New Woodshop Construction #5: Custom Collector Controller

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Blog entry by Patrick Jaromin posted 03-02-2008 06:26 AM 2730 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: A Short But Productive Weekend Part 5 of New Woodshop Construction series Part 6: Hacking the Delta 50-875 Air Cleaner »

If you read my last post you might recall how I decided to purchase an X10 “Powerflash Interface” to test out as a controller for my dust collector. My skepticism about how the unit worked turned out to be well-founded. The Powerflash device sends an X10 “on” signal when 6-18VDC is applied to the contacts—but once the voltage is removed, the unit immediately sends an “off” signal. What I was looking for was a way to use a single momentary switch to toggle the collector on and off…so that won’t do. In fact, the plan was to mount multiple doorbell-style pushbuttons around the shop and have it wired so that I didn’t have to turn the unit off at the same station where I turned it on. Since the Powerflash unit didn’t support this, I set out to basically build my own.

I’m not an electrical engineer and couldn’t design a circuit to do what I wanted, but I had no trouble finding a few options online. As a kid I used to quite literally spend hours loitering at my local Radio Shack store and would frequently spend what money I had on their “Engineer’s Notebooks” and specialty ICs to tinker with. So while I don’t fully understand the specifics of the circuits, it wasn’t much trouble reading the schematics or assembling the circuit. Of the three circuits I found online, my local Radio Shack store only stocked all of the required parts for one of them. This was, naturally, the most complicated one. It is succinctly if not aptly named Alternating ON-OFF Switch, #2.

A big box of parts…


After a couple after-work evenings, the “DustBunny 3000” was born…


Hooked up to the “Powerflash” for testing…


Labeled and plugged into the volt meter showing ~4.74vdc on the output


And here’s the video demonstration of the system in action:

(originally posted at

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

12 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4014 days

#1 posted 03-02-2008 06:29 AM

Pretty slick! Great idea.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4091 days

#2 posted 03-02-2008 10:05 AM

That is slick – but am I missing something here? Wouldn’t a simple remote control switch for your DC have accomplished the same thing? Or, were you just intent on tinkering and coming up with a different solution? Either way – it sounds like you got what you wanted, and that is a good thing.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3825 days

#3 posted 03-02-2008 01:33 PM

interesting adaptation

-- making sawdust....

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3848 days

#4 posted 03-02-2008 01:49 PM

Very innovative idea, Patrick.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3858 days

#5 posted 03-02-2008 02:19 PM

Thanks, all!

bill- I do actually also have an X10 keychain remote and that works as well. However, I’m not crazy about carrying it around in my pocket and if I set it down it will get lost. Also, with this remote, there are distinct “ON” and “OFF” buttons that you can’t readily distinguish by touch…so I have to actually look at the remote. The doorbell type buttons will be discretely installed in the underside of countertops and other convenient but relatively hidden spots. Plus, this cost me only ~$30 (mostly due to the $13 bag-o-resistors as the ones I needed weren’t sold individually) and I can hook up as many switches as I want.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4186 days

#6 posted 03-02-2008 02:29 PM

well look at that! Ingenious…

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3793 days

#7 posted 03-02-2008 04:11 PM

All those wires makes me break into a sweat. Electrical and plumbing drive me crazy. I admire you for being able to do all this yourself.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View John Nixon's profile

John Nixon

189 posts in 4089 days

#8 posted 03-03-2008 12:22 AM

I thought your video quality was excellent! Your match on action camera switches were right on. I appreciate the effort all that takes…so…kudos to you for caring enough to setup and take the effort to do that.

The idea is very cool as well :-)

-- John Nixon - Buffalo, NY -

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3794 days

#9 posted 03-03-2008 03:11 AM

very cool idea. that must make turning your dust collection on and off a breeze.

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3858 days

#10 posted 03-03-2008 03:11 AM

Thanks Debbie and trifern.

Thanks, John…I was surprised it worked at all since I’m using Windows Movie Maker which doesn’t really have the features you’d want for mixing from multiple sources. I managed to get pretty lucky with a few of ‘em though. Thanks!

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4077 days

#11 posted 03-04-2008 02:54 PM

very cool,

Thanks for the post.

-- Hope Never fails

View Woodshopfreak's profile


389 posts in 3768 days

#12 posted 03-08-2008 12:31 AM

Cool idea. I like that you cold have one switch at every tool so you can just flip it on and off. Good thinking

-- Tyler, Illinois

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