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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Electric Brewing > 120V, E-HERMS, 2 Vessel Broth of Vigor Build!
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Old 09-25-2012, 02:00 AM   #1
BrothOfVigor
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A huge bow is in order for all of the great folks on this board who have shared their ideas and continue to participate in discussion and development of really great homebrewing tools and solutions.

I have a tendency to go off the deep end on new hobbies, high as a kite on the thrill of something new and exciting, only to get burnt out and move on. To date, cooking and homebrew have managed to overcome this unfortunate, yet well intended, hurdle. From the days of watching Michiba create his famed "Broth of Vigor" on grainy mid 90's Iron Chef, I find the title to be equally fitting to a steaming pot of glorious wort. It was meant to be.

After reading threads on this board and finding Kal's www.theelectricbrewery.com it took a while to get over the "who needs a guest bedroom when I could be using it every day to make massive batches of beer"-phase (that happens to everyone right?). I decided to go small. In my case, go sane. To point out a few great resources that led me here, JKarps famed counter-top brutus, Resslerk's incredibly difficult to find using the search function cart of greatness, and more recently Jrb03's 110V e-biab thread full of fantastic information. After lots of lots of flip-flopping between the brutus, HERMS, and BIAB, I came to settle on the HERMS setup for a couple reasons:

-Potential step mashes
-No need to build a CFC, permanent "immersion" chiller
-Tame kettle size by having a separate mash tun.
-Counters that are not that well designed for a cooler sitting on top of a bucket.. (I know that ones lame but what can I say?)

I of course had to remain true to myself and avoid that voice in my head that said "make it affordable, you wont tell the difference when its all done!". So, the scratch to that itch: lots and lots of stainless compression fittings. My disclaimer to this build is that many parts could be done for less money, but I find compression fittings to be the best substitute for Legos. Plus you can get hell'a deals on Ebay! (So, still sort of cheap? Right voice? Right..)

So to actually get somewhere with this post. Using a six gallon pot, five gallon round cooler (recycled from 2.5gal stove top all grain), single pump, and single 120V 2000W element, I hope to be making 3-4 gallon batches with great mash temperature control (Auber PID) using my kitchen GFCI outlets and vent hood.

Progress so far:

Using the cheapy Harbor Freight step bits I've popped all the holes in the kettle. It worked amazingly well, making perfect holes with no headaches. I just lubed it up with some cooking oil and away it went. Drilling the pilot holes with a wood bit was the hardest part, go figure. A total 6 holes went in.



I've acquired all of my fittings needed (the word "needed" could be argued) after hounding Ebay for months. To list what is in the photo from left-ish to right-ish:
120V 2000W element - Ace Hardware
1" 304 locknut - McMaster
1/2" 304 stainless dip-tube for main outlet.
1/2" M-NPT to 1/2" compression bulkhead fitting - Ebay
1/2" 304 ball valve - Ebay
1/2" 304 M-NPT to 1/2" barb - BargainFittings
3/8" poly tube for sight gauge - McMaster
3/8" compression tee - Ebay
1/8" compression to 3/8" tube adapter, bored through - Ebay
1/2" copper tubing for HERMS coil with 1/2" compression to tube adapters. -Ebay
1/2" hose barb to 1/4" M-NPT fitting - Ebay
1/4" M-NPT to 3/8" compression bulkhead fitting - Ebay
1/4" M-NPT to 3/8" compression elbow - Ebay
Above mentioned 1/2" bulkhead fitting with 1/2" hose to 1/2" tube adapter - Ebay
Valve assembly, including 1/2" pipe to tube bulkhead fitting, 1/2" M-NPT to compression adapters, 1/2" compression tee, and 1/2" hose adapters.

Nearly all fittings were about $8. Ebay is amaaazing.



The exact purpose of some of these items came in a "ooooh yeah that'd be great!" moment, so I got them only to realize "mmm, maybe not so great". But I have them now, so they must be used!

The general idea: Distilled and treated water is heated in the kettle and drained to the MT. The kettle is refilled to cover the coil, after which the element is set to the mash in temp and the pump begins to circulate (up through the valve assembly (bottom right of photo), going through the horizontal valve into the coil), bringing the cooler to equilibrium. The grain is then added, stirred, and constantly circulated at the set temp. After mashing the kettle is drained of water, (this is the really unnecessary part, get ready) the horizontal valve is closed slightly and the vertical valve is opened slightly, allowing wort to slowly fill the kettle (AWESOME NO HOSE CHANGE.... it seemed valuable late at night). After the kettle begins to fill, the coil can be shut off, allowing all liquid to enter the kettle. Boil as usual. After boil, the coil can be hooked up to tap water for cooling, and the pump can be attached to the kettle outlet and inlet for a whirlpool (I hope), increasing cooling efficiency and separating some coagulated gunk. Cooled wort is then drained right into the fermenter and off to the yeast races.

Maybe needlessly complicated. But it should look cool and save a little bit of stress I hope. Like I said, many features could be done with traditional bulkhead fittings or erased completely. I am thinking of adding a stir plate under the kettle to mix the water while mashing and cooling, thoughts? Has anyone achieved a worthwhile vortex from a stirbar in the kettle to separate solids after cooling?

If anyone actually read that whole mess, I am super stoked to start putting this together. I would love to hear any feedback and comments on this!

Thanks guys!

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Old 09-27-2012, 01:16 AM   #2
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Quick update. I slapped all the hardware on for a leak test and photo opportunity. I'm really happy with how its looking. The recirculation valve assembly is comically large, but I still like it! The 1/8" compression fitting for the RTD works like a dream with a nylon ferrule. Next step will be to take it all apart, give it a thorough cleaning, and apply 1/2" thick adhesive backed polyurethane foam insulation (http://www.mcmaster.com/#9385K61)




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Old 10-09-2012, 03:55 PM   #3
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Hey man, very nice work so far! Maybe you could add an elbow up at the top so you don't have too giant of a house sticking up like alfalfa?

I think you should go the stirplate under the kettle, yeah - it'd be easier than mucking around with your RTD placements. I have my RTD in the sightglass as well, and it definitely stratifies quite a bit. When I'm heating up my strike water the temperature can be off by 10F sometimes before I stir. Once I'm recirculating during the mash it stays accurate, but since you're doing a HERMS you won't have that whirlpool flow effect.

Have you started working on your mashtun? Unsure how you're planning on doing it but just keep in mind that the dual vessel systems really need minimized deadloss. Not a big deal, but try to plan out a good hose design and a low drain, bottom would be optimal, etc.

Cheers and keepup the thread.

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Old 10-11-2012, 10:54 PM   #4
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Thanks Iijakii. I played around a lot with the weird recirculation assembly, but nothing seemed all that romantic. In the end it came to practicality for the parts I had already purchased. The silicone arch has kind of grown on me though, it adds character!

Good to know about the temperature issues. I'll have to start thinking about a stir bar gizmo. Any ideas if the typical PC fan magnet getup will adequately mix this kind of volume? Can obviously get a large stir bar, and I imagine that since the viscosity of water during the mash and wort post boil is not high, there should not be an issue of throwing the bar. Its more an issue of the bar's mass being enough to create enough resistance to get the entire volume spinning. Logically that makes sense in my head, but I wont be surprised if that is wrong. Anyone have experience with this?

The mash tun isn't really getting a lot of special treatment. It is definitely the cheap part of this project. It's just a 5 gal round drink cooler with a colander in the bottom and plastic pick up tube. In its previous application it only had about 1 cup of loss in the bottom after a gravity drain. Its my feeling that the majority of my loss will occur in the pump itself and tubing post-pump (so a few feet of 1/2" silicone running up to the kettle). Surprisingly this hasn't plagued my mind yet. I'm not terribly interested in sparging, but I have thought of using some of the hot water from the kettle to sort of pretend to begin a little fly sparge, with the simple intent of making my recovery rate of high gravity wort greater, and the loss in the tun and tubing being lower gravity "rinse wort" that never really makes it to the kettle. I figure I'll obsess over it when the day comes

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Old 10-11-2012, 11:05 PM   #5
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Late progress report, lots of photos.

I cut the insulation for the kettle jacket, including a couple of disks for the lid and bottom.


I had a bit of a mental speed bump trying to figure out exactly where to cut holes in the insulation to match up with the holes in the kettle. With the wax paper on the adhesive backing, wrapping the insulation around the kettle and marking the holes directly was not going to work, so I came up with a rough system for applying a grid system onto the kettle's surface. I marked three strings in 1 inch increments, all vertically synced. Then I could count inches from starting point (3.5" from center of element hole) around the circumference of the kettle, use a right angle ruler to get height on the kettle, and mark those measurements right on the insulation.



I kept any rivets on the kettle exposed, since I'm slightly worried that my 15$ kettle might not be of the highest quality, and rivet joints may leak in the future. With everything marked out, it was simple to cut the pieces out with an exacto-knife.

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Old 10-11-2012, 11:16 PM   #6
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Continued from previous post.

The method worked (thankfully, one shot or bust situation..) and the holes aligned well, and the insulation's adhesive backing isn't going anywhere anytime soon.



Next all the hardware went back on. Below are a few more detailed photos of the final assembled unit.





I love the look of it, even with the bulky valve appendage hanging off to the side. Aesthetics was pretty high on my list of things to accomplish with this build, and its right up my alley so I couldn't be happier.

Next up will be adding volume marks to the sight glass. I've decided to officially go metric. I'm sick of thinking about cups quarts pints gallons fathoms furlongs chains and the like.

I also need to start on the control side of things. I started a separate thread regarding the diagram, and would appreciate any additional feedback on the topic. I think I will definitely be switching to the Auber 2362, and am a little confused on that unit's instruction manual for proper wiring and can't find any relevant PJ diagrams to try and learn from. Slow and steady.

Thanks!

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Old 12-05-2012, 10:44 PM   #7
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Its been too long since this project got attention. I've finally accumulated all of the parts I need for the control panel and decided on a plan. I got a nice little outdoor panel box at a local thrift store brand-spankin new for $5. Due to its small size though, it isn't quite big enough to do the job on its own. I decided to do a modular panel, using the assistance of two single-gang boxes that will house the receptacle for the pump/element and the SSR. Below is a simple diagram (sparsely annotated)



Here is a snap of the major components going in. The silver thing in the top center is a 12V DC supply that will be used for the mash temperature readout (seen in the bottom left) and stir bar motor (using the PWM in the bottom right). Top left is just a tiny 120V LED that will be used to blink with the SSR.



I've completed all of the panel cuts, and it is ready for assembly.



I decided to place the RTD plugs at the bottom of the receptacle box (not shown in diagram). That way every plug will be centrally located. The third small hole is for the stir motor power.



I'm really hoping to have this all put together and ready for a test run within a week or two. I'm hoping to have the maiden batch be ready for New Years!

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Old 12-05-2012, 11:49 PM   #8
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looks great man..

one comment.
on your herms out (i beleive thats what it is), youve got 2 valves (one for recirc I assume.. I would be slightly concerned with the distance you will be from the pot in terms of the 2nd valve handle.. the further you get away, the more torque you will be applying to that weldless connection.. over time, you may see leaks.. of course, this is just from the pics, it may be solid as a rock.. but just a comment!

cheers!

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Old 12-06-2012, 01:03 AM   #9
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You're absolutely right, it does take a bit of oomph to switch the valves (even the one closer to the kettle wall), but instead of wiggling the bulkhead connection itself, it kindof flexes the thin kettle wall. I guess that's the price I pay for not paying the price of a thick-wall pot.. With the wide washers on each side however, I'm not worried about the integrity of the seal. But all the valves do require a little respect and thought when turning them.

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Old 12-06-2012, 02:46 PM   #10
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you may want to brace the upper valve using the handle somehow.. a long threaded rod and some ingenuity should get you there

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