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Ballast-centered Spin Cycle

If your washing machine were this smart...
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Washing machines are heavy. Why? Simply because if they weren't heavy enough, the spin cycle would cause the whole thing to destroy itself.

I was just leaning against my washing machine just a minute ago, but only because I had to. It dances when it spins, and that pulls the drain hose out, making a mess if I'm not there to lean against my washing machine to absorb the horrible oscillations that very often occur.

Shouldn't washing machines be smarter by now? If were thinking about RFID in our clothes, shouldn't we have already thought out this problem?

Our washing machines need not be as heavy and stupid as they are. Just as ballast has been used for centuries to keep boats centered and level, it can also be used to keep your washing machine from dancing and creating havoc.

A large disc, the diameter of the inside of the washing machine spins with your laundry. It is maybe a couple of inches thick, depending on how much ballast you need. The inside of this disc is broken into 6 different sections, which, while in the spin cycle, can be individually filled with water or have water released, to counter the effects of an uneven load. When the wash is done, the water drains out with the rest of the water, waiting to be filled up with next load's water.

It will be lighter to move, but it will have more moving parts, but it all depends on what you like less, a dancing washing machine that sometimes doesn't complete your spin cycle or floods your floor with laudry water, or a service man at your place, fixing another piece of the washing machine.

twitch, Jun 02 2007

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       If you actually open your washing machine, you will find that much of the weight of it is down to a rather substantial concrete brick. Although, to be honest, this static piece of ballast is just being used to stop your machine from dancing it's way around your floor when it's on spin.
zen_tom, Jun 02 2007
  

       If you grab the drum of your washing machine - no, not now, wait until it's stopped and empty - and pull it about, you'll find that it is very free to move. What actually happens when it's spinning is that the drum centres its spin axis so that it passes through the centre of mass of the drum and contents. That is, it naturally does what you are trying to achieve with a control system. Don't ask me for the maths of how it works, but believe me, if it didn't then that block of concrete would be insufficient to stop it leaping around and demolishing your house.   

       Obviously however, it is not working as well as it might in your case...
david_scothern, Jun 02 2007
  

       An alternative would be to bolt the machine to the floor, or possibly to increase the weight of the machine so much that a few pounds of off-center laundry would be insignificant, like an extra deck chair on the QE2.
nuclear hobo, Jun 02 2007
  

       //An alternative would be to bolt the machine to the floor// They do this to really high speed centrifuges. Doesn't always stop them from ripping the bolts out when somebody mis-loads one.   

       I think an active damper would be a great idea. It shouldn't be terribly difficult or expensive to implement, and would be very effective.
JordanG, Jun 02 2007
  

       There are a ton of appliances that can get many kinds of smart upgrades but why would they do that? If you can get consumers to buy 5 successive washing machines by introducing small changes over time, why do it all at once if that's going to lose them money, even if it is easily within their ability to do. We all talk about the things they can do. Some are crazy, but many are things they can reasonably implement.
twitch, Jun 02 2007
  

       I fear a conservationist movement would catch on to your scheme to use extra water and scuttle your plans.
half, Jun 03 2007
  

       It wouldn't use extra water. It is used only the spin cycle so it would use the water that drains out before the spin cycle. I though about using weights, but the thought of using mechanics didn't seem smart to me. The thought of something heavy, spinning at high speeds, sudddenly becoming unlatched and flying somewhere seems dangerous. I'd rather the ballast be water.
twitch, Jun 03 2007
  

       My sister-in-law's washer would "walk" when badly unbalanced. One afternoon had her then five-year-old son (kid's 22, now) come running into the living room, announcing, "Mommy, wash machine's comin'!"   

       The washer Kevorked itself when it finally advanced far enough to actually pull its own plug! Fortunately, that was before the drain hose came out.
elhigh, Jun 05 2007
  

       Are we talking about top loaders or front loaders?   

       Top loaders with concrete blocks in them represent an era of engineering typically associated with crude stone tools and uncured animal skins.   

       A modern top loader will have a ring-shaped chamber (with baffles) on the bottom and/or top of the inner bowl. This chamber is half-filled with water. Above resonance (say a few tens of rpm) the bowl assembly (included eccentrically positioned clothes) will tend to spin about its center of mass. This means that the relatively unweighted side of the bowl assembly travels through a bigger arc than the weighted side. Because of this, the water in the ring(s) migrates to the relatively unweighted side, counteracting the eccentrically distributed clothes load. This is called passive balancing, and the overall weight of the machine is relatively light.   

       What you seem to be describing (controlled filling and draining of separated ballast chambers) is called active balancing. It is typically unnecessary in a toploader (as passive balancing is sufficient).   

       Active balancing is significantly more complicated, and has been thought of before.
Texticle, Jun 05 2007
  
      
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