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Old 10-05-2010, 04:13 AM   #1
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Default Computer Controlled Fermentation Chamber

I have computers laying around collecting dust. Seems to me that I could use one to program fermentation schedules. I've seen some usb relay boards but the ones I've seen so far are just on the limits of a compressor. Anyone know of one that would take a 'decent' load or should I just use one of them to drive another relay? I'd also need a suggestion for temperature input.

I want to go heat and cool. I'd like to be able to, for instance, program a Belgian where you typically keep the fermentation down and then let/force it to raise to a specific temp. That and doing a d-rest for a lager and then slowly cooling it down to lager temps.

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Old 10-05-2010, 02:48 PM   #2
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If i were doing it, I'd use an external relay. why? a board that can handle a compressor is expensive, and if something should go FuBar, you only lose the relay, not the IO board.
i know you said you've seen some boards, but I've been eyeing this guy for a while:
http://www.dontronics-shop.com/top16-usb-io-module.html
not too expensive, and programming looks like it would be a breeze

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Old 10-05-2010, 03:28 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mattmauriello View Post
If i were doing it, I'd use an external relay. why? a board that can handle a compressor is expensive, and if something should go FuBar, you only lose the relay, not the IO board.
i know you said you've seen some boards, but I've been eyeing this guy for a while:
http://www.dontronics-shop.com/top16-usb-io-module.html
not too expensive, and programming looks like it would be a breeze
That one has Linux support which would be a requirement at this point.

EDIT: Doing a little further research it seems Linux should recognize most devices natively and not need and special drivers.
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Old 10-06-2010, 01:06 AM   #4
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Linux should be able to recognize the device... it will just be a matter of being able to programatically access it since it looks like the API is developed for windows (.NET). I've seen a few instances of .NET being used in Linux, but not to a great extent and without a bit of pain getting it installed. On the other hand, if you are a talented programmer you could write your own API for Linux based off the DLL they have on their site (and share it with the rest of us!). Good luck either way!

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Old 10-06-2010, 01:22 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by RiverCityBrewer View Post
Linux should be able to recognize the device... it will just be a matter of being able to programatically access it since it looks like the API is developed for windows (.NET). I've seen a few instances of .NET being used in Linux, but not to a great extent and without a bit of pain getting it installed. On the other hand, if you are a talented programmer you could write your own API for Linux based off the DLL they have on their site (and share it with the rest of us!). Good luck either way!
I saw one site that gave some example code. If Linux recognizes the device it may be as simple as #echo >/dev/usbxxx (status). That said, my son is more than 'talented' when it comes to programing. That part will be on him. The friend that started me brewing is an EE and pushing me to look at the Aduino for this.
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Old 10-06-2010, 01:29 AM   #6
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I would agree with your friend... while I would love to pickup one of these boards to play with, I would hate to have to spend a ton of effort to get it to work. I would also love to play with the brewtroller but I don't have that kind of time anymore so I went with a BCS.

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Old 10-06-2010, 02:42 AM   #7
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Here is a USB relay board with higher current ratings http://www.phidgets.com/products.php?category=9&product_id=1014, also listed are code examples for use with this board. Here is a USB temperature sensor interface board for use with the digital temperature sensors http://www.bipom.com/products/us/2951624.html, add the digital sensors and that should take care of interface hardware. It should not take too long to write an app to do fermentation temperature management, about 20 hours if you do user interface graphics and files for data storage.

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