Delica WVO Liftoff!

After weeks of work it was pretty anticlimactic … no flames, no loud woosh, no G-force.

On the way into Kamloops this morning (after the engine had warmed up) I flipped the switch labelled WVO (waste vegetable oil) on the dashboard to ‘Oil’ and … nothing happened.  I kept driving down the highway but Sandra and I kept glancing at one another.  Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, “Do you think its working?”  … Sandra’s reply, “Don’t know”.  It was all I could do not to pull it off the road after 15 kilometres, pop the hood and check to see if the WVO valves were on.

I didn’t pull over … we were running late.  Darfield and Little Fort (we live in Darfield) had a sixteen hour power outage starting yesterday at 3:00 pm (heavy winds … trees on the power lines).  We spent yesterday evening cold and dark, and got up at 3:30 am this morning to rescue Stephen’s fish.  He has already lost a couple of fish and was very worried that the tank would get too cold.  By early morning it was very cold in the house so we did what we could to keep the tank warm.  I am somewhat embarrassed to say that we ended up moving the tank into the car and running it to save the fish … the fish are alive but I do not know what this says about environmental concerns in the face of adversity!  Regardless, I was not going to tell an agitated twelve year old boy to suck it up … life happens.  Of more concern, had it been a little colder outside it would have been more than the fish bailing in favour of fossil fuelled warmth.  Our pipes would have frozen and we would have been in a bit of trouble.  Makes finishing the earthsip in the new year that much more attractive!  It was a bit of a rush this morning when the power came back on to re-prime the water pump and cleanup.  Like I said, we were running late …

The good news is that the diesel gauge did not quiver or drop on our drive in this morning.  So, unless we’ve discovered cold fusion I think the WVO system is working.  We did not notice a significant difference in performance when on WVO; acceleration seemed fine and the engine was steady.  We also drove back on WVO so our total distance on WVO so far is about 180 kilometres.

I really do hope to document the conversion in more detail … hopefully over the next couple of weeks.

I am now thinking about an ECU (electronic control unit) for the WVO system. Initially, I will use it to control/monitor the WVO system (WVO fuel level, valve controls, temperature and pressure).

I am currently using a 3 position toggle to control the valves and in-line heater manually. I have installed a fuel sender in the tank but it is not yet hooked up to anything.

My intention is to use an Arduino controller as the ECU … thinking of hooking it up to an iPod or Android cellphone and use the phone’s touch screen as the display and interface. I’ve also thought about interfacing to the OBD-II plug of the van but not sure how useful this information might be.

Regardless, my initial thoughts for an ECU are summed up in the attached diagram.  It is pretty rough; I have not confirmed parts and I have only shown one switched control output and the analog input to read the fuel sending unit.  But it is a start.  I have also hooked up the fuel sending unit to the Arduino and tested that portion of the circuit … it works. I am not sure how far I will get on this before we start our road trip … there is a lot to do.


I’ve now managed to use the words earthship, Arduino and WVO ALL in the same post … life is good!

My first project: talking to a Bluetooth Enabled Arduino Uno

In my last post I described setting up a development environment for working with the Arduino Uno micro controller.

This post describes my first project; getting an Arduino connected to a bluetooth modem to talk to my Android based cell phone.  the parts I used for this project include:

  • 1 x Arduino Uno,
  • 1 x Sparkfun Electronics Bluetooth Mate Silver modem board,
  • 1 x 40 pin connecter,
  • 2 x 220 ohm resistors,
  • 2 x 5mm LED’s (green, yellow),
  • 1 x breadboard,
  • wire connectors,
  • 9 volt DC telephone wall transformer re-wired so that positive voltage is in centre of jack.

The following is an image (done with the Fritzing software package) of my breadboard layout for this project.

My first step was to solder a 6 pin connector (trimmed from the 40 pin connector) to the modem board.  I used a straight pin connector, but it would make more sense to use a 90 degree connector I think.

After the connector was soldered to the modem board I laid out the circuit shown above.

My sketch (the code I used to control the Arduino is included.  Click on this link (boardtest).

I tested the board layout and the code by initially leaving the Rx Tx lines to the modem board disconnected.  I was then able to use the Arduino Serial Monitor to emulate sending and receiving data between the Uno and the modem.  Remember to reset the Serial Monitor to communicate at the same baud rate as is set in the setup() function of the sketch (Serial.begin(115200);).  Otherwise you will just see gibberish on the communication link.

The Sparkfun Electronics modem communicates at 115200 by default.  Unless you change this speed you must match it (as is done in the setup() function).  I struggled with this problem for a long time until I figured it out; the modems were paired and connected, but only gibberish was communicated between the two boards.

After the board was laid out and the sketch was uploaded and tested via the Arduino serial monitor I connected the Tx Rx lines to the modem and connected the Arduino to the external power supply.  I then performed the following steps:

  1. On my cell phone I paired to the Arduino Modem board (passcode 1234),
  2. On my cell phone I launched the btterm application and connected to the modem board. (If this is successful the led on the modem board will go from blinking red to solid green),
  3. I then used the btterm application to send text to the modem and watched the LED’s change from low to high depending on what was pressed.

Eventually it all worked!  The hardest part of this project was getting the modems communicating to each other.

Some references I found on the internet:





A Micro Controller Parts List and Development Environment

In order to get started with my goal of experimenting with a controller I figured I needed a basic kit of parts.

I was hesitant to purchase an off-the-shelf beginner’s kit of parts as I am leery of the cost of these kits relative to what you actually get.  So, I did some research on the internet and this is the list of items that I bought:

  • 1 x Arduino Uno (open source micro controller),
  • 1 x Arduino Uno Protoshield,
  • 1 x Bluetooth Mate Silver bluetooth modem board (Sparkfun Electronics),
  • 1 x USB cable to hook Uno up to my computer for programming,
  • 1 x soldering iron + stand (110v, 40 Watt),
  • 1 x breadboard (830 terminals),
  • 1 x 50′ roll AWG22 wire,
  • 10 x each of 1/4 watt resistors (2.2k, 330k, 220, 10k),
  • 4 x BC547 NPN transistors,
  • 5 x 2n2222 NPN transistors,
  • 5 x 2n3906 PNP transistors,
  • 2 x 1×40 header,
  • 1 x LM317 DC Regulator,
  • 1 x photo resistor,
  • 1 x 4N35 optocoupler.
  • 1 x LM335Z temperature sensor,
  • 1 x tactile switch,
  • 4 x 1K potentiometers,
  • 4 x 10K potentiometers,
  • 15 x 5mm LED’s (red, yellow, green),
  • 1 x 3v buzzer,
  • 1 x 8 ohm speaker,
  • 5 x each of capacitors (100 uF, .01 uF, .1 uF),

I spent approximately $160.00 on my list of parts.  The most expensive items were the modem board and the Uno.  There are less expensive modem boards, but this board seemed well-documented and used on the internet.  I wanted to start with something that was known.  Things I should have added to my list but I already had include:

  • 1x spool of solder
  • 1x wire strippers
  • 1x external power supply for the Arduino Uno (I am using a 9 volt wall transformer that powered our old phone.  I had to reverse the wires to the jack so that it was positive in the centre, as opposed to the outer rim, of the jack.)
  • 1x volt meter

For a development environment I am using open source packages that are freely available on the internet.  My list includes,

I simply followed the installation instructions for all of these packages to set them up on my computer.