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Old 08-18-2009, 05:58 PM   #21
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Subscribed, looking forward to what you do. I want to echo the "how automated" question, push button, programmable?

I had another question...ummm.... oh! Maybe consider a "drain valve" after the MLT so you can collect extra wort once you have your pre-boil volume? Think yeast starters

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Old 08-18-2009, 09:39 PM   #22
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I am setting up a very similar system. I like the idea in step 7, I didn't even think of that. Do you think the wort will be cool enough? You may have to recirc back to the boil kettle, just a thought . You may want to add a hop stopper to control the trub flowing through the lines. I subscribed as well and look foward to your outcome.

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Old 08-19-2009, 01:02 PM   #23
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I could be way off but I don't think you'll get anywhere near a pitching temp with just one pass through of the coil in the HLT... even with ice.

I have a 30 plate chiller that works really well but it certainly won't get there on just one pass.

Like I said, I could be wrong though... maybe someone has a similar/same set up that can comment?

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Old 08-19-2009, 01:10 PM   #24
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With the HLT full of ice and then full of water, the wort should come out at pitching temps or lower. The problem is having to stand there with a mash paddle and move that ice around really well as it's flowing. Depending on the batch size, some water may need to be removed and replaced with ice at some point. A more automated approach would be to use a plate or CFC and pump the HLT icewater in as the coolant.

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Old 08-19-2009, 01:12 PM   #25
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The simplest solution is to circulate the ice water with the second pump you already have.

Also, you could salt that water if you really need more cooling power.

I am a proponent of full volume cooling so I would suggest whirlpooling the cooled wort back into the BK. .02

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Old 08-19-2009, 06:56 PM   #26
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Thanks for the questions and feedback everyone. I downloaded many of Boerderij's sketchup files so I hope to have a sketchup model when this is done to put in our sketchup model of the brewery!

For a flow meter I think we may just use simple float valves on all 3 pots. One small (1.5bbl) brewery we have talked to does everything manually but for sparging they connect the HLT water pump into the mash, controlled by a float valve in the MLT. Then they control the speed of the MLT being pumped to the kettle manually. This way when the Mash water level dips below a certain point the pump kicks in and adds more water so there is less to control.

We plan on using an Arduino based micro controller to handle everything. I currently have a Arduino Mega and a Sanguino which both support many connections and decent storage space. I have done some preliminary testing with both. Ideally there would be as few physical controls as possible. 4 buttons and a LCD screen to display basic status.

The real brains of the operation would be a computer/iPhone on the other side of things. Using the iPhone/website you would be able to build a recipe, predict it's results, and click *Brew*. The website/iPhone app would then communicate with the brewing system over ethernet and send it a set of instructions which make up the recipe in a way that it can understand. The arduino will not know that your using 4oz of Cascade hops but it will display that as text on a screen and it will know to prompt you at the right time to add the hops to the boil.

The arduino will handle some basic automation like temperature control. It should be able to figure out how to hit a specific temp as fast as possible without overshooting it and stay there for a specific length of time. It will also be able to use PWM to control pump speed and open and close valves.

During the brewing live data from the sensors as well as estimated time to completion, phase, next step, etc will display in some basic form on the LCD on the brewing system. All of the data will also be sent over ethernet to our web site where anyone can view the live progress of us brewing. Info will then be sent from the web site to the iPhone app. which will be best able to provide in-hand monitoring of the process, alert us of critical warnings/temps and provide us with unlimited virtual buttons to control all equipment manually.

So once everything is connected and wired up step 1 is being able to control everything over ethernet and reading data from all sensors. From there I think we will be doing lots of tests to pretend to be the brains of the system and manually turn on and off pumps and valves etc until we have the process down. From there we will automated it with the arduino making as many decisions on its own as it can.

We definitely plan on brewing with our system before its fully automated as automation will really be a work in progress for a while.

In regards to recirculation and stirring of the HLT and the Kettle.... The HLT and Kettle may both have a stirring motor each to help keep temperatures consistent. During the cooling phase where we change connections around to use the HLT as a chiller, we can simply connect the HERMS coil out back into the Kettle In at the end of the boil, this will sanatize the inside of the coil and create a continual flow of wort in a closed system. Then we add cold water and ice to the HLT and connect pump one, which is not in use at the time, from the HLT out to the HLT in and recirculate the ice water back on itsself or use a stirring motor. This way we can have basically a large recirculating counter flow chiller. Also, we have what is basically an A/C unit that runs through a cooler with 1/2" hose going in and out of it, which uses the A/C unit to prechill hose water or to help keep the ice water cold while recirculating it.

Like I said before, I think that if we use all of the same fittings we can always reconfigure how things are connected down the road.

I'm looking forward to finishing up the parts layout and posting it up here. Hopefully others will find some useful ideas in what were doing here as well.

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Old 08-19-2009, 07:51 PM   #27
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Silly question if this has already been addressed or is implicit in the design, but how do you know you've reached your intended mash volume if you're mashing with the grain already in there? Are you looking at how much water goes missing from the HLT?

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Old 08-19-2009, 10:09 PM   #28
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Excellent question. We could use a few different ways to measure the mash volume. A float valve/looking in the Kettle might show the lost water difference. We also may want to just do it by sight... like fill past the grain level a certain amount. Is the initial mash volume important? I feel like a high temp flow meter is going to be expensive.

Here is a picture of the connections and procedures to brew with all the enhancements everyone has suggested. All of the parts are the same, the configuration of the hoses changes only 3 times. Other than that the actual brewing should be automated.

What do you think?

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Old 08-19-2009, 10:30 PM   #29
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Are you going to physically attach a new line between the BK and HLT for the cooling part?

EDIT: I see I guess you're disconnecting the sparge arm or whatever that is, and moving that line?

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Old 08-20-2009, 01:27 AM   #30
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You might want to look at BeerThirty's rig, 3 keggles, 6 solenoid valves in wort/water paths and 2 pumps, with no plumbing changes needed during brewing. Add in pressure sensors for level control electric burner ignition, and solenoid valves for fill water, cooling water control to plate chiller for a complete mobile system controlled by the Brewtroller.

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