Monday, June 11, 2012

Liquid level sensor and controller (auto top-off for aquarium)

I built a liquid level controller that senses the level of water in my aquarium and powers a water pump when necessary to compensate for evaporated water. This is known as an "automatic top-off" system. The controller is based around a Keyence FS-V11, which sends light out a plastic fiberoptic, and measures the amount received via another fiberoptic. The optical probe makes use of total internal reflection to control how much light is returned to the Keyence based on how far the probe is immersed in the water. It is also completely passive, non-metallic, and has no moving parts for high reliability. The Keyence triggers a solid state relay that supplies power to a standard AC outlet. The pump is then plugged into the outlet, and moves water from a reservoir into the aquarium on command.

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