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Custom Collector Controller

Posted by on March 1, 2008

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:

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4 Responses to Custom Collector Controller


    Question for you… Since you did this in March how has this setup workded for you?

    I am wanting to follow your lead on this and do the same setup… but I dont have any electronics experience so will need to find someone to build the box you did.

    What are you using for the input voltage on the box that controls the X10 transmitter?


  2. Patrick

    So far this has worked beautifully for me…I’m very pleased with the outcome.

    The circuit’s not at all difficult to construct, though I probably wouldn’t recommend it as your very first project.

    As for the input voltage, I used 5vdc from an adjustable brick adapter. The voltage requirement is noted on the circuit.

    Good luck!

  3. sabian212

    I love this system! I started my dust collection system today and want to incorporate this into it. One problem… I can barely spell electrical never mind build a circuit. Could I take a printout of “” to my local Radio Shack and buy the parts? Would they know what I needed?
    They might even recommend someone to help me with it.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated!

  4. Patrick

    Thanks! Yes, I believe you should be able to get all the parts at your local Radio Shack — I’m fairly certain I did, though it’s been a while and I had some of the more common items on hand already. You will probably want to find someone local who has some experience building circuits before you tackle this project. It’s not terribly difficult, but I wouldn’t want to have this as my very first circuit. Thankfully most of the components come in multiple packs, so you’ll have plenty of spares!

    A fews years back I needed help with a custom circuit design and managed to locate an EE in an online forum living close by who was willing to advise.

    Good luck!

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