Fall Update 2014

      We've moved into the testing phase for Stages 1 and 2. Ruben set up the control relays for the hydraulic valves so that they could be operated manually, and that allows us to start checking for leaks and flaws in the system, and correct them as we go.

      For a quick video showing Stage 1 and 2 in action, Click Here.

      The manual controls are also allowing us to start getting the "test-bench" information that we'll need to tailor the computer control program that will actually operate the compressor when it's complete. For example, we want each stroke to go to completion in order to get the most compression out of each cycle, but we don't want to over-stress the cylinders.

      Using the manual controls, we can see that it's taking about 400 pounds of hydraulic pressure to operate the drive cylinders. Once the piston reaches the end of the stroke, the pressure in the drive cylinder jumps quickly to more than 1,000 psi.

      At 0:20 in the video, you can see the steel rail that's supporting the bellows flex downward as the pressure spikes.

      The plan is for the control computer to monitor the drive cylinder pressure, and at the end of each stroke, when the system starts to make that transition from low pressure to high, the computer will reverse the hydraulic valve and start the next compression cycle. That will both optimize the output and cut down on system stress.

      The same day we made the video above, we also made a short video describing what's going on and why we're going this route. To check that out, Click Here.

      This fall, we'll be working to hook up Stages 3 and 4, and once winter sets in, we'll turn our focus toward integrating the control computer with the compressor.