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Old 12-09-2012, 02:55 AM   #11
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Spent most of the day assembling the control panel. I haven't plugged it in yet, I'll wait for tomorrow for some more thorough testing when I have some fresh eyes.









And the guts:







Testing report to come soon!

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Old 12-13-2012, 12:14 AM   #12
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After poking nearly every piece of conductive material for continuity testing, I plugged it in and it all seems to be operating just fine. I still have to finish getting my element wired up before I can do a boil test, but the outlets work, RTDs are in agreement, PWM seems in order. The one thing that doesn't work is the indicator light in the main power switch (supposed to light up red like all the others). And go figure, it is the one switch that is not easily replaceable (the conduit body is gobbed full of JB weld, which I now believe is the most annoying substance on Earth), so I guess I will just have to live with that.

I still need to assemble the kettle stir plate, but that should be all of five minutes. Once that and the element are finished, it should be time for a true test. So excited!

Here is a photo with everything on.

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Old 12-16-2012, 10:35 PM   #13
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So I wired up the element, just used some 1" pvc fittings to cover the wires and sealed it up with some silicone. I ran the ground around and pinched it in between a couple of lock nuts on one of the bulkhead fittings with a spade terminal fitting. Seems quite solid and all parts of the kettle are grounded now.



Popped a couple holes in the cooler lid for the RTD and top in-feed from the HERMS. The RTD hole has a small rubber grommet that keeps it pretty snug. Also chopped out a little section of the rack for easy access to the cooler.



The stir bar has been melting my brain. Initially I was planning on using a 12V pc fan and had gotten it all rigged up. The 3/4"x1/2" rare earth magnets had so much draw however that I had to get them pretty far away from the fan motor for it to operate. I used some old speaker mount to get some height away from the motor, and a mini cd to glue the magnets to. After getting it all centered and balanced it did a really great job of attracting and spinning the bar, and the PWM controller gave nice speed control.





Unfortunately, once water was in the kettle, the motor did not have nearly enough oomph to compete with the drag, and it would just spin very slowly at full speed. So it was back to the think tank. I had another little fan lying around that much to my surprise has quite a beefy little motor. At full power it feels like its going to fly off and has plenty of gusto to put up with drag. I transferred the magnets to it and mounted it using some left over tiling trim.




With the kettle full of water, this new motor has no problem getting the bar to spin quite quickly. At about 50% on the PWM controller, a nice little vortex starts to form. However, trying to up the speed any seems to be causing the motor to spin faster than the bar can, allowing the magnets beneath to skip ahead of the bar at which point the polarities now clash, and the motor slows way down and has trouble catching up. I am wondering if maybe these magnets are too strong? Would weaker magnets allow this skipped rotation to pass by and catch the bar again on the return without bogging the motor down when the matching polarities meet? Also, if the magnets are placed very close to the kettle bottom (< 1cm from the insulation) the attraction seems to be too strong, and the motor cannot get started. This little hiccup is driving me bananas. Has anyone had issues with magnets being too strong in a stir plate model? I suppose it makes sense, just a little disheartening and frustrating.

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Old 12-20-2012, 11:23 PM   #14
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After playing around with different stir bars and magnet spacing, a 2.5" egg shaped stir bar and a 2" standard stir bar seem to work fine. Neither of them can take much over about 50% from the PWM, which was the same for the 3" bar, but they both get a pretty good vortex going at that power or less. I guess the drag created by the big bar was just too much for the motor to take.

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Old 12-29-2012, 09:54 PM   #15
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I finally managed to get off my lazy holiday-butt and did some system testing. All of the below tests were done with 19L in the pot (~5 gal) and the stir bar going.

After futzing around with the Auber manual my trusty brewing partner and I set out to do an auto tune. (Cord management to come at a later date )




Never to miss a chance to collect some data, I decided to log the time/temperature of all the tests! The below graph shows the temperature rising during the Auto Tune (set at 70C, but going to 60C because of the 10 degree offset in the PID auto tune settings). You can see the slope between the 10 and 15 minute points is not as high. At ~13 minutes I learned that our refrigerator is on the same breaker that I was planning to brew on! When the compressor flipped on it tripped the breaker. A quick relocation of outlets (luckily there are two in the kitchen) and we were back in action. The PID reached 60C at just about 27 minutes, gaining only 0.2 degrees above SV. It took about 5 minutes to cool to 58.8, at which point the element heated once again. The Auto Tune process finished at about 44 minutes and then proceeded to the actual set point of 70C. It overshot by about a 1.5 degrees; might need a little playing with. No temperature gradients were noted with a secondary RTD.




Next up was the boil test. I set the PID to 100% in manual mode. At just under 20 minutes the kettle reached a boil. At about 4,700 ft elevation I get a slight break on boiling temperature. I did a little bit of playing around with the output percentage once at a boil. It seemed to maintain the boil quite well at 90% power, but was slightly stronger at 100%. No stir bar was used during the boil, but it remained in the pot for later use.




Satisfied with the boil, we moved on to cooling. With the HERMS coil attached to the faucet, cooling begins at 10 minutes in the below figure. We reached the target temperature of 20C in just under 19 minutes without ever having to lift the lid of the kettle, stick any new objects in, or transfer the fluid to any secondary cooling unit. I'm quite happy with the results.





All in all this system is performing exactly as I had wished. The stir bar has done a great job of keeping temperatures equal throughout during heating, and really helps the cooling efficiency. Last thing to do is hook up the mash tun and do a little bit of pump rate/heat transfer testing for the HERMS.

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Old 01-01-2013, 10:58 PM   #16
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Did some HERMS testing with the mash tun and pump hooked up. The kettle was filled with 15.25L of water, just above the HERMS coil, and the cooler was filled with about 14L of water. The temperature measured 10.8C and 10.6C, respectively. I'm not sure if there really was a difference or the two RTDs are just a little off from one another. Whatever the case, they're close enough for me.

Here are some photos of the unit all hooked up. I would kind of like to mount the panel off to the left,but I don't really have anything on hand to do it well and am having trouble convincing myself to spend more money. I would like to do a little wire management as well. Since the stir motor never moves I can tie its cord up, but I haven't come up with a good temporary management system for the power cords and RTD cords that wont be a hassle when the system is taken apart for cleaning.





For the first test I decided to heat the mash tun water simply by recirculating while the kettle is heated to the set point of the PID. In a normal brewing scenario I imagine I would probably heat the mash water, transfer it to the cooler and let the cooler equilibrate while another batch of water is added to the kettle (maybe preheated on the stove). This test just gave me a good idea of the response time of the HERMS and another chance to see how well the PID landed at its set point. In the photos above you can see the coil valve is open part way, restricting the flow of the recirculation. I'm not sure how much flow can be achieved with grain in the mash tun, but it was my best guess at a near reasonable replication.


The graph above shows the kettle (BK) and mash tun (MT) temperatures going to the set point of 74C. The MT maintained a pretty uniform offset throughout heating, taking about an hour and a half to get to the set point. Just like in the last test, the BK overshot its set point by about two degrees. I was surprised by this since the kettle was suffering heat loss from the coil that it had not seen during the previous auto tune. Once things has settled, I decided to retry the auto tuning of the PID. I bumped it up only slightly to 76.7 and left the recirculation running. It completed the auto tune very quickly, and did a much better job of maintaining set temperature.


You can see in the above graph that the kettle had a tight tolerance, and the mash tun slowly creeped up to the set point over the twenty minute test.

I am still really happy with the performance of the system and can't wait to do a real batch on it. I have to go out of town for a little over a week, but hopefully I can jump on it right when I get back!

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Old 01-01-2013, 11:42 PM   #17
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Here is one more photo of the system all packed up and ready for slumber in its closet lair.

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Old 01-03-2013, 11:15 PM   #18
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What kind of insulation did you use on the kettle? I'm looking to insulate my BIAB keggle that I use for both mashing and boiling, and was planning on using the Reflectix insulation from Lowes, but your self-stick black foam insulation looks much nicer.

Whats it called? Where did you get it? How expensive is it? Thanks in advance, and nice looking kettle!

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Old 01-12-2013, 12:28 AM   #19
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Sorry for the delay.

The insulation is from McMaster. They sell it in bulk sheets by the foot for a really reasonable price. I just ordered 2' so I would have plenty for the kettle wall, bottom, and lid. They cut it quite generously too, I probably got closer to 3' so I probably would have gotten away with only ordering 1', but who knew. When the kettle is at boil the insulation is just warm to the touch.

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Originally Posted by BrothOfVigor View Post
1/2" thick adhesive backed polyurethane foam insulation (http://www.mcmaster.com/#9385K61)
I'm brewing up an IPA for the system's maiden voyage this weekend, so photos and notes to come!
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:08 AM   #20
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Question on this build, I'm looking to do something similar. How well does the second batch of water come up to temperature. What I mean is as follows.

1. Heat up mash water, push it to the mash tun and dough in.
2. You now want to use your HERMS coil, so you add new water, normal tap water back to boil kettle enough to cover the HERMS coil, but that water has to come up to temp before it can be used for HERMS.

How long does step 2 take? I'm curious because if it takes 15-20 minutes, that's 1/4 to 1/3 of your mash time.

I'm trying to understand how well a 120V HERMS works.

-Josh

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