15 August 2017

Show Your True Colors!

What is your favorite color... Pendant Blue, Salsa Red or, maybe it's Mancini Pink?

For a limited time, Kiln Frog is offering FREE COLORS on the Evenheat Fishbone and Kingpin 88 kilns!

 Yep... I said it! FREE COLORS! That's a $50.00 savings. So, what are you waiting for?

How do I test for accurate temperatures in my kiln?

In case you don’t know, a thermocouple is the nubby, sticky-outie thing inside your kiln that takes the temperature and reports it to the controller. This is a picture of what your thermocouple looks like inside your kiln.

I had a great conversation about this with Jim Simmons, Production Manager at Evenheat Kilns. He said, “Most manufacturers tell customers that a variance of +/- 20F degrees is an acceptable target to stay within the temperature range.” But in my experience, most of us usually can adjust within about +/- 50F degrees and still be able to accommodate the changes.

He also said, “It’s time to change the thermocouple when the room temperature reading is OVER 50F degrees above or below the true room temps. A thermocouple offset is also an option that your manufacturer can walk you through.”  In my opinion, changing out a thermocouple is an easy and less expensive thing you can do to keep your kiln singing along. For most manufacturers, a thermocouple is in the price range of $35.00.

He was pretty specific about this one point, “When thermocouples wear out, you begin to get an “over fire” situation, which means the temperature of the kiln reads LOWER than the actual firing temperature in the kiln. If you don’t change out your thermocouple soon, it’s just gonna get worse.”

This is actually happening right now with one of my kilns. It’s 8 years old, and gets quite the workout! The controller is reading 1325F, but the firing results really look like 1425F. This is a clear sign that it’s time to change out that old thermo! I’ve been lazy about it, even though know I need to do it. Like my hero Maya Angelou said, "When you know better, you do better!"

Jim shared this last tidbit... we love Jim, but it’s pretty techie stuff…

“Here’s the technical formula. The air in your kiln, plus the tip of the thermocouple -2 degrees or .4% of temperature, whichever is greater, that is the temperature differential  between the tip of the the thermocouple to whatever material you have in the kiln. Temps are measured by millivolts on the tip of the thermocouple. Who knows (the engineers know) how that really works for us everyday “Joes,” but you could get another digital pyrometer, drill a hole next to the other thermocouple, and place that in the kiln. One thermo would them prove or disprove the other thermo, as long as the first thermo was calibrated correct at the factory. There’s really no way you could accurately do this in the studio or shop.”

Well, there you have it. It sounds like we have three options:

  • Manually do the adjustment and change your programs accordingly to accommodate the +/- temp factors of your particular kiln.
  • Call the manufacturer and have them walk you through a thermocouple offset on your controller.
  • Do what I’m doing! Send the $35.00 dollars and change out the thermocouple.

Good luck! And, may all your temperatures read true!

24 July 2017

Paragon Distributor News: The Improved BlueBird XL Bead Kiln

Hot off the press... Paragon Kilns has just announced improvements to one of their most popular kilns... the Bluebird XL. The new Paragon BlueBird XL has an improved ceramic fiber roof, thicker doors with new gaskets, heavier mandrel holders, and a stainless steel control panel.
  • Improved Ceramic Fiber Top - The BlueBird XL features new sinusoidal “wavy” elements, which are embedded close to the inner surface of the high-tech, vacuum-formed ceramic fiber top. This is an improvement over our earlier embedded coiled elements, because the “wavy” elements are mounted closer to the surface. This enables the elements to radiate heat faster for longer element life. The ceramic fiber top reduces dust inside the kiln.
  • Improved Double Doors with Gaskets - Both doors are 3 1/2” x 10” and mounted in a 4 1/4” high opening. The 3/4” gap under the doors is filled by flexible, high temperature door gaskets, which help to hold in heat. The 2” thick ceramic fiber doors are twice the thickness of our original doors. The hinges are now continuous across the top for extra longevity.
  • Improved Mandrel holders with 20 slots are held with magnets instead of screws - The kiln comes with a single and a double mandrel holder. The single holder supports rods or mandrels from one point; the double cradles the rods at two points. The holders are held by magnets. They are sturdy and heavy for stability.
  • Improved Rare-earth magnets hold the doors open or closed - Rare-earth magnets hold the doors closed while the kiln is heating to annealing temperature. Phenolic knobs on the door handles stay cool to the touch. Use the switch on the front panel to turn off power to the controller when the kiln is not in use.
If you were thinking about ordering a Bluebird XL, now is the perfect time! And, don't forget that you can order all Paragon Kilns in color at no extra charge!

22 July 2017

“What to Expect, When You’re Expecting!”


Waiting for a kiln is like waiting for new a baby to arrive. You have the relief of "I’ve have finally made the decision", and the adrenaline rush of " Now, I’m ready to begin the new adventure.” And then nothing happens… crickets chirp and you wait… and you wait. You are constantly checking your e-mail waiting for the tracking and delivery information to arrive in your inbox. For most of us it's like waiting for a pot to boil... the more you watch, the longer it takes.

At Kiln Frog, we understand, and we get it! We recognize that you are dying to know exactly which day it’s coming, and how soon you can get started. And, we know that waiting stinks!

Currently, most kiln companies build kilns to order due to the immense amount of customization options they offer. Only the smallest 120v table top kilns, like the SC3 or Kingpin 88, with the most generic options are built and ready to leave the factory immediately. In addition, the demand for certain types of kilns is so high that the manufactures just can’t keep up. In today’s economy, the manufacturers would rather create lag times for delivery, then bring in more production staff and risk layoffs. Additionally, kiln building is a relatively specific skill. A lot of training is required to be knowledgeable and proficient, and that takes investment too. So, we all prefer that the kiln companies take their time and build ‘em right! 

While you are waiting, here are some things you can do to be ready when the kiln arrives:

Make space for your new baby to live. Plan for 12 inches of space between the kiln and everything else. Make sure the space is clean from dust and debris.

Clear a space for the box/pallet to live while you are unpacking the kiln. Chances are the freight company or even UPS/FedEx, etc. will place the pallet or box in your garage, but you will need to have a covered, clean and dry space ready so that you can take your time assembling things like your stand, etc. Some models come with stands assembled, and some do not.

Get yourself a set of nut drivers and a multi-meter from the home improvement store. You’re going to need them if you’re ever going to do any maintenance on your kiln. You might even need the nut drivers to put together your stand.

Make sure the space your planning to put the kiln is less than 6 feet from the receptacle. Most kilns only have a 6-foot cord, and the bigger the kiln, the fatter the cord, making it less likely to bend around corners, etc.

Make sure you plan for a working surface. Somewhere near your kiln to store kiln wash, posts, extra shelves, gloves, tools etc.

Make plans for someone to help you unpack the kiln. Only the smallest 120v table top kilns can be a “one man job.” If you lack the upper body strength to lift 40 pounds alone, prearrange some help. Do this BEFORE the kiln arrives so that you’ve set the stage to get going sooner rather than later.

Have a plan for debris removal. What will you do with pallet? The box, the foam, the strapping, the plastic, etc. That packing material is coming, how will you get it gone??

Pre-read the manuals and watch the controller videos on YouTube. Be familiar with your kiln and controller before it arrives. Maybe purchase some fun technique books to inspire your work!

If you haven’t heard from us in 3-4 weeks, feel free to drop us an email and inquire as to what we know about your kiln. We typically check with the manufacturer at the three-week mark if we see your kiln has not shipped yet.  If there’s a problem, we’ll let you know.

Great service is our #1 priority! We know you’re anxious to get your new kiln and get going, so we humbly ask, please be patient. We don’t build ‘em, and we have no control if a manufacturer gets behind due to mechanical problems at the factory, weather related issues, shipping delays, etc. We want what you want, your kiln in perfect working order, delivered in one piece, in a timely manner...

And most importantly, a happy, happy customer!

06 July 2017

TAP Kiln Control Mobile Update for iOS


From our friends at SDS Industries: An update to TAP Kiln Control Mobile is available for iOS users. Future versions of the mobile application will provide nearly complete control of your internet accessible kiln, with the ability to create new schedules, edit existing schedules, modify settings, and review logs on the go.

Current Release

  • Create TAP Mobile account and add kilns on the fly
  • Remote monitoring with by-the-minute updates
  • Quick check the status of your kilns with easy to read indicators
  • Detail view that shows current execution status
  • Push Notifications for schedule step advancement, firing completion, and error conditions
  • Tab Layout offering view of Kiln specific Schedules, Settings, Diagnostics, and Error Logs

Future Releases

  • Create and modify schedules remotely
  • Remotely update kiln settings
  • Firing Log view with by-the-minute data points
  • Ability to Skip Steps and Abort firings remotely

Please note, TAP Kiln Control Mobile requires your TAP Kiln Controller to be on software Revision 2 or higher. The current software release is Revision 4.0, which incorporates updates necessary for the most effective app experience. For users that are web connected, the latest software version will download automatically when the controller is powered on.

More information on the Tap Controller from SDS Industries.

For technical assistance or questions, please contact info@kilncontrol.com.