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Old 05-16-2011, 03:48 PM   #1
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Default Control Box? Old Computer? Complete Noob

So I am determined to make brewing as complicated as I possibly can

I have no electrical background. No welding background. No designing circuitry background. No wiring background. No control box design background. No computer automation background - BUT I can use a computer, and I can also program a little

The question is where to start. I have no idea what the components I should be looking for are called. I haven't decided between the two yet. I'd like to do a lot of automation....so rather than designing a control box...maybe using an old computer is the way to go? So how would you use a computer to send power to and control things like the pump (march 809 on the way ), open and close thermo couplers...etc etc etc...

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Old 05-16-2011, 04:07 PM   #2
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So I am determined to make brewing as complicated as I possibly can
I can't help, I just think that's funny.
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Did you dry butt in the secondary?
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:04 PM   #3
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There is a guy on the boars called Kal. His website is http://theelectricbrewery.com/ and is pretty much the gold standard for electric brewery setups.
Great place to start looking, prepare to drool.

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Old 05-16-2011, 05:10 PM   #4
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So here's the thing.. you can absolutely use a computer, and many of us do. The problem is, your computer can't output 120V or 240V to power heating elements or pumps. You need mechanic or solid-state relays to power that stuff. That's where the control panel comes in. You can use a computer to send the signals that control the relays, but you can't use a computer to directly send AC power to a device - it doesn't work that way.

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Old 05-16-2011, 05:30 PM   #5
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Since the OP is proficient with computers I'd suggest that alternatives to the gold standard exists. Things like the BCS from www.embeddedcontrolconcepts.com or the BrewTroller. Kal's system is a thing of beauty but he did not design it as a full on automation system.

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Old 05-16-2011, 06:17 PM   #6
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Go check out http://www.brewtroller.com

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Old 05-16-2011, 06:37 PM   #7
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Since the OP is proficient with computers I'd suggest that alternatives to the gold standard exists. Things like the BCS from www.embeddedcontrolconcepts.com or the BrewTroller. Kal's system is a thing of beauty but he did not design it as a full on automation system.
That looks pretty sweet, but sweet jebus is that expensive...can't wait for christmas
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Old 05-16-2011, 06:44 PM   #8
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There are several ways to do it. If you want fancy and expensive, look around.

I'm going to try it with a 1-wire network, an old laptop (or desktop) running Linux, and a simple graphical interface (playing with PHP-GTK2).

The theory is that the 1-wire network can send temperature readings from several cheap sensors to the One Wire File System (OWFS) on the computer. PHP can read those values from the OWFS and do something with them.

The something they could do is turn on a relay using a 1-wire Switch.

A couple of sensors, a switch or two, and voila! Instant automation! (ha ha..)

Well, we'll see how it goes. I'm not actually looking to go full automation, just a display to show temps, and a controller to set the mash temp and HLT temps on an electric system. Maybe a timer for timing the mash.

I'll probably turn the pump on by hand...

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Old 05-16-2011, 07:05 PM   #9
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I'll probably turn the pump on by hand...
Ahhhh...so a lowly 'manual' system, eh?
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Old 05-16-2011, 07:30 PM   #10
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Ahhhh...so a lowly 'manual' system, eh?
We'll see. I mean, I still want to brew beer myself.

Of course, it might be nice to simply phone my brewbot and say, "HAL, please initiate program, name 'Black Betty'. Authorization: 758.9985"

And have a fermenter bubbling away when I get home. But I get an uncomfortable feeling about that level of automation for some reason...
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