The Great Bottle Opener Giveaway

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > All-Grain Brewery w/Automation--Concept Phase

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 03-22-2010, 10:01 PM   #1
kerklein2
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Austin
Posts: 388
Liked 13 Times on 11 Posts
Likes Given: 3

Default All-Grain Brewery w/Automation--Concept Phase

First, a little background on myself. I've been brewing since last January, so a little over a year and I think I've brewed 6 or 7 batches with another one upcoming this weekend. The beer I've been making has been getting better with each batch, so that's always good. My crowning achievement so far was the 3rd place medal we (a co-brewer and I) just collected this weekend at the Bluebonnet for our Belgian Tripel.

I've been planning to go all-grain at some point for a while now, but never really put too much thought into how or when, until now. At a recent happy hour with some coworkers I started talking about homebrewing with one of the managers in my group. I work as a mechanical engineer at a prominent test and measurement company. We started talking about how I could incorporate our products (hardware and software) into a homebrew setup and obviously I got pretty excited because I'd thought about doing this a lot. He suggested that I come up with a proposal for the project and he'd work to get me everything I needed (although I'm pretty sure he only meant our products). So here I am on HBT with a blank slate asking for ideas.

My current living situation is an apartment, and although I'll be looking for a new place in the next few months, chances are high that it will be another apartment with no outdoor brewing options. Given this constraint (a crappy one for this build, I know) I am limited to electric brewing and my stovetop. My initial thoughts are to do an electric HERMS system utilizing two 10 gallon coolers because I already have the coolers but I also realize adding ports and connectors to these coolers is not easy. So I want to open the floor to discussion on what I should build on a budget in an apartment but that I can still heavily utilize automation in. We have ranges of products for temperature measurement, any sensor measurement really, and digital control. What temperature measurements do I need, what other measurements? How many control lines do I need, etc. My kitchen is adjacent to my 220V line for for clothes dryer, so it might be possible to do 220V with an extension cord, but remember I might be moving.

I realize that might be a very vague and open ended post, but its supposed to be at this point. Let's get the ball rolling on this thing!

__________________

Last edited by kerklein2; 03-22-2010 at 11:57 PM.
kerklein2 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-23-2010, 01:49 AM   #2
kladue
Senior Member
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Turner, Oregon, Oregon most of the time now
Posts: 2,302
Liked 45 Times on 42 Posts

Default

I guess the place to start would be to define some system parameters;
Mash tun volume
Mash container
HLT volume
HLT container
Boiling kettle volume
Boiling kettle material
Beer batch size
Maximum starting gravity

Heat source selection
Direct fire gas
Steam
Electric

Control strategy
Binary
Floating digital
Analog

Sensor types
Analog:
Thermocouple
RTD
Pressure
Digital:
Level switch
Pressure switch

Software functionality
Execute programmed events w/o HMI
HMI initiated automated sequence
Automated sequence with recipe derived settings

Finally the foot print
Single tier
Stacked 2-3 tier
Free form with interconnects

__________________
kladue is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-23-2010, 03:21 PM   #3
kerklein2
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Austin
Posts: 388
Liked 13 Times on 11 Posts
Likes Given: 3

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by kladue View Post
I guess the place to start would be to define some system parameters;
Mash tun volume
Mash container
HLT volume
HLT container
Boiling kettle volume
Boiling kettle material
Beer batch size
Maximum starting gravity

Heat source selection
Direct fire gas
Steam
Electric

Control strategy
Binary
Floating digital
Analog

Sensor types
Analog:
Thermocouple
RTD
Pressure
Digital:
Level switch
Pressure switch

Software functionality
Execute programmed events w/o HMI
HMI initiated automated sequence
Automated sequence with recipe derived settings

Finally the foot print
Single tier
Stacked 2-3 tier
Free form with interconnects
Well I've already got 2 10 gallon water coolers so I am envisioning using these as the MLT and HLT similar to "The Pol's" setup seen here: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/new-...ms-pics-76773/

I currently have a 7.8gallon stainless kettle that can just barely handle 5 gallon full boils so I'll stick with that for now but could easily upgrade to a 10 gallon batch with these 10 gallon mash tuns.

Like I said, I'm in an apartment so I've got no gas. Steam is interesting, I'd need to read more about that. Electric seems like the easy choice here.

My control will all be my company's hardware and software.

I'll most likely be using thermocouples for temperature measurements. How many do I need? With a HERMS set up, is two enough? One in the HLT and one in the MLT? What would the pressure sensor or pressure switch be used for? Steam setup?

The form factor for now will have to just be single tier on my kitchen cabinets. I don't have the space to do anything outdoors, but there is the small possibility that could change.
__________________
kerklein2 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-23-2010, 05:06 PM   #4
sjlammer
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 576
Liked 5 Times on 5 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

The biggest concern for me would be building a system that you can easily expand to meet your needs. You are likely to spend somewhere between 200 - 500 hours researching and building this system. Also you will likely have 2000 - 3000 dollars worth of parts if you use fancy level sensors and pressure transducers.

I would hate to spend all that time and resources (even though some will be free) to build a system that can easily be outgrown.

__________________
~"A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it's better to be thoroughly sure.”

On Deck: Spruce APA, Chambord Fortified Chocolate Porter, Imperial IPA

Primary:
Primary:
Secondary: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Conical:
Lagering: None
Kegged/Drinking: Cascade, Cent., Amarillo Pale Ale
Kegged/Drinking: Belgian Pale Ale (HG yeast for yeast cropping see above)
Bottled: ESB
sjlammer is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-23-2010, 05:26 PM   #5
kerklein2
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Austin
Posts: 388
Liked 13 Times on 11 Posts
Likes Given: 3

Default

What is going to be outgrown besides the vessel size and possibly a switch to gas? Neither of these would happen anytime soon I imagine. I don't want to pass up this opportunity at work. Everything I put together now could be reused with different vessels and a different heat source I think.

Also I still don't know what a pressure transducer would be used for except in a steam setup.

__________________
kerklein2 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-23-2010, 07:40 PM   #6
jcdillin
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 705
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

We use the pressure transducers with the BrewTroller to read the volume of each of the 3 vessels. That way the system knows how much liquid you have.

__________________

Current Rig
4.5KW E-HLT
5.5KW E-Kettle
MasterFlex Peristaltic Primary Pump
March Secondary Pump
Therminator for Chilling

Planned
Automated Grain Drop
Automated Hop Dropper


System controlled via BrewTroller

jcdillin is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-23-2010, 07:52 PM   #7
Walker
I use secondaries. :p
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Walker's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 11,235
Liked 72 Times on 64 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default

You can do HERMS with an electric boil kettle and a single wort pump if you are doing batch sparging. One temp probe and one controller.

But, if you are able to get gear from your company, I'd go crazy and build something with gratuitous gadgets all over it.

__________________
Ground Fault Brewing Co.
Walker is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-23-2010, 07:53 PM   #8
kerklein2
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Austin
Posts: 388
Liked 13 Times on 11 Posts
Likes Given: 3

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Walker View Post
You can do HERMS with an electric boil kettle and a single wort pump if you are doing batch sparging. One temp probe and one controller.

But, if you are able to get gear from your company, I'd go crazy and build something with gratuitous gadgets all over it.
What kind of gadgets do you recommend?
__________________
kerklein2 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-23-2010, 08:05 PM   #9
diatonic
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Boise, ID
Posts: 713
Liked 10 Times on 8 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by kerklein2 View Post
What kind of gadgets do you recommend?
Actuated ball valves. There's a reason we use full-port ball valves in brewing. They open up to essentially unrestricted flow, and shut even if there's grain in the fluid. The biggest downfall I see to most automation done on this board is attempts to use soleniod valves in places where you'd normally see ball valves. Grain husks and other stuff can get in the way and cause them to not seat, making them leak. They also restrict flow and often need back pressure to allow the valve to un-seat.

Motor or air operated valves are expensive, but I think are the best way to go. If I ever take a shot at automation I planned to try to use a servo or stepper motor to operate ball valves, but no plans on the horizon.
__________________

.:diatonic:.

1° - Simple Cider (2/15/2014) - Saison Mead (6/26/2014) - En Perpetuum (Belgian sour base) (7/3/2014)
2° - Nuthin
Aging in a wine barrel - En Perpetuum—Solera (1/23/2011)
Kegs - May the Schwarz-Bier with you (2/9/2014) — Test Depth American Stout (8/29/2013), Big Red Imperial Red IPA (1/19/2014)

My brew rig is pretty much done :)
You should follow me on Twitter - My Brew Logs

diatonic is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 03-23-2010, 08:12 PM   #10
Walker
I use secondaries. :p
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Walker's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Cary, NC
Posts: 11,235
Liked 72 Times on 64 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default

Poorly stated by me....

What I meant was: I am building an electric HERMS system and opted for lowest cost, so I am building an electric boil keggle that will serve as the heat exchanger for my circulating mash (MLT is 10 gallon cooler). The water in the exchanger will be my sparge water at the end of the mash, so I will be temporarily pumping that into a smaller pot (poor man's HLT) at the end of the mash, just to get it out of my way for a few minutes.

Then I'll pump my first mash runnings into the keggle and start heating it.

Then I'll have to transfer the sparge water from that poor man's HLT into the mash tun, let it sit a bit, and then pump it into the keggle with the rest of the wort and start boiling.

I plan to upgrade later and build a dedicated HLT/Exchanger and just have my keggle be a simple boil kettle.

But, if money were not a factor in my decision making, I'd go right ahead with a dedicated HLT/exchanger right now and have two electric items in the brewery.

I don't know what kind of stuff your company makes, but if you can have things like float switches and pumps and all that capable of being driven by software, it would be cool as HELL to walk up to a computer and tell it, "Give me 4 gallons of 170*F water, please" and have it open valves to measure your water, and automatically kick on the heat.

If the thing can run brewing "programs" you could go hog wild and set up a flow chart for the whole brew session.

- open valve and run 4 gallons of water into boil kettle.
- begin heating boil kettle to 170*F
- open valve and run 4 gallons of water into HLT.
- begin heating HLT to 152*F
- wait for temps to be reached.....
- pump boil kettle contents to MLT.
- sound alarm so that I know it's time to dough in.
- reciruclate mash through HLT coil and maintain 152*F temp for 60 minutes
- stop recirculation pump
- raise temp of HLT water to 170*F while letting mash rest
- pump mash to boil kettle and start heating to boil
- pump HLT into MLT
- let rest 15 minutes
- pump MLT into kettle
- when kettle reaches boil, start timer
- when timer reaches hop additon time, sound alarm
- repeat timer alarms for hop additions for this recipe
- when boil is done, kill heat
- begin pumping water through IC in kettle until kettle contents reach 72*F
- pump kettle into carboy
- sound alarm to let me know to pitch yeast
- END

You could save the recipes in a file that the machine could read so that it would be able to configure the water volumes and temps, and hop alarms automatically.

I want one!

__________________
Ground Fault Brewing Co.
Walker is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
New Belgium Brewery Automation Video CalmYourself General Beer Discussion 6 04-08-2011 02:58 PM
Brewery Software for automation Cold_Steel Brewing Software 8 05-22-2009 12:41 AM
Phase 2 brewery boiler testing kladue DIY Projects 0 10-18-2008 02:47 AM
Phase 2 brewery construction photo kladue Equipment/Sanitation 35 07-24-2008 05:34 PM
yet another brewery concept Kaiser DIY Projects 19 01-30-2007 12:25 AM