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Old 05-02-2011, 03:07 AM   #1
tedclev
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Default Anyone care to explain automated brewing?

I've been reading a fair bit about PID and fuzzy logic controllers recently and am trying to picture how it all works. In my head, I'm thinking of how to make a single tier brewsystem with temp control of the HLT and MLT, something similar to Sabco's BrewMagic. I've seen some pretty snazzy fully auto brew systems out there, but I'm picturing something much more basic. I have zero experience with automation and don't know where I would begin. Also, I'm having trouble finding any threads on this topic that start at the absolute basics. I think what baffles me the most is this- I understand the concept of a controller, but how does it control the flame? I of course understand how I turn a knob and get more or less flame, but how does a controller do it? Any info or links to relevant threads would be very helpful. Cheers

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Old 05-02-2011, 03:43 AM   #2
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I don't know either... but doesn't automation take the fun out of brewing?

Yesterday I threw in .5 oz of Hallertau 10 min at the end of my boil and forgot to stir. Some got scorched the bottom but that's what I get for brewing after 11 hours of landscaping!

My pipeline ran out and I was desperate.

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Old 05-02-2011, 03:44 AM   #3
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For gas flame based systems, there are very few systems that adjust the actual level of the flame. Most systems simply turn a valve on/off to enable/disable the flame burner. You must first set the level of the flame with a manual adjustment. Think of a gas water heater. It turns on the burner until a set temp, then simply turns it back off.

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Old 05-02-2011, 03:47 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dallasdb View Post
I don't know either... but doesn't automation take the fun out of brewing?
Automation neither takes the fun out of it or makes it a hands-off process. There is still plenty to do.

What it does do is make it easier to hit the temperatures that you are shooting for and it also helps to add repeatability to your brewing since you can more accurately control temps and times.

It's not about pushing a button and sitting back in an easy chair!
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Old 05-02-2011, 05:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonW
What it does do is make it easier to hit the temperatures that you are shooting for and it also helps to add repeatability to your brewing since you can more accurately control temps and times.
I like not being able to repeat my brews... it is like tasting a brand new beer every batch!
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Old 05-02-2011, 03:32 PM   #6
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It's like the others said. Flame is on or off. Most of that is cost based. I discrete valve (on/off) is probably a lot cheaper than an analog one (adjustable).

And I don't think automation takes the fun out of it, but I'm a PLC programmer for a living and would love making one some day.

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Old 05-02-2011, 03:43 PM   #7
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My mash is automated but I use that term loosely because there's still a lot of manual intervention (swapping hoses, stirring mash, etc). I built an electric HERMS controlled by a BCS-460. Mine is fairly basic, I use it to control heating elements in my heat exchanger (HEX) and hot liquor tank (HLT). Mash temps are maintained by recirculating the mash through the HEX and measuring the temp as it exits. It's essentially an on/off deal, so if the temp is below target, the element is on and as it approaches target, the PID controller will switch it on and off until the target is reached. It would be the same if you were using gas on a direct fire setup. As JonW indicated, my main reason for doing it is repeatability. If I brew recipe XYZ three different times, I want my end product to be as identical as possible each time.

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Old 05-03-2011, 09:52 AM   #8
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I just built a "semi-automatic" system, 20g/3 vessel/electric heat/RIMS/BCS controlled
we have brewed 3 times and it is like night and day compared to our old system.
We are still using the BCS in "manual mode" = turning pumps off/on with a keystroke and controlling elements through the controller/temp sensors all through a manual/auto control panel. The BCS can provide very automated brewing in its highest level of control. The next level of control I will use is a basic process to make my RIMS and mash out "automatic" = when I hit start the system will RIMS mash for 60 min's @ my chosen temp and after that 60 mins is up the controller will ramp up the temp to 168 for 10 mins for a mashout - timers and alarms included. I'm toying with the idea of float switches so the pumps can be automatically controlled. As stated above semi or full automation is more control which equals more consistency

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Old 05-03-2011, 12:08 PM   #9
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I have built and programmed a nearly fully automated brewing system that uses an instant water heating and steam generating boiler for steam injection RIMS step mashing. The control system is based on Opto 22 PLC hardware with a custom built application that integrates recipe build with control to simplify operation. With the need to adjust boiler water and fuel flow to maintain temperatures on a nearly constant basis automation was the best option. With the programming comes the ability to operate the system safely with minimal observation so I can do other brewery tasks while the tedious parts of brewing are running without having to worry about missed events or unsafe conditions. The design, construction, and programming has been an ongoing effort for a couple years, with the goal of a system that will have integrated recipe, control, and safety features not achievable by other automated systems.

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Old 05-03-2011, 12:40 PM   #10
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So... If I am interested in a basic on/off system for propane, what kind of equipment would I be looking at? I'm very visual, so seeing pictures and diagrams helps me a lot. Anyone got some? Links? How tos? Thanks!

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