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Old 06-28-2012, 04:29 AM   #1
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Default DIY Fermentation Chamber

I am starting to get more and more serious about homebrewing (2 batches currently bottled, 2 batches in carboys fermenting, ingredients for 2 more waiting to be used). I have picked up a 1/2 keg to turn into a keggle soon, and may pick up another this weekend. I currently have 5 corny ball lock kegs (2 more this weekend), and 2 corny sanke coupler kegs (converted from ball lock, wtf?). I've got a 20# CO2 tank to run them, although no regulator and I still need most of the disconnects.

Anyways, I have a couple of items sitting around, and reading in the DIY section here has given me some naughty ideas .

I have a large wooden double door armoire sitting in the garage unused. Its interior dimensions are: 47.5" wide, 18" deep, and 66.5" tall. Doing some drawing and calculating, I figured I can fit 4x 6 gallon better bottles/carboys on the bottom of the armoire.

I have a couple options for what to do above them. I'm going to add shelves probably the wire rack kind for ease of install, airflow, and cost. Doing some measuring, I can either fit another row of carboys above the bottom row, with a single row of 12oz bottles above that, or I can do 3 rows of 12 oz bottles above the bottom row of carboys (have I confused you yet?). With this second option I'd also have room for keg conditioning in addition to bottle conditioning and fermenting. I've attached a couple drawings to show what I mean.

The OTHER item sitting around is a small dorm refrigerator. Its kind of nasty, but (as far as I know) it runs just fine. I'm running it overnight to see if it cools down fine.

What I want to do is remove the compressor, cooling plate, and coil off the back of the fridge, and insert it onto the lower side of the armoire. I know that the fridge likely won't be able to keep the entire armoire very cool, but all I really want it to be able to do is keep the carboys on the bottom at proper ale fermentation temps (60-72F), and keep the bottles on shelves above them at good carbonating/conditioning temps (68-72F?).

I don't know if I should keep the thermostat and dial that came with the fridge, or splurge on some kind of controller to be able to digitally set and monitor the temps.

I can easily line the inside of the armoire with foam board insulation to help stabilize the temps. I could even add a light bulb socket at the top with a fluorescent/heat bulb in case I ever needed to raise the temps. And even adding one or more computer fans for air circulation would be pretty easy.

What do you guys think, does this seem like a good/feasible idea with what I have? Just trying to do something on the cheap, with mostly equipment that I already have.

001.jpg   003.jpg   fermenting-cabinet-2.jpg   fermenting-cabinet-1.jpg   fermenting-cabinet-3.jpg  

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Old 06-28-2012, 04:30 AM   #2
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Here's some more pics.

002.jpg   004.jpg   005.jpg  
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Old 06-28-2012, 06:28 AM   #3
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Like the concept. Look forward to seeing how it turns out

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Old 06-28-2012, 01:20 PM   #4
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This will be a slower project, as funds are kind of tight at the moment. Hoping to sell off some aquarium stuff I'm not using to help pay for it. Also custom building aquarium stands for people to help pay for my homebrew hobby as well. Keeps me busy.

Does anyone have any opinions on whether I can get away with using the built in thermostat and temp control, or whether I should really go for an external controller? I'm not really looking to spend $70-80 on a Johnson controller for this project if I don't have to.

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Old 06-28-2012, 01:58 PM   #5
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Go external with temp control. You gotta pimp it out somehow plus, you can get the eBay digi temp controller that is on this forum. $25 shipped or something like that.

Good luck!

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Old 06-28-2012, 03:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebas83 View Post
Go external with temp control. You gotta pimp it out somehow plus, you can get the eBay digi temp controller that is on this forum. $25 shipped or something like that.

Good luck!
Yeah, I've just spent the last hour or so reading through the STC-1000 threads. I think I'll end up picking up one of those, since I can build a control box for probably about $40 total. That's a lot easier to stomach than the $80+ for a Johnson Conroller.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:30 PM   #7
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You will have to insulate ,or it will always be sweating on the inside and the compressor will never shut off

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Old 06-28-2012, 09:38 PM   #8
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I would rip the guts out of that mini fridge and mount the compressor and coils outside of the cabinet, and the freezer plate inside the cabinet. Then line the inside with insulation. I would also build a false floor and put insulation under it. Then wire in the STC-1000 and you will be set. I basically did the same thing, but I built the chamber out of 2x4s and plywood, and mounted casters on the bottom. Works great!

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Old 06-28-2012, 09:39 PM   #9
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I forgot to mention you will definitely need a fan in there to circulate the air or it won't be evenly cooled

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Old 06-28-2012, 11:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamensis View Post
I would rip the guts out of that mini fridge and mount the compressor and coils outside of the cabinet, and the freezer plate inside the cabinet. Then line the inside with insulation. I would also build a false floor and put insulation under it. Then wire in the STC-1000 and you will be set. I basically did the same thing, but I built the chamber out of 2x4s and plywood, and mounted casters on the bottom. Works great!
Well, that's basically what I said I was going to do, only in more paragraphs .

It will definitely get insulated, I might be able to build a short 2x4 base with casters (don't think they'd mount very well to the bottom of the cabinet itself), and I think I have a spare computer fan laying around here somewhere to hook up as well.

My other option would be to just build one out of 2x4's instead of using this cabinet. But its a good size, is already completely enclosed, and i think it could be converted to what I want pretty easy. Its just kind of taking up space in the garage at the moment, being all useless.
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