adding user control buttons

Forward and reverse buttons marked on the box.

Operation of the laundry line does not require instructions; press the button in the direction you want the lower line to move. To make it even more obvious, I melted a set of directional arrows in the plastic with my soldering iron and then filled the track with black marker. Now, it looks like the switchbox on the outside of an elevator, except in this case, it will be mounted left to right, not up and down.

double sided tape

Double sided tape will secure the relays in the box.

To ensure the relays don’t rattle around loose in the box, I added some double sided tape to the backside of the relay housings so they would stick to the side wall of the plastic box. Double sided tape comes in very handy for many hacks I do around here!

relays inside the electrical box

The completed user control box.

The wiring for the user control box is based on the simple diagram shown earlier, which does the task of reversing the current to the motor depending on which pushbutton switch is activated.  I used spade connectors inside the box for the power wire and motor connections so that the box could be completely unplugged if required. It’s just a matter of soldering on the motor wire connectors and bolting the user control box to the pole now. Soon the laundry robot will be ready for work!

rain guard hard at work

The rain guard gets a real world test.

Just as I brought my soldering iron out the front steps to complete the user control box wiring, it began to rain of course, but it did show me that the rain guard does actually do its intended job. The guard will also keep snow off the motor and out of the wheel track which is good because yes, out here in the Great White North, we do hang laundry when it is -20 below zero!

user control box installed

The user control box installed and working.

Once the rain subsided, I was able to solder the spade connectors to the motor and then give everything one last test. I had a 50-50 chance of getting the polarity correct since it is not marked, but I won. The buttons moved the line in the correct direction in the first try. The PVC box was screwed to the 6×6 post, and now the entire Robot Laundry Line project was ready for its first real use!

dc power supply rain guard

The DC power supply gets a raincoat.

For now, I am using this old 12 volt, 6 amp car battery charger as a power source, but will replace this with a similar size battery and a solar panel charger next year when I have more time. To keep rain away from the power supply, I cut an old plastic bucket in half and mounted it upside down to work as a rain shield. This setup will also work well for the battery when I install it, since it will be of similar size.

clothes peg hanger

One last minute addition, a clothes peg hanger.

When I went out to test the new Robot Laundry Line, I realized that there was no place to put the clothes pegs within easy reach. I repainted a rusty old plant hanger and added it to the pole so the bucket-o-pegs could be hung in a very convenient place when hanging laundry. When not used for clothes pegs, a planter can be put there.

completed robot laundry line

The Robot Laundry Line performing its chores.

It was exceptionally easy to hang or retrieve laundry. Now, there is no bending necessary, so this project is a huge success! The speed of the line was just right, and the user control box was easy to reach and offered responsive movements of the motor. Oh yeah, do you like my 8 foot camera tripod made by strapping a normal tripod to a 7 foot ladder? I go to great lengths to get the shot!

house chores ar fun

Laundry day is now faster and a lot more fun!

Putting out the laundry is so much easier now that I don’t have to traverse 15 stairs and then bend over to retrieve each piece of clothing to hang. Having all three functions (basket, pegs and buttons) in one place means we can get this house chore done with amazing efficiency. Of course, using the Robot Laundry Line is also kind of fun. At the end of the day, this project is a big win!

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