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PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:59 am 
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Location: Visalia, CA
So I bit the bullet and decided to get set up with a silicone heat blanket and a temperature controller.
Prices to purchase this equipment can be pretty high, so I looked for alternatives. I decided to build my own control unit, and ordered a blanket on Ebay.
I figure I'm saving at least half the $$. Here is a picture of my heat control box. It works great.
The blanket is still coming, it is a 6" x 36" 800 watt blanket. My attempts to bend a cutaway with my light bulb heat was not successful, and this should make that more possible, and it is a step up to the modern world of bending, right? Looking foward to using the new set up with my Fox style bender which is also home made.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:00 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2014 7:52 pm
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Location: Saint Paul, MN
Nice Kevin. I use both the light bulbs from the inside and a heat blanket on the outside.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:55 am 
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Location: Visalia, CA
John as I've heard some others do too. I will be trying bending with both, and with blanket of only and I can compare to light bulbs only as that's what I've been doing. Should be fun.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:57 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
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Location: Hegins, Pa
you will find the blanket the way to go.
On top of that you have different techniques you can use
wet paper blanket on top of slat, under slat
I had one of these and I went back to my thermometer so I know how hot I am at the point of bending. The termocouple will tell you how hot you are at that point but you may be surprised at the temp differences along the blanket.
Wood is stupid get it hot it bends but I agree you have very finite control
nice indeed.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:57 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:49 pm
Posts: 143
Curious about the controller module...price, availability, utility. I'd love to learn more. I'm very close to needing a heat blanket for the bender I'm building, and I've noticed blankets and basic temperature controls sold as a package.

Thanks very much.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:21 pm 
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Location: Visalia, CA
Peter, more than happy to share what I've learned doing this.
When I started, all I knew about heat controllers and heat blankets was that you could spend about $400 to get set up with this equipment if purchased from a major guitar making supply house.
I was not willing to do that. And I enjoy making my own jigs, fixtures, tools etc. anyway. So I made the decision to find a less costly way.
I got some help on another forum with some pictures and a schematic which helped quite a bit too, and there is a lot of information of course on the internet and youtube to help you along.

What I discovered is that the blankets can be purchased on the bay for half, if you are willing to wait for shipment from China, and trust the supplier. How do you do that? Well, you have to go on their feedback and how long they've been successfully selling there. I know, I have sold there since almost the beginning and have about 8000 feedbacks if you count repeat customers. The reputation means the most. That, the blanket I ordered is a Keenov 6" x 36" 800 watt, and negotiated with them to wire a plug on the end, for just under $90 shipped, and no tax of course. You won't beat that anywhere else.

I also have found that the heat controller unit is really not very complicated, and depending on what parts need you may have on hand, how elaborate you want it to be, and where you purchase the rest of the supplies can vary quite a bit in what your overall cost will end up to be. I figure I spent about $65 in parts to make mine, that is way less than half if you purchase one already built and your homemade unit will do the same thing.

So, what do you need to build your controller?

1. A box to hold it all. I made mine from 1/4" MDF that I already had. Is a wood box safe? You can decide that for yourself. Some will say you need plastic or metal. That might ultimately be better but I think I will be fine. I will not leave the unattended when it is on. You can purchase project boxes that are plastic or metal in a size that will suit your needs. Big box hardware stores may have what you need, there are some on the bay, and on Amazon, which in my opinion is always a good source.

2. You need the main ingredient....the PID Controller. Here is where you can save a lot of $$ if you go with a China made unit. On Ebay or Amazon you will find two basic controllers for sale, one that is called a Berme RXC100, or a MYPIN TA4 or TA6 (what I got). The both do basically the same thing. You will see prices vary quite a bit and the cheapest ones are shipping from China. There are a few sellers in the US that have these, you pay might pay a bit more but if there is a problem, probably easier to deal with that, so in my opinion probably worth paying a little more.

3. You need a solid state relay. These are not expensive, and in many cases you can purchase the PID controller, the SSR and get a thermocouple as a package deal. I bought mine on Amazon and got the MYPIN TA6, a 25amp SSR and a thermocouple shipped for $32. That is a good deal. On Ebay you can get the RXC100 as a package for under $20 shipped in some cases. So you have some choices. There is another one called Auber that is probably China made also, but has a good reputation in the beer making community, and they are around $75. Then there are USA made units you can pay $200 or $300 for.

4. A heat sink is recommended for the SSR, and again you might find one as part of a package deal, but alone they will cost you around $8 shipped.

5. You need a way to bring power in and power out. My power in is a power receptacle I pulled from a PC power supply, so it was free. You can purchase these. Another option is to cut the end off an extension cord and have that hard wired in, hanging out the back.

6. For power out you can do the cord thing, or get a panel mount receptacle. I also had this on hand.

7. You will need at least one power switch. You can also get this from a PC power supply, but I had ordered mine and I did want lighted switches, just because I could! These are not expensive, about $7 at the hardware store. Online I got 5 for under that amount shipped.

8. You should have a fuse between the power in and the switch. Some guys buy panel mounted fuse holders, I got an inline holder at HD for $3 and it came with a 20amp fuse. I put a 10amp fuse in it, and it is wired inside the box. My box comes apart with screws, so if I ever have to change it, no big deal.

9. You need a thermocouple, and if you want to be able to plug it in and out, then you need a panel mounted socket. The "K" type thermocouple is what you want. If you get a package deal with the controller, ssr and thermocouple, you will already have one you can use, but it comes with connectors on the leads, which can be directly connected to the controller, or you can buy a plug and attach that if you plan to put in a female socket.

10. You need some wire, 16, 18, and 20 gauge is all you need. You can get the 20, and maybe the 18 off that power supply. The 16 gauge you can strip out off an old house hold cord. I think stranded is best. You should also have some connectors. You can get a set that will do what you need for $4 at Harbor Freight.

One it is all together, the controller needs a little bit of setup, but it really is not difficult and you can find info on the net if you can't figure it out from the chinese english instruction sheet.

I used a schematic from another builder that he drew up for his box. He only had the one main power switch. If you have done some wiring of switches, etc. you probably won't even need one.

So that is what you need to put one of these together. What I found is that you probably won't be able to order everything from one supplier, so I had stuff coming in for days from various places.
It was fun to build.

My first controller, I got off an ebay seller, stated it was new, it looked "handled" when it arrived. I asked him about that when I received it, he said he never hooked it up. The terminals on the thermocouple were bent......hmmmmm. Anyway the controller worked EXCEPT it did not put out any power to the relay, so it was faulty. He did give me a refund.

So purchase from Amazon what you can, preferably Amazon fulfillment is best. Easy to return and resolve issues that way.
Good luck if you decide to go this way. You will save a lot of dough, and have probably have fun and get some fulfillment from doing it yourself.
I have yet to hook up my blanket to it because that has not arrive from China yet, but it works great and cycles a fan on and off as it would the blanket as the temperature on the thermocouple changes.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:49 pm
Posts: 143
Kevin, thanks for taking the time to answer my question. I think that you've given me enough to get me well on my way.

I understand the impulse to make as much of the tooling as can be made in a person's own shop. Lots of cash saved and lots of learning acquired. And the satisfaction resulting from making stuff.

A question about the controller - - - is it 'plug and play' in the sense of feed it power and a thermocouple, and it's gonna work?

Again, many thanks.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 4:56 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 8:06 pm
Posts: 2926
Location: Visalia, CA
Peter pretty much, power in, power out to a solid state relay. Power in and out of the relay to your heat blanket.
Thermocouple gives the temp input to the controller to cycle the blanket on and off.
All I had to do is change the reading from centigrade to Fahrenheit, make sure it was set to use the K type thermocouple, and it was (that is supposed to be the default), and so that you can autotune the controller, the P, I and D settings must have a value put in. On mine, from the factory, there were already values, so I didn't have to do anything there.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:46 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:09 pm
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Location: Hegins, Pa
My heat blanket and controller is not $400
Blues Creek Blanker $160 warranted for a year
contoller $35

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Blues Creek Guitars Inc
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center
Board of Directors of Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans
http://www.bluescreekguitars.com


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:15 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 8:06 pm
Posts: 2926
Location: Visalia, CA
I know John, I was not commenting on what you offer. What type of controller do you have available?


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