Semi-Automated Maple Syrup Collection with an Arduino

Maple syrup is so delicious that it’s easy to forget the stuff is just processed tree sap. For most of us, the origins of maple syrup are unknown and mysterious—it doesn’t just materialize at IHOP after all. It’s not magic though; real people make it, and if you’re Imgurian Hdc3, you do that with a combination of time-honored techniques and modern technology.

The process starts with the trees being tapped with a spiles that allow the sugary sap to flow down the 200 drop rigs in Hdc3’s setup. Those then connect to lateral lines, which in turn join a long mainline. Attached to the mainline is an Arduino-controlled sap releaser.

The sap releaser has a 29 inHg vacuum line with solenoid valves to pull the sap down the mainline. At specific intervals, it will release a little over a gallon of sap, while still maintaining vacuum on the lines. The sap only has a sugar content of about 2% at this point, so it still has a relatively low viscosity. It then passes through a reverse-osmosis system, which brings it up to roughly 8% sugar.

With this setup, Hdc3 can collect around 250 gallons of the 8% sugar sap per day. That is then run through a wood-burning evaporator that was constructed out of an oil tank, which shoots the sugar content up to 60%. The sap is then filtered, finished on the stove, filtered again, and bottled at 66% sugar. The result is about two gallons of high-quality maple syrup, ready for tomorrow morning’s waffles.