Lint Screen Vacuum

It's weird, but I actually kind of like doing laundry. The fresh smell and cozy feeling of grabbing an armful of warm, clean clothes out of the dryer is makes doing laundry my favourite chore.

You know what I don't like though? Cleaning the lint screen. Previously, my strategy was to rifle through the clothes to find the dryer sheet, use that to scrape off all the lint, then hopefully manage to get the linty dryer sheet to the garbage without the fluff blowing off all over the house.

Now, I am well aware that this is probably one of the most first-world problems that one could face, but the engineer in me simply can't leave a problem unsolved, and I just happened to have an old shop-vac and (nearly) all the other parts required to come up with an over-complicated solution:

A vacuum nozzle on a spring-recoil, which automatically turns on when pulled down, and off when released.

One of the goals of the project was to use parts I already had lying around from other projects, hence the use of the giant Allen Bradley photoelectric sensor and RIB dry-contact relay. The enclosure was also left over; if memory serves the only thing I actually bought specifically for the project was the spring-recoil tool balancer.

Control box with the cover on. The retro-reflective photoelectric sensor at the bottom is aimed at a small strip of retro-reflective tape on an L-bracket. The beam of the sensor is blocked when the nozzle is in the "home" position, which turns the vacuum off via the RIB dry-contact relay.

Main components:

  • Allen Bradley Photoelectric Sensor (dry-contact output)

  • RIB 21CDC-N4 dry-contact relay module

  • Small vacuum

  • Enclosure

  • Spring tool balancer / recoil mechanism (the one I bought from Amazon doesn't seem to be available anymore, but really anything similar should work)

  • Various 3D-printed parts to clamp onto the nozzle

  • 3D-printed retainer to block the photosensor beam when the nozzle is retracted

Control box with the cover removed. The spring-recoil tool balancer is in the middle (yellow), and the dry-contact relay module is top-right. The grey cable on the bottom-right goes to the photoelectric sensor, power comes in the top-left, and the outlet on the bottom-left side goes to the shop-vac.

The whole thing could certainly be done much more cleanly and compactly with purpose-bought parts, but using up stuff I had around the house was one of goals. Maybe one day I'll re-do properly and post all of the design files, but if you'd like to build your own and have any questions shoot me an email and I'll share what I've got: