Automated HERMS rebuild
Some of you may have seen our current brew system. If not here is the thread.
We have hit a few snags with the system after brewing several batches on it. This is not a design flaw in the overall system but rather inadequate valves. The 12v solonid valves we are currently using do not totally seal, closed or open, leaving us with partially closed valves which messes with the pressure needed to get liquids from A -> B
Also, we have been experimenting with building our own automated controller. While this has been fun, in the same time we have been building the brew system, Brew Troller has created more mature and reliable product. The relay board alone is worth using thanks to the addition of built in LED and manual/auto switches.
So we decided its time to rebuild, better, more automated, more modular.
Our current system is fairly modular using TC fittings and silicon tubing. This means we have almost all the parts we need to reconfigure everything with a wrench and some teflon tape. Their were a few other minor things that were bothering us.
- No dedicated water input
- No dedicated output to a fermentor
- Lots of wires hanging from the top down towards the burners
The original goal of our brew system was to make a HERMS system that used the coil for both recirculation and cooling. We havent figured out a permanent water connection to the garage/brewery for the winter so we cant rely on a plate chiller etc to cool the beer year round. This has proven difficult to design as many inputs and outputs overlap.
I think we have finally come up with a working design that addresses all of our current issues. We have 12x motorized ball valves, brew troller boards, and a number of other new parts to revamp the system. We are putting 9/12 of the valves under the brew system reducing the number of wires near the burners and the number of tubing runs we need.
Since we are fly sparging we have designed a system that will allow HLT -> MLT -> KET transfer at the same time, and also, recirculation of the MLT or KET while the water in the HLT is recirculating to maintain its own temp.
So I present you with a short animation of the proposed system to see what thoughts others might have before we go forward and start screwing things together.
( *note one way valves on pump 1 and KET input )
Have you found motor operated ball valves that are not cost prohibitive?.. and if so do you have a link? :)
They sell them in the Brewtroller store http://www.oscsys.com/Valves/
$52 each for 1/2 NPT
Would you be interested in a plate heat exchanger design that would be a bit more flexible and easier to control with the electric ball valves. The heat exchanger would be bypassed after dough in to let the grain particles get trapped in the mash, and it would be sanitized by circulating boiling wort at end of boil. Step temperature control would be by regulating HLT water flow through heat exchanger and would be relatively immune to temperature fluctuations in HLT temperature as long as HLT was hotter than desired leaving wort temperature. After sparge was done ice could be placed in HLT for wort chill after boil to reduce water use and enable low temperature wort for lager style yeasts.
At this point we have 10x valves, 2 pumps, tons of parts, tubing etc, and everything is reconfigurable.
We are moving forward with building the electronics as they are the same regardless of the system design and can be reprogramed easily. The only down side is if we make custom cables a specific length... which is leading me to believe it might be best to make all cables 10-15 ft (for the valves) and take up the slack later as needed, again providing a more modular design.
Wires for temp sensors and volume sensors will always remain the same length as their location will not change.
We also thought about a separate HERMS inside a soda keg but that requires a separate heat source and currently everything is 120v max and that would require some nice welding etc that we dont have access to.
Again, the constant water source seems to be limiting us to what we can do right now with regards to plate chillers etc. The design includes a water input for the warmer months when we can run a hose, but right now we will be dumping buckets of water by hand.
I would like to know what the electronics are programmed with and how many temperature probes you set up. I can pretty much see a LOVE controller for the two burners but is it necessary to put a temp probe in the MLT to monitor mash steps?
Other then a much of toggle switches is there already a design for a PIC controller or similar to do all the valves, turn off and on the pump and burners?
Everything is controlled by the brew troller relay boards. They allow both manual and automated controls. The brew troller itself controls the autmated features using an ATMega controller. Love controllers are great, and we use them for fermentation etc, but for real automated controls they are dumb.
We have two temp probes per kettle and one extra for the HERMS coil out. One is mounted in the center of each kettle and the other at the bottom for the sight glass opening. This gives a better average picture of what is happening temp wise. Temp probes are SS with 1-wire temp sensors.
Here are some pictures....
Overall wiring diagram
Box design and layout.
side view. 16x16x6"
We may need to make it a little larger if we are going to add in auto igniting burner valves and a controller instead of the standing pilots we are using now.
Forgot the front panel....
Two large cutouts in the steel covered with acrylic plates which makes it more modular and easy to make switch cutouts and a diagram of the brew system. Top would house the LCD and encoder knob to control the BrewTroller, leaving extra room for a future larger LCD. The bottom half would house both the manual/off/on switches for all the controls, as well as the diagram of the brew system with LED's for each of the valves. Flip a switch to turn on a valve and that valve lights up on the diagram.
As requested I have taken a little time away from the .Net programming and put this revised HERMS diagram together http://picasaweb.google.com/kevin.ladue/HeatExchagerHERMSSystem#5559576427482065922. I hope it might be of some use for the folks with plate exchangers that do not want to go to the trouble of winding tubing.
The concept is you bypass the HX after dough in to let the stray grain particles get trapped in the grain bed, then circulate hot water from HLT through the HX to raise the leaving wort to next step temperature. Control of heat exchanger outlet temperature is by one electric ball valve in the HLT water circuit (V-7),you can pulse the motor open/closed in small steps to achieve temperature control.
The plate heat exchanger should allow for much easier temperature control and much faster flow and temperature rise over the SS tubing coil method. It will not be as fast as direct steam injection to circulating wort method I use, but should be a significant improvement.
Thanks to kladue we have ordered 2 new valves, pilots, and 2 auto igniting controllers to swap out for our current system.... Looks like we will have some parts to ebay soon.
Looks like the two controllers will go in a separate sub box near the valves. 24v on/off will still come from the main control panel as shown above. The exception is that it does not go directly to the valves but instead to the controller which then handles lighting the pilots etc.
We would love any additional comments on the overall system if anyone has any ideas/thoughts/suggestions/ridicule
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