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Old 11-09-2011, 06:46 PM   #1
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Default BCS vs. PIDs

I wanted to ask what the decision making process was like for those who looked at both options and ultimately went one way or the other. I guess I understand those folks who just copied Kal's awesome design or someone else's but I'm sure some folks looked at the BCS as well as multiple PIDs and really put their functions against each other.

I'll get around to my own design concept and requirements but I wanted to hear why you choose one way or the other.

Some of the basic things I'm hesitant about with the BCS is having to have some client device near the brewery. I don't have an iThing so I guess I'd need a tablet or cheap laptop. It's weird to think I'd have to mess with a computer with wet hands.

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Old 11-09-2011, 07:03 PM   #2
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BCS is far more flexible. I didn't really consider the PID's all that much. I now have the BCS on a 3 tier and a PID on an indoor BIAB (with a cool sight glass from some guy, his name will come to me ) The BCS allows for a complete and total automation, which unfortunately I never finished because of back limitations on cleaning the 3 Keggle set up.

The only negative with the BCS is the limitation of the Thermistor probes which I find lacking compared to the RTD. The positives far outweigh this IMO, as you can expand and control many devices including your fermentation, you can chart temps. Remote wireless control, you could turn on your electric HLT from work and have it ready to go when you got home. I really never scratched the surface with mine in all the things you can do and since then the device has been upgraded a lot. I also liked the ability to program everything on screen as compared to those little buttons on the PID's.

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Old 11-09-2011, 07:11 PM   #3
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Subscribed! I am in the process of designing a build for my brew setup and trying to figure out the best route. This thread should give me some good feedback on the BCS which I'm considering vs the brewtroller vs multiple PID's.

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Old 11-09-2011, 07:11 PM   #4
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are you ruling out other options Bobby?

Brewtroller could be a great option that doesn't require a client or iThingy and really adds flexibility.

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Old 11-09-2011, 07:21 PM   #5
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the way i see it- the only real difference between standard PID controllers and something like BCS is the user interface. if you like a nice pretty GUI with pictures and buttons, or really want to integrate or automate everything- go with BCS. if you dont care about bells and whistles, or your setup is more basic and you only need something to control a heating element, and a simple $35 PID controller will work just fine.

so- it depends on how many inputs and outputs you want to tie together on one screen. if the answer is one or two, probably use PIDs. if its 5-10 or more, go for some type of hardware interface with BCS/brewtroller software on a computer.

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Old 11-09-2011, 07:36 PM   #6
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On Layne's electric rig we balanced both options and opted for the BCS. The interface is very nice and gives the operator a lot more power (automation, ramp, PID, temp switch, etc) to work with. It was cost effective when compared with the price of the PIDS and gave more options. Plus you can access it from the internet.

The only downside I see with the BCS is that there is no autotune for the PIDS. That would have been a nice feature.

Also, I always have a comp running during brewday for timers, on the fly calcs and other stuff. So having the interface seemed convenient to me.

Here is a vid of Layne's control system using BCS if you are interested in seeing how I implemented it.

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Old 11-09-2011, 08:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boerderij_Kabouter View Post
The only downside I see with the BCS is that there is no autotune for the PIDS. That would have been a nice feature.
Interesting point, but in reality with my system I quickly figured out that I only needed to set my temps with a slight 1-2F differential and I never needed an auto-tune feature as mine never overshot the temps. Could be I was just lucky. I was actually surprised when I got a PID that such a feature existed and in practice the PID doesn't work nearly as well as the built in PID on the BCS, then again that could just be my set up.
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:16 PM   #8
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You are correct that the auto tuning seems easier to setup than the reality. Garbage in garbage out is a major part of any tuning. But for someone without an engineering or other pertinent background, manually tuning a PID can be a daunting procedure.

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Old 11-09-2011, 08:25 PM   #9
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I got the BCS, because I had grand visions of using it as a central control hub for the complete brewing process. I have not got to using it to control my fermentation yet, but will in the future. I found it very flexible and easy to get up and running, as I am NOT an engineer. Also the size is really nice, as compared to a PID. And there are multiple output functionality (manual, PID, duty cycle and hysteresis, One thing I don't like too much are the temperature probes. I have not been able to successfully calibrate them to be better than a +or-1º. But i think I must be doing some thing wrong.

Also setting it up to be controlled wireless was a great connivance factor, and gets your laptop or desktop a good distance from the brewing action. though I'm looking to incorporate and old iPod touch or a cheep tablet to control the brewery.

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Old 11-09-2011, 08:30 PM   #10
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I think part of it really depends on the level of automation you are looking for. If you just want to set your HLT temp and maybe MLT temp, I don't see why you'd want to get a BCS for that...it's way overkill and more expensive than just buying a couple of PIDs.

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