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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Brew Stands > A Little Automation
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Old 06-13-2010, 04:24 PM   #1
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Default A Little Automation

My daughter has appropriated my wife's old macbook pro to play flash games so I appropriated her little green computer to brew beer. I plugged in some usb-controlled thermocouples and relays and I cut a few hours off my pay-attention-to-the-brew time!

So far I have only automated the HLT (including the valve.) Next up: another valve (from HLT to Kettle) and a separate heat-stick for the kettle so all I'll have to do is wander over and throw some hops in at the right times.

Right now I'm only using two 7.5 gallon turkey fryers to make 3 gallon batches, but I've got another one handy for when I go 3-level and get a pump and go to a whole 6 gallons with HERMS...

The whole setup:

This wasn't so much of a build as it was a cobble-together but it is boiling me a copper-kolsh (what else would you call a red ale with kolsh yeast?) right now (as I post, not in this picture--in the picture it is waiting for the time to start, which was 5am this morning.)

Many thanks to all of you who have contributed pictures of your own builds! I have wasted so much time looking at them on this forum...


Reason: Clarify post
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Old 06-13-2010, 06:35 PM   #2
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That's awesome!

this is a whole new level in "Necessity is the mother of all invention"

Parts list please? What are you using to interface the thermocouples and valves?

Originally Posted by Ecnerwal View Post
What does the primary pressure gauge on the tank tell us? That's right, the temperature. Put it on a scale if you want to know how much is in it...
Put some duct tape over the gauge - Or better yet - Replace the high pressure gauge with a plug - High pressure gauges are useless!
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:23 PM   #3
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Location: San Diego
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The electronic bits:

(from Phidgets.com)
2 x 1051 USB Temperature Sensors $57 each
1 x 1018 USB 8/8/8 I/O boards $76

(from Tequipment.net)
2 x UEIATT50 K-Type liquid probes $36 each

(from PowerSwitchTail.com)
5 x switchtails $15 each, I'm only using two right now

(from SparkFun Electronics)
1 x 18-pin wire-wrap socket $2
1 x ULN2803 DIP 8-Channel Darlington Driver $2

(From valves4projects on ebay)
2 x 1/2" Solenoid Valve 120-Volt AC VITON STAINLESS S21V $41 each

I also made a heat-stick after reading about them here on homebrewtalk... I have parts for two more but I'm only using one at the moment.

Also: 2 x GFCI units from Home Depot for circuits that don't have 'em, and those heat-sticks are wired for GFCI. Don't want to electrocute myself, thanks!

I got my three Eastman 7.5 gallon turkey fryers when someone was blowing them out for $80 each... I drilled holes in 'em and put in weldless bulkheads and valves a while back... so I needed solenoids that fit the those 1/2 inch NPT bulkheads you see on homebrew supply sites everywhere.

Oh, and:

1 x laptop running linux, apt-get install pygame, download and compile the Phidgets C Library 2.1

1 x dangerbeer autobrew python program (a work in progress) written by yours truly.

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