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Old 04-01-2009, 06:56 PM   #1
WBC
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Default Automated brewing

Hello to everyone who loves to brew.
I just joined the many happy people who want to make brewing more consistent and easier to brew by participating in the open source development and by purchasing a control board kit that is part of the control system I am building. This board and available freeware is only $60.00 as a kit and $70.00 as a completely soldered PC Board. There are other items you will need depending on things like gas or electric heating and how many pumps and valves you will have. You can use as much or as little features this board provides. It has built in programing for temperature control with or without PID programing and it's settings are fully adjustable through a liquid crystal screen which displays all temperatures and where it is while the program is running. The controller also has auto reset to the point you were at if the power fails during brewing as well as manual mode. You can step mash under PID control for the ultimate brew. Recirculation is a must so temperatures stay even in the vessel(s). I consider this the best brewing controller at this time due to it's commitment to quality and performance. Their forum will help you fix any problems which is rare these days and this makes it a real bargain in today's economy.

Board and software link: BrewTroller

brewtroller-splash.jpg

brewtroller_2.0__49cfebf489c2c.jpg  
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Fermentor 1: Bill's House Ale II, Fermentor 2: German Helles, Fermentor 3: Bill's Schworzbier (Black Bier)
Tap 1: Bill's House Ale II, Tap 2: German Hefewizen, Tap 3: Nut Brown Ale
Future Brews: Stone IPA Clone, Blonde Ale, Budvar Clone, Newcastle Clone
New toy: Blichmann 27 gallon fermentor


“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging”

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment”


Last edited by WBC; 04-01-2009 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 04-02-2009, 03:19 AM   #2
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I'm very interested in this package. I've been looking for an automation solution and yours is certainly cheaper than purchasing a Ranco to control the MLT/HLT and a PID to control the kettle.

Have you tested the board/software with any PIDs? If so, how accurate can this controller be for a given temperature or load?

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Planned: Lambic, American IPA
Fermenting: 6 gals of 1.090 stout (Belgian) & 6 gals of 1.090 stout (English)
Tapped: Berliner Weisse, Black English IPA, German Pils, & Live Oak Primus
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:08 AM   #3
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Hmmm very interesting what did the entire system cost you? What are you controlling?

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Old 04-02-2009, 07:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaybird View Post
Hmmm very interesting what did the entire system cost you? What are you controlling?
I am controlling everything I can.

Temperatures of the brewing process. HLT, MASH, BOIL/With PID control.
Mashing sequence, standard or step mash (recirculating during the mash).
I will have indicator LED's for all pumps or valves indication open or closed.

Right now I manually control all fluid transfers but in the future it will all be automated stainless valves with pressure transducers to control liquid levels.
This is all programmable and once calibrated is fully automatic.

Alarms for hop additions and for dumping in the grain will be in the program. You could automate that too but it would be another set of hoppers with solenoids or motors to fabricate. It all depends on how fancy you want to get and how much money you can spend.

The completed board with everything on it is about $100.00 which includes everything you see in the picture and the LCD screen too. The PID temperature control is worth that alone.

Bill C
aka-WBC
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WBC

Fermentor 1: Bill's House Ale II, Fermentor 2: German Helles, Fermentor 3: Bill's Schworzbier (Black Bier)
Tap 1: Bill's House Ale II, Tap 2: German Hefewizen, Tap 3: Nut Brown Ale
Future Brews: Stone IPA Clone, Blonde Ale, Budvar Clone, Newcastle Clone
New toy: Blichmann 27 gallon fermentor


“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging”

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment”

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Old 04-02-2009, 07:42 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lamarguy View Post
I'm very interested in this package. I've been looking for an automation solution and yours is certainly cheaper than purchasing a Ranco to control the MLT/HLT and a PID to control the kettle.

Have you tested the board/software with any PIDs? If so, how accurate can this controller be for a given temperature or load?
The PID program is integrated in the firmware, it is included. As far as accuracy goes the sensors are very accurate (+- 0.5 C over the entire range, which is about 1/2 degree F.

Look up this sensor (DS18B20) for details. You can have up to 6 of them.

link: http://datasheets.maxim-ic.com/en/ds/DS18B20.pdf

Bill C
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Cheers,
WBC

Fermentor 1: Bill's House Ale II, Fermentor 2: German Helles, Fermentor 3: Bill's Schworzbier (Black Bier)
Tap 1: Bill's House Ale II, Tap 2: German Hefewizen, Tap 3: Nut Brown Ale
Future Brews: Stone IPA Clone, Blonde Ale, Budvar Clone, Newcastle Clone
New toy: Blichmann 27 gallon fermentor


“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging”

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment”


Last edited by WBC; 04-02-2009 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WBC View Post
The PID program is integrated in the firmware, it is included. As far as accuracy goes the sensors are very accurate (+- 0.5 C over the entire range which is 1/2 degree F.

Look up this sensor (DS18B20) for details. You can have up to 6 of them.

link: http://datasheets.maxim-ic.com/en/ds/DS18B20.pdf

Bill C
aka-WBC
How would one utilize the temperature sensors in a probe configuration? For example in my system I will be utilizing a K thermocouple which has a 1/2" NPT thread screwed into the Keggle thermometer port and connected to a PID to control the HLT temperature. Also, are there relay drivers built into the board or are you going to design a relay driver board? If they are already on the board, how much current can they handle? The last question is what type of power supply is needed? BTW, very good idea and nice design.
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Last edited by Sawdustguy; 04-02-2009 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:41 AM   #7
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What makes this better than a BCS-460?

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Old 04-02-2009, 02:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by HarvInSTL View Post
What makes this better than a BCS-460?
Based on my reading, it is
  1. completely standalone (no iPhone or Laptop necessary)
  2. provides realtime sensor feedback (doesn't rely on HTTP Get/Post)
  3. has more inputs/outputs
  4. directly supports 1-Wire sensor networks (endless expansion)

Personally, I love the 1-Wire support because I built a fermentation control device using a laptop and 1-Wire network a while back and the process was very easy - all I had to do was write the software!
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Doggfather Brewery

Planned: Lambic, American IPA
Fermenting: 6 gals of 1.090 stout (Belgian) & 6 gals of 1.090 stout (English)
Tapped: Berliner Weisse, Black English IPA, German Pils, & Live Oak Primus
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sawdustguy View Post
How would one utilize the temperature sensors in a probe configuration? For example in my system I will be utilizing a K thermocouple which has a 1/2" NPT thread screwed into the Keggle thermometer port and connected to a PID to control the HLT temperature.
You could use your PID just for the HLT and the Brewtroller PID (integrated) to control the rest of your vessels.

Quote:
Also, are there relay drivers built into the board or are you going to design a relay driver board?
Yes the drivers are on the controller board(0.5A @ 50vdc)I believe. The actual relay board is being manufactured now as I write this. Ask Jeremiah about the delivery date. It will have direct connection to a relay board header on the control board.

Quote:
If they are already on the board, how much current can they handle?
I believe the Spec's for the supplied relays(120VAC @ 30 amps max). This is enough to run motors, solenoids and pumps that we homebrewers now use. Larger relays could be used for bigger equipment.

Quote:
The last question is what type of power supply is needed? BTW, very good idea and nice design.
1 amp regulated or larger @ 12VDC. A wall adapter is commonly used but better quality power supply's could be used.

If you are really into computers and electronics this project is fun and a complete operational system once assembled. There is plenty of help so ask Jeremiah at BrewTroller about anything you don't see covered at the website. He has been very busy lately trying to get the documentation up to date for the latest version 2.0 Brewtroller board. He now has them in stock.

Bill C
aka-WBC
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Cheers,
WBC

Fermentor 1: Bill's House Ale II, Fermentor 2: German Helles, Fermentor 3: Bill's Schworzbier (Black Bier)
Tap 1: Bill's House Ale II, Tap 2: German Hefewizen, Tap 3: Nut Brown Ale
Future Brews: Stone IPA Clone, Blonde Ale, Budvar Clone, Newcastle Clone
New toy: Blichmann 27 gallon fermentor


“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging”

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment”

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Old 04-03-2009, 03:00 AM   #10
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There are a couple of others that should be put out there:

Brew Droid: BrewDroid
Brew Master: Product List
Brew Magic: Brew-Magic by Sabco

I won't weigh in as I feel that I will be deemed impartial, but I will clear up one point about the bcs, there is no iphone or laptop dependency for it. Those are just methods of looking at the state, it runs on 1 watt of power with no connected computer indefinitely. You simply use http as means of seeing/controlling it. The bcs responds to the temperature controls without any connection to an external device and independently running control algorithms as a result of the various inputs available to the device such as temperature, time or switches.

It's really hard to resist comparing them, but I will show my resolve. For now.

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