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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Automated Brewing Forum > Simple controller
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Old 10-18-2012, 08:38 PM   #1
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Default Simple controller

I've been looking for a simple controller design for a long time. I'm looking for something to simply control my mash temps, then increase it to boil in the same kettle. I have couple different elements, a couple keggles and bins full of spare copper and stainless. What I lack is any electrical know go. I'm not scared to learn or try something, I just don't know where to begin.

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Old 10-18-2012, 08:40 PM   #2
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Oh, I guess I should mention, all electric. Recirculated mash. Think Braumeister, but 'Merican style. All I'm trying to do is control the temps with two elements. I'll manually pump, valve, everything else. Just want to control temps.

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Old 10-18-2012, 09:45 PM   #3
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I would suggest a no frills Ranco setup with a SSR for each element. This would be easiest way I can think of. There are other types out there like Love controllers but at that point it's mostly a matter of taste for the looks of the thing. They all work and wire pretty much the same. I have a very complex setup with a web based controller BCS 460 - I"m overall not very happy with it. I end up using it in manual mode and it seems to freeze up and ruin every other batch (I've boiled a few mashes set to 153*).

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Old 10-18-2012, 10:57 PM   #4
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There are two basic types of controllers. Simple on/off controllers and PID. A simple on/off controller will turn the element on 100% until the process temp rises above the set point then it will turn the element off. Once the temp drops below the set point it turns the element back on. There are some draw backs to these types of controllers.

1. Overshoot. As the temp reaches the setpoint it will continue to rise once you turn off the element.

2. Ripple. Once you get to the setpoint you really want to find the correct throttle setting that will keep the mash at the correct temp instead of continuously turning the element on and off whether the mash temp is above or below the setpoint.

3. Steady state error. If you average out the ripple the average mash temp most likely wont be the same as the setpoint.

This is where PID controllers come into play. If you adjust the settings correctly you can eliminate all 3 of the above mentioned issues.

The ranco and love controllers that I know of are simple on/off controllers. You may want to look at a PID controller like the ones auber ins sells.

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Old 10-18-2012, 11:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crane View Post
...
You may want to look at a PID controller like the ones auber ins sells.
Excellent!

Look at their PID SYL-2352.

Need help? Ask.

P-J
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Old 10-19-2012, 03:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P-J
Excellent!

Look at their PID SYL-2352.

Need help? Ask.

P-J
So with that I can hook up both elements? I have a dedicated 220v 50a and 110 30a at my brew space.
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Old 10-19-2012, 04:15 PM   #7
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What is the wattage on each of the elements?

It's not quite as simple as just hooking up the elements directly to the output of the PID. You are going to need a solid state relay (SSR) in between the PID and the elements. The PID will output a low voltage 12V DC control signal. This control signal goes to the input of the SSR. The output of the SSR is basically a switch that will turn on/off the high voltage 120/240V AC going to the element.

I suggest taking a look at some of the builds in the electric brewing sub forum as well as looking at theelectricbrewery.com to get more familiar with these types of set ups. You will find that P-J has done an excellent job of providing hundreds of wiring diagrams for different builds on here.

You are also going to have to provide GFCI protection since your brewery is considered a wet space. The cheapest and most common way is to use a spa panel circuit breaker box.

When it comes to working with high voltages (120 and above) I am a firm believer that you have to learn how to fish instead of just asking someone for a fish. You really have to know exactly what's going on with each component and every node in your wiring diagram. This will help to make sure that you are using the correct components and wire gauge in your control panel. Before plugging anything in make sure all of your wire connections and crimp terminals are solid. Also use a multimeter to Ohm out all of your connections and to check for accidental shorts before you plug anything in for the first time.

One more thing, IMHO it's not worth buying cheap Chinese components off of eBay. You get no support when things don't work correctly and most the time they don't even come with a half way decent users manual to show you how to set it up correctly. Auber Ins has amazing customer support and is willing to help you get your setup working properly. Every time I have emailed them I get a response within a day.

If you don't want to buy all the components separately and assemble a control panel, high gravity brewing sells a single PID preassembled box. You are still going to have to provide a GFCI and deal with mounting the element(s) and element cover(s).

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Old 10-19-2012, 04:36 PM   #8
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I've got a 5500w, 4500w and two 2000w 120v.

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Old 10-19-2012, 04:44 PM   #9
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Generally people will put an element directly in the brew kettle but not in the mash tun do to scorching issues. For the mash tun a RIMs tube or HERMs setup is generally how it is done. However I think you will find on here some BIAB guys that have an element in their single vessel.

A single 5500W or 4500W element provides enough power for a keggle when it is run off of 240V.

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Old 10-19-2012, 04:47 PM   #10
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Even to boil 13 gallons?


My element will be below my grain and I'll be recirculating similar to a Braumeister, pumping into the middle of the mash. Then winching the grain out at boil time and sparging through the suspended grain.

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