So, this question might sound a bit silly at first glance (no, I know, it sounds flat out insane), but not all that silly at second.

I have heard once about a guy who transformed some (presumably old-ish) washing machine into his own personal home-brewing apparatus. It is quite some idea if you think about it. Washing machine can easily solve most issues people have with homebrewing. It can carefully control and adjust temperature throughout the long and complicated process of brewing, it can stir, it can pump in fresh water.

Main question is, how to control washing machine to do what I want it to do. Most automatic washing machines already have some controllers, but I don't see much chance in trying to simply reprogram them (Am I wrong?). Arduino seems like best choice for its simplicity and expandability. However I am still fairly new to Arduino and have trouble imagining how would connecting everything from washing machine (motor, pump, maybe water and temperature sensors) to Arduino actually look like.

So is it even possible? Are there any projects to "bounce of"? (I couldn't find any, but maybe I looked for wrong projects) Should I expect any major problems?

  • Sounds like you need a bunch of motor-rated relays. Older machines used a clock motor and cams to close contacts; newer ones might have relays for some functions already. It's possible you will find a known, reprogrammable micro inside, but you may also find an obscure or custom part. – Chris Stratton Jan 4 '15 at 4:41

There is an article by Atmel, talking exactly about this (not for homebrewing, though). They provide a link to a PDF file that describe in detail a project involving Arduino and a re-created washing machine.

Note that it seems to be some kind of Bachelor graduation project, and that the students seem to build an entire washing machine. They control the rotor using an Arduino, and even provide the code (and a brief history about washing machines..).

Apart from building the entire machine, there are two main directions here as I see it:

  1. Manipulate the existing washing machine's control board using Arduino. The bad news are the it would require some reverse engineering of the existing controller, because, per my understanding (and I'm not an expert on the subject) there is no one standard and any manufacturer seems to use it's own propriety control board (similar to Microwaves or Dishwashers). The good news are that an expert could probably do it, either by dumping the controller memory and examining the hex code or by using JTag.

  2. Another way to go here is interfacing the electrical hardware itself; see this instructable where the guy connected the Arduino in parallel to the start button, by thus allowing an alternative way to start.

As for a beginner, it would make more sense to go for the latter; in-parallel connection with an existing hardware button should be a fairly comprehensible task. Consider the hazards of working with a high voltage/power device such as washing machines. I must say that on first glance such a project doesn't seem fit a novice, but I would be the last one to hold an enthusiast's back. And if you know any, I would suggest asking supervision from someone with a strong EE background.

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