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Old 04-01-2012, 04:46 PM   #1
emribecky
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Default Budget Friendly Control Panel - 2 PID, 2 Element

Just wanted to throw my build out there in case there is anyone who is wanting to go electric, but cant quite swing the cost.

My story begins with a very successful 2011 Fantasy Football Season, where I won about $750 total. Top on my list of things to blow hard earned money on was a new Brew Rig. Living in WI meant a top priority was being able to brew year round, and having an open area in the basement meant i was going Electric. Where does everyone go to check out Electric Brewing? Why, theelectricbrewery.com of course.

Kal has crafted a fantastic brew rig, let alone a fantastic site with great info. But the pricetag.... wow. Don't get me wrong, the rig is worth every penny and is built to the highest standards... but I just couldn't afford spending all of my cash on only half of a control panel.

So what's a guy to do? Beg, Borrow, and Steal. Not to mention a close analysis of what were the most important CTQs (Critical To Quality, for you non Six Sigma folks) and how could I make them all work for half the cost.

Below is what I came up with. 12x12x6 PVC Junction Box for the enclosure. Scrounged and re-purposed as many parts as possible, (understanding this isn't always possible for everyone, I still included their value as part of the overall cost). Only used 2 PIDs to cut costs. Used cheaper "Box Mount" receptacles instead of the fancier "Flange Mount". I designed every aspect of the build with cost as a major driver, (i.e. a $15 illuminated switch is cool, but a separate $2 pilot light and $4 switch will work fine), etc etc.

I have sourcing lists and links for those interested in the nitty gritty. Again, I am wholly impressed with what others have done, especially the genesis of all of these rigs, Kal's. I just couldn't afford the level of build that he was able to pull off.

More pics to come when the entire brewery is up and running.

2012-02-28-20.12.31.jpg

2012-03-03-11.25.50.jpg

2012-03-03-12.26.19.jpg

2012-03-04-20.31.04.jpg

2012-03-31-17.17.46.jpg

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Old 04-01-2012, 04:50 PM   #2
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Very cool man! I've been wanting to go electric, but found myself in the same situation as yourself. Considering your winnings were $750, would that be the total build cost? I'm interested in parts lists and more pictures.

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Old 04-01-2012, 04:56 PM   #3
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The control panel got up to about $650, which includes the assumed value of all parts I scrounged and re-purposed.

There are plenty of other expenses that are somewhat specific to an individuals setup. How many vessels you are looking to build, how many you already have, if you need an exhaust system, etc. The above number includes the Camco 5500W heating elements and lock nuts plus $10 or so for mounting. The rest of your own expenditures will again depend on what you want and what you already have. PM me your email and I'll send my sourcing sheet.

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Old 04-01-2012, 05:15 PM   #4
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Nice work! Do you have a wiring diagram? Can you post a photo of the inside? I would like to see how you mounted your components. I am using the same box in my current rig. I am in the process of adding a second PID for my HLT, but it is really tight in there with three contactors.

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Old 04-01-2012, 05:32 PM   #5
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Thanks!

No wiring diagrams, just kind-of eyeballed it and scribbled out a few of the sub-assemblies on paper and wired it up in stages. The closest I have is just a mock up of the control panel, as seen below. I'll see about taking pictures of the inside, don't have any handy right now. I just screwed everything through the walls of the enclosure, which isn't a problem on the back cause the standoffs molded into the enclosure give enough clearance. A dab of silicone while mounting the parts and it should be tight enough.

sparky-panel.jpg

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Old 04-01-2012, 05:50 PM   #6
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Excellent pictures and post!
What has been the biggest expense so far to get the total up to $650?
Thanks

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Old 04-01-2012, 05:59 PM   #7
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The PIDs ($45 each) and the Temperature Probes ($35 each) were easily the big ticket items. The rest is just a bunch of small parts. Mouser.com is the best for researching whats out there for electrical components, and they have great prices. SSRs were $11 (amazon for those actually), Relays $8, Indicator Lamps were $2, Switches $5, etc etc. The 10/3 SJOW cable isn't cheap... $2 a foot or so...

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Old 04-01-2012, 06:17 PM   #8
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Thanks for the quick reply!

What did you use to cover the front of the control box?

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Old 04-02-2012, 02:29 AM   #9
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It's a dark gray rustoleum hammered finish, but specifically for plastic. Didnt even prime, and it adhered great. Very durable.

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Old 04-02-2012, 03:48 AM   #10
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Loving your work! Isn't bargain hunting fun
Got any pics of the inside of the control panel?

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