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Old 01-01-2013, 02:37 AM   #1
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Default Best way to wire indoor BCS to outside brew rig?

I'm thinking about getting a BCS system. I assume it would be best to mount the BCS control box near my fermentation chamber since it will always need to be plugged in. But how should I connect the BCS to my outdoor propane RIMS rig? Distance is probably 20-30' but I could possibly move things around if distance becomes a problem. I'm not planning to automate valves or propane yet, but probably will in the next year or two. For now I just need to control two (maybe three) pumps and one RIMS heating element with input from one or two temp probes.

Best I can figure out i have two good options.

1)Put all the SSRs in the box with the BCS, output would be to large gauge wires and a receptacle box that I can pull out to the rig on brew day where I'd plug in the pumps and heating element. Temp probe wires could be run along as well.
Pros: Most everything is in one box, out of the elements; no need for separate 120V power in brewing area.
Cons: no control of pumps etc except by laptop/tablet when standing in front of the brew rig. No E-stop on brew rig. possible interference on temp probe wires

2) build a separate control box on the brew rig with 120V input and a bank of SSRs. The DC Control signals from BCS would be carried by small gauge (CAT5?) cables. Likewise temp probe wires.
Pros: Easy to pull CAT5, switches and e-stop could be wired on rig
Cons: must build and wire two separate control boxes, requires 120V GFCI at both BCS and Rig box

Seems to me Option 1 would be easier initially and Option 2 sort of loses some of the advantages of the BCS in this limited automation set up. Might as well control brewing with Auber PID and control fermentation separately with a Johnson or STC.

HOWEVER, option two becomes much more attractive as I start adding propane and plumbing valves. I might end up having to pull a bundle of wires the size of my thigh at that point if I use Option 1.

Thoughts?

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Old 01-01-2013, 04:16 PM   #2
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I would definitely go with option 2. I am about to start build just about the same thing so have a look at a thread I started in electric brewing.

I've been stuck driving in the car for the last two days so I have rethought some things that I have not updated but basically what you see on my thread except flowing.
Move BCS, 12v and 6v to Ferm.
Like you said it will need to be always plugged in and running. I don't see how you will lose any functionality with the BCS. Easily pull 2 cat5 cables and have just about anything you could need on your brewstand. Also do you think you would need a gfi for the Ferm? And something else to think about with option 1 is much large gfi(expensive) as opposed to 1 or 2 smaller fuses.
I'm no expert so this is just what I have come up with.

Good luck.

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Old 01-02-2013, 01:56 PM   #3
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I built my BCS-460 into a small box that also has two SSR's for my freezer/fermentation chamber's heat and cooling along with 1 temperature probe connection. I also have 2 cat-5 connectors leading out for external connections. I ran all control wires out, including the ones used by the fermentation chamber, just in case I wanted to control something other than fermentation with those IO ports.

My electric rig connects to my 240v 50a service and has two cat-5 connectors for the BCS connections. I simply don't use the temperature input and two outputs used by the fermenter. I also am building a smoker that will use the BCS for control, so I will disconnect the brew rig and put the cat-5 cables into the smoker's control. All I will have to do then is to load a new config file to change input and output names and any PID parameters required, load a smoker process and start it going.

The cat-5 cables obviously don't carry similar signals to a computer network, but as long as the connectors are identified properly it only takes common sense to hook it up properly. I used two different color cat-5 connectors and cables for each hookup to make it easier on myself.

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Old 01-02-2013, 02:06 PM   #4
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That's what I was thinking too. I appreciate the input from those who have done similar!

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Old 01-03-2013, 11:27 PM   #5
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I guess mine is setup more like your option 2 but I’m not sure what you mean by “sort of loses some of the advantages of the BCS in this limited automation set up”.

I have my BCS in a control box with three SSR's, two for fermentation and one for Keezer control. I installed some keystone jacks on the side of it for four cat5 cables. The orange one is just a network cable for my BCS. The green one is the temp probs for my Fermenter and Keezer and the other two are for my brew rig. I have all the SSR's for my brew rig installed in a box on my rig and I supply power to the rig with a long PC power cord. I have a 16ft wiring harness that includes the power cord and two cat5 cables for the temp probs and SSR's on the rig. On brew day I just connect the cat5 cables to the side of the box and plug the power cord into the GFI plug on the front panel and my rig is ready to go.

I think you could go to 30' without any problem. Any longer you might start having some fluctuations in your temp prob readings.

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Old 01-04-2013, 08:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srimshot View Post
I guess mine is setup more like your option 2 but I’m not sure what you mean by “sort of loses some of the advantages of the BCS in this limited automation set up”.
Yeah, the more I go back and look at that line, the less I can remember what I was thinking. I believe what I was trying to say is that I won't be using the BCS to its fullest capabilities if it is only driving two pumps and one RIMS elementon the rig. My thought process was that if I was going to have to have a 120V hookup plus a bunch of SSR/switch wiring on the rig itself, I might as well go with a more conventional Auber PID and keep my fermentation controls separate. However, I guess if I'm looking to move toward propane and valve automation in the future it makes sense to go ahead and get everything set up from the get-go.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:24 PM   #7
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If you plan on doing more automation in the future then I would recommend just getting the controller you think you'll eventually end up with. Even if you think it may be underutilized at first, you'll at least gain some experience that will help you when you plan to further automate. Plus, I think it would provide you some incentive to do it sooner. For me, the benefits have having one controller and one interface for all my processes was a big plus.

I had some concerns about running the 120v line and the cat5 cables to the rig as well but after a few times brewing I found that it was no big deal at all.

Let me know if you have any questions and good luck!

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Old 01-04-2013, 11:16 PM   #8
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Thanks for the advice. I luckily already have a 120V GFI outlet in my covered outdoor brew area. I am planning to set up my fermentation chamber a short distance away, just inside a window, so I could easily run the CAT5 out that way.

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