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Old 01-14-2014, 04:27 PM   #1
ArmOnFire
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Default BCS 460 or....

I am looking to change over from propane burner AG setup to electric, with some automation (or semi-automation). I also want to add a pump as I currently have to lift the hot kegs to gravity transfer, it sucks and is dangerous.
I have the 5500w element kits on order to install in my kegs that were converted to HLT and BK.

The BCS 460 looks like it will do everything I had envisioned that I wanted to have in a semi-auto brew control system:
-Control heating elements and pumps
-Monitor temps
-Load recipes
-HMI/ GUI/ Display
-Data logging

I have a few questions:

1) Is there another controller I should be looking at?

2) Any BCS 460 users wish they went with something else and why?

In the back of my head I want to get the BCS 462 for the added inputs

Thank you in advance,
Dan

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Old 01-14-2014, 08:14 PM   #2
alien
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Sounds like you know what you want.

Brewtroller is the other main option, which allows you to go even further down the automation rabbithole, provided you are willing to do get down in the nitty gritty, but it is not particularly well documented. For that reason it tends to appeal to tech types who like to engineer their own systems.

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Old 01-14-2014, 08:48 PM   #3
sennister
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I have a 460 on order.

Brewtroller as mentioned has a few more features. There are a couple other options out there but nothing that I could find that was as well of a finished product. While I work in IT I don't want to spend a lot of time programming and fiddling with things. I do that at work enough. So the BCS seemed to cover what I wanted.

Here is a good comparison from someone who has used both and what I used to finalize my decision.

http://www.revivalbrew.com/2013/02/b...s-bcs-460.html

You mentioned you were thinking of the 462 as you liked the additional inputs. Just wondering, what would those be for? I am building a HERMS brewery and I really haven't seen where I would use those additional inputs unless I wanted to use this same controller for running a fermentation controller. In my case I don't ferment where I brew and it would be a pain to run wires that far. They do make an expansion board for the 460 so that might be an option for you if you wanted to later upgrade. If you think you might want that you should also consider a larger enclosure than normal. A popular enclosure is the NEMA Enclosure 400x400x200 (16"x16"x8") that Kal uses in The Electric Brewery. I bumped up to the slightly larger NEMA Enclosure 600x500x200 24"x20"x8". In my case I went a little bigger to have room as I am going 50A but if you are planning additional inputs that may be nice to have the room as well.

One thing I see people complain about with the BCS is that they don't want to have to relay on a computer in the brew area or risk having one there. I was originally planning on going with a touch screen computer on a wall mount. Later as I was looking into it more I discovered that I could go with a much larger TV (non-touch) with a small PC. Then use physical input buttons on the panel to tell it to go to the next step in the program/clear alarms ect. It really didn't cost much for the momentary buttons for this. So minimal increase in cost to max out the 460 with 4 separate inputs even if I don't find a need for them. You can also add PID Displays to get a readout from the BCS directly on the panel. This eliminates the need for the separate display. Now you can log in, program and get things going, then move to the panel to run basically everything in the brew day and not have to mess with the computer or have it next to your brewing.

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Old 01-15-2014, 01:47 AM   #4
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That's a pretty honest comparison, thank for that link.

I don't really have an answer as to why I was thinking I need the 462 over the 460. But I just didn't want to limit myself in the future as the Digi 16 expansion card has four additional inputs, but not for temp sensors inputs.
https://www.brewershardware.com/BCS-...n-powered.html

I think the Digi16 would be useful for the automating of valves for pumping sequences.

For what I will be doing right away, the temp sensors will be:
HLT, MT, BK

The outputs (PWM) will be:
HLT, BK

Output (PWM or 2 state):
Pump 1

I have a donor desktop with a flat screen monitor, a few old laptop, or iPod touch. My android phone is integral to my brew days anyways, so that part doesn't bother me.
I will be incorporating ON/ OFF/ AUTO switch for each heating element and the pumps on the front of my control enclosure with indicating lights for the ON and AUTO.

I have a large enclosure for this project.

I may add some displays for the PID outs, amp meter, and volt meter.

The thing that is holding me up right now is the length of the temp sensor, thinking 4" or 6".
Also how to get them in each vessel, NPT or compression fittings.

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Old 01-15-2014, 02:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmOnFire View Post
That's a pretty honest comparison, thank for that link.

I don't really have an answer as to why I was thinking I need the 462 over the 460. But I just didn't want to limit myself in the future as the Digi 16 expansion card has four additional inputs, but not for temp sensors inputs.
https://www.brewershardware.com/BCS-...n-powered.html

I think the Digi16 would be useful for the automating of valves for pumping sequences.

For what I will be doing right away, the temp sensors will be:
HLT, MT, BK

The outputs (PWM) will be:
HLT, BK

Output (PWM or 2 state):
Pump 1

I have a donor desktop with a flat screen monitor, a few old laptop, or iPod touch. My android phone is integral to my brew days anyways, so that part doesn't bother me.
I will be incorporating ON/ OFF/ AUTO switch for each heating element and the pumps on the front of my control enclosure with indicating lights for the ON and AUTO.

I have a large enclosure for this project.

I may add some displays for the PID outs, amp meter, and volt meter.

The thing that is holding me up right now is the length of the temp sensor, thinking 4" or 6".
Also how to get them in each vessel, NPT or compression fittings.
After mentioning the expansion, I went to look at it and saw it was only outputs so you are right no additional temp readings. Like I said, unless you are going to leave the panel on all the time and use it for a fermentation chamber, I really don't see the need for more than 4 temp readings.

Of course everyone's situation is different and human nature is people think what they do is best so I always try and take that into account when reading posts and try and keep that in mind as I post things.

In my case I ordered this.

http://www.ebrewsupply.com/shop/ebre...lete50bcs.html

I did the optional Alarm circuit and added the Wifi option. Not to get the Wifi but simply to add $50 to the order as I spoke with him before hand about this to pay the difference for the larger enclosure. Then I added the 3 additional momentary push buttons. If you are going to have an alarm in your panel I would do one push button for one of the Discrete Inputs at least. Like I mentioned I am maxing mine out with 4 but that may be overkill. I just don't want to later go back and drill holes and wire in more later.

I am on the fence on the volt and ampmeter. As well as the PID displays. I won't be doing them now. I mainly mentioned it as an FYI as they are options. The biggest complaint I seem to see about the BCS is that you have to run to a PC all the time. There is an iPhone app and one for Android. I am an Android user my self. As an IT guy I also have tons of computers laying around like you. I was thinking like I said an all-in-one touch screen. Personally I hate All-in-ones but thought it would be nice to have everything in one package on the wall. Cost wise I would be limited to 27". In my case I will be brewing in my Polebarn/shop and a much larger display would be nice out there. So by going non-touch and leverage the discrete inputs I think I can use the display more for keeping an eye on things. Being larger (50" or so) means I can mount it on the wall in an area more useful for general use out there rather than just brewing.

For the probes I was in the same boat and did a mix of 4" and 6". I think I went with 1x4" and 3x6" as the kit I ordered came with all 4. So I plan on monitoring HLT 6", MT 6", MT return 4" (HERMS) and BK 6". I am doing the compression fitting method the reasoning behind that for me came down to the fact that the compression fitting means that the length of the temp probe is basically adjustable since the temp sensor is at the tip of the probe in either design. I was in the same boat, thinking that I may find the longer 6" may be too long and in the way while stirring but I may find that it is beneficial. So by going compression, I can decide later if I want to use the full 6" or not as I gain experience with the system. Also if you want to remove the probe for clean out or kettle cleaning would be easier to remove it in a compression configuration as you don't have to spin the probe (more importantly 6'-10' of wire attached to it flopping around) to unscrew it. It just seemed to make more sense to me and again to my application. If it worked for everyone they wouldn't bother offering a NPT solution. Just a note in case you didn't know, when using the compression fitting solution you don't use the ferrule. If you did, it would compress on the probe and you wouldn't be able to adjust how deep it is installed in the kettle. This is replaced with a couple o-rings. It still seals up fine and lets you adjust installation depth. Though I have read that adjustments with liquid in the tank are not recommended as it will leak when the nut is backed off.
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Old 01-15-2014, 02:46 AM   #6
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I was just looking over the complete 50A and the 30A DIY kit from EBS. That is a great looking system, I am sure you will be happy with it.

Thanks for the info on the temp sensors, that was helpful.

I am on the fence about if I should go with the EBS complete kit or the 2 element kit as I have some of what I need already and what to make it a little different:
http://www.ebrewsupply.com/shop/ebre...s-30a-kit.html

Doing to cost estimation now to see what the savings would be.

-Dan

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Old 01-15-2014, 03:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmOnFire View Post
I was just looking over the complete 50A and the 30A DIY kit from EBS. That is a great looking system, I am sure you will be happy with it.

Thanks for the info on the temp sensors, that was helpful.

I am on the fence about if I should go with the EBS complete kit or the 2 element kit as I have some of what I need already and what to make it a little different:
http://www.ebrewsupply.com/shop/ebre...s-30a-kit.html

Doing to cost estimation now to see what the savings would be.

-Dan

Yeah, again I have been through all of that. I was on the fence on if I would go 30 or 50. I went 50 because I didn't want to have to worry about what position the element select switch was in. Since I am brewing in a detached building there might be a case where I fill the kettles and turn on the master power but not start heating anything at that point in time. Then later remotely fire up heat in the HLT and start the re-circulation to get to dough in temp.

In my case I had a big spread sheet with costs of everything, who had the best price for parts between EBH and Brewer's Hardware. It was going to be EBH's basic DIY kit for either a 30 or 50 BCS then a mix between the two for the other stuff. For instance the temp probes at Brewer's Hardware are much cheaper. EBH then had a Black Friday Sale on the complete 50A kit. I think it was about $100 off the price it is now. When I bounced that off my spreadsheet I got about the same price but this meant I could just do everything in a single order and not screw around with it. He also let me upgrade the enclosure like I mentioned. It also worked out better for me in that I really didn't have much stocked up already. Well at least nothing that was duplicated. Though there are some things that I could probably get cheaper than he could. I have a source where I can get most electrical stuff (wire, twist locks, sockets and such) at 5% over cost from a local Electrical Supplier. I will take advantage of that for my GFCI and 6 gauge wire to the panel as well as wire to the elements. Debating now on how I want to do the elements. I was going to do the GFCI box which is popular but I really like the Triclamp option as well.
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Old 01-15-2014, 03:18 AM   #8
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Cool, sounds like we have similar purchasing methodologies.

For the elements, I decided to go with keg kits:
http://www.kegkits.com/Merchant2/mer...y_Code=EB_Kits

The tri clamp method would be nice alternative for ease of cleaning if you ever wanted to do it that way.

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Old 01-15-2014, 03:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmOnFire View Post
Cool, sounds like we have similar purchasing methodologies.

For the elements, I decided to go with keg kits:
http://www.kegkits.com/Merchant2/mer...y_Code=EB_Kits

The tri clamp method would be nice alternative for ease of cleaning if you ever wanted to do it that way.
Yeah, cleanout is why I am thinking about going that route.

That price isn't bad but it is only a 3' cable. If bumped up to a 9' cable which is pretty much the minimum that I would need the price is the same as EBH. He has a double box for a bit more room and protective mesh over the wire. and 10' of wire. Though in my case, I will just order my elements off Amazon for $28. Then get the rest form the elec supplier. I don't have a link to the Tri-clover here as I am on vacation and on my laptop but I think I was looking at this one. http://www.brewershardware.com/TC15F10NPSCOV.html

In all with my discounts I think I will be looking at about $100-120 to electrify each kettle. The wire and such I can get pretty cheap.
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Old 01-17-2014, 01:06 AM   #10
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You really need to first have a goal...then you can decide which system to get. Both require a bit of effort and DIY and each offer it's own strengths and weaknesses. I went the Brewtroller path and am satisfied with the end result.


My main goal was to shorten my brew day, have manual/auto control to move liquor/wort, and have temperature control. I viewed the DX1 as more of a brew day manager...stepping though each phase either manually or automatically. My goals were met as I can set the DX1 to delay start before I even get out of bed. It fills the HLT to the calculated level, heats it to strike temp and fills the MLT(from the bottom), auto refills the HLT, and starts mashing using the HERMS coil. Thats when I show up and stir and have a cup of coffee while mashing. I am almost halfway done with brewing and just showed up.

I wasn't able to find a BCS system successfully operating this way, although it may exist. Good luck in your build.

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