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Old 11-07-2012, 08:56 PM   #21
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Let me know if you have any brew days coming up!
If not this weekend, the next. Pipeline is OK at the moment but a few beers need to age to be ideal so I'm brewing more. Starting to need more kegs though...more $$$

Sorry, back on topic!

I'm 120v, too, as I had dedicated outlets somewhat nearby but no 220 and only 100A service in the house to begin with. That means I can always flip one element off if the boil ever does get too vigorous, hence I don't have controllers. It's not scientific, but most of the time it's not much different than turning on the stove would be and I rarely even have to turn an element off. For me it was the fastest, cheapest way to get brewing indoors.

I'm glad you're aiming high though and don't want to discourage you in any way! Might as well go big!
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Open log Fermenting and gas-can secondary?? I am planning my next brew right now!!
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:08 AM   #22
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Have you thought about buying one of the control systems from High Gravity?

I'm not sure how price compares to building your own. If you add in your lack of tools, maybe it would work out better/cheaper.

I also understand (at least for me) that half of the fun is building and understanding the stuff.

Chris

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Old 11-08-2012, 01:56 AM   #23
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I'm confused. The ebook has nothing more than the website. It is word for word, picture for picture, identical. It's simply an electronic book version of the build instructions on the site meant for eBook readers (iPad, Kindle, etc), for printing, or for just having a complete backup (just in case).

I only say this because I don't want to mislead others into thinking there's something different, nor do I want people to think I'm "holding back" information that is only available to those who pay (I'm not a big fan of that business model).

All of the information on my site is, and will always be, 100% free. I will never post something that is only available for those who pay.

Kal
Then I guess I tricked myself by having it in a streamlined format and not having to navigate. My bad. I swear, I must just space off when trying to read things on a static web site - I guess I need to look into getting a tablet to improve that, so things will be more book-like?

I sure feel dumb now. :P eBook is still worth buying though. I guess I'll print a copy and put it in a binder so that I can refer to it old-skool like.

TL;DR: Kal is right and I am remarkably ignorant!
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:10 PM   #24
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Wow. I'm still feeling *really* overwhelmed by the scope of this project. I've been reading every build thread I can get my hands on to, and even after all of this, I still do not feel like I genuinely understand how one of the elements mounts, or is wired, or how it works.

I'm really fed up and frustrated with myself for being so dense about this. But I genuinely feel like I have no clue what I am doing.

I really don't want "much" of a control panel. The more I think about it, I am really not into the whole automated, integrated, shiny, blingy aesthetic. The High Gravity EBC SV controller would be absolutely adequate for my wants/needs. I don't quite understand why it's $500, it seems a little high, but I really don't understand what each of these components "should" cost, even after reading the excel price list that whoever has floating around.

But.... I do not know if I want to give up on my dream of having a HEX coil. I want to step mash and even mash out and I can never make it work out via the infusion method. Recirculating through a coil just "sounds right".

And worse, I really don't have a budget for this project. Like, the closer to $0 that I spend, the better.

I keep coming back to "It's just not going to happen, it's not in the cards." And that makes me feel ridiculous, because I'm too much of a wuss to go brew outside in the cold, but I drink so much that I can't just stop brewing for the winter, or I'll run out of money on commercial brew.

This is just all very frustrating to me right now.... ...it just makes me feel so stupid, being unable to understand how this all fits together and what all I need to accomplish this.

The fact that I am agonizing over spending $40 on a new kettle bulkhead and $30 on a new mash tun bulkhead is probably a glaring warning sign that I should stop pursuing the electric build until I have financial things into better shape...... Argh.

I should work on my fermentation cabinet, to see if I can give myself an attainable project and run with it. I don't know how I'm going to cut the hole in the cabinet though. Maybe I should not have bought steel. Hm. But I already have all the parts for the cabinet (minus the pink foam sheets) so it shouldn't be a big expense to complete the job.

If I can finish the fermentation cabinet, which involves a kiddie level of wiring, then maybe I'll feel better about things and can move on to building a vent hood. And if the vent hood works out, maybe I can finally think about punching a hole in my kettle and wiring up an element. :/

I am just so disappointed in myself over this... The rate at which other brewers on here are cranking out their e-builds puts me to damned shame.

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Old 12-11-2012, 05:06 PM   #25
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I don't understand how to build an airplane... some folks do. I don't have the spare cash to buy an airplane... some folks do. I still love flying though!

Know your limitations (financial, time, DIY, whatever) and accept them. Remember - beer has been brewed for hundreds if not thousands of years, long before flashy control panels, recirculating HERMS coils, electric elements, or any of that stuff. If you don't think you have the skills or funds to build your own, and you don't have the funds to buy a completed one, then it may be time to consider putting this project on hold and sticking to the real core of all this - brewing beer!

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Old 12-11-2012, 05:23 PM   #26
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I am afraid of airplanes. *hide* But I get your drift. Accepting my limitations -- okay, accepting ANYTHING -- is not my forte. I demand unreasonable perfection from myself and beat myself up when I fail to attain it. Normally I'd agree that I just need to clear my head and brew some beer, any way possible. It's a catch 22 because I don't want to brew any more than I have to, until I get the indoor brewery built: it's too cold outside and I have no garage or shelter of any kind. & I can't drop down to stovetop brewing because I don't have a stove. (Seriously. I cook on a rice cooker.)

At this point, I'm trying to think of the bare minimum I need to do, in order to brew indoors, in order to keep turning out beer.

1. The HLT is pre-baked and should work as-is, I just need to plug it in and give it a dry run to clean any stuff out of it. In theory, I can do this in my kitchen, unless the cord is the wrong type, or unless it's too low Amps. (No stove = available range outlet.)

2. The mash tun will be a regular cooler. I have a working mash tun, and I have a new cooler that will eventually become a mash tun. I could use either the old or the new. That is not a big stressor. Great. Moving on.

...That means that, in theory, I can already heat, mash, and sparge indoors and *ALL* I need to do is -
3. get a functioning element mounted in a kettle,
4. provide power to the kettle, ideally,
5. control the power once it hits boiling, and
6. vent the steam outdoors so I don't ruin my home.

That's all. That's really, really all. So how can it still seem like such a mountain of work?!

Maybe I can break it into bite-sized chunks so small that I can finally understand it and stop freaking out. Let's try it using Step 3. Get functioning element mounted in a kettle.

I feel like if I can't do this step, the project truly is a dead-end. The steps are covered in detail by Kal. He even sells a pre-fab assembly.

To complete Step 3, I need to do the following tasks at absolute minimum:

- Measure and mark where I want the bottom (and center and top) of the element to sit at on the kettle's wall. Too high and it causes problems with minimum liquid level. Too low and it causes problems with the bottom curved edge of the kettle. There is a "right way" to do this. I just need to execute it correctly. If I do not, I am out $30 for a used kettle. That is not so bad. It could be $300 for a Blingman.

- Drill a pilot hole using the center mark. There is really no risk here. I have drill bits. I have a drill. The kettle is aluminum and drills very easily.

- Use the punch, which I already have, in order to punch the correct size of element hole. I feel like I should wait to do this until I actually have the element in-hand so I know I am punching the correct hole. I am terrified that I will wind up using the wrong punch, or calculating an ID instead of OD, or something else equally stupid. I don't know why I am so worried about it. Kal lists the correct size right on the site. I should relax and just perform the step. But... *panic*

- Once hole is punched, insert element assembly and tighten. Right? That's all. Just secure it, and leak test it.

So if I can find $195 for the pre-assembled Kal element assembly, I only need to find the time to perform the steps, and then Step #3 should be all but complete. That doesn't sound so bad.

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Old 12-11-2012, 06:17 PM   #27
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I would start with a quote from an electrician for upgrading your existing panel to breakers, higher amp service, etc. The cost may be significant.

For kettle temp and boil control it doesn't take much. Your kettle controller could be as simple as an ON/OFF switch and a PWM to control an SSR or a phase angle SSR.

Here are some details on my $300 eBIAB project. Once you remove the PID control and other features the price point drops further.
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f170/ebciii-inspired-ebiab-build-368976/

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Old 12-11-2012, 06:38 PM   #28
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To do the "real" brewery build-out will cost me at least $3k in electric work - I had a quote written up about a year ago - maybe $4k if I push the envelope by pulling a new 200A service, buried, and lots of dedicated 120v outlets strewn around the basement for all of my computer and/or beer gear.

But right now I am lowering my initial expectation to a portable "make do" sort of rig, where I can use existing outlets in the house - say, by unplugging the basement clothes dryer to plug in my boil kettle power source - or by unplugging the (non existent) oven in the first-floor kitchen in order to plug my HLT into - without making any wiring changes.

Of course, that means I'm also sans-GFCI....... I need to keep that in mind.

For the sake of discussion - Take only my turn-key HLT for example. It's plastic, the controls are plastic, the valve handle is plastic. Does it "need" a GFCI? I mean, obviously, it should have GFCI protection for general safety's sake... but if I'm using it as, essentially, a giant hot water tea kettle.... once it reaches the desired temp., as long as I power the unit off and unplug from power source - THEN begin to discharge the hot water into a carrying bucket - I wonder whether it would be do-able.

Is there such a thing as a pre-made PWM? I was not considering that option because I don't know how to solder so buying a PCM circuit board kit does not do me any good.

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Old 12-11-2012, 06:46 PM   #29
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To do the "real" brewery build will cost me at least $3k in electric work - I had a quote written up about a year ago - but I am lowering my initial expectation to a portable "make do" sort of rig, where I can use existing outlets in the house - say, by unplugging the dryer to plug in my boil kettle power source - or by unplugging the (non existent) oven to plug my HLT into - without making any wiring changes.

Of course, that means I'm also sans-GFCI....... I need to keep that in mind.

Is there such a thing as a pre-made PWM? I was not considering that option because I don't know how to solder so buying a PCM circuit board kit does not do me any good.
you can get one of the old xerox power cords with inline GFCI for less than $50. Its not to code but its certainly a hell of a lot better than nothing. Or you can build a spa panel setup that would plug into your dryer outlet for probably less than $75.

Going the electric brewery route without GFCI protection is a terrible idea.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:34 PM   #30
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Agreed - no GFCI on a pot full of liquid that you are pumping electricity into - and that you will likely touch / stir / contact in some way - is not a great idea.

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Building a Bad News Brewery - eHERMS

2014:
5gal Scottish Wee Heavy
5gal Saison
15gal American Pale Ale
20gal Belgian Wit (10 dumped)


Keg 1: Apfelwein
Keg 2: Belgian Wit (Failure)
Keg 3: American Pale Ale
Fermenting: Belgian Wit (Take 2)
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