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Old 02-01-2012, 10:31 PM   #1
chaserchap
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Default My minimalist E-build

Tax returns are a wonderful thing, especially when you're getting a whole lot more than expected. So what better way to blow through some of that money than by setting up an electrical brewing set up? That being said I don't want to spend too much, and I'm running with a few limitations, namely, I will only be using 120VAC connections, I want my build to be fairly portable, and entirely upgradeable.

I plan on updating this thread as things progress, so if you're interested, great, if not, my feelings won't be hurt.

To give some background I'm currently only running extract/specialty grain brews on the stove. I recently bought a turkey fryer, but I'd rather go all electric. I have two boiling kettles, one a 4 gallon for partial brews, and the turkey fryer came with an 8.34 gallon kettle.

So here's my plan, a 2.5 tier 2.5 pot system (you'll see what I mean):

The HLT/BK will have two 120v 2000W heating elements and an installed immersion chiller as well as a temperature probe and ball valve. The heating elements will be controlled using a PID in a control box. I hope to use the 8.34 gallon kettle I have, but I don't want to have to worry too much about boil overs. I only plan on doing 5 gallon batches, so I don't need a huge setup.

The MT will be a 10 gallon DIY Cooler build with a fly sparge system, rate controlled by ball valves. Since I'm going with a cooler build I'm not going to worry about HERMS/RIMS as it should hold temps pretty well.

As I said it's a 2.5 tier 2.5 pot system, the stand itself will only have two levels, one for the HLT/BK and one for the MT. Gravity will supply the pressure differential to push flow into the MT, I'll then use a 7 gallon bucket to collect the wort, once I've got my full boil amount I'll dump it back in the HLT/BK to begin the boil. Once the boil is done, IC chiller, gravity into fermenter (you know the drill).

Control panel will feature one PID to control the two SSRs to the HE's, a timer, alarm, I'll also be able to turn both heating elements on or off manually, as needed. The two HE's will be ran entirely separately off two separate 120V wall outlets, one of the plugs will also supply power to the control panel components. I'd like to have the PID only control one of the heating elements, and leave the other on all the time (unless manually shut off) but I'd have to figure out what wattage is going to hold the temperature around 170 fairly constantly. My wiring plan for the control panel is here however I'm not dead set on it as I want to make sure it's safe and will work how I envision it (I'm no EE).

As part of the build I'll also be implementing a temperature controlled ferm chamber, ie a modified chest freezer or mini fridge. I like the idea of the mini fridge if I can find one big enough so I can store it under the brew table, but I'm not picky.

The only work I've made toward this build is modifying a thermostat I had lying around to run the minifridge/freezer whenever I find one. But I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, considering it was the first time I've soldered anything.

I can't think of any other details right now, if I do I'll put them up.

Feel free to ask questions or make suggestions.

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Old 02-01-2012, 10:35 PM   #2
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Have you seen Jkarps Counter Brutus 20 system? If I was going 120V and wanting to stay cheap I'd be doing that, or something very similar.

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Old 02-01-2012, 10:39 PM   #3
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I haven't but I'll look into it.

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Old 02-01-2012, 10:52 PM   #4
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sounds like you have a plan... cant wait to see it in action!

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Old 02-02-2012, 04:17 PM   #5
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Ordered my fittings from Bargain Fittings! Super stoked! Though I'd hoped to not spend so much on the fittings... Oh well. This weekend I hope to build my brew bench and possible a CFC.

After looking at Jkarps counter brutus I've decided to do something similar, the main differences being that mine will have a dedicated space in my garage, so I won't use the bucket, and I plan on being able to do a 5 gallon boil.

The bench I build this weekend will be single level, though I doubt I buy the pump for a bit, so I'll have to rig something similar to my original plan to brew at first. I plan on making the bench 2'x6' and 3'6" tall, that's the plan anyway, we'll see how it works out.

I'm going to use my immersion chiller to make the CFC, following the solderless DIY on here. I don't expect any hiccups there.

I found a deep freeze on craigslist, 7 cu ft for $75 so I emailed the guy, if it's there when I get out of school it's mine. *fingers crossed* That'll be a project for next weekend, as well as my mash tun, assuming I can get it.

So currently my plan is as follows:
1. Bench/CFC because they're fairly cheap and easy.
2. Brew Kettle/Mash Tun, because I can get everything at about the prices I want.
3. Fermentation chamber as soon as I can find a freezer.
4. Electric components (heating elements, control panel, etc.)
5. Pump integration

SWMBO bought me an extract kit for Valentine's Day so hopefully there's a brew day in my future!

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Old 02-09-2012, 11:07 PM   #6
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Had a slight set back last weekend...my son was born!! He's my first and weighed in at 7lbs 15oz, he has definitely slowed the project down, but is much worth it.

I did get some time to work on my brew bench though, here's the finished product:

Not sure why it's coming in rotated like that, but you get the idea. I'm not planning on making the left hand portion the ferm chamber, instead of the freezer I bought. The freezer is just too handy for food. So I plan on keeping an eye out for insulation sheeting to line the left hand side with, my plan for cooling is getting a mini fridge and running antifreeze through the freezer to cool the chamber, thus keeping the fridge free for beer. Heating will be done with either a lamp or a mini heater.

I also got all my fittings, well, almost all of them. The sight glass kit was missing the polycarbonate tube and the eye bolt. I contacted Bargain Fittings and they were really awesome about it. Not only did they send me the new stuff, I had expressed interest in the temp probe/sight glass kit and they sent me a T fitting for free (well they haven't asked for anything yet). Hopefully I'll get those soon so I can get my brew kettle made.

I found some SSR's for pretty cheap so I picked up 4 of those to begin building the ferm chamber, and eventually my control panel.

My in-laws are in town, for the baby of course, and my father-in-law and I got a chance to brew a Maple Syrup Dark Ale yesterday, it was a kit from Midwest my SWMBO got me for V-Day. Woke up this morning to this:


I love a bubblin airlock in the morning!

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Old 02-10-2012, 02:34 PM   #7
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Just like kids to get in the way. Congrats and enjoy. Look forward to more progress pics.

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Old 02-10-2012, 05:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaserchap View Post
Woke up this morning to this:


I love a bubblin airlock in the morning!
That is a kick ass image... I may have to make that my desktop background at work!
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:10 PM   #9
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Haha, thanks! Feel free to use my image for whatever you need!

Quick update:

I've installed all my fittings, with the exception of the sight glass. The polycarbonate tube isn't here yet, so, obviously, I haven't put it in yet. I also haven't finished my mash tun. I'm trying to decide on a false bottom or braid. I won't be brewing for a couple weeks, so I'm not in a huge hurry. Here are current pics:

I'm not sure why the pictures I upload from my phone always come up sideways...



I finally got my temp probe adjusted to where it sticks in as much as possible...which amounts to about a half inch more than you see there...

Anyway, I'll prolly get the heating elements installed soon so at the very least I can brew with just electric instead of dealing with propane for my next brew...but then again, I may not...

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Old 03-05-2012, 12:13 AM   #10
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It's been awhile since I've updated, things have been hectic with the new baby and all. I've gotten some work done on the build though:

Finished my temperature controller today. I went with the DIY Temp controller build as I already had a thermostat laying around. It has some unfortunate disadvantages though, specifically it can only be set to cool down to 59* and it can only cool or heat at one time, no setting to control heat and cooling at the same time. I didn't realize that it couldn't do dual stage until after I'd wired it to do so...so I tore it down today and rewired it for single stage control. I shouldn't need to heat and cool at the same time, but it'd be nice to set it and forget it. It's been warm here though so I'm going to clear out the deep freeze and use it for a week. The SWMBO isn't too thrilled, but it's only for a week, then I'll pull it out and let it clean up in the ambient temps of the garage or the house.

I found a lint screen mesh bag thing at the Navy Exchange the other day, so I picked that up and modified a dip tube with it to help filter out some of the crud from the brew kettle. The dip tube is actually just a 45* SS elbow with a little extension on it, it doesn't screw on too tightly but I'm not too worried about it, doesn't need to be water tight.

It'll be a while before I get anything else built, the funds have tightened up. I might build the fermentation chamber if I can find the insulation for cheap, it won't be cooled as of now, but it'll be built. I'll just use a bucket of water and frozen two liters until I can get something a little more automatic.

I'll be bottling either tomorrow or Tuesday, and then doing my first all grain either Tuesday or Wednesday. Still no heating elements, so I'll be going gas and stovetop. Hopefully I'll get elements soon. I'm not looking forward to installing them, but I'll get them eventually. I'll post pics of my brewday in a few days.

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