Dewpoint alarm monitor to help avoid rust issues in the workshop

A Dewpoint Monitor to protect the workshop

I have recently read a number of posts on workshop forums about rust degrading workshop assets.   When the temperature of the air reaches close to the dew point then the moisture in the air will condense on the cold surfaces in the workshop and moisture will inevitably lead to rust forming.

You can protect against this to some extent by ensuring that all exposed surfaces are coated with lubricant of some sort such as WD40 and only dry sources of heat are used in the workshop.   A better protection solution which was popularised by the clockmaker William Smith, is make a 50/50 mix of linseed oil and thinners and coat this on the objects needing protection.  This works well but does not last forever.

Looking around on the internet there are various Arduino projects to create a dewpoint monitor using the DTH11/DTH22 which are combined temperature and moisture probes.  Such devices, with a little bit of maths, can provide an alarm output if the dewpoint reaches close to the air temperature.   This could be used to turn on a heater and raise the air temperature and avoid moisture being deposited.  I opted to have the sensor remote via a cabled connection.

The dew point calculation I used is the Magnus-Tetens formula (Sonntag90).  This provides accurate results (with an uncertainty of 0.35°C) for temperatures ranging from -45°C to 60°C.

The dew point is calculated according to the following formula:

Ts = (bα(T,RH)) / (a – α(T,RH))


Ts is the dew point;
T is the temperature;
RH is the relative humidity of the air;
a and b are coefficients.

The Sonntag90 constant values are : – –

a = 17.62 and b = 243.12°C;

and this is the final formula needed : –

α(T,RH) = ln(RH/100) + aT/(b+T).

I made a prototype using an Arduino Pro Mini as the controller and I used the above equation to calculate the dewpoint from the humidity and temperature readings input to the Arduino from the DTH22 sensor.   Once the dewpoint reaches within a defined limit of the temperature, a relay is closed to allow heaters to be turned on.   This trip point also causes the LCD display flash to warn that a trip point has been reached.

The working circuit was drawn in Fusion Electrical and a printed circuit board layout was created.   Fusion’s Electrical CAM output as Gerber and Epsilon files were converted in FlatCAM to CNC GCode.  The CNC files were than posted to my Tormach PCNC440 to mill the copper traces.

I designed the PCB using through hole components to make assembly easier for my more mature eyesight.

The trigger output from the PCB can feed any 5V coil relay that is rated with contacts capable of feeding the AC voltage and current needed for the heaters.

UPDATE 18/12/2021

Due to demand I have ordered a small quantity of offshore manufactured PCBs for the Dewpoint Monitor.  If you are interested in one then send me an email as per address below.  First come first serve.

UPDATE 1/11/2022

Auto reset code added should the sensor lose connectivity,

New write up is below including the new code

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Using Seeeduino XIAO and TFT SPI ST7735 display

A New Miniature Arduino Module

I should make it clear that I am not an Arduino expert so read on at your peril or your amusement.

Myself and a colleague ‘play’ with Arduino devices.   We were impressed by the new tiny module from  Seeeduino called the XIAO.   It has just 14 pins, all of which double or triple up in their use.   See DroneBots blog for more info on the device’s capability.

seeeduino xiao miniature arduino module
The Seeeduino XIAO miniature Arduino module. The connector is a USB-C.

We had some SPI driven ST7735 displays from Adafruit which we had successfully used on conventional Arduino devices.  We wondered if we could drive them from the XIAO.   This resulted in many many hours of frustration.   The SPI bus uses 5 connections and two of these pins (SCK and MOSI) on a normal Arduino device are hardware defined ports with specific pin numbers.  These pin numbers did not match the hardware defined ports on the XIAO and it seemed as a result that it did not want to talk.

Many hours later we seem to have got a solution.   To save others having the same frustration here is the header information we ending up using that brought success.  This is followed by the connections from the XIAO to the display. 

#include <Adafruit_GFX.h> // Include core graphics library
#include <Adafruit_ST7735.h> // Include Adafruit_ST7735 library to drive the display
#include <SPI.h> //Include SPI control library

//Define pins :
static const int TFT_CS = 3;
static const int TFT_RST = 2;
static const int TFT_DC = 1;

// Create display:
Adafruit_ST7735 tft = Adafruit_ST7735(TFT_CS, TFT_DC, TFT_RST);
0    -    nc
1    -    DC  (to display pin 4)
2    -    RST (to display pin 3)
3    -    CS (to display pin 6)
4    -    nc
6    -    nc
7    -    nc
8    -    SCK (to display pin 8)
9    -    nc
10   -    MOSI (to display pin 7)
11   -    3V3 output (to display LITE (pin 10)
12   -    GND (to display pin 1)
13   -    5V output (to display power (pin 2)

I believe by using static const int the pins are locked against any further occurrences of these labels downstream in the code.   What isn’t clear is how the SPI protocol knows that the hardware pin numbers for MISO and SCK are not the usual hardware pins as per other Arduino devices.

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Adding stepper motors to a Myford VMB manual milling machine

Myford VMB Manual Mill Conversion to Stepper Motor control

After many years of winding the Z axis up and down on my Myford VMB I have finally got around to fitting motor control and it is a joy to use.   I am however suffering from muscle wastage as a result.

stepper motor control of a VMB manual milling machine
A general view of the stepper motor control conversion of a VMB manual milling machine. Only the X and Z axis are completed so far. The control box is on the wall behind the mill and has the Shumatech DRO control panel mounted on the front panel.

I have done a write up for those who might want to also enjoy a less taxing movement of X, Y or Z axis on their manual milling machine.  Click on the link below to download as a pdf.

 Fitting XYZ motor feeds to Myford VMB v4

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Activity Update – FlatCAM, Arduino and Social Distancing

While I have been quiet for the last month or so there has been some intensive work by Dave and myself on FlatCAM.   We are in the throes of doing a formal document to help others get to grips with the process and techniques for milling circuit boards.

I need to also put my hand up and admit going over to yet another dark side by experimenting with Arduino technology.  This came about as a follow on to the work on silencing my Bill Smith Gravity Arm Gearless Clock.   With the help of another colleague we have replaced the discrete timer logic board with an Arduino.  I have learned quite a bit in the process and more details will follow.

Finally like many others round the world, myself and my wife are socially distancing ourselves at the moment but every cloud has a silver lining and this does mean I am spending even more time in the workshop doing ‘stuff’.   It has also been a good time to look at the workshop and make plans to tidy, organise and structure things better.  Some of the accumulated odds and ends are getting sifted and sorted and binned as appropriate.

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