johndeerefarmer
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 5:01 pm

Propane Level indicator

Thu May 13, 2021 5:05 pm

Any one got a propane level indicator project going? I bought the Generac tank utility which is junk so I sent it back.

Looking for a indicator for my RD3 remote ready 500 gallon tank that can connect to wifi and send me tank readings.

Thanks

JohnsUPS
Posts: 238
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:13 am
Location: USA

Re: Propane Level indicator

Sun May 16, 2021 4:13 pm

I have a 500 gallon propane tank, but there is no sensor/remote ready connections to tap off of to get some kind of reading. However, there is a gauge under the cap. I have considered putting a small Pi and camera under there with an LED or two because when the cap is closed it will be dark inside. All of the electronics will need to be tightly sealed up in the event that there is leak. There seems to be plenty of room under the cap.

I haven't done this yet, as I'm not sure what my propane provider would say about the added electronics.

johndeerefarmer
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 5:01 pm

Re: Propane Level indicator

Sun May 16, 2021 4:15 pm

Depending upon the tank you have you can just put a RD3 gauge on your tank if you want to try to make something to read it.

I am considering a camera myself. I have power less than 10' away. A small wifi camera and couple LED's running off of 12V should work fine

cleverca22
Posts: 3802
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:33 pm

Re: Propane Level indicator

Sun May 16, 2021 7:59 pm

https://forums.homeseer.com/forum/legac ... ect-sensor
https://rochestergauges.com/wp-content/ ... R3D-LP.pdf

it looks like you can just shove a $30 hall-effect sensor into the RD3 gauge, run some power into it, and get an analog voltage out?
run that thru the ADC of something like a pico, calibrate it, and your done!

JohnsUPS
Posts: 238
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:13 am
Location: USA

Re: Propane Level indicator

Sun May 16, 2021 10:55 pm

cleverca22 wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 7:59 pm
https://forums.homeseer.com/forum/legac ... ect-sensor
https://rochestergauges.com/wp-content/ ... R3D-LP.pdf

it looks like you can just shove a $30 hall-effect sensor into the RD3 gauge, run some power into it, and get an analog voltage out?
run that thru the ADC of something like a pico, calibrate it, and your done!
As it turns out, the gauge on my tank is a Rochester remote ready gauge. I've looked at it many times, but never noticed the writing on the black tab that says "Remote Ready". Sheesh...

I looked at the above forum posts, and the OP there never did reveal where they obtained just the sensor for 30$. I don't think I could get away with shoving a Hall sensor in the slot (and that would probably work) because the "non-OEM" appearance of such an installation would probably raise a red flag with the guy who refills the tank. I'll call my gas supplier and see what they say about it. They may be able to connect me with a sensor.

johndeerefarmer
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 5:01 pm

Re: Propane Level indicator

Sun May 16, 2021 11:12 pm

I found the sensor but don't have the knowledge to build or set up a pi to run it.

[https://rochestergauges.com/product/970 ... e-modules/][/url]

cleverca22
Posts: 3802
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:33 pm

Re: Propane Level indicator

Sun May 16, 2021 11:53 pm

johndeerefarmer wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 11:12 pm
I found the sensor but don't have the knowledge to build or set up a pi to run it.

https://rochestergauges.com/product/970 ... e-modules/
looks like you just put 5v in, and you get something between 0v and 5v out
so you need a 5v rated ADC to read the signal, and maybe a transistor to turn the 5v supply off when not reading the level

JohnsUPS
Posts: 238
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:13 am
Location: USA

Re: Propane Level indicator

Mon May 17, 2021 2:06 am

johndeerefarmer wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 11:12 pm
I found the sensor but don't have the knowledge to build or set up a pi to run it.

[https://rochestergauges.com/product/970 ... e-modules/][/url]
I saw that paper also, but it only provides info about the sensor, not where to buy it, which is what I'm looking for. I'm going to try my gas supplier. I'll probably have to talk to them anyway about this so that the refill guy does not raise a red flag and either disconnect it or tell the company to have me disconnect it.

In the event that I'm able to obtain a sensor, it seems like there will be only minimal electronics involved in interfacing the Hall device and sending that info back to the house, which isn't too far away. I'm thinking a Pi Pico (analog inputs for the Hall sensor) with an Ethernet PHY board set up with POE (either 802.3af or "poor mans POE") should do the trick.

cleverca22
Posts: 3802
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:33 pm

Re: Propane Level indicator

Mon May 17, 2021 2:54 am

JohnsUPS wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 2:06 am
I'm thinking a Pi Pico (analog inputs for the Hall sensor)
the pico adc is only rated for 3.3v, so youll also need a pair of resistors to act as a voltage divider, to scale it down to the 0->3.3v range

johndeerefarmer
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 5:01 pm

Re: Propane Level indicator

Mon May 17, 2021 2:37 pm

JohnsUPS wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 2:06 am
johndeerefarmer wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 11:12 pm
I found the sensor but don't have the knowledge to build or set up a pi to run it.

[https://rochestergauges.com/product/970 ... e-modules/][/url]
I saw that paper also, but it only provides info about the sensor, not where to buy it, which is what I'm looking for. I'm going to try my gas supplier. I'll probably have to talk to them anyway about this so that the refill guy does not raise a red flag and either disconnect it or tell the company to have me disconnect it.

In the event that I'm able to obtain a sensor, it seems like there will be only minimal electronics involved in interfacing the Hall device and sending that info back to the house, which isn't too far away. I'm thinking a Pi Pico (analog inputs for the Hall sensor) with an Ethernet PHY board set up with POE (either 802.3af or "poor mans POE") should do the trick.
I bought my RD3 gauge here, you might give them a try

https://www.jmesales.com/brands/Rochester-Gauges.html



JohnsUPS
Posts: 238
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:13 am
Location: USA

Re: Propane Level indicator

Sun Jun 13, 2021 1:30 am

Well, I called my propane supplier about the possibility of installing a gauge-manufacturer approved Hall sensor on the dial. The gauge is already made to accept one, so no problem there. However, the response I received from the person who answered the phone (didn't have much of a clue) did say they do no electronic reading and didn't have any of these sensors. They were going to have the propane manager call me back once he has returned from vacation. I am not too optimistic at this point.

Hopefully I will be able to convince them to allow me to install the Hall sensor with all other electronics away from the tank. I'm thinking I'll pot the whole assembly in silicone (make it gas tight) even though it will be away from the tank (mainly to appease my supplier).

The specified hall sensor is a 10V device, and the signal output is an analog voltage. Maybe I'll just have the Hall device drive a Howland current source circuit (my first thought) and run a current loop into the house. Keeps the outside circuitry to a minimum and eliminates any long wire issues although my tank isn't too far away. Then regenerate and scale the voltage across a precision resistor (with buffer) for the Pico. A 10-12V compliance on the current loop should be plenty (don't worry - I'm not going to apply 12v to the Pico). I don't want to pot the Pico board and have it outside.

johndeerefarmer
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu May 13, 2021 5:01 pm

Re: Propane Level indicator

Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:30 pm

Post updates once you get something going.

Thanks

JohnsUPS
Posts: 238
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:13 am
Location: USA

Re: Propane Level indicator

Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:33 pm

I'll let you know how it goes. Hopefully the manager will actually call me back considering the (to them, anyway) unusual nature of my request.

katesimon123
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:45 am

Re: Propane Level indicator

Mon Jun 14, 2021 4:24 am

Yeah keep posting here about your future work, as the project is good, so I am going to follow.

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