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    Steam Odyssey 2014 (4 Posts)

  • MarkS MarkS @ 7:43 AM
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    Steam Odyssey 2014

    Over the weekend I installed and commissioned the next generation EcoSteam control (dubbed "ES-50") on my Midco LNB burner. The Phidgets-based system that was installed in April 2013 managed the burner control very well last winter, but there were some issues with vendor-supplied software that required the system to be re-started about once a week. I wasn't able to achieve the reliability I'd hoped for, and late last year started looking into a different hardware platform.

    For this version, I've migrated the control logic to a TECO SG2-20VR industrial programmable logic relay, which should prove more robust than the Phidgets. Made a few modifications to the control cabinet, installed a new BAPI T10K outdoor temperature transmitter and a Dwyer Magnesense 0-5 inWC differential pressure sensor. Last year I was able to heat the house with the burner modulating to 0.5 ounce of pressure. That's 0.85 inWC on the new sensor. If the pressure setpoint gets any lower I'll have to start measuring it in pascals or millibar. :)

    Fortunately, the original control cabinet came with an extra subpanel, so I was able to mount, wire, and test all of the new hardware on the bench without disturbing the existing controls. Even so, there were 50-some wire ends to terminate once the old subpanel was removed and the new one was in place. ChrisJ stopped by for the big day and lent a hand with the wiring. Thanks Chris!

    Many of the features of last year's control made it into this one, though a few compromises were necessary. Most important, the outdoor reset strategy hasn't changed. It still uses the heat loss of the building and the heating capacity of the boiler to calculate burner on-time.

    One added feature on the new control is the ability to manually fire the burner and adjust the firing rate from the front of the control panel, which is useful for testing and maintenance activities.

    The original user interface was running on Windows XP, and since XP support ended in April I replaced the old Dell PC running XP with a low power, fanless PC from Shuttle running Windows 7. In addition to the EcoSteam software, the Shuttle also controls the Insteon lighting in the house.

    Here are some pictures of the hardware:
    Homeowner, Royersford PA | 1890 one-pipe steam system | 3009 sf | 3 floors | 14 radiators | Utica SFE5200S boiler
    Midco LNB-250 Modulating Gas Burner | EcoSteam modulating controls | 70 to 300 MBH |
    607 sf EDR connected load | Operating pressure: 0.5 oz/in2
    Four main runs (insulated) totaling 135 ft in length | All Gorton vents on mains & rads |
    A Steam Odyssey | Odyssey 2 | Odyssey 2014 | A Steam Enthusiast's Outdoor Reset Control
  • MarkS MarkS @ 7:45 AM
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    User Interface

    The TECO logic controller has a local display, and many configuration and operating functions can be done from there. But I also wanted a PC-based user interface that didn't require me to be in the basement, and data logging capability which the TECO doesn't have. Fortunately, the TECO SG2-20VR model I used supports Modbus, a common industrial protocol used to communicate between logic controllers and PC-based programs/user interfaces.

    I kept the general look-and-feel of the user interface from the previous version, and added a few wish-list items. These include real-time/historical trending of most of the analog sensor data, a dedicated trend chart for tuning the pressure controller, and a display of daily btu consumption for each cycle (preheat, heating, hot water). There are also a few "power user" features including a map of all of the data sent from and written to the TECO controller, and the ability to write directly to any coil or register in the TECO.

    The software also records system events (burner on/off, boiler cycle changes, state change of switches, etc), daily cycle history (number of times in cycle, cycle time, btu consumption per cycle), and generates a daily log file of analog sensor data. All of these historical files can be viewed in any spreadsheet program.

    Screen captures of the user interface:
    Homeowner, Royersford PA | 1890 one-pipe steam system | 3009 sf | 3 floors | 14 radiators | Utica SFE5200S boiler
    Midco LNB-250 Modulating Gas Burner | EcoSteam modulating controls | 70 to 300 MBH |
    607 sf EDR connected load | Operating pressure: 0.5 oz/in2
    Four main runs (insulated) totaling 135 ft in length | All Gorton vents on mains & rads |
    A Steam Odyssey | Odyssey 2 | Odyssey 2014 | A Steam Enthusiast's Outdoor Reset Control
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 11:29 AM
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    Looking good!

    Always glad to help when I can.

    How has the DHW been performing?
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • MarkS MarkS @ 11:49 AM
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    DHW

    DHW scheduling works just as well as the previous system. Running it off the aquastat for the moment, there's a bug I need to track down that's keeping it from working off of the Phidgets tankless coil temperature sensor.
    Homeowner, Royersford PA | 1890 one-pipe steam system | 3009 sf | 3 floors | 14 radiators | Utica SFE5200S boiler
    Midco LNB-250 Modulating Gas Burner | EcoSteam modulating controls | 70 to 300 MBH |
    607 sf EDR connected load | Operating pressure: 0.5 oz/in2
    Four main runs (insulated) totaling 135 ft in length | All Gorton vents on mains & rads |
    A Steam Odyssey | Odyssey 2 | Odyssey 2014 | A Steam Enthusiast's Outdoor Reset Control
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