Arduino powered glow plug controller

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Dec 14, 2021
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Kelowna, BC, Canada
So my super glow plug system has rusted away to the point of not working, I've been using a ford starter relay and a push button for the past year, but it's annoying explaining how to start my truck to everyone, so I've thought up a way to make my own using an arduino uno board, a relay board, and a 12v to 5v adapter.

Features:
  • 3 Way toggle switch to set Auto/OFF/Manual(or like a winter mode maybe that adds another cycle. Still in planning stages)
  • Arduino powers the dash light so I can make it blink and such (give ideas)
  • warning buzzer for when it's really cold out to tell you to definitely wait
  • make use of the massive resistor in the intake for dropping the voltage to 6v
It will simply read off the temperature probe in the block and time according off that. If its warm enough to not need glow I'll have the buzzer beep twice or so to tell you its good to go.
If the engine is cold then ill have the dash light and buzzer on just like stock until its ready.

Any other features I need? I mean I have so many possibilities lol.

Here's the start of the schematics
Annotation 2022-08-16 223915.jpg
IMG_6328.JPG

I will be building a little enclosure for the boards and probably mounting them safely behind the glovebox. Anyways, still in the planning staged, input is welcome. Now I just have to teach myself arduino IDE all over again:skull:
 
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Utah
I love the idea, and would love a good quality glow timer. I currently removed the Superglow from my HJ and ran 12v plugs and a universal glow timer off eBay. The real question is how to protect the 6v glow plugs from overheating. Toyota had a very unique way of protecting the overcurrent of the plugs which allowed them to be very reliable, in fact the way they ran dual glow relays where one could be redundant incase of a single failure was awesome. I know my 2H will not start without some heat. The reason I removed mine was the lack of glow time during winter in Utah, it just didn't glow long enough. I think it was a Toyota logic issue with the timer, but who really knows. Anyway, Thanks for taking the time to work this.

Scott

Here is the glow timer I am currently running...

Here is the glow timer I'd like to move to...
 
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Leduc County, AB
A couple comments:
- is it possible to have a head temperature sensor and an adjustable gain or lookup table to set the glow time?
- If the glow plugs use 6V you should use a voltage converter to reduce losses. Plus that resister will need a lot of passive cooling to shed that much power.
- love to see the code and list of materials when you've got it perfected (assuming you don't plan to commercialize)
 
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Joined
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A couple comments:
- is it possible to have a head temperature sensor and an adjustable gain or lookup table to set the glow time?
- If the glow plugs use 6V you should use a voltage converter to reduce losses. Plus that resister will need a lot of passive cooling to shed that much power.
- love to see the code and list of materials when you've got it perfected (assuming you don't plan to commercialize)
1) Yes I plan on reading the ohms off the head water sensor and it’ll just go off a table of times.
2) I'm not sure how I'm going to run the 6 volt system yet, I need to find the wiring schematic for the superglow system that way I can 'reverse engineer' it. I may also just get 12 volt plugs.
3) I don't plan on commercializing it, however once it's perfected I'll be uploading the Arduino code. As of now, I just have;

  • Arduino Uno board
  • Relay board for Arduino (2 relays)
  • the stock temperature probe
  • a buzzer
I was also thinking of adding an afterglow option, for that I'll tap into the oil pressure switch to tell when the engine is running as I know some diesels don't have a tach. I will incorporate a few options for switches to have different settings like afterglow, extra glow, manual glow, ect.
 
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OREGON
Looks good, although I would imagine you'd need 2 heavy relays to run the 12/6v switcheroo. I would use that 2 relay controller to fire the glow plug relays and wire the dash light to the output of the relay or a 3rd relay for the dash light.
 
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Looks good, although I would imagine you'd need 2 heavy relays to run the 12/6v switcheroo. I would use that 2 relay controller to fire the glow plug relays and wire the dash light to the output of the relay or a 3rd relay for the dash light.
yes the 1st arduino relay will simply power the main glow plug relay, the second relay will just allow the dash bulb to ground -therefore turning on-
 
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Make sure to put some protection circuitry on the ADC input that connects to the temp sensor.

Also be sure that the power supply for the arduino is automotive rated, i.e. can handle reverse voltage (in case of battery hookup boo boo) and also able to handle at least 40V (preferably 60V) load dumps.

cheers,
george.
 
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Codes getting there, I'm only going to be glowing for 15 seconds, then a 2 second delay that way I don't burn out the plugs. How long do you guys glow for temperatures below freezing? I was thinking 45 seconds for -15C and below.
Screenshot 2022-08-18 161312.png
 
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Make sure to put some protection circuitry on the ADC input that connects to the temp sensor.

Also be sure that the power supply for the arduino is automotive rated, i.e. can handle reverse voltage (in case of battery hookup boo boo) and also able to handle at least 40V (preferably 60V) load dumps.

cheers,
george.
yeah for the power supply I've simply ordered a 12v to USB wire that I will be connecting to the ignition fuse, it will simply power on with the key, run once, then nothing until the key goes on again. As for the relay, it is just powering the ford starter relay I've been using to run the plugs, I think it should be good.
 
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The starter relay is also controlled via a ground switch, so I will leave the manual switch in just in case I need it.
 
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Be careful with the glow solenoid drive and connections. There are very large currents going into the solenoid coil that can back EMF large spikes to the relay board that can work their way into the drive transistor that controls the smaller relay. Ground connections are critical to ensure spikes don't get in and blow stuff.

I built a custom glow timer for my patrol (that I had converted to 12V from original 24V). I learned the hard way that there's some nasty stuff that happens when switching the glow solenoid (6 glow plugs).

I ended up with quite a bit of protection circuitry on inputs and the relay drive to prevent component failures.

I'll post up the schematics of what I ended up with.

cheers,
george.
 
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Here's a pic of my glow timer for an mq patrol. It was designed to replace the electronics (form factor, pinout equivalent) inside the OEM glow timer 'box'.

Looks a little 'wet', but that's just silicone based conformal coating I applied since the box lives in the engine bay.

Schematics attached to get an idea of the protection circuitry that was added around the digital stuff. It has it's own automotive grade regulator

The patrol uses nominal 10V glow plugs, no superglow stuff. The glow time is coolant temperature dependent and runs from about 40sec (for freezing) to 2sec (for warm/hot). The patrol can have the glow time extended manually, but just holding the ignition key beyond the on position, but not yet to the start/crank position so you can always 'add' a bit more time if you feel it needs more than the coolant temp based time.

The patrol terminates glow when the alternator sends the 'good' signal, i.e. 12V appears on the L that turns off the ALT warning bulb since the engine has clearly started at that time.

cheers,
george.

glow_v2.jpg
 

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Joined
Dec 14, 2021
Messages
170
Location
Kelowna, BC, Canada
Here's a pic of my glow timer for an mq patrol. It was designed to replace the electronics (form factor, pinout equivalent) inside the OEM glow timer 'box'.

Looks a little 'wet', but that's just silicone based conformal coating I applied since the box lives in the engine bay.

Schematics attached to get an idea of the protection circuitry that was added around the digital stuff. It has it's own automotive grade regulator

The patrol uses nominal 10V glow plugs, no superglow stuff. The glow time is coolant temperature dependent and runs from about 40sec (for freezing) to 2sec (for warm/hot). The patrol can have the glow time extended manually, but just holding the ignition key beyond the on position, but not yet to the start/crank position so you can always 'add' a bit more time if you feel it needs more than the coolant temp based time.

The patrol terminates glow when the alternator sends the 'good' signal, i.e. 12V appears on the L that turns off the ALT warning bulb since the engine has clearly started at that time.

cheers,
george.

View attachment 3090615
Holy crap how did you do that? I'm only using an arduino because it's the only board I know how to program, would love to make something simple like this.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Kelowna, BC, Canada
Here's a pic of my glow timer for an mq patrol. It was designed to replace the electronics (form factor, pinout equivalent) inside the OEM glow timer 'box'.

Looks a little 'wet', but that's just silicone based conformal coating I applied since the box lives in the engine bay.

Schematics attached to get an idea of the protection circuitry that was added around the digital stuff. It has it's own automotive grade regulator

The patrol uses nominal 10V glow plugs, no superglow stuff. The glow time is coolant temperature dependent and runs from about 40sec (for freezing) to 2sec (for warm/hot). The patrol can have the glow time extended manually, but just holding the ignition key beyond the on position, but not yet to the start/crank position so you can always 'add' a bit more time if you feel it needs more than the coolant temp based time.

The patrol terminates glow when the alternator sends the 'good' signal, i.e. 12V appears on the L that turns off the ALT warning bulb since the engine has clearly started at that time.

cheers,
george.

View attachment 3090615
I just did a quick search, can you really program that little chip in arduino IDE? How does it handle 12 volts? Hell I had no idea you could do that, I might just make my own circuit board too!
 
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Being an EE, designing stuff like this is a non-issue. I have all the tools for schematics, PCB layout, programming, test, blah blah :)

12V is handled by an automotive rated regulator (the little bit of stuff at the top of the schematic) that creates 5V for the uC circuitry.

I don't use the arduino stuff - it's great for beginners, but adds a whole layer of overhead and of course locks you into their ecosystem. That is fine for the occasional project and allows folk to build up neat things without having to turn something into a full blown project.

I code in C using Atmel/Microchip tools and their IDE. A lot more control of course and a much leaner solution. I'm not starting from scratch since I have plenty of boilerplate code from other projects to 'borrow' from.

My whole glow firmware is about 600 bytes of code and less than 300 lines of C code (including a lot of comments and blank lines), but then I've been programming low level firmware for a few decades. A '328 could be used, but a tiny24 has more than sufficient capability for such a project - though of course not with the arduino ide.

Anyhow, my real point here is to ensure you have suitable protection circuitry to handle voltage spikes to the uC core, the ADC input and the relay drive that deals with the honking big glow solenoid. It's not like it'll strand you if something fails in your glow controller, but it will be frustrating :)

Not sure if there are arduino 'shields' out there that have more industrial power and in/out protection.

cheers,
george.
 
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Being an EE, designing stuff like this is a non-issue. I have all the tools for schematics, PCB layout, programming, test, blah blah :)

12V is handled by an automotive rated regulator (the little bit of stuff at the top of the schematic) that creates 5V for the uC circuitry.

I don't use the arduino stuff - it's great for beginners, but adds a whole layer of overhead and of course locks you into their ecosystem. That is fine for the occasional project and allows folk to build up neat things without having to turn something into a full blown project.

I code in C using Atmel/Microchip tools and their IDE. A lot more control of course and a much leaner solution. I'm not starting from scratch since I have plenty of boilerplate code from other projects to 'borrow' from.

My whole glow firmware is about 600 bytes of code and less than 300 lines of C code (including a lot of comments and blank lines), but then I've been programming low level firmware for a few decades. A '328 could be used, but a tiny24 has more than sufficient capability for such a project - though of course not with the arduino ide.

Anyhow, my real point here is to ensure you have suitable protection circuitry to handle voltage spikes to the uC core, the ADC input and the relay drive that deals with the honking big glow solenoid. It's not like it'll strand you if something fails in your glow controller, but it will be frustrating :)

Not sure if there are arduino 'shields' out there that have more industrial power and in/out protection.

cheers,
george.
Okay sweet. I might stick with the 328 just because I’m more familiar with arduino, I’ll definitely look into some voltage protection, I will still just be running those little relays to power he main relay. How does the board handle the 12 volts in from the alternator light?
 
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R3/R2 divide the alternator L voltage by about 3, so 14V to approx 4.6V (the uC runs at 5V nominal). C4 helps to smooth/reduce any glitches and D2 clamps any spikes (above 5V or below GND) that may be on the L signal after going throught the R3/R2 divider. The circuitry also protects against any static issues (ESD).

cheers,
george.
 
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Update time.
the chip came in the mail. I went out and purchased a small breadboard for it. I will be doing a simple voltage divider calculation to get the data out of the water temp probe. I know it's most accurate when the resistant's are similar to each other so I will be using a 20 ohm resister.
IMG_6479.JPG

Annotation 2022-08-24 192952.jpg

pin 23 is the analog 0 pin and will get between 2 to 0.2 volts depending on the water temperature. From there it was a simple else if statement for timings
Annotation 2022-08-24 192606.jpg

Anything below -20C will get a minute of glow, in 15 second intervals with a 2 second delay for the plugs to cool slightly.
-20 to -10C will get 45 seconds.
-10 to -5C will get 30 seconds.
-5 to 0C will get 20 seconds.
0 to 10C will get 15 seconds
10 to 18C will get 10 seconds
18 to 24C will get 7 seconds
24 to 30C will get 3 seconds
30 to 70C will get just a second

As for the afterglow, It will have a toggle switch on the dash for, and will only come on at 10C and below. I haven't quite figured out the timings for that yet. As for the voltage input, I've purchased an automotive 12 volt to USB adapter, I'll just cut the USB connector off and use the wires directly.
 

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