How I started
I have been a hobby woodworker for many years. I found the need for dust collection in my shop to be of very high importance to me early on. Also, having my shop in the basement of our home I needed to keep the airborne dust particles to a minimum. I installed a dust collection system with a central vacuum collector and installed 4" schedule 30 PVC piping, 4" flex piping and fittings. I installed a blast gate at each tool and bought a wireless remote control outlet to plug my dust collector into. I used this system for a long period of time and it did serve me well as long as I used it in the method it needed to be used in to be effective.
Having to go through many steps to prepare the dust collection system for the milling process at any particular tool I would sometimes skip steps because it was just faster to get the milling done to me. For instance, I only needed to make a quick cut on the table saw so I would not go to the the last tool I used to close the blast gate and therefore not even turn on the dust collector for the one small quick cut. No big deal right? Well that one cut turns into many cuts with this bad habit and now I have a shop full of dust and a dust collection system I am not being faithful to.
It was then that I set out on a mission to find an automated blast gate dust collection system for the home hobby shop that I could afford. I found one available and used it for about 5 years. It worked fairly well but I had to replace all the blast gates in the system 3 times in that 5 year period. They were an electric motor type of operation and either the gate's nylon blade teeth would break off or the small electric motors would go bad. When one gate in the system went bad there was no way to manually bypass the system. I kept replacing the gates as they would break to keep the system up and running until that system was discontinued and not replaced with a new model. The company I purchased the system from has an industrial line of automatic blast gates but they were way out of my affordable small shop price range.
At this point I decided to upgrade the dust collector in my shop and go to 6" PVC trunk pipe and 6" blast gates. After being spoiled for many years with the automatic blast gate system I had that was now no longer available (and never was available in a 6" pipe size) I went on the quest of developing my own system for my own shop. Low and behold Gate Goalie was born! Having taken some electronics in college I had some knowledge of how I might be able to do this. I spent a lot of time developing the Gate Goalie system and have installed a few different evolving versions of it in my shop. I have been using it for over 2 years now and I am quite pleased with it's performance. I developed the circuits, had the circuit boards made, soldered on the components, found the enclosures that would work well and came up with what you see here as the "Gate Goalie Automated Woodworking Blast Gate System". I also built my own blast gates and installed them in my shop. The whole system works very well and the only thing I have to remember to do is to turn on the compressed air supply valve to support the pneumatic blast gate function each time I go into the shop. I share my blast gate ideas on this site and also offer components to support those ideas.
It is at this point I felt I needed to share this product with other woodworkers.
If you are an established woodworker or small cabinet shop looking to improve production time while maximizing dust collection efficiency, this product can definitely help achieve that goal.
If you are new to woodworking and still have a lot of tools on your wish list I would not recommend investing in this product at this time but by all means do gear your shop towards utilizing dust collection and dust filtration in general. You have plenty of time to evolve into an automatic blast gate system. Early on I used a 20" box fan with a 20" furnace filter taped on the intake side and hung it above my table saw. To my amazement the filter would trap a lot of dust in no time at all so I knew it was definitely helping my dust situation. Also a small dust collector or shop vacuum you take to each tool as you use it is also a step in the right direction.
In closure, I am just a hobby woodworker that came up with an idea to make the dust collection in my shop more friendly and efficient and wanting to share it with other woodworkers. I have a day job at this time and this is a part time business I am working to get off the ground because I think there are other woodworkers out there that would appreciate using this system in their shop.