop extension table to get to, and the table saw one I need to crawl under the SawStop to get to. So these are real back savers. I also wound up shortening the flexible ducting leading from my blast gate to my widebelt sander, which should help things too. Typically, just because it killed my back, I left the blast gate leading to my SawStop and router table open all the time. So getting that closed and having all the suction go to the widebelt sander, I'm hoping will improve dust collection to that. My particle count tests clearly show that the "dirtiest" machine in my workshop is the widebelt sander. Especially with small particles.

    I'm going to pass on the cost discussion. I really feel that's between the customer and the company. Give them a call. They'll be happy to quote you for your particular needs, I'm sure.

    And Jim, I agree, having it be a retrofit system was huge to me. Lack of that really was a deal breaker when I looked into some of the competitive systems.
    Last edited by Alan Lightstone; 07-16-2022 at 6:00 PM.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    NW Indiana
    Posts
    2,971
    Out of curiosity, what did this system cost ?

  10. #10
    Here is the Grit Automation website where they give a price range for each type of box.

    https://gritautomation.com/products

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    3,547
    All Ill say regarding price is that the 120 V triggers and 4 inch blast gates are significantly less expensive than 3-phase triggers and 6 inch blast gates.

    Your cost is really totally dependent on your individual set up. Call up Grit Automation. Theyll be happy to give you a detailed quote specific to your needs.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Helensburgh, Australia
    Posts
    2,567
    Until you work in a workshop with an automatic system you can't appreciate the affect it has on you when doing day to day tasks as it is simply liberating in every way. Turn the machine on, The dust extractor starts, the blast gate opens and when finished the BG's close and the extractor turns off....simply awesome.
    Chris

    Everything I like is either illegal, immoral or fattening

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    63,535
    I have a thought that somewhat dovetails with what Chris Parks just wrote. (and I can clearly see his point)

    That said, with traditional woodworking machines, there is clearly an on and off state that can be leveraged for the purpose at hand. This is not such a simple thing with something like CNC that more and more folks are bringing into the shop. You can't keep on power to the machine because you don't turn it on and off, as it were. I guess one could sense for spindle on/off, but...

    I guess if one wanted to leverage one of these gate controls for a tool like CNC, it would be easiest to have some form of manual triggering, such as a dummy circuit with some form of switch.

    Alan, will that system work properly if one has a need for more than one tool running at the same time, such as CNC manually triggered while one moves between other machines doing other things while the CNC "shop assistant" cuts stuff?
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Helensburgh, Australia
    Posts
    2,567
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    I have a thought that somewhat dovetails with what Chris Parks just wrote. (and I can clearly see his point)

    That said, with traditional woodworking machines, there is clearly an on and off state that can be leveraged for the purpose at hand. This is not such a simple thing with something like CNC that more and more folks are bringing into the shop. You can't keep on power to the machine because you don't turn it on and off, as it were. I guess one could sense for spindle on/off, but...

    I guess if one wanted to leverage one of these gate controls for a tool like CNC, it would be easiest to have some form of manual triggering, such as a dummy circuit with some form of switch.

    Alan, will that system work properly if one has a need for more than one tool running at the same time, such as CNC manually triggered while one moves between other machines doing other things while the CNC "shop assistant" cuts stuff?
    I was one of a team that developed an automatic blast gate system which also controlled the dust extractor either single phase or 3 phase so I am a bit biased on automatic systems. CNC machines aren't a good fit as the long run times don't present the same problems as machines used intermittently such as mitre saws, bandsaws etc. I must admit when we first started doing the R&D I never imagined the impact it would have on my working in the shed until I installed the system and I was absolutely blown away by the change.

    The problem that Jim has described above is one I am dealing with at the moment, I have just built a RT using a CNC spindle and it is controlled by a touch screen via a program specifically written to control spindle height, speed and fence position and it fires up the DE as soon as it is connected simply because power on is needed to start the control system, I will let you know if and how we solve it, we think we know but the proof is in the eating so to speak. We developed the automatic system mainly for use in WW clubs where good blast gate control is hard to manage because no one opens and closes BG's every time.
    Chris

    Everything I like is either illegal, immoral or fattening

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Posts
    3,547
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    I have a thought that somewhat dovetails with what Chris Parks just wrote. (and I can clearly see his point)

    That said, with traditional woodworking machines, there is clearly an on and off state that can be leveraged for the purpose at hand. This is not such a simple thing with something like CNC that more and more folks are bringing into the shop. You can't keep on power to the machine because you don't turn it on and off, as it were. I guess one could sense for spindle on/off, but...

    I guess if one wanted to leverage one of these gate controls for a tool like CNC, it would be easiest to have some form of manual triggering, such as a dummy circuit with some form of switch.

    Alan, will that system work properly if one has a need for more than one tool running at the same time, such as CNC manually triggered while one moves between other machines doing other things while the CNC "shop assistant" cuts stuff?
    Jim:

    I believe the Grit Automation system should word just fine with your CNC machine. The trigger has multiple settings, and seems fully adjustable as to what activation level the sensor should use for opening a blast gate and turning on the dust collector. There are also settings for different power profiles (Normal, Delay, Spike, and Advanced).

    I would be surprised if one of those couldn't be set properly to understand that the electronics are on, but the spindle isn't running. It certainly works with my Felder planer and Grizzly wide-belt sander that have electronics on running at a low current draw, but only turns on when the motor/conveyor belts start running which is when you really want the gates open and the dust collector running.

    I don't own a CNC machine (but still keep thinking about getting one), and am clearly no expert on them in any way, so just my $0.02, which may be worth less than that. Clearly the company would know, however, and I bet they have multiple systems installed with CNC machines.
    Last edited by Alan Lightstone; 07-17-2022 at 10:43 AM.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •