Wine Fridge Temperature Controller – V2

In a previous post, I described how I replaced the highly-proprietary power supply on min wine refrigerator with an off-the-shelf supply and a Monster Moto shield to drive the fans and termoelectric peltier heat sinks based on the PWM (pulse-width modulated) signal from the controller head unit.

Recently,  I noticed the actually temperature was no longer tracking to the set temperature. Then, a couple months after that the supply completely died again. I guess the temp being off was a symptom of it dying. In any case, it was time to look at replacing it again. Last time, I was never completely happy with the klugey way I massaged the PWM signal to drive the cooling components – it never really got to where the PWM duty cycle was ON a high percentage, so it didn’t cool fast or to low temperatures. I knew what I really needed to do was put a smarter controller on the Moto shield (like a real Arduino) so that I would have full software control over the PWM driving signal. The Monstor Moto shield is intended for an Arduino in any case.

This time around, I decided to do that. This would mean effectively replacing the “head unit” too, since it had a small embedded processor that was responsible for taking input from the temp up/down buttons, the temp sensor (an NTC thermistor, I believe), driving the LED temperature display, and producing the PWM signal that controlled the original power supply output power. Rather than try to cut up the head-unit circuit board, re-route the buttons to the Arduino, and figure out how to drive the 2 8-segment LED temp display, which would require additional circuitry or some kind of display driver board, I decided to use an ESP8266 board with an OLED display in the front-end. This had the added advantages of giving me full software control over cooler operation and making it  very easy to WiFi-enable my fridge 🙂

I bought a different, higher amperage, power supply to cannibalize – I figure that will help keep it from burning out. It also has an integrated fan, which I’ll drive off the same PWM-moderated output voltage.

12V 15A AC to DC Power Supply

12V 15A AC to DC Power Supply

This is a link to what I bought – Home Usage AC-DC 12V 15A 180W Adapter Converter with Car Cigarette Lighter Socket. In case the link dies, it looks like this:

Turns out the fan was quite loud, so I also bought an “ultra quite” 12V 50mmx50mm fan off of eBay.

I found an ESP8266 board which had an on-board 32×90 pixel OLED display: The Heltec “WiFi Kit 8”

I added an Arduino, which actually drives the Moto Shield now. It also reads the temperature sensor. Based on the temperature reading, it adjusts the PWM duty cycle to be more or less aggressive about cooling, based on the difference between the “target” temperature and the measured “current” temperature.

Determining the temperature wound up being more complicated than I hoped. At first, I tried a little Arduino routine I found on the Arduino Playground for deriving temperature from an Thermistor connected to an Analog Input pin, but it was giving me values that were way out of whack…not sure why. I probably could have integrated a digital temp sensor, like the DHT11 or TMP102’s that I’ve used before, but I wanted to use the existing wiring that goes between the internal “head unit”, penetrates the enclosure, and ends where the power control circuitry is, which limits how many conductors I can use.

The internal temp sensor already had the wiring in place, and was nicely positioned in the air-stream of one of the internal fans. I wound up putting a TMP102-based ESP8266-connected sensor I use to monitor my bedroom temperature (for home automation purposes) inside the fridge, and wired the temp sensor to the Arduino A0 pin using the circuit from the Arduino Playground page. I then wrote a test sketch that drove the Moto shield and cooling hardware at constant duty cycles and logged the analog reading of the sensor connected to the serial port. I was then able to create a graph in Excel that correlated actual temperature to Analog reading:Capture

As you can see, this produced a very predictable and linear trend line. From that I was able to write a very simple routine derived from the the starting point of a reading on 830 (60°) and the slope of the line – see my Thermistor() function in WineCoolerDriver.ino. I also average multiple analog readings together before calling the function function, since the analog inputs can be a bit “noisy”. I also average ten temperature readings over time and base the PWM duty cycle on this moving average to reduce “jitter” in the “current” temperature and the duty cycle driving the cooling hardware.

I use the ESP8266 board to display the current temp and target “set_point” temperature. It also provides a WiFi interface for setting the target temp and ready the current temp values. I connected the ESP8266 to the Arduino over two of the available conductors over a “serial2” port using the SoftwareSerial library (leaving the Serial port on both boards available for debugging and  diagnostics). The ESP8266 periodically sends a one-byte target temperature setting to the Arduino, and the Arduino periodically sends the current temp to the ESP8266 for update of the display.

Here’s a Fritzing diagram of the Arduino, Moto, ESP8266 and sensor. See the last post which shows connections to fan/peltier assemblies.Fritzing

I actually added a couple of buttons (not depicted) (GPIO13 & 14) on the ESP for direct temp control.

Here’s the Moto Shield and Arduino assembly: IMG_20180204_100325742

Note that I stuck some stick-on heat sinks on either side of the VNH2SP30 chips,a s they seemed to get pretty hot under full load. That necessitated adding some extra risers between the shield and Arduino for clearance.

Here’s the Assembled “front-end”: IMG_20180209_080934852.jpg

I expanded the little window to accommodate the wider OLED and just cut a hole for the LED push-on/push-off button.


I also glued a couple of push-buttons in place behind the temperature up/down blisters (they are embedded in the white glue) and I used some Polymorph thermoplastic to form a sort of “bracket” that holds the board in place without being permanently attached. I highly recommend checking out thermoplastic – it is super versatile. You just heat it in boiling (well, not even boiling…) water. It softens at 150 degrees, at which point it’s like putty, then it hardens to normal plastic hardness when it cools.

Here it is fully operational:IMG_20180211_121133237





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