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Old 05-07-2008, 12:32 AM   #1
Jared311
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Default Brewbot Module

Hey Folks,

As if I don't have enough work on my hands building my HERMS, I am also designing a temperature regulating module in parallel. The best part is my CS buddy is going to team up with me and do all the JAVA / GUI code. Below are some of the essential notes from our kick off meeting. More to come!

Hardware:

* Custom designed PCB
* Microcontroller with built in ADC's
* 4MHz crystal oscillator
* Bluetooth transceiver with antenna for serial communication with PC
* Mutiple input ports for thermocouples
* I/O Terminals for control of additional devices i.e. pumps, solenoids
* AC-DC & DC-DC converters to be capable of running on 120VAC
* Serial port for debugging and optional communication with PC
* LCD display for module status
* Single tone speaker for audible warnings

Software:

* JAVA GUI based
* Takes incoming data and converts it to temperatures using polynomial fit
* Generates real time plots and other visual features
* User configures software based on their brewery i.e. number of sensors, sensor locations, pump usage
* User inputs batch parameters i.e. mash time, mash temp, hop schedule
* Software communicates to microcontroller when necessary and gives commands based on configuration. i.e. modulate pump for heat exchanger, activate solenoids, turn on heating elements
* Software stores all gathered information into an XML file (Batch Log) that can be loaded later within the same software

Please let me know if there are any additional features that you would want to have if you were to have one of these modules in your setup.

Brewbots roll out!

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Old 05-07-2008, 12:47 AM   #2
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i'm not sure what exactly is going on there, but does this thing regulate your temp or what exactly? i'm interested. i shouldnt be this confused about anything related to beer!

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Old 05-07-2008, 12:51 AM   #3
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Yes, the main feature is that it will monitor temperature and regulate it. If you have electric heating elements, you could have the software fire relays that pass the AC voltage. Or if you have a pump that controls your HLT heat exchanger you could have a relay to that as well. Eventually I am going to replace all my valves with solenoids so that the software could even automate the entire brewing process with precise control.

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Old 05-07-2008, 12:53 AM   #4
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damn, thats impressive! you could make some consistent beer with that beast!

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Old 05-07-2008, 02:00 AM   #5
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Sounds somewhat similar to a project I started a while back: microcontroller-based board with USB communication with PC, with character LCD and menu buttons for standalone use, with SD card for long-term datalogging, plenty of analog inputs for temperature sensors, a couple relay outputs, and plenty of spare I/O pins for whatever else. I made the PCB, populated it, got it displaying stuff, logging temperature, communicating with PC and displaying temperature graphs... And then sort of lost motivation, as I so often do - partly because I'm a hardware guy, and the prospect of having many hours of additional programming when the hardware was all finished wasn't so thrilling.

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Old 05-07-2008, 05:18 AM   #6
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Might a thermistor make more sense in this application than a thermocouple? Thermocouples tend to be for up to several hundred degrees C and you're talking about probably no more than 110C (If you go all the way to boil, I don't know all your acronyms but I get a feeling this may be for mashing and maybe boiling?) I also think thermistors tend to be cheaper than thermocouples. I was thinking of something along the lines of this for a fermentation control system (central air for maybe 4 different fermentations).

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Old 05-07-2008, 06:01 AM   #7
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If you're looking for a projrct thats cool, if not in the end something like this would be quicker and cheaper.
http://web1.automationdirect.com/adc...DirectLogic_05
good luck!

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Old 05-07-2008, 06:25 AM   #8
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Why not brew beer by hand???? I like the brewing process, why the *uck would you want to automate the whole shebang? Way to much for me!

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Old 05-07-2008, 02:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe View Post
Why not brew beer by hand???? I like the brewing process, why the *uck would you want to automate the whole shebang? Way to much for me!
I get the strangest feeling you're not an engineer... Some of us have as much fun tinkering with gadgets to make the process easier as we do with the brewing itself. The more automation you introduce, the more precise control and repeatability you can have over the process. Of course it's not for everyone, but as a geek I love having more ways to monitor what's going on, and more ways to control it.

A few years back I bought a supercharger for my car. The day it arrived, someone I knew was dumbfounded at why I would want such a thing - she honestly did not see any point whatsoever to giving a car more power when it was already able to get you from point A to point B. The concept of driving enjoyment with a more powerful car was completely foreign to her. One comment was "Why on earth would you want that, so you can speed illegally?". Different strokes for different folks!
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Old 05-07-2008, 02:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KB12
Might a thermistor make more sense in this application than a thermocouple? Thermocouples tend to be for up to several hundred degrees C and you're talking about probably no more than 110C (If you go all the way to boil, I don't know all your acronyms but I get a feeling this may be for mashing and maybe boiling?) I also think thermistors tend to be cheaper than thermocouples.
I haven't ruled out the idea of a thermistor entirely. The only way I can even use a thermocouple is if I am able to design an extremely low offset amplifier circuit. Otherwise I will probably use thermistors mounted in thermowells and use some sort of constant current IC and measure the voltage still with the ADC. I did order a nice looking thermocouple off ebay for $6 and am going to test it out to see how feasible it is for this design. To answer your second question, this module will be used in the hot liquor tank, mash lauter tun, boiling pot, and perhaps during fermentation as well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe View Post
Why not brew beer by hand???? I like the brewing process, why the *uck would you want to automate the whole shebang? Way to much for me!
Its amazing how if you switch all the valves from manual to auto that people think the entire process has changed. Its still very much hands on. The difference is that software would allow you to control the valves so that you couldn't open the wrong valve at the wrong time. Relax, I love brewing and being involved in the batch.
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