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Old 08-08-2012, 08:50 PM   #1
stockmaster
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Default Automated Electric Arduino Based Brewing System

I know there are numerous possibilities of setups based on budget, skill set, materials etc. I also have read through many of the forums and gleaned a ton of information already. I'm looking for some tips and opinions for my specific needs / skills.

Skillz
Familiar with Arduino and processing as well as a number of other languages
I can Weld (TIG and Mig) and I'm familiar with fabrication.
Feel comfortable with wiring (but have a healthy respect for electricity) - prefer not messing with 220 if possible.
Have a basic understanding and experience brewing (no where near some people on this site, but I'm learning).

Requirements;
All electric - feel more comfortable building an all electric system. Ideally, i would like to use multiple 120v power sources (on different circuit breakers).
Automated - I would like to automate as much as possible, save data and provide some sort of gui for the whole thing.
Low Initial Cost - I'm looking to build a relatively cheap system and perhaps upgrade some of the components later.
Low Volume - not looking to start a nano or anything off the bat, and automated 5 gal system would be fine for starters.

Opinions?
HERMS or RIMS - leaning toward herms, just from what I've read (i know it a big topic)
2 kettle or 3 kettle - I've seen some systems use two like the (HABS) system that use the same kettle for the HLT and the BK.
Plastic or Metal - leaning toward a plastic MT, any disadvantage? I've seen some setups where the HLT is plastic with an electric element ... this seems a little sketch to me for some reason
One Pump or two - with a two kettle system it seems like it might be possible to to just use one peristaltic pump and some valves (this may be an oversimplification)
Fly Sparge or Batch Sparge - my understanding is that the biggest difference is how much of the sugar you can extract, if it's only a matter of a few % i'd prefer whatever is easiest.

I've looked at the HABS system, Brew troller and looked at allot of the info the Blackheart Brewery has posted. The habs system seems closest to what I would like to start with and perhaps upgrade from there. While I don't want to cheap out, I'm also not looking to break the bank. Again, I know some of this has been covered, but I wanted to start a thread for others who are looking for similar system.

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Old 08-09-2012, 03:36 AM   #2
SMc0724
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No experience, but here are my conclusions based on my research so far, and where I plan to go:

HERMS seems best
3 kettle - loose a lot of flexibility with 2.
Metal - plastic will do the job, but why skimp here
One Pump - for small systems, one is all that is really needed and is cheaper, keep a second around for good backup.
Fly Sparge - there is a discussion on this already.

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Old 08-09-2012, 03:56 AM   #3
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By plastic, do you mean a cooler? If so, the HERMS or RIMS may be overkill unless you do a lot of step mashes. If you are brewing hefeweizens regularly, that matters. For ales, not so much. My cooler holds mash temperature within 1*F for an hour of mashing.

You'll have to be quite automated before fly sparging is easier than batch. Maybe fly sparging will be a breeze if I ever finish my multi-line peristaltic pump with variable speed control. Otherwise, balancing flow rates and fly sparging to the proper volumes or pH looks like it would make my brew day more intense, not more enjoyable. Fly will get you a little more efficiency if you want bragging rights. At our scale of operation the cost of the hassle versus the cost of the grain just does not seem worth it to me.

Batch does commit you to 3 vessels, whether that is two kettles and a cooler, or three kettles.

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Old 08-09-2012, 04:18 AM   #4
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HERMS is my choice. I've done a few batches on my eHERMS setup now and I can say that the wort I produce has a much greater level of clarity and I think the beer is better. I definitely enjoy using the setup though- it feeds my geek. I did batch sparges for a while then switched to fly sparging... balancing the inflow and outflow wasn't really all that difficult. Sure you have to watch it but you can have a beer while doing that. Not too strenuous... and over sparging is unlikely if your recipe and volumes are correct.. My effeciency hovers around 80% now... I suppose I could push it higher but then I'd need to worry about over sparging.

Anyhow.. you can do a herms without getting into arudino though the idea sounds cool.

Good luck!

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Old 08-13-2012, 04:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThreeDogsNE View Post
By plastic, do you mean a cooler? If so, the HERMS or RIMS may be overkill unless you do a lot of step mashes. If you are brewing hefeweizens regularly, that matters. For ales, not so much. My cooler holds mash temperature within 1*F for an hour of mashing.
yeah I meant a cooler, like one of the really big ones, seems like you could insulate a keg, but I'm not looking to brew huge batches.
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Old 08-13-2012, 04:38 PM   #6
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The more research I do the more I realize how potentially costly this could be ...... I'd love to start simple and scale up to some thing more robust. I still really like the idea of having a robot (computer) to monitor and maintain temperature, ph etc. Just seems like it would be the best way to get result that re repeatable.

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Old 08-13-2012, 05:24 PM   #7
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stockmaster,
I'm starting simple and scaling up as well. The final product will be an all-grain, 3 pot HERMS plan with fermenters, starting from a single pot BIAB. I bought the Arduino, I have a modulating valve coming, and I plan to buy a few components to monitor. I think I will take it in like four or five steps:
0.5 BIAB, monitor
0.6 BIAB, monitor and pump
0.7 BIAB, monitor, pump, and automate heat control
0.8 manual all grain, 2 pots, monitor, automate pump, and automate control heat
0.9 all grain, 3 pots, monitor, automate pump, and automate control heat
1.0 full automation, all grain

What do you think?

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Old 08-18-2012, 02:59 AM   #8
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Hi Gents,
Just for another option on the automated brewery front, check out these threads. A few guys are building Braumeister type machines controlled by an arduino. Construction is fairly simple, brewing even easier, and no need for valves or solenoids (unless you add a whirlpool valve like i did).

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f170/bra...ed-rig-299192/

http://www.aussiehomebrewer.com/foru...4&st=0&start=0

Cheers

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