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Power Tools: Homemade Three-setting Vacuum System
Posted by J.S. Decker on Jan 12, 2008, 13:41

Sometimes I just geek myself out, and that is what I have done with my new vacuum system for vacuum bagging that can be set to three different vacuum ranges with a three-position switch.  I do not know how many vacuum systems that I have built, but the number exceeds half a dozen.  Yet, for the last year or so I have wanted to build yet another vacuum system that I could switch between the three vacuum settings that I use the most frequently without resetting a vacuum switch.

I am a little embarrassed how little this system cost, most of the parts were scavenged, purchased off eBay, and a few were actually purchased.  The system uses a 12 volt power supply that energizes a circuit with the vacuum and selector switches and a relay coil.  (A relay is an electrical switch that opens and closes under the control of another electrical circuit.)  A high amperage relay was used for long service life.  The two stage vacuum pump is quite and will suck the proverbial golf ball through a garden hose.

If I had this to do again, I probably use a larger enclosure that I could mount the vacuum switches in to make the system cleaner.

Complete system: 7 gallon vacuum reservoir in the rear, two-stage diaphragm pump on the left, vacuum gage and three-vacuum switches in the middle, and an enclosure for the electrical components.

Three-position switch that switches between 5, 15, and 24-inches (Hg) of vacuum.

The three vacuum switches turn the relay on and off depending upon the position of the three-position selector switch.

Electrical box showing the terminal strip in upper center, the three-position switch in the upper left, 12 volt power supply in the lower right, the relay in the lower left, and a master power switch and controlled power outlet for the vacuum pump at the bottom.

The power to the electrical outlet is controlled with the relay, so the vacuum pump is simply plugged into the outlet. The switch turns power to the whole system off and on.

Vacuum pump with an aquarium check valve, the little red thing in clear plastic tube in front of the blue tank on the left.

Installation of the vacuum system on shelf under the work bench I typically vacuum bag on.

Vacuum system controls from the other side of the bench, the selector switch is easy to access and the vacuum gage is readily visible to verify the system is working properly.

This is a manifold of six toggle valves between the vacuum system and up to six vacuum bags. When you want vacuum to hose you just flip the valve.

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