Open Forum

Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

  • 1.  Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-04-2018 21:50
    Good day all!

    As one of many laundromat owners who stand by their Wascomat Gen 4 & 5 equipment, I am interested in hearing from those who have experimented with interfacing a controller similar to an Arduino in lieu of the mechanical timer.

    I have searched and read several threads and thank you to those who have put much time and effort into their projects and sharing with the rest of us.

    Are there any updates that can be shared on one thread?  Im interested in any information you'd be willing to share.  If there is also an interest in this interface please speak up!

    Thanks in advance,

    Vern

    ------------------------------
    V McArthur
    Store Owner/ Employee
    ON Canada

    ------------------------------
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  • 2.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-04-2018 23:27
    Vern & others,

    Are you or someone close to you ... real proficient at Arduino programming?  As in being able to create classes within the C++ so the needed finite state machine code can run in a protected encapsulated way?  Also, there are plenty of hardware technicalities & potential technicalities too.  I suppose with a Mega ... you could get rid of the mechanical timer completely.  Of course ... you would need to be very cognizant of SAFETY also  .... in case anything could become monkeyed up there.

    In our experience it has been a real challenge to keep our sense of humor & not give up through some real peaks & valleys both hardware & software wise for specifically our thirty two Gen4s.   In the end ... we are hoping we will have a long term winner for our customers included a 100% different artwork on the face plate.  Only in the last few months ... have we been actually working on one of our lesser used W74s in the customer area.

    One item that drove us is that we wanted to get rid of our coin slides & have drop coin mechs which would allow us to have all of our equipment on higher denomination coin acceptance along with ... the lowly quarters that are much too dominant in the USA compared to Canada ... thanks  mostly to the very short sighted IMHO "100% cashless advocates".  People really need to be careful of what they wish for & allow from a political standpoint ... again IMHO.

    Our main approach is to make the 32 Gen4 washers so the end customer can choose the number of fills very similar to what our friend Larry Adamski has done with his new ultra modern hard mounts using the electronics that came with his equipment from Huebsch.  This CLA forum steered me away from trying to have a "time remaining" feature ... that ... way over complicated the process .. I was dumb enough to try to make that .... "proven worthless???" feature on new washers ... on mine initially during my back room prototyping & testing.

    Yesterday I was eyeing a very low cost on the hardware side Raspberry Pi with a 7 inch touchscreen.  I was thinking that after the learning experience I will have gone through with the UNO clone ... that the Raspberry Pi -touch screen combo could make a unbelievably capable & user friendly "behind the scenes" network connected alarm system.

    Anybody besides Vern & myself on the CLA forum ... been interested in the embedded logic world of adventure???   I know ... I know most of you are interested in "worthwhile end" results.  I know it was real nifty when I was helped by a fellow member of the forum who is a perl??? programmer ... to find a couple of missing car license plate characters using an online search & enough iterations of the search.

    ------------------------------
    Michael Walsh www.kingkoin.com
    Store Owner/ Employee
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
    ------------------------------

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  • 3.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-05-2018 09:45
    Vern & Michael,

    My mechanic Jake, has a custom made electronic controller that can make a Gen 4 or Gen 5, or any other timer based machine do anything that an electronic washer can do. Control # of baths, # of spins, length of spins, length of wash, length of cycle program, etc.

    It uses a 24 volt power supply and is tied into the existing timer with a LOT of wires, lol.

    He is presently doing only mats in the tri-state area, but if you are very knowledgeable, he MAY be able to show you how you can install his UCO (universal controller) on your own washer. You really have to have an advanced technical mind to be able to install this and program it. Perhaps you can send him your machine's tray and they can install it for you, but I'm just speculating here.

    PM me for his number.​​

    ------------------------------
    Paulie B
    Multiple Mat Owner since 1976
    New York City, NY
    ------------------------------

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  • 4.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-05-2018 11:23
    Vern & Paulie,

    Find out from Paulie's contact if their controller can be communicated with from the # of pulses or from a coin mech that has a serial communication option.  That would make it more compatible to Larry Adamski's e-cycle capability & proven approach.

    Also find out if the controller can put context sensitive messages based on state of the washer's cycle or specific cycle & amount inserted by customer etc.​  That would be on an LCD or a LED PCB probably about 24mm x 69mm in display size.

    When you or Paulie find that out ... hopefully you can post those specific capabilities &/or PM me.  Of course cost per machine or tray done would also be needed information.

    Future water & sewer bill costs depend on it ... oof da ... as ND's Lawrence Welk with his heavy German accent used to say or was that some famous Norwegian???!!! ... not sure.







    ------------------------------
    Michael Walsh www.kingkoin.com
    Store Owner/ Employee
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
    ------------------------------

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  • 5.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-06-2018 11:26
    Michael and Paulie

    Thanks for the insight.
    I would be interested in obtaining further information on the universal controller! I am capable of installing myself.
    I agree, It does of course have to make financial sense.  Any ballpark figures?

    We are interested in not only adjusting the number of baths but also the ability to extend the wash and 1st rinse times and adjust temperatures for rinses.

    For our commercial wash n fold we would like to use unbuilt detergents but they require at least 2, 15 minute hot baths.





    ------------------------------
    V McArthur
    Store Owner/ Employee
    ON Canada

    ------------------------------

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  • 6.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-06-2018 12:33
    Michael & V McArthur,

    PM sent.

    ------------------------------
    Paulie B
    Multiple Mat Owner since 1976
    New York City, NY
    ------------------------------

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  • 7.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-06-2018 13:01
    Edited by Michael Walsh 04-06-2018 13:04
    Vern,

    I sent you a PM.  Is coin mech interaction relevant to you?

    Paulie,

    Without duplicating too many questions for Jake ... from your experience ... does the controller have total flexibility with the baths - price level interaction with whatever drop coin mech?

    I could see early on before I embarked on this comprehensive MAKEOVER that if I continued to use coin slides on my Gen4s it would have to be just one set price which would not be as neat as what Larry Adamski is doing.

    ------------------------------
    Michael Walsh www.kingkoin.com
    Store Owner/ Employee
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
    ------------------------------

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  • 8.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-06-2018 14:23
    Edited by Paulie B 04-06-2018 14:23
    Michael,

    The controller can allow you to program a timer based washer any way you want...# of baths, # of spins, length of spins & agitation, etc.

    I don't know about compatibility if you are switching from a coin slide to a drop mech. You'll have to contact them for that answer.

    Why don't you just get new coin slides from ESD that can vend BOTH D/C's and Quarters? ​
    They have been making them for years for the Canadian market and they work perfectly with US dollar coins.
    They are much cheaper and more reliable than coin mechs.

    ------------------------------
    Paulie B
    Multiple Mat Owner since 1976
    New York City, NY
    ------------------------------

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  • 9.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-06-2018 15:40
    Paulie & Vern,

    An option for some might be to have clearly labeled fewer or more bath machines & have the fewer bath machines with slides set on lower prices & more bath machines on higher prices.

    Slide are nice from a standpoint of that coin drops should really have feedback as they are putting in the coins.   Something that I am not sure ... if all washers with drop coins do ... via LED or LCD or whatever.

    A slide won't go in if not 100% filled & when it comes back out it is clear that a coin is bent or missing or whatever.

    I still prefer a drop coin as long as the quality of the drop coin exceeds the coin slide in durability & quality & there is end user feedback to the actual amount going in.  Some coin drops just blink ... not as good IMHO.

    Hopefully, this discussion is not too late for many who see the possibilities of modernizing (utility savings especially) older but still practical from an appearance & a parts replacement standpoint commercial washing machines.

    Operator still have to look at if other (drain & water valves, gaskets, mechanical vs expensive PCBs) &/or the more parts (vfd-inverters etc.) are so so so much better than some series of older commercial washers.



    ------------------------------
    Michael Walsh www.kingkoin.com
    Store Owner/ Employee
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
    ------------------------------

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  • 10.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-07-2018 12:42
    ​Hey Paulie  does you Mech. want  a vacation in Las Vegas

    ------------------------------
    Jo Ann BedellStore Owner/ EmployeeWash N Fun LaundromatLas Vegas NV
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  • 11.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-08-2018 16:22
    Guys,
    I commend you on your American "can do spirit".  I love tinkering and I would right at home working on this project.

    Let me relate a story.  My sons wanted to build a replacement for our broken weather station.  Lance & Neil spent a whole summer at our vacation house building multiple temperature sensors and using a Raspberry PI as the controller and build a very nice workable weather station.  Wrote code and tested and re-tested the weather station till it was very stable and reliable.  They even took and old Kindle e-reader and used that as the screen display.  They spent a couple hundred hours working on this project and probably about $4-500 in materials.  It was very impressive weather station and it worked.  The latest version connects to the internet and gives you the time of day, the time for the tides for the day, wind speed & direction, when the moon and major planets rise and set and yes also displays the temperature all throughout the house.

    Me I bought the replacement part from the manufacturer and had the original broken weather station up and working in less than a week.  My message is that the Wascomat Generation 4 washer was a great washer for the 1980's, but here we are almost 40 years latter.  A Gen 4 Wascomat washer with a Microprocessor that would work would be a nice machine, but still no comparison to the latest and greatest washers available right now.  The Gen 4 washers has a poorly designed soap box that leaks and takes out the drain valve.  If you forget the SS springs in the soap box, someone will certainly drop a Clorox cap in to the soapbox and you will have Old Faithful all over the washer and the floor.  You have coin slides (or possible Keltner or Set-o-Matic drop coin mechanisms and a very small money box.  The door switches are exposed to leaks from the soapbox.  Remember it is only an 80 G extract washer and has only 1 water level that consumes huge amounts of water.

    As I told my sons, this weather station a great project, but look at it as a hobby and not an economical replacement.  The advantage of brand new state-of-the-art washer with 200 G's is a quantum leap from even a "soap-up" gen 4 washer.  The silliness here is that if your water & sewer rates are moderate to high then the new washers will probable pay for themselves in utility savings (water, sewer & gas).  A 200 G washer will save you 20-25% of your dryer gas consumption.  Other advantages are that with new machines you can raise your vend prices and  creating more revenue.  If you have extra cycle modifiers (like Extra Wash & Extra Rinse) then you have even more revenue.  Before you fall down the rabbit hole and spend $500 in parts and 200 hours of Labor, contact your local distributor and see what it would really cost for brand new equipment.  Look forward, not back.

    ------------------------------
    Karl Hinrichs
    HK Laundry Equipment Inc.
    President
    Armonk, NY
    914-273-5757
    karl@HKLaundry.com
    ------------------------------

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  • 12.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-08-2018 16:48
    Edited by Larry Adamski 04-08-2018 16:49
    Karl,

    I could not have said it better.  Your son's weather station project correlates well to remanufacturing a Generation 4 Wascomat.

    Although I am not a distributor, I cringe whenever someone posts about trying to remake an old washer.  There are so many REAL advantages to replacing very old washers with brand new washers that delaying is simply an exercise in futility.  Today's washers are not perfect but they're light years ahead of those Wascomats from the 1980s ... or any other washer from the 1980s for that matter.  One's time is better spent researching new washers and negotiating a timely purchase.  Once one sees the result of buying that first batch of washers, making a decision to buy more will come much easier.

    ------------------------------
    Larry Adamski
    Muskegon Laundromat
    Spring Lake MI
    ------------------------------

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  • 13.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-08-2018 17:33
    Edited by Michael Walsh 04-08-2018 17:34
    Larry,  Karl & others,

    In Paulie's & my defense,  We both knew from actual experience & still know about changing out every bit of our equipment with brand new & knowing & seeing that the customers will temporarily be enamored by the HE (high efficiency certified) equipment.  The point of revising is to make the old equipment attractive enough & energy efficient enough without shortchanging the customer.

    After seeing & buying resurfaced tub backs in a good enough way from e-bay ... I realized that there really is not any more danger of not being able to get parts for the Gen4s than some of the washers being bought today that turn out to be not nearly as popular as the Gen4s were & still are.

    Karl,  it sounds like your manpower (er... sons) have a pretty good constitution to take on a project like you described ... side benefit ... kept them out of mischief!!!  You are right a hundred $1s here & a hundred $1s there ... can potentially add up.


    ------------------------------
    Michael Walsh www.kingkoin.com
    Store Owner/ Employee
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
    ------------------------------

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  • 14.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-08-2018 20:09
    Karl and Larry, thanks for speaking up. Every time i hear about this Gen 4 update i think about all the utilities and money being wasted. I traded my gen5's from my first store for new Dexters two years ago and yes my savings pay for them. Plus customers are moved threw the mat faster. Mike, you constantly hammer our government for wasting money by not changing to dollar coins. Are you not doing the same thing?

    ------------------------------
    Chris Mirisciotta
    Store Owner/ Employee
    Canon Coin Laundry
    Canonsburg PA
    ------------------------------

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  • 15.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 04-08-2018 22:54
    Edited by Michael Walsh 04-08-2018 22:59
    Chris Mirisciotta,

    Thanks for your concern.  I do keep track of how much I am spending on the components so I don't believe very much will be wasted at all ... it certainly has been a learning opportunity!   Also because of the about a half of a century & more of self service laundromat experience .... that experience has included previous time periods with brand dazzling new equipment.  Also, I am pretty sure I have a very close estimate on how much gross revenue I may have lost by not getting brand new "possibly break the bank" new equipment.  Of course nobody has a 100% crystal ball.

    Thanks also for giving me credit for trying to make an honest effort to hopefully help make it .... so our sometimes (not always) wonderful USA government & the Federal Reserve does better with the dollar coins.

    ------------------------------
    Michael Walsh www.kingkoin.com
    Store Owner/ Employee
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
    ------------------------------

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  • 16.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 8 days ago
    I am surprised to see I am not the only one trying to replace the mechanic timer.

    I have about 53 Wascomat Gen 5 along with about 38 gen 7s in my mat. I am planning to replace some of them with gen 7s and "modernize" the rest with customized board with a small OLED display.

    I understand new machine are more efficient than the gen 5s. I also see customers choose old machine cuz they look bigger...

    I dont think the high G washer will save owner's money. It will cost customer less money though.

    My question is how much I waste on water and electricity if I keep gen 5s.

    BTW, I do have experience programming Arduino and other chips. So, it wont cost me too much to make this modification.

    ------------------------------
    Michael Lam
    n/a
    Houston TX
    ------------------------------

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  • 17.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 7 days ago
    Edited by MICHAEL WALSH 7 days ago
    Michael & others not too faint of heart,

    I hope your project goes well.  As long as you do not compromise safety ... from my perspective your efforts can be worthwhile & better for our industry in the long term.

    Quoting your "as is" statement-question:  "I dont think the high G washer will save owner's money. It will cost customer less money though.  My question is how much I waste on water and electricity if I keep gen 5s."

    My answer to your above quotes is that since transmissions were done away with on most front load washing machines ... I do not see based on amp meter readings much savings ... if any ... with the VFD-Inverters vs the Elmo Motors with 2 speed separate windings motors.  The first statement is related to the VFDs also since a VFD is required for the ramp up for the higher G force.  By leaving the water levels the same you are making each tumble more effective.  By not having a way for the customer to higher extract for their heavier items you are giving less in terms of them needing longer dry times for some items.

    In our case we resurrected & made two 35 lbs & one 60 lbs extractor that has 902 & 1092 G-force respectively.  We have no plans of lower the water levels but we are addressing the choice of fills ... similar to Larry Adamski's multi level pricing approach.  We are banking on the customers seeing the value of simplified dollar coin vs quarters only & them noticing the better quality of their wash per time the washer runs.  Also we give them an option for them to shorten up their drying time on our self cleaning single pocket dryers.  Ideally ... IMHO ... separate more effective extractors will be an alternative for operators like when they were going gang busters back in the early 1990s.  They got a deserved bad rap because of safety issues & lack of inverters & resister bank braking.  All of which we addressed for our in-house revised other than mostly just their powder coated shells, lid, & OEM inverter motor.  The motor needs to be new but any off the shelf brand new VFD can be used.  Hopefully, you will be able to buy the brand new heavy duty inverter motor for less than the $1200 retail???  Properly Programmed safety certified components brand new are also needed if anybody else chooses to go that route.  Vibration proof terminals like we used are also wise IMHO.

    I sounds like you will be modifying your front washing machines plates anyway so while you are at it you may as well make it more adaptable to a wider range for at least six different coins including dollar coins & quarters COIN MECHS.  A word of advice: Make sure you use noise cancelling low voltage power supplies & industrial duty Arduinos ... similar to the Rugged Circuits Versions.  Extra solid terminal connections are also key in the long term!


    ------------------------------
    MICHAEL WALSH www.kingkoin.com
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
    ------------------------------

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  • 18.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 7 days ago
    Guys,

    Note:  Free dry laundromat operators can ignore the following.

    Pay dry operators have the power to set dryer pricing.  If most of our washers extract at 140+ g; customer required dry time is markedly reduced.   This does not mean we need to accept a reduction in dryer sales though.  Raise your dryer prices by charging more per minute to maintain dryer sales in the correct proportion to washer sales.  For example, my 35 lb. Huebsch dryers are now priced at 14 minutes per dollar coin.  This equates to 3.5 minutes per quarter or 7 cents per running minute.  A load may cost 2 - 3 dollars to dry depending on whether the dryer is overloaded or not.


    ------------------------------
    Larry Adamski
    Muskegon Laundromat
    Muskegon, Michigan
    ------------------------------

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  • 19.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 7 days ago
    Michael,
    Have you or somebody you know already started this project?

    I am electrical engineer but I am not trying to put vfd on the motor. I dont see it financially make sense.

    I have been debating on the two options
         1) replacing all my 53 gen 5 washers
          2) only replacing 15 of those and keeping other 38 washers run another couple of years.

    I have heard new generation washers save water. But I dont see my Gen 7 machines have weight capability and fill different water level. They always give same amount of water.

    If gen 7 machines wont reduce my water bill, I guess refurbishing those gen 5s will worth my time.

    My goal is to get rid of the mechanic timer, add a OLED display and add some error code. Coin audit feature is just a plus.

    ------------------------------
    Michael Lam
    n/a
    Houston TX
    ------------------------------

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  • 20.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 6 days ago
    Michael,

    It sounds like you more capable than me when it comes to the programming on the firmware level.  My knowledge would be limited to the Wascomat Gen4s which is the one just before your  Wascomat Gen5s.  Our project is now beyond the testing stage.

    It sounds like you are going the route that an electrical control engineer helper suggested ... that is not to rely on the mechanical timer at all.  The Gen4s mechanical timers with their space age like inner plastic cams had proven themselves to be so trouble free that we worked with just timing fast forwards & just simply changing out the 20,1 backlit LCD alphanumerics based on stage of cycle.  I am not familiar with OLEDs either but they at first glance they seem more spendy than the 20 x 4 LCDs. The existing Gen4 dial shows the customer the stage of wash ... not sure on Gen5?

    Hopefully, you will let us know of your progress.  I would not get hung up on the lack of ability to change water levels or the weight sensor.  IMHO ... eventually customers will believe you when you tell them that your water levels are more optimized than HE machines.

    If you have diaphragm water level switches ... I am pretty sure you can reliably set lower water levels with careful adjusting of the screws along with using a Dwyer Magnehelic water column gauge for the following switches.  I personally played with that but after thinking about the basic premise further & I honestly believe that lowering the water levels is less effective for the end customers on both the wash & the rinse cycles.  Much more water cost & "run time" savings is a better path & more honestly achieved with Larry A's E-Cycle approach it seems.

    ------------------------------
    MICHAEL WALSH www.kingkoin.com
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
    ------------------------------

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  • 21.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 4 days ago
    What's the "Larry A's E-Cycle approach " here.

    ------------------------------
    Michael Lam
    n/a
    Houston TX
    ------------------------------

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  • 22.  RE: Wascomat Gen 4 / 5 Arduino Controller

    Posted 4 days ago
    Michael,

    Larry A has explained it many times ... a search may help.  My version is just let the customer know upfront that their cost is related to the choice of the number of baths & to keep the water levels the most effective as possible.

    ------------------------------
    MICHAEL WALSH www.kingkoin.com
    King Koin Laundry, Car n Dog Wash
    Bismarck ND
    ------------------------------

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