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 GB5
 Progammable Temperature Controller

 

Photo of a GB1 temperature controller.The GB5 is a temperature controller designed for serious artists and craftsmen who need to simultaneously control up to five annealing ovens, burnout ovens, kilns, lehrs, or furnaces.
 
This fully programmable unit allows a virtually limitless number of temperature profiles while maintaining Digitry’s famous ease of operation. The GB5 can monitor and control any oven for over eleven months, and each temperature profile can include increasing and decreasing ramps as well as soaks.
 
Best of all, the GB5 is made by Digitry — a respected supplier to the art community since 1981. This newest unit combines the proven accuracy and reliability of its predecessors with the latest advances in digital electronics.
 
So if you’re ready to experience an exciting new level of productivity in your studio, you’re ready for a GB5.

 

 Features and Benefits
  • Centralized monitoring and independent control of five ovens, kilns, lehrs or furnaces eliminate the need for separate controllers.
     
  • Scanning feature displays time and temperature of each oven.
     
  • Automated control eliminates time-consuming and awkward manual temperature adjustments while achieving smooth ramping.
     
  • Up to 15 set points per oven gives you a nearly limitless number of temperature profiles with automatic calculation and control of ramps between set points.
     
  • Simple programming makes it easy to specify over 500 hours per step, allowing a total time of more than 11 months.
     
  • Stores as many as 4 extra profiles for quick retrieval.
     
  • Retains all temperature profiles — even without power.
     
  • Automated control lets you set your own schedule — no need to be on-site for set point changes. Fire your kiln during lower-cost, off-peak energy periods.
     
  • Delayed start allows automatic preheating so that your oven is ready when you are.
     
  • Skip-step capability and keypad-initiated soak provide extra control for special techniques such as kiln forming and fusing.
     
  • Intelligent recovery protects your work from power failures. After an outage, the controller automatically decides how best to proceed.
     
  • Audio alarms signal thermocouple burn-out.
     
  • The large LED display clearly indicates unit monitored, program step, remaining step time, temperature, and status.
     
  • Key lock prevents accidental or unauthorized program changes (optional).
     
  • Digitry’s unique Power Sharing capability can help in situations where available power is limited (optional).
     
  • PC connectivity allows you to transfer programs between GB5 and PC as well as log data, graph and remotely monitor programs (optional).
     
  • Control furnaces with 4–20 mA current loop output for SCRs and motorized valves (optional).
     
  • Standard features include remote thermocouple amplifiers (sending units) with automatic cold junction compensation, temperature readings in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius (user selectable).
     
  • Other system options include any combination of chromel-alumel (Type K) and platinum-rhodium (Type R or Type S) thermocouples, as well as proportional control and remote display repeaters. GB5

 

 Programming
How easy is the GB5 to program? This easy...
Press: To:
A5
B
let the GBl know you want to program profile #5.
put the GB5 into Program Mode.
245E
650E
program the oven to ramp up, evenly to 650°F in
2 hours and 45 minutes. This is set point 1.
300E
650E
tell the oven to soak at 650°F for 3 hours.
This is set point 2.
300E
1675E
ramp up to 1675°F in 3 hours.
This is set point 3.

600E
1675E

soak at 1675°F for 6 hours.
This is set point 4.
900E
900E
ramp down to 900°F in 9 hours.
This is set point 5.
  The profile is now entered.
B return to Monitor mode.
E5 start the oven running.

Graph of temperature profile just entered above.


Photo of the faceplate of the GB1.


 GB5 Specifications

The GB5 Programmable Temperature Controller requires a sending unit for each oven. Sending units for platinum thermocouples (Type R or S) are different from the standard Type K sending units.

Power Reqirements: 3 watts at 110–120 volts A.C., 60 Hz, grounded
outlet (220–240 volts, 50 Hz available)
Temperature Input for Each Oven: Type K: 32–2400°F (0–1300°C) or
Type S or R: 50–3200°F (10–1700°C)
Automatic cold junction compensation
Resolution: 1 part in 4100
Repeatability: 1 degree
Timing: Crystal controlled timer
Output Choices for Each Oven: • ON/OFF Control for mercury or mechanical contractor; 3 amps at 24–140 volts A.C. (24–280 optional), fused internally or
• 4–20 mA current loop or
• 9 volt DC for solid-state relays
Programming: 9 profiles (5 ovens + 4 additional profiles), each having up to 15 steps of up to 546 hours each, for a total of over 341 days per profile
Dimensions (HxWxD): 9" x 13" x 6" (approx.)
Operator Interface: • 1/2"  7-segment red LEDs
• 16-position dust and moisture-resistant, field replaceable, sealed keypad

 

 GB5 Notes

Digitry is pleased to announce the availability of two special purpose variants of the GB5. These were developed at the behest of several of our customers.

  1. Zone model

  2. Power Sharing model

These variants are effected purely by means of software. If you think that either of these might be useful to you, it is merely necessary to install a new ``EPROM'' memory chip. You can do this yourself, so you do not have to send in your controller for service.

1. Zone Model  Some large kilns have trouble keeping a uniform temperature throughout. Or sometimes you don't necessarily want uniform heat: for example, in kiln-forming a large piece, where some sections are thicker or have to slump more. Because of these considerations, some kilns are set up with independent banks of heating elements arranged into zones. In such a situation it is natural to use several (or all) channels of a GB5 to control the various zones. Each zone has its own thermocouple and relay for its heating coils. If you want to heat the whole kiln uniformly, you would program the same temperature profile onto each channel and then start them all at the same time. The only sticky wicket in this scheme is the GB5 autohold function. If one zone goes into autohold mode, its timer stops advancing while the other zones timers do not. This causes the zones to get out of synch with each other. Some zones may end up being one or more steps ahead of the others. This is NOT GOOD.

In the past, we have tackled this problem by completely disabling the autohold. We discovered that this was NOT GOOD either. Many customers rely on autohold without even realizing it. (That's because it's automatic!) When it disappeared it was noticed and missed. To resolve this quandary, the new zone variant stops the timers of all the zones whenever any zone goes into autohold mode. This means that the zones will never get out of synch, and you will still have autohold!
A GB5 can define up to two sets of zones, with as many channels in each set as makes sense. So, for example, channels 1, 2, and 3 could be one zone set, and channels 4 and 5 could be a second zone set in a different kiln. Or, as another example, channels 1 and 2 could be one zone set in a first kiln, channels 3 and 4 could be a second zone set in a second kiln, and channel 5 could control a third kiln. The number of channels linked as zones is fixed by the EPROM chip, so please specify how many when ordering this option.

2. Power Sharing Model  Some shops have limited electrical power, or have commercial pricing that charges a great premium if you exceed a certain number of amps at any moment; i.e. this is based on peak usage, not average. (Just as a 100 amp fuse will blow at 120 amps even if your average power draw is only 20 amps, the limitation is based on the maximum, not the average.)

So what do you do if you only have 100 amp service and have two 60 amp kilns and a 30 amp kiln? If you could be sure that both 60 amp kilns would never be heating at the same time, you could still use all three. This is where the Digitry Power Sharing GB5 can help you out. It will never allow more than one kiln to be on at a time. You may say, "But what if I want to bring up both my 60 amp kilns to 900 F at the same time? This won't let me do it!" That is correct --- it won't. You don't have enough power available to do that. But the Power Sharing GB5 will let one kiln heat and then automatically switch over to the other kiln. The GB5 cannot create power (this being against one of the laws of nature) but it can help to manage the power you have. In soaking, or ramping slowly, the "duty cycle" (percentage of time requiring heat) is frequently low enough that each kiln can get the power it needs; we just need a traffic cop to see that only one at a time gets it. The piggies, contrary to their wont, must all line up in single-file to get their turn at the trough. Or, to quote the old nursery rhyme:

One thing at a time, and that done well

Is a very good rule, as many can tell.
 
 GB5 Communication
 
The GB5 is available with a communication capability that allows it to exchange information with a PC. Information can flow in both directions, so you can both monitor and control your GB5 from a PC in your studio. If the studio PC is also connected to the Internet, you can configure it to allow any computer on the Internet to access it, so you can extend the range to the whole world — and beyond, if you happen to be an astronaut.
 
GB5 to PC:
Since the PC can receive information from the GB5, you can
• record temperatures,
• chart the progress of your oven,
• view an enhanced version of the GB5’s display panel for each oven,
• save and display GB5 profiles on your PC,
• request the PC to send a text message to your cell phone or an email to your Internet account when the GB5 reports an error condition.
 
The charts and enhanced panel displays include both the actual temperature and the target temperature, the step number, and status information (running or idle, auto-hold, and whether an error condition exists).
 
Once the information is delivered to your PC, you can store it on your hard drive. Archived charts can be valuable as part of a quality control program, for troubleshooting your kiln, as a teaching tool, or for studying experimental firings. Save the profiles on your PC for display, editing, study, and long-term retrieval.
 
PC to GB5:
Since the GB5 can receive information from the PC, you can
• download profiles to the GB5,
• send commands to the GB5.
 
You can keep a virtually unlimited library of profiles on your PC and load them into your GB5. These profiles can be based on ones retrieved from the GB5 and edited on the PC, or they can be entered from scratch on the PC in any of three formats: the classic GB5 format based on total elapsed time, the standard GB5 format based on the time of each step, or a ramp expressed as degrees per hour. You can start, stop, or hold an oven, and you can clear error conditions (e.g., BAD1) when they occur, without having to actually go to the GB5.
 
Remote Capabilities:
Digitry’s communication software supports two different — cost-free — ways to access a PC from a remote location:
• Microsoft’s “dial-up networking”, built into Windows, and
• “VNC” remote control software, free software that can be downloaded from various Internet sites (e.g., http://www.realvnc.com).
 
Using dial-up networking, you can access the file system of the studio PC, which allows you to view the graphs it is recording. Remote control software gives you more capabilities: you see the screen of the studio computer and control it with your keyboard and mouse, almost as though you were in the studio. It even works “cross platform”. You could conceivably control your GB5 using a Mac in an Internet coffee shop half-way around the world! Of course, for safety, somebody should be on-site to make sure nothing goes wrong while you’re in Tahiti.
 
Equipment Requirements:
A properly configured GB5 and a PC running Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, or NT 4.0 can communicate in both directions. Communication is via serial port. If your PC has a USB but no serial port, you can purchase a low-cost USB-to-serial converter for use with your GB5. In addition, remote capabilities require a modem or Internet connection. Email also requires an Internet connection for the PC. Cell phone text messages require both an Internet connection for the PC and cell phone service capable of receiving SMS text messages sent to an Internet address; this service is commonly available from most major cell phone providers. It is important to note that for reasons of reliability, the PC never directly controls any oven.
 
 
 For More Information
 
If you have a need to control up to five annealing ovens, let us give you the facts on our GB5 Programmable Temperature Controller. You’ll see why Digitry has set an international standard for microprocessor-based temperature controllers.
 
Please view our web pages at www.digitry.com, where you can find additional information, including product descriptions and manuals, usage tips, price sheets, and order forms.
 
Address inquiries on Digitry’s GB Series controllers to:
Digitry Company, Inc.
449 Forest Avenue, Suite 9
Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 774-0300
FAX: (617) 484-5220
E-mail: info@digitry.com

 

Equipment Manuals
 
GB5 manual
 
Special purpose GB5 manual

 
(for the GB5 that was put into the Whitney Museum in Manhattan
to control the transition to and from cold storage)
 
 

The above manuals are in Adobe .PDF format. If you need a free copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader, you may download one at this link.
 
   

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