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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Automated Brewing Forum > Help me build my BCS-462 control panel!
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Old 02-26-2013, 07:38 PM   #1
kaz4121
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Default Help me build my BCS-462 control panel!

Hey guys,

Let me first start of by saying that I've learned an IMMENSE amount of information over the past 5 months regarding ebreweries from just reading various HBT threads and checking out Kal's website. I haven't however, really found a good primer for those with ZERO electrical engineering background (my biomedical engineering degree does me no good here!).

Essentially I am in the process of building my electric brewery. Here are my components:

2 custom build 11-gallon kettles (for HLT, BK)
10 gallon Igloo MLT
2 5500W heating elements (for HLT, BK)
1 Chugger pump
1 Plate chiller
1 keezer (converted freezer)
1 fermentation chamber (converted freezer)
1 small serving fridge

Initially I wanted to go the PID route, but after realizing I could use the BCS-462 to power my converted freezers (for fermentation fridge and kegerator), I have jumped on the BCS train!

So here is what I am thinking:
BCS-462
HLT temperature control
MLT temperature reading
BK temperature control
Plate chiller temperature reading
Keezer temperature control
Fermentation temperature control
Serving fridge temperature control
Ambient air temperature reading
E-stop and red LED indicator
Keyed on/off switch for brewing control and a green LED indicator
3 way switch (auto/off/manual) for pump (and yellow LED indicator)
3 way switch (HLT/OFF/BK) for element control (and blue LED indicator)

Here are some preliminary questions that will hopefully get me point in the right direction:

1. Is it possible to run my fermentation chamber, serving fridge, kegerator, and brew day operations (1 element at a time and the pump) simultaneously with a 30A GFCI?

2. Can I make it so that the BCS is powered independently of the brewing control panel, but still included in the brewing control panel? (Assuming I will need a direct power source to the BCS)

3. What is the easiest (and hopefully cheapest) way to make the BCS wireless?

4. Will you guys help me construct my control panel?

I'd really like to turn this thread into a "How to ..." with step by step instructions and detailed explanation of not only HOW to build it, but WHY you need each component, what they do, etc. I know this might sound stupid to all of you advanced electrical guys, but for us regular folk, I think a home-built ebrewery is an option with a little guidance.

I have looked at over a dozen BCS builds and they are informative and have given me some information, but since each system is a little different, it has been hard to compare apples to apples. Plus, I can't read electrical diagrams, so its hard to know what the components are going into the systems.

Anyway, thanks for the help!

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Old 02-28-2013, 03:06 AM   #2
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Well looks like no one took the bait.

After continuing my research, i came across this diagram from PJ that is similar, but not exactly what I want to do. I also found the schematic from ebrewsupply.com for their pre-fab system, which again, is similar to what i want to do, but not exact.

http://www.pjmuth.org/beerstuff/imag...ring-2-4-c.jpg

http://www.ebrewsupply.com/designs/3...2-Electric.pdf

Could someone let me know if I could achieve the above (first post) with a 30a GFCI or do I need a 50a GFCI to run everything?

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Old 02-28-2013, 04:03 PM   #3
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2. Can I make it so that the BCS is powered independently of the brewing control panel, but still included in the brewing control panel? (Assuming I will need a direct power source to the BCS)
You do need a direct power source for the BCS wall wart. In my setup I have two control panels. One for Ferm control and one for Brew control. The BCS is centrally located between the two and plugged into the wall. I ran cat5 cables from the each panel and wired it up to the respective BCS terminals. The BCS is up on the wall and away from any water and dust so I am not too concerned with it being exposed.

If you want the BCS in your control panel, you just need to wire an outlet in there. The one outlet would need to remain powered while everything else is not so that the BCS can control ferm and serving temps. I have seen photos of setups like this around here somewhere.

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3. What is the easiest (and hopefully cheapest) way to make the BCS wireless?
I use an Apple airport express as a bridge in the brewery to my main Apple router in the house. Before I drank the Apple cool aid I used a Belkin bridge to my Belkin router. The Belkin sucked and had to be reset frequently. I have never lost connection with the Apple gear.
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Old 02-28-2013, 05:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by kaz4121 View Post
Here are some preliminary questions that will hopefully get me point in the right direction:

1. Is it possible to run my fermentation chamber, serving fridge, kegerator, and brew day operations (1 element at a time and the pump) simultaneously with a 30A GFCI?

2. Can I make it so that the BCS is powered independently of the brewing control panel, but still included in the brewing control panel? (Assuming I will need a direct power source to the BCS)

3. What is the easiest (and hopefully cheapest) way to make the BCS wireless?

4. Will you guys help me construct my control panel?
1. I would move up to a 50A GFCI, it never hurts to have some extra capacity. I'm assuming you will be using 220V elements? If so, then 5500 watts translates to 25A, if not then it's already at 50A. Pumps are not big power hogs, March 809s need less than .2 Amp. You didn't mention how much or if you will need heating in your ferm control. You will also need to be sure to setup the BCS properly to insure both heating elements do not come on at the same time. I'm just doing the math here and use NG for my rig. This is better answered by someone currently electric brewing. I stepped in because no one was swinging at your question.

2. Yes of course, you would just plug it into an outlet/circuit that remains powered all the time.

3. Hard to say, since we don't know your current internet situation. I've successfully used power line adapters in the past. YMMV on them, I've had friends that had problems with them. I just bit the bullet and ran CAT5e to the BCS, it's the best solution and cheapest.

4. Sure, but you have to live close to me or be willing to travel.
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:34 AM   #5
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Is it possible to wire the BCS "upstream" and have, say a 2 position switch to control on/off for it and then have an estop and key switch "downstream"? Or do they have to be separate? I understand that the BCS needs a wall wart but how can I also give power to the kegerator,serving fridge, fermenter, etc without having to give power to everything all the time?

My plan was to just use one of the 5500W elements at a times, particularly if I could accomplish my goal with a 30a GFCI. I just figured it would be cheaper that way (since I'm bringing in an electrician). Is the cost difference pretty negligible?

My ferm is a converted freezer, but I plan on adding a heating source so i can properly ferment in the winter in my basement.

I was thinking about just running the cat5e to the bcs as well, since I have some lines running down there anyway.

Thanks for the help so far guys, I appreciate it.

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Old 03-01-2013, 12:41 AM   #6
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Is it possible to wire the BCS "upstream" and have, say a 2 position switch to control on/off for it and then have an estop and key switch "downstream"? Or do they have to be separate?
It is definitely possible. I would wire it in series so your 120v comes into the control panel to the outlet that powers the BCS, then through the e-stop, then to everything else. So when you kill the estop the BCS still has power.
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Old 03-01-2013, 01:50 AM   #7
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Awesome! That's what I was thinking but wasn't sure if it was actually possible or not.

So reading more about the GFCI here is what I am calculating for the amperage for part of my system:

(2) 240V/5500W heating elements = 22.9A each = 45.8A total
(1) 120V/29W Chugger pump = 0.25A total
(1) 120V/6W BCS-462 = 0.05A total (i dont know if this sounds right?)
(1) 120V/700W keezer = 5.9A total/10A startup (this is an older chest freezer)
(1) 120V/350W fermentation fridge = 3A total/5A startup
(1) 120V/1200W space heater for heat in ferm = 10A (probably will use something different but rather overestimate than underestimate)
(1) 120V/145W serving (mini) fridge = 1.2A total/2A startup

So in theory, I would be running .05+10+5+10+1.2=26.3A max with just my auxiliary items? Does that seem reasonable? So if I add an element and a pump that would push it to 49.3A?

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Old 03-03-2013, 03:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by BentTwigBrew

It is definitely possible. I would wire it in series so your 120v comes into the control panel to the outlet that powers the BCS, then through the e-stop, then to everything else. So when you kill the estop the BCS still has power.
I think what you are describing is wiring the BCS in parallel to everything else not in series. If it were in series then everything would loose power when you hit the E stop. Think of the crappy Christmas lights were the whole strand goes out when one bulb burns out. If you go with PJs implementation of the EStop then you will be killing power from the GFCI so to keep the BCS on you would need to power it from a separate 120v outlet.

I would suggest having 2 control panels. One with the BCS in it along with relays and temp sensor inputs for the fridges/freezers. These will be going all the time. This control panel would be powered from its own 120v outlet. The second panel would be your 240v brew panel that is only powered on brew days. This way you have no chance of accidentally turning on and burning up one of the heating elements when you aren't brewing. You can then use cat5 or something else like a db25 cable to connect all the control lines and temp sensors from the brew panel back to the BCS.
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:29 PM   #9
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I would suggest having 2 control panels. One with the BCS in it along with relays and temp sensor inputs for the fridges/freezers. These will be going all the time. This control panel would be powered from its own 120v outlet. The second panel would be your 240v brew panel that is only powered on brew days.
+1. This is pretty much what I did. A 462 easily has enough DIN/DOUT and analog TEMP inputs to run fermentation chambers, fridges, and your brew day, the issue is power these various components. Best to keep each on a separate circuit (e.g. dedicated 30A for fridge/freezer; 50A for brewing). I'm running 2 pumps, 2X 5500W elements, and my control box wide open without issue. Being able to heat water in an HLT and BK at the same time is a real time save.

Good luck!
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